Growing up and living in a country where homosexuality is illegal ,religiously and culturally unacceptable , leaves society completely clueless on how to include gay or any LGBTQ+ friends, acquaintances, or colleagues. There are several ways in which one can be inclusive and nondiscriminatory.
Treat others as you would like to be treated: This is a principle that is widely acknowledged and found in most religions and cultures. Each one of us expects to be treated kindly and must therefore treat another individual the same way. With this golden rule in mind, you can’t expect to be treated justly, kindly, and with respect when you are doing the complete opposite towards a certain group of people just because they are different from you.
Be open-minded: Your religious or cultural beliefs might be against homosexuality, but that doesn’t give you the right to shut out or discriminate against LGBTQT+ individuals. Choosing to be open-minded will allow you to perceive and receive other people’s choices, ideas, information even though you might not agree with them. In addition, it will make you more empathetic towards your fellow human beings regardless of who or what they are.
Open-minded people do not impose their beliefs on others, they just accept all of life’s perspectives and realities doing their own thing without judgment” Unknown
Be a good listener: Most people are quick to cross out the possibility of their friend, or a family member being gay or LGBTQ+. Instead, they automatically assume that all their friends and family are straight. By doing this, you unknowingly choose not to recognize those individuals, at the same time you are shutting them down because some of them might be struggling with their identity. By being a good listener, you let your friends know that they can tell you anything and you are there to listen.
Stand up to those who are homophobic: You will agree with me that most people will just ignore, laugh, and even comment when their friends are being homophobic. Statements like “that’s so gay” are said a lot that they are now considered normal and harmless regardless of how harmful and discriminatory they are. Sometimes you might choose to be silent, by doing so you are also sending out a statement that helps perpetuate such bad behavior. Unchecked homophobic statements and jokes later lead to homophobic acts.
Lastly, if you have nothing positive to say, please don’t say anything: Of course, you are free to express your opinions but that doesn’t give you the freedom to be disrespectful or rude. Someone’s sexual orientation doesn’t harm you in any way and it should not bother you.
Authenticity without empathy is selfish, authenticity without boundaries is careless”, be true to your values but show regard for other’s values” Adam Grant.
We should remember that LGBQT+ people are people and should be treated as such. If you are unsure about something, you can always ask or research, ignorance should never be an excuse to behaving badly towards other people.