“I Don’t Understand You, But I Do Support You.”

You don’t have to understand someone for them to be valid. But where do you draw the line?

Ajinkya Goyal
Feb 25, 2020 · 5 min read
Photo by cottonbro

I’m bisexual. Despite being a part of the queer community though, I don’t really understand gender fluidity. Or being transgender. I don’t understand how someone could feel so uncomfortable with their gender that they want to make the switch to another. Basically, things pertaining to questioning one’s gender.

I also don’t get the appeal behind cross-dressing (I do like a smidge of makeup though, so I suppose there’s that).

That doesn’t mean I think any of that is invalid. Or that I believe gender is binary.

Similarly, I have a couple of friends who don’t completely understand how bisexuality works, but that doesn’t mean they think I’m “weird” or “unnatural” or whatever word is currently being used to drag us right now. They may not understand me, but they do support me. They’ve never made me feel different or less than for liking both men and women (they actually even include both men and women in our games of kiss, marry, kill).

Side note: I’ve recently realised that it’s actually very easy to be gender-neutral in daily speech. Use “everyone” instead of “ladies and gentlemen.” Use “they” instead of “he or she.” Use “sibling” instead of “brother or sister.”

They may not understand me, but they do support me.

If someone is unsure about something and sees it fit to come directly to someone living that concept rather than sifting through (questionable) articles and tweets online, make them feel welcome. Don’t treat their question as stupid, no matter how obvious it may seem to you. The fact that they are trying to make an effort in understanding how you is a good thing and should be treated as such.

For example, a couple days after I came out, a well-meaning, albeit a bit confused, friend came up to me. He asked me how exactly bisexuality works because according to him, the straight part of my mind should counteract any gay attractions I have and vice-versa. Instead of ridiculing him or making him feel stupid, I simply explained that being bisexual doesn’t mean having straight and gay parts, but rather having just one part that is attracted to both males and females.

Let’s make some distinctions now. Here’s what I’m not saying…

I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to understand things. What I am saying is that you should support people different to you even as you’re still understanding them.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to understand things you don’t. I’m also not saying that you should blindly support everything. All I’m saying is to try.

But this perspective also confronts us with the problem of where to draw the line. We support the view that sexuality is a spectrum and we support the LGBTQ+ community because that’s normal. That’s love. And love is, well, love is love.

But where do we draw the line? Case in point: pedophiles. Where do we say that it’s not love, it’s being a creep? It’s being a predator. How do we understand the difference? I’m sure they would justify their actions with “love is love” too. I’m sure they would maintain that they are the missing letters represented by the “+” (spoiler: they’re NOT).

You and I may not be able to understand them, but my logic could be turned on its head to say that we should still support them.

Note: Going through with this mental excursion doesn’t indicate me trying to understand pedophilia. That isn’t something we should even think about doing because the second we do, we risk normalising (one aspect) of rape culture.

Where do we draw the line? Case in point: pedophiles. Where do we say that it’s not love, it’s being a creep? It’s being a predator. How do we understand the difference?

Some may say that we could use popular opinion or maybe the voice of non-legal authorities. But… well, people aren’t that great. They’re conceited and bigoted and opinionated and haven’t a clue about the meaning of “privilege”. Guess we’ve hit another dead end.

I suppose then you must resort to the paradox of your own views. Most people will likely have the decency to support the queer community, while also deeming pedophilia as an unjust and immoral act. But how exactly is one expected to judge something, and by consequence, support something, that they have no information about?

Imagine some sort of being without any knowledge of humanity. Maybe an Iron Man-style AI or an alien of some sort. Imagine telling them, as we so often use to explain being queer, that all love is equal (and I do mean having no loving feelings as a type of love — don’t worry aromantics, I’ve got your back). How would they differentiate between paedophilia and a same-sex couple?

In this case, the concept of consent comes into play. Non-straight sex consists of two consenting parties whose consent can be legally recognised, i.e., they are of age. Pedophilia, however, typically only has one consenting party — the predator. (Even if a child were to give consent, a minor’s consent doesn’t count as valid.)

But, as a general rule, I guess until laws sort themselves out and are able to guide us on moral dilemmas, we’re going to have to rely on ourselves for this sort of thing. Try to understand different perspectives while allowing for a certain degree of common sense to make judgements. And if someone comes to you with a revelation, keep your mind (and a bit of your heart) open.

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