Literally Lorna column: A family announcement
Announcing one's personal achievements on social media is acceptable. Announcing personal goals and memories on social media is acceptable. Even boasting and poking is acceptable. Is announcing your sexuality on social media acceptable?
Recently, I came across an updated Facebook photo of my niece with the caption "Love is love." Even though I agree with that statement, the photo is what caught my attention. Her hair slicked back, wearing a collared shirt and tie, the caption was outlined in rainbow colors.
I couldn't help but respond with "Really?" Now I know that wasn't probably the classiest comment. To my defense, I had a few beers plus I have a cousin who is a lesbian and many friends who are lesbians. Viewing the photo and caption from this 26-year-old was too much guessing and hinting involved. Of course she responded to my "really?" comment and the discussion began. I asked her if she had something to tell us, and of course she did, why else would she put that photo on social media? Does she not know social media's impact? She responded back with another very captive frame, "I AM GAY."
Well, OK, I thought to myself, now we are getting somewhere. I don't care if she's gay. I love her because she's my niece. Even though not blood-related, still related and it's my duty to support my young relatives. I told her through this back-and-forth so-called discussion to which she responded, "I should hope so, because it doesn't change me as a person."
To that I thought, well yes and no, because it doesn't change who you are but it defines you. You are now putting on social media that you are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, etc., whatever people want to think about that posted photo. At least I had the nerve to ask. When she posted she was gay, I thought to myself, OK, why not just say that? Love is love is true, and again I agree with that but the photo is what most of us see, so say what you mean was my point to her. I responded with "Nothing is more awesome than self-awareness and happiness."
I am not a prude and don't have anything against gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender people. What I am a little miffed about is that she stated it was few years ago she discovered and learned about herself and could define it. Really, a few years ago and a relative is just learning about this over social media? OK, I am offended. Oh, can I be offended? I am over 30 years old and not gay. Well, of not, then I'm throwing down my "disrespect" card.
Just when I thought our exchange was oer, she posted that it is more complicated than just, "I'm gay," and she'll come out with a post explaining. Well now, I'm confused but thought, OK. Like promised, she posted an explanation of her pan-sexual, gender-queer, poly-romantic and social identity as androgynous (most of the time). WHAT?
I admit, I'm not the smartest person around, but I'm not the least educated either. I seriously never heard of these words. I had to look them up. What I understand is pan-sexuals are attracted to either sex; gender-queer is identifying yourself without gender and can change over time. Poly-romantic is having more than one romance with either gender, and androgynous is socially identifying with no gender. Seriously, this changes everything!
Needless to say, I was taken aback by these labels; in my day someone may have been gay, lesbian or bi-sexual, and queer was a word we were taught not to use. I am really having a tough time with this because I'm 50 years old, so I'm thinking I'm old, but really, all these new terms, I thought we were supposed to stop labeling people?
I really am confused and feel very distant from my niece right now. My comfort zone has been disrupted and I don't view her as this cute kid anymore. Why am I having to learn about about these labels that seem to be made up as time goes on?
I guess love will prevail and I will do my best to learn about this, but honestly, I don't like it. I don't have to like it but I owe it to my niece and myself to try and understand. As far as Facebook goes, maybe it should be referred to as "Faceless?"