It’s all about respect

Posted: March 2nd, 2018 | Back Out With Benny, Columns, Featured | No Comments

By Ben Cartwright | Back Out With Benny

We all have so much to learn from each other. Every day, I get to enjoy talking to many different people in our diverse community about their interests, needs, concerns and more.

Our youth have been especially good in the last couple of years about educating those of us who are older about things like appropriate use (or non-use) of gender pronouns, and reminding us the differences between sexuality and gender. Just a few years ago that I would’ve never thought about sharing my gender pronouns when introducing myself — now I even list them on my email signature line!

Overall, the focus on honoring and respecting people’s pronouns and identities is an outstanding thing. It has been met with critics — even from within the LGBTQ community. I’ve heard friends and others in the community say things like, “I don’t get all this pronoun stuff — why do we have to say our pronouns?” Or others who blatantly choose to ignore entire identities (“How could someone be gender fluid?”). These types of sentiments are not good for our community, but unfortunately, they’re out there.

I was at a cafe recently, dining alone, when an older community member came up to me and began talking about community issues that eventually led to a discussion of new terms in our community and how confused he was.

I started to get a little worked up inside, because at first, it seemed like the conversation was going to go down the “gender fluidity nonsense” road. I assumed that this older, white, gay man standing in front of me was going to disrespect some members of our community, because that’s what I’ve heard so often. But I assumed wrong.

He said, “Benny, I just want to say the right thing, because I have the utmost respect for anyone who is brave enough to embrace a gender, orientation, or identity that may not have been initially prescribed to them.” He just didn’t know how to do this.

His suggestion, which I first chuckled at, actually made a lot of sense. He said, “Maybe we could put a poster up on a bulletin board at The Center or somewhere that explains the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation, examples of pronouns other than he/she that are used, and some of the other terms people use to identify themselves as. I just want to learn.”

Being a senior, he said doing an Internet search is difficult for him and others he knows, but some sort of written material would be helpful. And I think his suggestion is great!

It can be so taxing for people who identify differently than someone else to have to constantly explain who they are, how they identify, what it means, and everything that it entails. Could you imagine every day having to explain to someone what it means to just be human? It’s up to all of us to work together to educate our community regarding gender identity.

It’s simply a matter of having respect for each other. The more we respect and take care of one another, the more power we have to ensure a more just society for us all.

Getting Out with Benny

It’s already March! This year is flying by and I can’t wait, because next weekend, on Sunday, March 11, we “spring forward” and will have those extra hours of daylight!

Fridays, 6–8 p.m. — My very talented friend Brody Logan Hess has taken over the piano keys at The Caliph on Friday evenings before the mainstage entertainment begins. He’s a brilliant musician and you’ll enjoy both his piano and singing skills as you kick off your weekend at what he’s calling #BrodyHour (affectionately named after my longtime tradition of enjoying #BennyHour at Babycakes on Friday afternoons). There are great drink specials, too. The Caliph is located at 3100 Fifth Ave. in Bankers Hill.

Tuesday, March 6, 6:30-8 p.m. — March is Women’s History month and The Center’s Young Professionals Council has something unique planned for its First Tuesday Series. In collaboration with the San Diego Area Chapter of NOW, it is bringing a preview of San Diego’s new annual storytelling event, “She Was Warned: Dismantling Barriers, Building Bridges.”

The event includes plenty of time to mix and mingle, coffee, tea, treats for purchase, and a preview of the show (the full presentation of which will be held March 20 at the Black Box Theatre on the San Diego City College campus). YPC’s preview event will take place at Industrial Grind Coffeehouse, 1433 University Ave. in Hillcrest. More information, visit

Benny Cartwright (Photo by Rob Lucas Modern Aperture Photography)

Friday, March 9, 5:30-7 p.m. — We did it! The Center is so grateful for the community’s support of our goal to raise $2 million for our programs, with the generous 4:1 matching contribution by Ron Bowman and Stan Zukowfsky. To celebrate, everyone is welcome to The Prado’s Casa Del Rey Moro Garden on Friday, March 9 from 5:30-7 p.m. A celebratory cocktail and light appetizers will be provided. More information is here:

—Benny Cartwright is the director of community outreach at the San Diego LGBT Community Center. He can be reached at 619-692-2077 ext. 106 or Note: Byline photo by Rob Lucas Modern Aperture Photography.

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