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  • Writer's pictureAwatif Yahya

Accepting Our Differences

This Pride Month, as people raise awareness in support of the LGBTQ+ community, others feel overcome with concerns for their own rights as heterosexual cisgender individuals. Such concerns stem from a “zero-sum mentality" whereby in order to give, one must take away. Some fear recognizing other identities would put their own identities at risk. But that is simply not true.

As a heterosexual cisgender person, I have heard such concerns from those around me. I have heard comments that the LGBTQ+ community have more rights nowadays than any other community. That they choose their lifestyle because it is fashionable rather than it being part of their true identity. I have heard concerns that recognizing LGBTQ+ confuses children by giving them “options” for their identities. I even heard comments on what is considered appropriate hobbies and acceptable sports for girls and boys! As a soccer fan myself, I would challenge anyone who says Soccer is for those identifying as male especially when the USA Woman Soccer team holds the current world championship!

I do understand fear of the unknown. It is a human condition to protect ourselves from what we do not know or understand. The only way to break this fear is by increasing our level of knowledge and getting a better understanding from those out of our inner circle. The world is expanding, technology is shrinking the distance between us, and people are more vocal now against injustice. It is upon us to gain a better understanding of our world and break away from the chains of fear. We need to do this for ourselves more than anything else.

There was a time when we had similar fears for giving non-whites their rights. A time when we failed to recognize women as equal citizens. We conquered those fears, and we will overcome fear of our various identities as well. It begins by accepting our differences and respecting individuals for their lifestyles even when we do not share those same lifestyles. Just remember, seeking knowledge and accepting what is different as simply different is a leadership skill.

Giving LGBTQ+ their rights to exist, to be treated with dignity and to be respected does not take away anyone else’s rights. It is not a zero-sum game.

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