To continue in our little LGBT crash course, I am going to talk about a subject I have briefly touched upon before: Gatekeeping.
After the Orlando shootings, I wrote an article criticizing the members of the LGBT community who were fighting amongst each other about many different things people should not have been fighting about. You can read it here.
Gatekeeping is the term used to describe the action of determining who is and isn’t allowed “entry” into a group of people. In this case, it’s the term used to encompass any action that is trying to exclude an LGBT identity, an individual, or a group of people from using an LGBT term, which can include the entirety of the LGBT community itself.
Typically, this kind of action is done in regards to people who identify as asexual and aromantic, especially to people who identify as such who are not transgender. People insist that the asexual (and usually forget to include aromantic) community ought to operate on its own, and does not belong under the overarching term that is the LGBT community. These people also take advantage of the shortened initialism to further their point, in that the “A” is not present.
To show the absurdity of these gatekeeping menaces, bisexual people have been barred from the LGBT community because of the many different stereotypes and stigma regarding bisexuality. This can range from an absurd notion that bisexuals stop being bisexual if they are dating a person of one gender (as in, a bisexual man is gay if he dates a man, and he is straight if he dates a woman; it is a lack of understanding there can be an “in-between”) to outright verbal abuse in saying that bisexuals that attend LGBT-centered events take away from the pro-gay celebrations.
Gatekeeping has especially hurt trans people. Trans women are barred from women spaces because of their gender assigned at birth, they are kept from trans spaces because of an outdated conception that to be trans, you must “pass” as the gender you identify as, they are kept from the LGBT community because they “belong” in trans spaces, and supposedly “don’t belong” at “pro-gay” events. Trans people who are attracted to people whose gender identities are different from that of said trans people (so, “straight” trans people) are kept from the community because of their sexuality and romantic orientation, even though they and every other example listed is 100 percent a member of the community and valid to identify as such.
People who gatekeep verbally harass people. On the internet, people send out death threats, hate mail, messages saying things like “you should kill yourself” or “nobody likes you” – all because they are identifying a certain way. This kind of behavior is wrong. This kind of behavior has to stop. No one deserves to be treated this way, but especially coming from a community that has forged out of resilience to bigotry and hate we should not have this kind of hurtful, harmful, and discriminatory behavior. The ignorance of people who gatekeep is something that comes up almost every year in the LGBT community, resulting in fights that can span a month long and be brought up again over and over and over.
The LGBT community needs to work together in order to stop the bigotry and hate pouring out from their oppressors and the people who persecute them and discriminate against them, not divide themselves up into bits and pieces they can kick out and bully.