‘Love is love’! These words have never been more meaningful than they are now. You are now allowed to love with freedom regardless of race, color, caste, religion, nationality, and most importantly ‘gender’. But, this hasn’t always been this way. If we take a sneak peek into history then we would know how same-sex love was considered immoral, evil, and illegal. Even though the LGBTQ community has existed since ancient civilizations, it was never considered usual.
The idea of owning up to your sexuality never existed until now due to centuries of shame and suppression of the community. It was in 1994 when The United States of America dedicated a whole month for the observance of the LGBTQ community—LGBT History Month— that started to change the dynamics for the community. However, the idea of accepting the community and welcoming them into society was still vague until now. The credit for the same could be given to several historic protests and fights by rights activists. But no changes were as humongous as those of now. All thanks to Gen Z that accepted the fact that sexual orientation is not in one’s hands and no one is ‘abnormal.’
The acceptance of the LGBTQ community is the beginning of a new era. It often makes me wonder what it must be like to be oppressed for decades and then finally get a chance to be your true self. How thwarting it must be to pretend, just so you could fit in the society based on irrational and unjust rules. It is these realizations that helped in changing the mindset of Gen Z. The process of learning and unlearning among the masses of Gen Z is what helped the LGBTQ community secure its rightful place in society. But millennials and generations before them still have a hard time accepting this new change. Then how is Gen Z helping in building a safe place for the community?
One way opted by Gen Z to create a safe space for the LGBTQ community is going beyond customer service and experience while selecting brands and consuming products and services from businesses that support the LGBTQ tribe. Gen Z is the largest group of consumers today, and the market is also full of choices. Gen Z has become finicky about consumer goods and services. They are preferring brands that are an ally and are using inclusive language to the LGBTQ community over other brands. This has pressured brands to acknowledge the presence of the LGBTQ community through their products and services. It also made sure that the LGBTQ tribe is not treated indifferently. All businesses, from multinational corporations to small businesses and entrepreneurs, and everything in between, should take note of this and realize the importance of the LGBTQ community’s presence.
Sexual orientation or how one recognizes themselves has nothing to do with gender. This is a fact that is not taken well by a big chunk of previous generations. But Gen Z is embracing this by giving value to one’s pronouns and addressing them as per their will. Let me tell you if you’re a woman but you want to be addressed with the pronouns he/him, you can, and vice versa. It’s your time to own your true self and embrace your identity. Likewise, fashion is also becoming gender-neutral now. You can fearlessly wear skirts and suits regardless of your gender. Even luxury brands like Gucci are recognizing the LGBTQ community by releasing non-binary collections. Artists like Harry Styles, Vin Diesel, and Billy Porter also set examples by wearing skirts and gowns which are stereotyped to be worn by women. The amount of support given by Gen Z to these artists had made it clear that societal norms can no more confine people.
This is not all, Gen Z is also trying to do its best to spread awareness and understanding among people that the LGBTQ community is as much a part of society as they are. The protests are being done where the LGBTQ rights are not recognized and pride parades are being done to celebrate the community. During these mass gatherings for the LGBTQ community, the maximum crowd is of high-schoolers and undergraduates, depicting the acceptance of the LGBTQ by Gen Z. Furthermore, Gen Z is openly embracing themselves if they are queer, encouraging others as well to come out of the closet. By standing together for LGBTQ rights, GenZ has been instrumental in helping the world understand the equation of life and spreading the message that ‘love is love.’
The preferences that Gen Z is making in consuming the content are also helping in building a safe space for the LGBTQ community. A few years ago, enough recognition wasn’t given to the LGBTQ tribe. All the movies and the fictional shows were based on the societal norms of lovemaking, where only being straight was considered ‘normal.’ However, rules are changing now. Gen Z is more interested in consuming content that has a fair amount of representation for the LGBTQ community as well. This has encouraged OTT platforms to stream content that represents the community. Movies like Portrait of a Lady on fire, Margarita with a straw, Weekend, and shows such as One Day at a time and Queer eye are loved by Gen Z. These preferences have pushed producers to deliver content that is representative, unbiased, and realistic. It is not just films that Gen z watches, but the social circle they interact with also creates a difference. In earlier times, interconnection amongst various communities was non-existent, one would hardly meet people of a different race let alone meeting people of a different sexual orientation. With social media in the picture, such differences are now readily accepted due to the sheer numbers of it which we can see. Social media and the internet have played a huge role in bringing people together, every community in the world regardless of their preferences, and in some way, making us more liberal and accepting towards the diversity of this world.
Historically speaking, acceptance comes with time and introduction. Famous names like Alan Turing were ridiculed only for their sexual orientation, the same pattern can be seen with several other individuals. Thinking about older times we feel ‘What horrific people must they be?’ But to understand someone’s thoughts of the mind, we need to live in the societal structure of the time as well. Blaming old times for their unjust laws and principles has become a trend, but change comes with societal development and not individual decisions. GenZ has contributed to this development not just by making individual decisions, but by implementing it on everyone. The purpose is not just to open your eyes and ears to the idea of liberty, but to advocate the same thoughts openly and publicly denouncing the absence of it.
The dynamics of an inclusive society are now evolving. This change was much needed! And Gen Z had and is still playing a key role in shaping a safe space for the LGBTQ tribe. But it’s time all the generations come together to give the LGBTQ community the respect and dignity it deserves. When people are from the LGBTQ community they might be uncomfortable until they know they are welcomed in your congregation. To make them feel comfortable or showcase that you are an ally then you must engage with them. Do not let them sit in a corner and feel uneasy, take a step yourself and approach them. You do not have to try too hard to make LGBTQ community members feel accommodated. The harder you’ll try the more uncomfortable it will be for them. Start gradually, read and learn more about the community. Read about the journey of the community and how after years of oppression it is finally making its place. Staying in the closet is a task, but coming out is also one.
The constant fear of rejection and being unacceptable can eat your guts. This is the fear that a member of the LGBTQ community has to live with every single day. One way of reducing this fear is by letting go of stereotypes and assumptions. Not every gay would want to wear a dress and not every lesbian would choose to cut short her here. These stereotypes are creating constraints for the community and making them feel outcasted. It would be simpler if you would choose to look at them exactly the way you look at straight men/women. If you expect a member of the LGBTQ community to behave differently in a regular environmental setting it’s time you let go of your delusions.