We are proud of who we are and so we should be; however, do we support our wider LGBTQI+ community when it comes to issues that do not affect us directly?
The sense of community.
This is a great feeling, a confidence booster and the reason that gets us going to LGBTQI+ nights and events. We attend different types of gatherings even if we are not up to them because of this sense of community that we carefully craft within ourselves.
We develop a very personal sense of belonging to a community that we think we share with others. However, do we really?
Most of us like to be labelled in many different ways and embrace certain values that we think everybody in our community would share.
This is called a 'moral community', that is, a number of people who share common values and feelings, just like an invisible rope that connects all of us. However, can we safely say that there are unchallenged standards that regulate such communities? No, we cannot. These communities are a representation of what we want them to be, everyone has a different understanding of them according to our emotional and moral heritage, they are intimate and personal experiences. As such, they do not represent the eternal truth and can be at risk of being influenced by interiorised homophobia, low self-esteem and so on. This not only could be detrimental to our own identities but it can spread a wrong sense of community justified on subjectivity. We should consider the concept of 'community' very carefully therefore.
Can we, therefore, prevent that rope connecting all of us, from turning into a strangling device for our own identities as part of a wider LGBTQI+ community?
Community that do not belong to us.
We instictively and categorically refuse to be associated with communities that do not share our own moral experiences. I do not mean the LGBTQI+ as a whole but all those minor sub-communities which are associated with it: the twinks, the bears, the tops, the bottoms, the doms, the subs, the HIV+ and HIV-. While we might not be into certain sexual practices and we might not associate with some sub-categories, some others need our unconditial support. It is easier said than done though.
When we choose to repudiate one specific sub-community we commit an internal act of violence against ourselves. The whole idea of community can be a two faced coin if we mean it as a closed circle of individuals. In fact, on the one hand we feel we should support our own similars, on the other we differentiate ourselves from other realities, leaving deep cracks into our wider community.
This is a terrible mistake which undermines our own existence as indivuals, the freedom we managed to achieve and the rights which we have been granted.
Why do we always feel the need to draw a difference among communities?
Why do we always tend to belittle the other communities with which we do not identify in order to magnify ours?
This process tends to enlarge and restrict, at the same time, our circles. While we might expand on the one hand, we are also depriving ourselves of vital space for our identities as LGBTQI+ to survive.
There is still too much ignorance, too much stigma which are eroding the entire LGBTQI+ community. They attack our wider community from the inside and destroy it mercilessly. Still too many members of our community do not know anything about HIV and AIDS, still too many memembers decide to turn their head away as, they say, this does not affect them. Well, it does, it really does as we are part of the same wider community. That rope that unites us all cannot be handhold for something and a slip-knot for something else. it is up to us to transform our communities into something extraordinary.
What can we do then?
One main solution is to try and see all our communities as different expressions of ourselves and not as closed groups with no external communication with others.
We should try not to be too selfish and learn to open our circles in order to include and learn about realities which we have never encountered before.
We should be inclusive of all differences and proactively search for opportunities to do so.
We should not judge or condemn because our moral experiences are just ours and do not belong to someone else.
Finally, we should understand that our HIV status does not define us, our community does not define us. This is a really dangerous gamble that we are taking.