Regardless of who we are or what we like, we all know that it's our differences that make us special, and it's our respect for these differences that make the world a better place to live in.
Lucky for us, there's an entire month dedicated to celebrating our identities and idiosyncrasies. June signifies Pride Month, but our gender expression, sexual orientation and alliance with the LGBTQ+ community are welcomed all year round.
Below is a guide to help you better understand gender, sexuality and queer identity:
A breakdown of gender identity
Gender roles have long defined and confined people into categories based on their biological sex. From gender reveals with pink and blue confetti, to baby dolls for girls and toy trucks for boys, we associate the reproductive systems with certain colors, characteristics and in some cases, privileges from an early age. Those patterns create the blueprint for our conscious and subconscious understandings of identity, and shape how we interact with others and express who we are.
Stereotypical statements like "you hit like a girl" or "boys will be boys" are plugged into our language and in five words or less, generalize women as weak and excuse accountability from men. Though neither statement is true, both impose very real interpretations of gender and reinforce our expectations of each. They also marginalize those who don't identify with either binary to begin with.
Between the shades of pink and blue are fifty shades of purple which recognize the queer, gender-neutral, gender fluid, intersex and transgendered population. As is the case with men and women, other members of the identity spectrum express their gender through the language, style and behaviors that resonate with them.
As we become increasingly aware of identities with blended gender expression or the absolution of gender at all, the need to understand these differences increase in priority. This practice can start anywhere, but some companies have taken explicit measures toward inclusivity by implementing gender diversity targets in the workplace.
Other companies combat gender inequality by making sure that the consideration of gender holds no weight in the hiring process. When applying to a job, you've likely reviewed a company's equal opportunity policy which aims to level the playing field for all applicant's regardless of sex, gender, ethnicity or class. In these cases, offer of employment is contingent upon a candidate's skillset and qualifications rather than influenced by their physical makeup or gender expression.
Even the state of New York establishes it's alliance and advocacy through their pronoun law which consequences anyone who refuses to address someone using their preferred pronouns, titles or names.
Once referred to as "LGBT," the acronym has since expanded to represent all queer identities in the community. Below is a cheat-sheet to help you understand what those are:
A woman who is homosexual.
A person who is homosexual, usually used to describe a homosexual man.
A person who is sexually attracted to two or more genders.
An individual whose sense of personal identity and gender differs from their birth sex.
An umbrella term that describes sexual and gender identities that are not heterosexual or cisgender.
A person born with variations in their sexual makeup that do not fit the typical characteristics of male or female sex.
An individual who doesn't feel sexual attraction to others.
Someone who is romantically and sexually attracted to all genders and biological sexes.
A person who doesn't experience sexual attraction until a strong emotional connection is formed.
Attraction in action
Get acquainted with definitions of the following sexual and romantic orientations:
Sexual orientation is generally intuitive and refers to a person's sexual attraction to others. An individual might be drawn to someone of the opposite sex (heterosexual), someone of the same sex (homosexual), to both sexes (bisexual), to others regardless of sex (pansexual) and to no sex at all (asexual).
There are also romantic orientations that further encompass the spectrum of attraction. These distinctions help individuals orient themselves with their romantic attraction in relation to gender. Congruent to the prefixes in sexual orientation, romantic orientations include heteroromanticism, homoromanticism, biromanticism, panromanticism and aromanticism.
You can build a strong alliance with the LGBTQ+ community by educating yourself on the language, identities and pronouns that resonate with the culture. An effort to swap out gendered terms like "policeman" for "police officer" also goes a long way because it removes the implication of gender, which isn't necessary for understanding the meaning of the word in the first place.
Also, feel free to sport your solidarity at work by wearing brands that campaign for the community or designs that express your pride or alliance. Or, add your pronouns to your CV or brief bios on social media. You don't have to identify as queer in order to pledge your allegiance to it.
We all bring unique gifts to the world, no matter how we identify or express our authentic selves. So, this Pride Month "Follow your oddities and fly your freak flag!", as Yvie Oddle, winner of RuPaul's Drag Race Season 11 would say.