Celebrating Individuality: Pierre's Story
My name is Pierre, and I'm a 28-year-old from the suburbs of Lyon. With a background in Applied Foreign Languages, I've spent the past five years working in marketing in Taiwan. Growing up as an LGBTQ+ individual, I navigated my identity and relationships with others with the support of an open-minded and accepting circle of family and friends. However, societal attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community did impact my life, leading me to leave France due to concerns about safety.
One particular incident stands out in my memory. When I was 18, I went to a club with my friends, two of whom were effeminate. As we left the club, we were followed by two individuals who hurled insults and threats at us. Fortunately, I had pepper spray with me that day, which protected us from harm. This experience left me fearful of public spaces for some time, but I eventually realized that living in fear was not the path I wanted to take. Though more cautious, I chose not to let fear dictate my life. However, the increase in hostility, particularly on social media, is concerning and calls for governmental intervention.
My LGBTQ+ identity has had an impact on both my personal and professional life. While I strive to be authentic, it can sometimes be uncomfortable when colleagues or new acquaintances assume things about my relationships or ask questions that assume a heterosexual orientation. When faced with such situations, I choose to educate rather than feel offended, hoping to foster understanding and acceptance.
Living in Taiwan, I've found it to be a relatively safe place for the LGBTQ+ community compared to France. There is less hate, especially on social media platforms. Younger generations seem more open-minded and curious, asking questions to better understand those who are different from them, rather than passing judgment based on sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or background.
To create a more supportive environment for the LGBTQ+ community, specific policies and actions need to be taken. It is crucial to raise awareness in schools, not to promote homosexuality, but to educate children about the existence of diverse sexual orientations and their place in society. By instilling understanding from a young age, future generations can be more accepting, leading to a reduction in violence against the LGBTQ+ community.
Looking ahead, my hope is that coming out as LGBTQ+ becomes a casual mention rather than a momentous event. I envision a world where individuals can openly express their sexuality without fear of judgment or rejection. When someone shares their same-sex relationship, I hope the response is one of genuine interest, asking about the person's name and how they met, just as one would with any heterosexual relationship.
For those struggling with their LGBTQ+ identity or facing discrimination, I offer this advice: take precautions for your safety, but never be ashamed of who you are. When someone reacts poorly to your coming out, try to enlighten them and avoid taking their ignorance personally. Surround yourself with those who love and appreciate you for who you are, and distance yourself from individuals who persist in their negativity. Your time is better spent on people who accept you without reservations.
Allies and members of the LGBTQ+ community can work together to create a more inclusive and accepting society by seizing opportunities to educate others. Instead of getting offended by criticism, view it as a chance to enlighten and reduce homophobia. It's crucial to help people understand that there's nothing wrong with being gay or trans. Our identities do not harm anyone, nor do they have a negative impact on their lives. There is no reason for discomfort or prejudice. Together, we can foster a society where acceptance and understanding prevail.