As diverse sexual identities have become increasingly visible to mainstream society, normative expectations for romantic and intimate relationships have been challenged. 

 

According to a study conducted by Gallup, the population of individuals who self-identify as LGBTQ has grown in recent years from 3.5 percent in 2012 to 4.5 percent in 2017, accounting for an increase of approximately 2 million people within the U.S. population.

 

Public opinion surrounding the LGBTQ community has evolved tremendously in recent years. In 1986, 32 percent of individuals within the U.S. reported to Gallup their support of the legalization of same-sex marriage. The most recent study conducted in 2018 shows 67 percent of individuals within the U.S. support legalized same-sex marriage. 

 

Since same-sex marriage was previously unpopular in the U.S., our culture of ideas and our language requires some adjustments.

 

While support for the LGBTQ community has undoubtedly increased, social norms surrounding relationships and members of the community pose some resistance.

 

Sexual orientation and gender expression can be relatively fluid in presentation. Allies should be intentional about their interactions with members of the LGBTQ community and those outside of the community.

 

Reframe your expectation for what a normal relationship should look like — normal is subjective.  There are respectful ways to accommodate for members of the LGBTQ community.

 

When making conversation with someone, ask questions if you require clarification. Conversations fare better for both parties when neither assumes falsely of the other.

 

Feminine-presenting women and masculine-presenting men might experience same-sex attraction. Gender expression has no clear influence on sexual orientation. 

 

When meeting someone new, refrain from asserting assumptions about the individual’s sexuality. Ask about a person’s partner rather than a boyfriend or girlfriend.

 

Sexuality can be separate from a person’s relationship status. Individuals who identify as bisexual might be in opposite-sex relationships. However, they are equally valid to bisexual individuals in same-sex relationships. 

 

When confused about a person’s gender, ask about their preferred pronouns. For many individuals who identify as transgender or gender queer, improper pronoun usage can be a sign of disrespect.

 

As Pride Month comes to an end, the 4.5 percent of individuals who identify as LGBTQ will return to their normal lives. However, the discussion surrounding sexual orientation and gender expression should extend beyond the month of June.

 

With 10 million people in the U.S. identifying as LGBTQ, we all have someone in our lives who is a member of the community. We should be seeking to combat harmful stereotypes in order to protect and help members of the community who have suffered. 

 

In order to create a just and accommodating society, we must abandon strict expectations for sexuality.

 

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