You Can Keep Your Insincere Support

By Blaize Stewart

June 03, 2022



Photo credit: Image/Ann H

When I came out roughly 7 years ago I was bubbling to the brim with emotions, the most prominent being the fear that sharing I am bi would impact my life negatively; a reaction that, at the time, was more commonplace than a positive response. While fear dominated my emotional landscape as I finally uttered those freeing words out loud, underneath there were other emotions simmering away. Lucky as I was to receive acceptance from close friends and family, as the outright fear of coming out began to dissipate, it allowed another powerful feeling to take center stage: an almost insatiable hunger for support.

A young attractive man smiles showing thumbs up with both hands against a plain background.

This desire was always there, lingering just beneath the surface and strongly tied to my feelings of fear about sharing my bisexuality with others. The terror of coming out built up over the course of many years, and one of the driving forces behind that fear was the thought of losing the support of those I loved. I didn’t think I could bear the loss of someone important to me due to factors outside of my control, and therefore I found myself accepting any type of support or validation I could — regardless of the giver’s sincerity.

However, in subsequent years as I’ve grown into a prouder, stronger and happier person, my experience with and understanding of support has changed. My definition of the word has evolved from a broad, simple overview to one filled with nuances and subtleties that in the past have either been ignored or escaped my notice. Fortunately, those distinctions and the motivations behind them have become much clearer to me, and have inspired me to be more selective when it comes to accepting support.

For example, time and time again I’ve heard some iteration of the phrase I support you, but I do not support your lifestyle or choices — very much in line with a “love the sinner, hate the sin” mentality. When I initially came out, I accepted these scraps of support happily; now, I can read between the lines and see the prominent issues with these kinds of comments. More often than not, they seem to be shared to ease any guilt or discomfort felt by the outside party; sure, they’ll offer you vague support in the moment because they know you, don’t want to offend you or, even worse, be labeled a bigot by the surrounding community. But when it comes to actually stepping up to support you and the larger LGBT community — like voting in support of inclusive, accessible mental and physical healthcare, government protections and bodily autonomy, to name a few — they either can’t be bothered to raise their voice or will use it to directly harm you and your community.

A man with his arms crossed looks over a his friend who is smiling looking down at her phone. He has an annoyed expression.
Bigstock/Wayhome Studio

To me, this kind of support — which hinges on conditions of censorship and shame — does more harm than good because the underlying theme is still that there is something wrong with being who you are. It’s as if the person offering this iota of support is making a moral or ethical exception for you, but still thinks you and others like you are living life incorrectly. I see it as performative: it’s clear they are doing this for appearances, but still want the world to know they condemn this behavior and lifestyle and, generally speaking, those who engage in them. When your support is conditional upon me hiding elements of my life that you would not expect or ask a straight couple to hide, I don’t want it. I should not have to conceal elements of my life to compensate for your desire to stay in an ignorant, isolated bubble. I’m not saying everyone needs to be hitting the streets fully clad in rainbow gear shooting confetti cannons up into the air and screaming for equality (though that would be amazing), but, to me, there is a clear line your support should meet in order to remain valid.

For example, take my friends and family from home. After I came out, they offered me more unconditional love and support than I ever dreamed of — and I count myself lucky each and every day to have that kind of support system in my life — despite the overall disdain for the LGBT community in my hometown. No, they did not become experts overnight — to this day, they still ask insightful questions and strive to educate themselves on the LGBT community — but they’ve never once made me feel ashamed of who I am.

In fact, I’d credit them with pushing me to embrace myself even more fully than I would have on my own. As I began the work to accept and understand my new position in the world, they supported me by asking genuine questions about my community, love life, struggles, wins and more. Basically, they treated me like a normal human being they care about by being there for me through one of the most challenging transitions of my life. They all had a choice: they could have cut me out of their lives and ignored the issues impacting mine, but instead, despite the challenges, they choose to openly and consistently support me.

That is the kind of support that truly allows one to thrive.

Though I count myself lucky I did not have to search far and wide for this kind of support, it still took me years to decipher the differences between this true encouragement and the performative alternatives. But now I know I deserve more than scraps of false sincerity paired with slights at how I choose to live my life, as does every member of the LGBT community. If you don’t see or feel this support right now, it doesn’t mean it’s not out there; find the right people and you’ll be amazed by how substantive support differs from those other, hollow sentiments. Don’t sell yourself short by settling for less than you deserve.

Beautiful hispanic woman holding heart reminder looking positive and happy standing and smiling with a confident smile

For those turned off by this perspective, who believe I and others like me should be happy to receive any type of support at all, all I have to say is this: your lack of sincere support, while disappointing, does not invalidate our existence or negate the positives we bring to the world. We are here for good, whether you support it or not.


Facebook Comments