I’ve sat down many times over the last several months to write this series of articles. Every time I came up short. After all, it’s difficult to say to others like myself that in a world which is fundamentally unsafe to us and threatens to destroy us that we must find a way to know ourselves, be ourselves, and embrace ourselves. Regardless of all the stigma we’ve internalized or externalized, the rules that are placed upon us by a heteronormative society, or even the rules that are placed upon us by our own LGBT community itself – somehow we must find a way to be the real us. We must find a way to rise above our inner biases so that we can explore ourselves as people – just people.

We are so much more than people with different sexual orientation, gender identities, and gender expressions than the cisgender heteronormative society wrapped around us. We must find a way to know ourselves as people so we can transcend the limitation of only being known as “the gay one”, “the butch one”, or our pronouns.

I get it. All my life people have been trying to figure out “what” I am. When I was little, little they called me a “tomboy”. When I was school-aged, I got bullied by my peers – was I a “boy or a girl?” I was in more fistfights over that then anything else. As an adult I’ve chosen not to request people use a specific pronoun with me. I’d rather be treated with respect instead of curiosity – my gender identity is my business. Most of the time people accept that. One time the request to use my name and treat me with respect resulted in a person representing a local trans organization calling me an “it” after I said I just want to be treated with respect. I got treated with the exact opposite of respect because my personal boundaries about disclosing myself clashed with theirs. So, I get it. Rules are tough. We’re never going to have the same rules. And here’s the deal…. I’m not a “what”. I’m a who. And so are you.

We deserve to embrace ourselves exactly as we are – even when we don’t have words for it or choose not to use the words we have. When we know ourselves as people, as individuals, we understand that we are so much more than just sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity (SOGIE) and that those three things – which threaten everything – are just minor pieces of us. That’s why we must find a way to do more than just survive.

If we can find a way to be ourselves and accept the parts which might seem unacceptable then we can find a way to be everything that we are created to be. Even if those things don’t have anything to do with SOGIE.

That’s what I am striving to unpack and find encouraging words for. Maybe together we can inspire and motivate each other to just let go a little in this series because I’m tired of burying people we didn’t have to bury for no good reason other than they were different than what society expected of them. As a result, they never knew just how magical and necessary to the world they are to start with. So. Here’s nothing.

In this series of articles, we’re going to unpack:

  • What’s at stake
  • What’s on the other side
  • Laws and resources that support us
  • Outing ourselves
  • Holding the space for others without outing them

We’re a community that largely accepts each other and works together. We’re not always perfect. We never will be perfect. Despite that we can support each other – our future depends on it. Somebody’s life, right this very moment, may depend on us supporting each other – no matter how we experience, express or discuss our SOGIE.

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Johanna Dolan
Johanna Dolan
“The principal of Dolan Research International, Johanna M. Dolan brings nearly two decades of personal experience as an entrepreneur, nine years as a professional financial planner, eighteen years as a life coach, and eight years as an ordained minister. She speaks openly and candidly on issues ranging from addiction, dysfunctional relationships, finances, the effects of long term chronic illness on life, and more.”