By Nicole Murray Ramirez
As someone who grew up in the 1950s and ‘60s I recently finally came to terms that I have had difficulty in accepting and understanding some changes that have and are going on in our LGBT community. For me, my “truth” and life has been as a homosexual, a pre-operative transsexual and now a gay man. My generation has always had a difficult time with the word “queer” because for us this word was always a very negative, ugly and violent word used against us for decades.
When some of our younger LGBTQ generation started using and describing themselves with the word queer it has made many of us uncomfortable and reminded us of past attacks and bad incidents in our lives. I also come from a time that we fought just to be called gay men and women and not homosexuals. We were the gay community and that covered all of us and honestly the word lesbian was added, and we became the gay and lesbian community. Many people thought that was dividing the men and women in our community when in truth it was empowering our lesbian community. Having lived as a pre-operative transsexual in Hollywood and fighting for transsexual equality I have to admit it was difficult for some of us when the word transgender came about and the transgender umbrella was lumped in with transvestites, cross-dressers, drag queens all under this umbrella. In in my days, transsexual meant you wanted to change your sex period. I grew up in the era of Christine Jorgenson, an American trans woman known for having sex reassignment surgery in her 20s in 1951, having to go to Denmark to have the surgery done.
Recently I have come to realize that I have not only been uncomfortable with the changes in our community labeling, especially now that it has gone to LGBTQIA+. But although I have not liked these changes and really not understood them, in my own way have come to accept them. Recently, I have realized that in not fully accepting these changes I have disrespected individuals and many of our younger generation and for this I am truly sorry for and apologize to anyone who has felt disrespected or dismissed. My generation has to accept that our younger people have the right to make these changes and be not only who they want to be but called what they want to be called just as us homosexuals fought to be called gay. I do still believe our LGBTQ organizations have and are doing a bad job in educating not only our community but the heterosexual “straight” community about the changing LGBTQ community and especially the transgender community. The truth is that many in our community do not really know how to correctly describe the LGBTQ community especially our transgender brothers and sisters.
Yes I have had difficulty with the new using of pronouns by many of our growing younger LGBTQ community. I still don’t really understand it but it’s the right of everyone to be called and accepted by their own terms and it’s up to me to respect and acknowledge that — period. Many of my generation do not like change, but that’s our problem and actually too bad as change happens in every generation. The suicide rate among our younger generation is high so it’s up to us to be supportive and more understanding. We don’t always have to “get it,” It is up to accept these changes which make their lives and their “truth” more livable and freer to be who they are. So if they want to use pronouns and be called he, she, they, them, etc., so be it.
I know many of you are wondering what happened to bring me to write this column and admit my faults. To be honest, it was attending last Friday’s Transgender Day of Empowerment at our LGBT Community Center and seeing and hearing the pride, visibility, and empowering their “truth.”
All I ask is that our younger LGBTQ generation be more patient and understanding of us and our journey in life. I am a proud, Latino, gay man and you should be proud of whatever you identify as. Thank you for listening.
— Nicole Murray Ramirez has been writing a column since 1973. He has been a Latino/gay activist for almost half a century and has advised and served the last seven mayors of San Diego. Named the “Honorary Mayor of Hillcrest” by a city proclamation, he has received many media awards including from the prestigious San Diego Press Club. Reach Nicole at Nicolemrsd1@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @Nmrsd2.
Editor’s Note: The opinions written in this column are the author’s own and does not necessarily represent the opinions of the staff and/or publisher of Gay San Diego and/or its parent company, San Diego Community News Network (SDCNN). The newspaper and its staff should be held harmless of liability or damages.
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