Visibility matters, and people are feeling out all the possibilities of gender and sexuality as the old barriers fall away and people are welcomed to explore and acknowledge their own truths. Part of pulling down the barriers involves the normalization of what was once kept secret or outright attacked. It’s the cultural awareness that comes from being part of the in-group and being seen and recognized and appreciated for what you are. It’s not being made to feel left out and forgotten and shunned.
I know we’ve got a lot of folks who are still adapting to the plethora of identities that are coming to the fore now, but honestly, a couple of extra letters at the end of a recognizable and widely used acronym is a pretty easy hump to get over that helps, even in a small way, those folks who’ve been kept out of the light for so long.
For instance, @Timex, you talk about the awakening you had regarding black people and cops over the last few years as irrefutable public evidence mounted of the seriousness of the problem they had been describing for decades. But well, they had been talking about it for ages before then. It never wasn’t true; just the life you lead shielded you from the worst excesses of the police and blinded you to the plight of their victims. When you glimpsed behind the curtain, you discarded the prior notions and accepted their truth.
I don’t mean to suggest that asexuals face an identical form of systematic discrimination to African Americans; they’re not being routinely beaten up and framed for crimes after unnecessary traffic stops, and their identity is certainly much less visible to the naked eye than, well, darker skin.
But the various gender/sexual identity groups certainly are discriminated against, and have been for a very long time. From marriage rights to invasive shock therapies to familial abandonment to astoundingly high suicide and self-harm rates, they face real challenges everyday that can turn their own identity to poison within them, as society’s misunderstanding and ignorance (at best) or outright hatred and rejection (at worst) slowly filters in and makes them doubt and hate themselves.
They’ve been talking about this discrimination for decades, just the same. The most visible voices were the largest and most well-defined identity groups–gay men and lesbians for a very long time, bisexuals to a lesser degree, and trans individuals more recently. Those groups have developed larger-scale support structures, gained public acknowledgment (and, at times, acceptance), communities, etc. For a long time, folks with less-common or less-understood identities walked under that banner for ease and simplicity, because it was far safer there than on their own, but it was not their own.
They’re stepping out into the light more now, grappling with their own issues and facing their own battles. The LGBT community is often supportive, but can have just as much ignorance and misunderstanding as anyone else (just ask a bisexual how often gays and lesbians deny their truth compared to straight men and women).
Accepting them and welcoming them doesn’t really require anything difficult on your part, and it’s an excellent first step in helping them overcome the challenges in their world. They life a different life than you do, and one you may not be especially familiar with, but that doesn’t invalidate it or make it lesser; just new, to you. But you’ve adapted your worldview to incorporate the truths of other identities before, and you can do so again.
It’s a few extra letters to remember. And alone, they’re not going to eliminate discrimination and hatred. But it’s a step, and symbolism matters in these fights.