I was in fifth grade when I found out that there were other sexualities than straight.
I was halfway through sixth grade when my best friend sat me down and explained to me what all the letters meant, that those who belonged to this community were oppressed and why using ‘gay’ as a slur is not right. At the time the acronym was limited to LGBT.
I was in seventh grade when I found out that gay sex was illegal. I was outraged. How could they ban love? That year the same friend told me, “Manya, I think I’m bisexual.”
I was in eighth grade when I noticed that subtle homophobia that surrounded me every day and when another two of my close friends told me that they were gay. One found acceptance with his parents and the other was told, “It’s just a phase, get over it.”
I was in ninth grade when Article 377 was abolished. The acronym was now LGBTQA+.
I was in tenth grade when the problematic Trans Rights Bill was passed; it took away from the trans community everything it claimed to give. Meanwhile, another friend told me he was bisexual. But he couldn’t tell anyone, in the fear that his family might turn him away.
I was in tenth grade when I fought with a senior for casually calling someone else a ‘faggot.’ I knew he wasn’t homophobic but that wasn’t the point.
I fight every time I know I have an audience because the idea isn’t just to make people realise what they’re doing is wrong; it is to let the queer community who is listening know that they aren’t alone. That they aren’t wrong. What else will one feel when their identity is turned into an insult?
The consequence of someone’s lack of vocabulary reaches further than just an insult. It dehumanises a whole community. And when ‘gay’ is used instead of ‘stupid,’ ‘dumb’ or ‘feminine,’ the problem starts. Because then the word doesn’t remain a sexual orientation; it is something to represent things which are ‘bad’ or we don’t like. And just like that, a slip of the tongue makes life hurt just a little bit more.