The dark side of the rainbow: finding unity in diversity

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At the end of the day, our human connection is stronger than any labels.

Three years ago, as my freshman year of college came to an end, I began to question my sexuality. For months I was a mess, filled with confusion and inner conflict. I was lost and not quite sure where I fit in. As I slowly began to accept myself, I became eager to be a part of the LGBT community. The idea of a safe space where all are loving, accepting and free of judgment drew me in immediately. However, I would quickly learn that there is a dark side of the rainbow.

Over time it became clear to me that within the LGBT community is a strong faction of elitists. As a community we fight for visibility and acceptance, yet so many of us are quick to disregard identities other than our own. We struggle to be treated as first-class citizens, yet we have created a culture of second-class members within our own community. It pains me to see the same people who claim to be fighting for justice and equality turn around and throw hate, often toward members of their own community.

I spent the first few months of my self-discovery journey identifying as bisexual and by doing so caught my first glimpse of discrimination within the LGBT community. With the constant promotion of love and acceptance, it surprised me to find that many members of the LGBT community harbor feelings of hate toward individuals who identify as bisexual. My coming out process was stunted in part because of my religious background but also because of the stigma surrounding bisexuality.

I distinctly remember sitting on my best friend’s dorm room floor, struggling to find the words to tell her about my newfound identity. Cautiously, I introduced the topic of bisexuality. Her reaction was strong and she was quick to express her distaste.

“Bisexuality is stupid,” she said. “People need to just make up their minds.”

Her words stung, and while she identifies as straight, I soon learned that many members of the LGBT community shared the same mindset.

Just recently, a close friend of mine who identifies as a lesbian expressed her opinion that “People who identify as bisexual are just playing it safe. We all do it, but you either are or you aren’t (gay) and eventually you have to choose.”

Biphobia is just the beginning, with countless forms of discrimination plaguing the LGBT community including transphobia and the complete erasure of identities such as asexuality and pansexuality.  A huge part of the human experience is discovering and embracing our own identities. At the end of the day, we are all human and we should accept each other as such. It is human nature to seek love and acceptance.Self-identity and self-discovery are, by nature, a personal experience. Just because we may not fully understand the way in which a person identifies, does not give us the right to disregard their legitimacy.

In order to reach our full potential, we must embrace unity within our diversity. It is through our differences that we will rise above and beyond.