It is your job to educate yourselves, not the community

With+not+being+educated+about+the+LGBTQ+community%2C+many+aspects+can+be+confusing.+The+Sidekick+staff+writer+Maya+Palavali+explains+the+importance+of+self+education.+%0A

Noor Fatima

With not being educated about the LGBTQ community, many aspects can be confusing. The Sidekick staff writer Maya Palavali explains the importance of self education.

Maya Palavali, Staff Writer

“So… what percent gay are you?” 

“Who’s the man of the relationship?” 

When asked these questions, I always ask one back: 

“Why do I have to answer?”

In recent years, there have been advances in education about the LGBTQ community, fostering a safer environment for LQBTQ expression. Society has made leaps and bounds in spreading awareness about different sexualities and genders, and it is something to be proud of. While it has been amazing to see the growth, oftentimes it falls onto LGBTQ people’s shoulders to explain their identities to everyone else.

Questions asking innocently about coming out stories to invasive questions about doctor’s office procedures may seem supportive, but instead, they are draining. 

Some don’t mind being asked and often even welcome it. Sometimes, I’m happy to answer any questions that come my way. But, a majority of the time, I don’t feel comfortable answering intrusive questions.

When I first realized my sexuality, I immediately called one of my best friends. It was a no-brainer to me; sharing who I am is what I have always wanted. As soon as the words left my mouth, I knew I had made a mistake. Her expression could only be described as a mixture of disgust and fear. 

“What will other people think? Why do you even think you’re that? You don’t seem like that. Stop messing with me Maya, I know you’re not.”

Just as you do not know everything about every part of yourself, LGBTQ people don’t know either.”

— Maya Palavali

My heart stopped beating. My excitement quickly turned into red-hot shame.

I didn’t know how to respond. She continued to ask “what?”, something that angers me when I look back on it. I tried my best to explain, but I ended that call feeling terrible and like I was abnormal for loving who I loved.

The fact that one of the first questions I get asked when I come out is “what will your  school think?” makes me upset. With my shorter hair and dressing choice, the people I love feel like they have to defend me from Coppell High School. Sadly, that is how it is for a lot of LGBTQ people who are expressive in their physical appearance. The Coppell Gay-Straight Alliance is one of the few openly LGBTQ friendly clubs in Coppell actively trying to educate about the community— and the majority of the club is gay.

Though I am open about my sexuality, that does not mean I have the obligation to educate. I am a high school student,  not some person wise beyond their years or a figure to look to for answers. I am still a kid, and so are a lot of the people who are out. It is not and never will be on us to educate about the community we are a part of. We can talk about our individual experiences, but we are not the spokespeople for the entire LGBTQ spectrum. It is instead on allies to learn on their own.

It is the job of people who want to learn more about the spectrum to find information on their own. Just as you do not know everything about every part of yourself, LGBTQ people don’t know either. Be careful and considerate with your actions when you breach the topic of the community.

If you would like to learn more about the community, be proactive with your efforts. Join the Coppell GSA where you will hear about many experiences and overall answers to questions. If you are an educator or parent in Coppell, look into ways you can be supportive to your LGBTQ kids. Find out what pride events are happening and how you can help. The bottom line is there are many ways to explore in Coppell if you look for them.