I have a group for parents of LGBTQ kids. Sometimes when a parent new to this world of parenting an LGBTQ child joins they use the term lifestyle in support of their LGBTQ kid. It is a term that is used with love and to express their sincere desire to support their kid no matter what.
I always wonder if I should say something or just let it go. I never, ever want to make a parent feel like they are bad or wrong. There are enough people in this world who will do that to us and our children. But I do want to educate so that word isn’t continually perpetuated.
ReligiousTolerance.org says this about using the term “lifestyle:”
In non-sexual applications, this refers to a chosen way of living:
- A person may prefer a rural environment in which to live; others prefer a center-city lifestyle.
- Some may prefer to work for a large company; others like being self-employed.
- Some hope to be married; some to simply live together; others to remain single.
- Religious and social conservatives frequently refer to LGBT individuals as being trapped in the “homosexual lifestyle.” They imply that having a homosexual orientation is not something that a person discovers; rather it is a chosen and addictive lifestyle. The implication is that, since it was chosen, an adult’s sexual orientation can easily be changed. These beliefs are very rare outside the conservative communities.
- GLBT persons generally regard terms like “gay lifestyle” or “homosexual lifestyle” to be quite offensive, since they imply choice and ease of change Still, they do enter many different lifestyles, just as persons with a heterosexual or bisexual orientation do: each may seek to be married, live together with a significant other, cruise, date, etc.
I’m sure the parents and even many others who use that term don’t realize the implications of the use of the word lifestyle. And we as straight, cisgender people can’t understand how it feels to someone who is LGBTQ to hear that word used in describing them. All we have to do is listen, learn and understand. Even if we don’t understand, we need to respect those we love and just believe them.