Polite prejudice not polite

There may not be a more frustrating sentence in the English language than, “I don’t mind LGBT people. I just don’t agree with their lifestyle”. The concept of “not agreeing” with LGBT people is a baffling one. How can someone “not agree” about a fundamental fact about a person’s life?

People tend to underestimate just how much polite prejudice can hurt. A person does not have to sling slurs around or commit hate crimes to do damage. When someone says, “hate the sin, love the sinner” to an LGBT person, what are they really saying? They’re saying that their support can only go so far. They’re saying that they would rather dismiss what they can’t understand.

Growing up LGBT can be a challenge that’s hard to describe to an outside perspective. Support can be minimal and sometimes dealt with a backhand. There always seems to be a limit to how much support people are able to give.

Some of that comes from ignorance. People don’t realize their own privilege. They don’t realize how being LGBT matters because they don’t see how being straight and cisgender defines them.

The sexuality of straight people is normalized to the extent a lot of them don’t even notice it’s there. You see this in television, movies, music, advertisements and just about any piece of media you can think of. It can sometimes feel like everyone’s in on a joke that you don’t get.

This is why representation is important. The ability to see yourself in any medium can be very affirming. It’s like someone is saying to you, “you are not alone”.

Loneliness can almost seem like a fundamental part of being LGBT.  They are not always given the same resources growing up as non-LGBT people. Dating in high school can be a challenge, and the dating field of the adult world can feel insular and inaccessible.

That’s why people need to reexamine themselves when they talk about the LGBT community. They can’t be dismissive of how someone’s experiences have defined them. There’s no excuse for prejudice, even prejudice that’s dealt with politeness.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, it’s best to try and remember those who often get left behind. Love is love, after all. There’s no one who can argue against that.