During a meeting the question “What is your knowledge and experience with the LGBT community?” came up. In the middle of this person’s response a reference to the ‘gay lifestyle’ was made. I had an immediate reaction. When I hear the term ‘lifestyle’ it sends a red flag that the person I am speaking with has little to no knowledge of the LGBT community or to go further, has a negative attitude towards the community. Fortunately it was the former in this recent encounter. Now it’s an opportunity to educate.
Let’s look just at the term ‘lifestyle’ – what comes to mind when someone is talking about a lifestyle? I think of terms like a healthy lifestyle, a sedentary lifestyle, an active lifestyle, or an extravagant lifestyle – just to name a few. Now what do these examples have in common? They are all based on choices. You can choose to be healthy. You can choose to be sedentary. You can choose to be active. You can choose to live extravagantly.
Now, how does this differ from the gay lifestyle? Oh yeah, being gay is NOT a choice. When I wrote my blog post titled “3 reasons you should never say homosexual. ever,” I pissed off a handful of people. And it is probably those same people who will be pissed off after reading this post as well – I am okay with that. Reason #2 in that post was “Without getting too political here we lead into the second theme that pops up with the word homosexual and that’s the bible. There is a passage in Corinthians that uses the word homosexual. This is the passage that the anti-gay, right wing-nuts, grab a hold of to make their case against LGBT rights.” It is for very similar reasons that you should refrain from saying ‘gay lifestyle.’ No, the ‘Gay Lifestyle’ was not a passage in the bible. However, the anti-gay movement and right wing loonies use the word lifestyle to back their claims that being gay is a choice.
My point for sharing this with you is – if you are trying to do business with anyone in the LGBT community, claiming that they are choosing to be gay by saying their ‘lifestyle’ – you are at an immediate disadvantage. It sent off a red flag with me and it will with others. You may be reading this and thinking, “OMG, I had NO idea saying lifestyle would create such a reaction.” I’m here to say, it’s okay. You may have simply not known. Just like the woman who used homosexual in a conversation with me – she had no idea of its implications either. For me, it is a teaching moment. It’s a chance to say, ‘Hey – do you know that by you saying gay lifestyle you are in essence saying that my being gay is a choice?’ Chances are the person will have had NO idea – unless they are the aforementioned right wing loonie. 😉
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