By Jang Kapgen | August 4, 2021
Illustration: Student looking out of his room window with diary in hand. Divyashree Muruganandam, The Amsterdammer.
Why we should stop expecting explanations from the LGBT+ community
While I write this article, I find myself filled with immeasurable emotions and heat. Many thoughts and memories make formulating and expressing my opinion very hard, but I want to try my best to make you understand why my lack of privilege is not a topic for your entertainment.
These words might take you by surprise and you may wonder why I feel the need to make such a statement. Beware that my queerness is a source of confidence, pride and beauty as much as it is of trauma. While I love to share my opinions, I am tired of having to render myself vulnerable in order to satisfy your curiosity.
Growing up as a child in Luxembourg, or any other country, is not easy if you do not conform. This is no surprise. Yet people keep asking members of the LGBT+ community about our coming-out stories, they keep wondering about our relationships with our families, they keep pushing us to relive our memories. While some queer people have had wonderful experiences, many of us have not been so lucky.
It is important to note that this is not to stop you from asking questions, but is a reminder to stay conscious about when, how and who you ask. Too often, strangers come to me at parties and ask me how my coming-out was. When they do, I find myself lying. I refuse to open up to a stranger who just wants to have a casual talk and who forces me to revive intense moments I have buried away. Again, I love talking about queer issues, but no one has the right to push me to talk about my very own experiences.
I am writing this article because I was interviewed about my experiences with homophobia for a newspaper. While I managed to pull through, the whole ordeal felt very overwhelming – overall, it forced me to unravel a lot of my past. Even though I agreed to participate in the interview, I was filled with anxiety and uncertainty in the days leading up to it.
Afterwards, I reflected on why I felt the need to participate. I concluded that it was because I generally feel a social obligation to explain the queer struggle to non-queer people. Being aware that there is so much suffering within the queer community because of heteronormativity, I felt like I had to share my trauma in order to make people be empathetic towards the cause.
All of my reflection led me to remember that I am a part of the queer suffering and I have a right to heal and recover. While there are many vocal activists out there, everyone needs to take a breath and recharge – feminists, LGBT+ activists, anti-racists alike. We can talk about our shared experiences, but my story is mine and I cannot recover without taking the time to do so. I have realized that I do not owe anyone openness and vulnerability – neither during an interview nor during party small-talk. If you really did care about LGBT+ issues, you would stop asking me personal questions during parties and would educate yourself instead.