The online LGBT+ community has a toxicity problem. We boil down queer discourse (in all its flavors) to language wars, hold singular people accountable for entire demographics, and outright disavow people who don’t play by our rules.
We go on the war-path for representation, and manage to come out the other side with anti-queer talking points lodged firmly in our throats.
We expect every single person in the space to measure up to our standards. We sometimes even conjure their offenses so that we have just one more reason to invalidate them.
To pretend toxicity in online LGBT+ spaces isn’t a problem—and that this behavior of eating our own isn’t toxic—is to be complicit in further harming your peers.
I am one of those peers, and I am very much done with people pretending all of this is not an issue.
The online LGBT+ community can be, and often is, toxic to its own people
Politics and theory trump actual humans, which leads people like me to lodge ourselves deeper into the closet
I’m a trans man (and a very loud bisexual disaster). Sadly, I have never felt comfortable putting my pronouns in my social media bios. So much so in fact that the only thing that compelled my self-identification was a recent flavor of trash-tier LGBT+ discourse.
I have many reasons for my hesitancy. However, each of them is born from fear of reprisal by people in my own community. I fear no cishet.
It’s hard not to feel this way when transmedicalists gatekeep like they’re getting paid for it, and people like Gaby Dunn think they have the authority to dictate the timeline of when LGBT+ people come out.
It’s hard not to feel like I have to hide who I am because my very own community supports its phobias and masquerades it as theory:
It’s hard not to feel like the online LGBT+ community isn’t toxic when people make bad hot-takes about representation in media, further marginalizing sex workers, addicts, and flamboyant gay men:
It’s hard not to feel like I have to hide, especially with the recent forced-outing of the author of “Love, Simon”.
This hit too close to home as a writer, and is the key reason for me outing myself, and writing this entire stupid article.
I’ve worked through a 110k word sci-fi novel about robots for the past three years to come to terms with being a trans man.
I’ve written about healthy—and unhealthy—relationships with women, as I’ve experienced both when I wasn’t sure of who I was. I’ve written about unhealthy relationships with toxic men, as I’ve experienced them.
I’ve written about my personal experiences with biphobia.
I’ve written about my personal trauma in allegories against the backdrop of a neon 80s glow and synthetic laser fire. I’ve written about addiction and mental health issues, and how both are not an excuse for bad behavior.
I’ve written about sexual assault, and that trauma can sometimes lead you to becoming toxic. I’ve written about pain, weaponized.
I’ve written about classism as I know it, late stage capitalism, the politics of privilege, and toxic masculinity.
Now, releasing it feels impossible. Why is that?
It’s because the online LGBT+ community is toxic.
Should this book reach its intended audience, it will be drained of all merit, and my story marginalized, for the sake of how the community thinks my personal history should be packaged.
Don’t pretend it won’t.
We take great delight in removing people from their own stories
Especially if those stories are messy, inconvenient, or difficult
The online LGBT+ (and left, and feminist) community’s reactions to queer creators have lead me to believe any work I put out that addresses my experiences (which are messy, inconvenient, and difficult) will be agonized over until I no longer exist within my own story.
You see, like any good story, mine is a complicated one. It’s further complicated by the male protagonist, who is everything I know to be true about myself, turned up to eleven.
I know the cishet world isn’t ready for him (and I don’t care), but more than that, I know the LGBT+ community will struggle with his flaws (and I care). Just as they will struggle with mine.
I’m afraid of being an out trans man, being okay with not transitioning, and releasing a book littered with proxies of my own life, because all of these things are attached to a whole lot of community-serving baggage that will erase my history (and journey) in favor of itself.
Do you see the problem? This is bigger than me: queer creators are held to higher, often impossible standards, not ever required of our cishet peers. Gaby’s Twitter thread shows as much.
When you ask queer creators to only write “good” representation, the way you want it, you are asking them to be queer and explore queerness in their art on your terms.
Critiquing work is more than valid, but we’re not talking about good-faith critiques here.
We’re talking about asking every queer creator to measure up to standards many of us can’t possibly achieve without psychic superpowers, or scrubbing our history with bleach.
We are asking queer creators to rush to be perfect (for the community).
We are asking queer creators to make everyone happy, which is impossible.
This is damaging for all of us.
The online LGBT+ community needs a reality check
So I’m going to give it to you
This is for everyone in the online LGBT+ community: Nobody owes you their self-identification (orientation or otherwise). Nobody owes you their pronouns. Nobody owes you their coming-out on your terms.
Nobody owes you ‘perfect’, as nobody is perfect.
Nobody owes you needling them incessantly about theory, when really all they want to do is live their lives and share their stories.
Nobody owes you entertaining your masqueraded misogyny, misandry, transmisogyny, transmisandry, biphobia, homophobia, heteronormativity-goggles, and toxic purity politics.
Nobody owes you debating their goddamn validity as human beings who just so happen to be queer—that’s what the cishets do, and we’re better than this, aren’t we?
So what do we actually owe each other?
At the very least, we owe each other empathy
It’s simple: before you discuss queer topics, queer theory, queer politics, or what it means to be queer, you need to examine if you’re really helping anybody at all, or who you’re trying to help in the first place: