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31 questions in the "LGBTQ" category

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I'm gay but not open, I fear my life will be worse if I was true to the world

It's ok to have these worries but don't let them be the thing stopping you from being yourself.

Coming out can be really hard but doesn't have to be. If there is a trusted friend you can speak to then most times that's the best place to start. Get some people around you that are there for support and advice.
If you find it hard to do it verbally, a letter is another option. Many people I know have done this due to the same fear you have and it has worked for them.

But the above is if you are wanting to be open. If not, there are organisations that are there to help people who may not be out and open and the support and advice is always there. You can often get in touch anonymously.

As an openly queer Muslim myself, I feared the worst too. You'll hear a lot of different things from different people about what the best way forward is but I have always found the bottom line for me is that sexuality is a personal and private matter. There's no reason why anyone needs I know if you don't want them to know. This isn't about hiding who you are but rather placing the emphasis of importance on you rather than other people. The only important thing is if you're happy and comfortable. Just because you may not be out to the world it doesn't mean you're being any less true to yourself. Please don't ever think that.

Now, if there comes a time where you do feel like you want to or indeed need to come out then there are some things you need to take into consideration that I was kindly advised from the LGBT Muslim organisation, Imaan:

1. Make sure you're ready. Don't feel pressured into anything.
2. If you're coming out to parents make sure you have a backup plan i.e. somewhere to live and a job for security.
3. You could always wait until you have a partner.
4. Emotional support from trusted friends is always key.

For now though, you may want to consider coming out to a close and trusted friend? I found that even though I wasn't out to the world then it elevated some of the burden from my shoulders. In any case, the journey of life and indeed sexuality is our own to take so only you will know of how you feel and know how the people around you will act. One last thing, your safety is the MOST important thing.

Asked on 23rd January 2013 in LGBTQ

What is the difference between bisexuality and pansexuality?

Pansexual rejects the ideas that there is only two genders male and female, where as bisexuality identifies that there is male and female.

Pansexuality can sometimes be confused with bisexuality. People who identify as pansexuality may also use the term genderblind as they don't identify male/female in a potential partner.
So pansexuality goes against the idea of a gender binary.

We have a personal story that has been written about pansexuality if you would like to read more: http://www.liberateyourself.co.uk/lgbtq/lgbtq-experiences/ive-decided-to-accept-the-label-of-pansexual/

Asked on 28th October 2012 in LGBTQ

If Trans people have heterosexual relationships why are they considered to be part of LGB ? .... they have privilege in the people they love in the eyes of society so why consider them part of our movement ?

 Firstly, not all trans people have heterosexual relationships: there are trans people who are straight, gay, bi, lesbian, queer, pansexual, asexual, and more! There are also some trans people who identify as neither male nor female (terms include non-binary, gender-fluid, and genderqueer) and as such, cannot be considered to have traditionally heterosexual OR homosexual relationships.
Secondly, before heterosexual trans people transition to live socially as their true genders, they can be perceived as homosexual (or even identify as such - such as "lesbians" who come to realise they are trans men) and as such have strong links with the LGB community. Looking back at our historys, queer identities used to be a lot differentiated: some of the people who were once considered gay male drag queens and stone butch lesbians have now come to understand themselves as trans people instead.
Thirdly, and most importantly, "LGBT" is a banner under which we organise against a shared system of oppression. Lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals do not have identical problems: while equal marriage (for example) is a shared problem, things like the ban on blood donation, the fetishising of female/female relationships, and bisexual erasure are all distinct problems not shared by everyone under "LGB". Similarly, trans people have distinct problems (such as access to medical treatment, and legal gender recognition) but also many shared ones. "Homophobic" bullying tends to be directed at people who are seen to be gender-noncomforming: this is just as likely to cover trans people as it is LGB people. Ultimately, in the eyes of the people who hate us, we're all "queers", whether we're LGB or trans. Equal marriage is an issue for trans people too: under current law, if a person transitions while married, they are made to divorce and get a civil partnership instead (and vice versa).
Ultimately, nobody is saying that trans people and LGB people have _exactly the same problems._ But there are such significant shared oppressions, and such significant overlap between trans people and LGB people, that it seems foolhardy to _not_ unite under one banner. You say that straight trans people are privileged 'in the eyes of society' in terms of who they love - well, cis LGB people are privileged 'in the eyes of society' in terms of being seen as their true genders; and if a trans person in a straight relationship is seen as being the wrong gender, then they'll be seen as gay/lesbian too! I'd also really like to question your use of the terms 'they' and 'our movement' - trans people are already part of this movement, and have been for decades. Look up the Stonewall Riots!

Asked on 22nd July 2012 in LGBTQ

Do asexual people masturbate?

Although in a typical meaning asexuality means 'without sexuality' some asexuals do experience sexual desire, but these manifest themselves in a manner that is different to other sexualities and can be fulfilled in a different manner too. Just because someone doesn't experience sexual/romantic attraction in a classic way doesn't mean they don't use masturbation for purposes other than the classically attributed to sexuality (physical release). That said, in the same way different people have different sexual habits and some choose not to masturbate, the asexual population is diverse and some may not desire to masturbate.

"Most asexuals are physically capable of sex. Some masturbate and some don't. Masturbation produces a pleasurable sensation and as such many asexuals choose to use it to take pleasure from their bodies. Many asexuals can only arouse themselves manually (by applying friction to sexual organs), others can turn themselves on with thought." [http://www.asexuality.org/home/general.html#def9]

Asked on 30th May 2012 in LGBTQ

I Understand how one can be a different gender, as it is an identity thing, but how is it that some people say they are not sexed m or f, when sex is biological?

There are actually lots of ways not to be sexed male or female, technically speaking. We generally consider there to be two chromosome variants for humans, xx and xy, and two distinct types of genitalia and reproductive organs. However, some people are born with a different make up, and usually prefer to refer to themselves as intersex. Not all people with chromosome variations or reproductive organ variations identify as intersex, so it's worth remembering that what matters is how the individual chooses to define themselves. It is estimated that around 1 in 1000 babies are born intersex.

There are, presently recorded, at least 16 ways to be intersex. Some ways of being intersex that we know a bit about are:

Klinefelter syndrome: having xxy chromosomes.

Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome: having a clitoris, labia and partial vagina and internal testes.

Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (or CAH): being born with a phallus and empty scrotum, a uterus and ovaries. Most people with CAH will develop breasts and begin menstruation.

Hypospadias: refers to a range of conditions in which a person has phallic tissue but does not have the urethral opening at the tip. This can be a displacement in a typical penis, or can occur with an intermediate genital appearance.

'True Hermaphrodites' are considered by doctors to be individuals who have ovotestes, gonads with both ovarian and testicular qualities.

This is not a complete list, but rather some of the more common flavours of intersex folk.

Some people with intermediate genitalia have invasive surgery performed on them as babies to make them more 'typically' male or female. This is generally regarded as mutilation by the intersex community and often causes the individual considerable trauma in later life, especially if the doctor operated to make them appear, female, for example, when actually they feel themselves to be male.

There is also another way to think about your question, which is that many doctors take a quick look at the genitals of a baby, yell 'it's a boy' or 'it's a girl' and it's never questioned again. Despite this, having an extra chromosome is relatively common. Many people with chromosome variations never even know, because it's never checked. Some (not all) trans* people find that when they visit an endocrinologist to begin hormone replacement that they have significantly higher or lower levels of particular hormones already, hormones being one of the ways in which our bodies develop sex characteristics. So the idea of two discrete biological sexes is actually not as simple and straightforward as many people think it is.

Holistically society struggles to distinguish between gender and sex, and whilst that is still the case, some people may feel uncomfortable being identified by sex because of the assumptions and implications then made about an individual's gender.

If you want to know more about intersex issues have a look at this website: http://intersexroadshow.blogspot.co.uk/

Asked on 28th May 2012 in LGBTQ

I identify as a transgender lesbian, however I am having troubles with my parents understanding how I feel. They believe that wanting to be a woman and still being sexually attracted to women are "conflicting feelings". Is there anything I can do to help then understand how I view myself as a transgender lesbian?

I guess it's hard but you have to keep explaining to them that your gender identity IS separate from your sexual orientation. It is more than ok to identify as a woman and be attracted to women as a woman.

