I know the title of this post is an unusual assertion:
Being gay or LGBTQ is a blessing.
What you say? Usually being LGBTQ is thought to be a curse! Well, it is but not in the way you think.
People who grow up as sexual and/or gender minorities often go through a deeper level of character development created by the experience of being the 'outsider'. Yes, it's true. Research is beginning to look at this phenomenon.
Anderson Cooper, famous CNN journalist gets it because he's lived it. He notes:
"If you feel like an outsider, you tend to observe things a lot more," Cooper said. "Early on I felt very much like an observer, because I knew I was gay, I knew I was somehow different. If you learn the language of loss early, I think you seek out others who have experienced the same thing, who speak the same language of loss."
Most LGBT's usually go through a stage where they hide their sexuality. Often for reasons of safety or some level of survival, at least as they see it. You can be thrown out of your house when you're a teen and your parents find out you're gay and they don't like it. You can be physically abused for being queer. In many states in America, you can still lose your job for being gay and you have no recourse.
And the blessing extends outward, into the world. We gays are the ones that, by just being our 'big and bold' selves often push those around us to be bigger and bolder too. And that's usually good for the world.
Authors have written about gay consciousness and it's purpose. Obviously if there is a god, he or she made LGBT's. How do we know this is so? Because we serve important purposes. There is research evidence for example, that gay and lesbian aunts and uncles have always been in families and serve a useful role in caring for the children and others in the family.
As I write this to you, I am watching presidential candidate, former mayor Pete Buttigieg give a stump speech for the upcoming New Hampshire primary. If you've been hiding under a rock, perhaps you didn't know yet but yes, it's true: Pete Buttigieg is gay. In fact he is also married, to a man.
Yes, Buttigieg is young. Only 37. But when you learn more about him - specifically his education, his social background, his intelligence, his military service, his over all abilities - you will realize that this guy has something here that we need to sit up and listen more from, which I am right now. To deny him his voice would be ageist.
Yes, he's a helluva speaker...reminiscent of Barack Obama. But I think he also has plans that are reasonable and could pull this country together versus continue to drive us apart. He's been accused of taking corporate money but I heard him say tonight that he believes he needs to take money from any and all individuals (including millionaires and billionaires) who want to help overcome the Trump era.
Either way, Buttigieg is unusually bright. And, like he says: unlike Washington D.C., as a mayor he couldn't print money to fix his budgets and he couldn't just do nothing when the city needed things done.
I can say my story is indicative too, of this 'becoming unique in character formation'.
I know all about this process because I've gone through this experience myself, on multiple levels, my entire life. I discovered in my mid teens, for example, that I was falling in love a lot but not with boys, with girls! Yes, I had a couple of crushes on boys too, especially earlier on, but I had many more crushes on girls. Does that make me totally gay or bisexual? I don't know, but I do know that the most romantic (not sexual) feelings I've had throughout my life have been about women. And, as a woman growing up in the 1970's, I didn't truly connect with my sexual self until I was in my 20's.
My passage into adulthood, as a result, was quite challenging. At least as compared to many of my straight peers at that time. I was also the oldest child in my family, so I was the 'guinea pig' as far as my parents were concerned. Meaning: they were the least experienced because they'd never parented a teen before, let alone a gay one. And, remind you, this was in the late 1970's, long before we have the societal awareness and understanding we have today.
As an LGBT, like all queers (yes, I said it~), you never stop having to 'come out'. Additionally, there are still plenty out there like a teacher I had who continued (until recently when I decided to unfriend him on social media) to preach and/or admonish me for 'needing' to be out. It is the quandary so many of us find ourselves in. So I say to this teacher: why is it so important for you to try to convince me to NOT be myself? Interesting position for an educator, I might add...and this person worked in the public system. I think they were focusing on the 'sex' part perhaps. Meaning: so many, when they think of someone gay, sex flashes in their head first, rather than love.
I can only describe it is that we learn so much more about being authentic and truthful and 'real'. People who take all of that for granted tend to be less so. Back to my late adolescence and early adult experience: I truly believe that there were a handful of experiences in my young to middle adulthood that have mostly formed the person I am today:
1) Leaving home at 18 and having to fend for myself re: survival, education.
2) My first relationship (8 years).
3) My second love relationship (15 years).
Having to go out on my own at 18 dramatically impacted who I've become, I'm sure. I lacked any place to fail or fall. I had to make it. And, I did. In my 20's, I found a way to support myself and put myself through undergraduate and graduate school. My first love relationship was a part of that time period. That relationship taught me much about myself and about love. We were two young adults trying to figure it all out. We discovered that as we matured into our later 20's that we had different goals.
All of the above did end up putting me into a vulnerable spot which was the foundation of my choice of my second love relationship. It ended up that I chose seeking security to the exclusion of other more important values like love, happiness and fidelity. And, in the long run, to add insult to injury, whatever security I thought I would have wasn't there. I ended up having to leave that relationship without the investments (emotional, financial, etc.) I'd made in it for many years.
Needless to say, the above three experiences shaped me into the authentic person I am. Someone who doesn't just go along with group think, or, the crowd. The person who speaks up when she sees inequity.
So what does all of this have to do with being blessed to be LGBTQ?
I know that I try to maintain a level of truthfulness and authenticity that I don't always see in my heterosexual counterparts. And, I've often paid for it, personally and professionally. But I like keeping my self respect.