The Importance of Intersectional Support for the LGBTQIA+ Community

In recent years, the LGBTQIA+ community has made major strides in terms of public acceptance. Today, acceptance of gay marriage is mainstream within American society. Many people proudly support their transgender friends and family members.

Young people are freer to question their own identities and explore potential labels to see what truly resonates. This does not mean we’ve accomplished full equality and equity. There is still much more to be done. But it’s certainly a heartening sign that times have changed.

However, it’s important to recognize that intersectionality is integral to supporting this community, especially its most vulnerable members. The concept of intersectionality can sound confusing. Thankfully, breaking it down simplifies the idea! Here’s what intersectionality means and how people can put these principles into action.

Compounding Challenges

Intersectionality refers to people who exist at the “intersection” of multiple marginalized identities. They face challenges not only based on the individual demographics they belong to, but they also have unique barriers due to their multiple identities. For example, a black lesbian does not only deal with discrimination for her race, gender, and sexuality. She also copes with challenges as a result of all three of these intersecting identities. Basically, people who hold multiple marginalized identities live with compounding challenges. This can’t be overlooked when it comes to helping the LGBTQIA+ community, as so many of the people who fall under this umbrella face discrimination based on intersecting identities.

A Variety of Perspectives

Intersectionality also means welcoming viewpoints and creating space for people who bring fresh perspectives to the table. There isn’t one specific LGTBQIA+ experience. Instead, a South Asian woman who identifies as bisexual might have a completely different experience regarding their relationship with gender and sexuality from a white transgender man. Intersectionality means upholding all these experiences as valid and worthy of consideration, rather than trying to fit gender and sexuality in small boxes.

Creating Safe Spaces Within the LGBTQIA+ Community

It’s critical to consider intersectionality when creating safe spaces. For example, imagine a nonprofit that claims to support the local LGTBTQIA+ community in the city where it operates yet has never taken steps to address racism and prejudice in the area. It’s easy to see how LGBTQIA+ people of color might not feel comfortable supporting such an organization or participating in its events.

Accepting the Whole Person

When it comes to intersectionality, it’s important to note that this means accepting people for who they fully are. Many people will pay lip service to the LGBTQIA+ community, especially those who have loved ones that identify with this community. However, someone who accepts their friend after coming out as gay yet dismisses their frustrations with racism, sexism, ableism, or other forms of discrimination is not truly accepting. Instead, intersectionality means being willing to confront different angles of prejudice.

Intersectionality in Practice

What does intersectionality really look like in practice? It might mean that organizations focusing on the LGBTQIA+ community emphasize efforts that center on those with multiple marginalized identities. Journalists who cover issues affecting this community can make sure to interview diverse sources to get an intersectional perspective on the events they’re writing about. Additionally, when it comes to advocating for specific policies meant to help the LGBTQIA+ community, people should consider how these policies will help some of the most marginalized members of this community. Special considerations may need to be given for those who struggle with unique obstacles.
Are you exploring your gender identity or sexual orientation? A therapist can help you navigate this journey. Connect with us to find out more about our LGBTQIA+ therapy services.