I guess it's a lot for your parents to take on, I came out a long time ago as a lesbian and now feel differently about my gender identity and my sexual orientation has become much more fluid. I'm trying to explain to them that I don't comfortably identify as a woman (I never really have, but have felt this more strongly over the last year or so since meeting more people in the same boat) and I'm having similar difficulties.

It'll take time, but be patient with them and hopefully they will grow to be more supportive especially when they see how happy you are- as a woman who likes women :)

Asked on 16th April 2012 in LGBTQ

I don't know what my gender is. I've always defined as a woman but recently I'm not sure if that's just habit. How do I work out my gender?

Unfortunately, there's no magic road map to working out your gender; it's really a matter of what makes you feel comfortable. However, you can try experimenting with the way you think about yourself or express yourself and see how that makes you feel.

I've personally found 'My Gender Workbook' by Kate Bornstein very useful as it has everything from simple tick-box quizzes to longer personal reflection exercises. You really can't say that it helps you to find your gender, but rather it helps you identify where you feel your gender might fit in with others' ideas, what sort of gender ideas make sense to you, and what your whole feelings are around gender. It's useful for everyone from someone just beginning to question the whole man = penis, women = vagina thing, right through to people who have identified as trans for some time.

This website provides an insightful diagram about gender: http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2012/03/the-genderbread-person-v2-0/

Asked on 16th March 2012 in LGBTQ

I'm struggling to help a family member see that it's not ok to have the 'I don't care if your gay, as long as you don't throw it in my face' attitude, and to help them realise that comments such as 'I don't talk about being straight all the time' are coming from a place of privledge. Has anyone got any ideas/websites/videos I can show them to help get the message through? Thank you

Have a look at the below links which we hope will be useful:

Organisation
Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays - http://www.fflag.org.uk/

Books
'A Stranger in the Family – how to cope if your child is gay' - Terry Sanderson

'Family Outing – a guide for parents of lesbians, gay and bisexual children' - Joy Dickens -[A good book covering all issues involved, written from a British perspective.]

'Is It a Choice? Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Gay & Lesbian People', the book I most recommend to teaching colleagues who ask for more information on the topic.

Web-sites
http://www.leadwithlovefilm.com/?clid=CJyXr7GNgK0CFYIPfAodXF_HTg
http://www.wikihow.com/Come-Out-As-Gay-or-Lesbian

A much more expansive reading list can of course be found at Rictor Norton’s site at http://rictornorton.co.uk/

Asked on 26th January 2012 in LGBTQ

Is there such a thing as a gay Muslim?

Yes, there is such a thing – and many of us do exist. As a Muslim I pray, have a great belief in Allah and believe that the prophet Muhammed was the messenger of Allah. I am also gay.
Muslims, as you know, vary in their beliefs, life styles, culture, and politics – and in any other way humans differ.
Sexuality is one of these differences. If a Muslim man believes in the fundamental values of Islam but is merely more sexually attracted to men rather then women, then why shouldn't that person be considered a Muslim. After all, it would be difficult to find many Muslims who completely agree on everything.
Then it comes down to definition. For example, the Saudi Wahhabis would not really class the Persian Shias as Muslims. Also, many Muslims would not consider Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam a Muslim group. Therefore, weather you consider someone to be a Muslim is down to you, but there are many gay people out there who would consider themselves to be Muslims

Asked on 21st January 2012 in LGBTQ

How does an STI-free person safely have sex with a person with an STI? Specifically when two vaginas are involved.

Latex gloves (with lube!) and dental dams (which come in many flavours) are not scary as people think, and can actually be quite fun!

If you can't get hold of any dental dams- you should be able to get them at STI clinics, and they are also sold at pharmacies- cut down one side of a condom and pull it out so it is like a sheet and it can be used in the same way. Put the spermicide side down on the vagina though so it's more pleasant to lick!

Also use a fresh condom over any vibrators or dildos and change it when switching between you.

Be sure to get yourself regularly checked out- lots of STI clinics are walk-in and take the hassle out of booking an appointment.

Asked on 13th January 2012 in LGBTQ

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