One of the lessons I’ve learned in the kink and LGBTQ communities is that not everyone here is accepting of others. In fact, some people here are just as judgmental and belittling as vanilla people often are.
While I don’t expect everyone to personally understand or relate to every aspect of my life and I value diversity of opinion, there are some levels of non-acceptance that I will no longer tolerate from people who want to be actively in my life. I consider these my hard limits for relationships of any kind, even friends. These hard limits are also my personal standard for how I accept others.
My quirky interests.
I don’t care if you don’t also like cats or Star Wars or Disney movies, just don’t imply that I’m stupid or annoying for having these interests. My methods of expressing my quirky interests may need adjustment at times, but not the interests themselves.
“Your kink is not my kink, but your kink is ok.” As long as everyone involved is a consenting adult with a reasonable knowledge of what they are consenting to, there should be no judgment about it. It’s cool if you’re not personally into rape fantasies or kitten play, but don’t put other people down for getting off on them.
My gender identity.
You don’t have to understand why calling myself genderqueer is important to me. Just accept it, and cherish me as I am. Don’t put me down for it or act like it’s an attack on your own gender identity (it’s really, truly not!)
My sexual orientation.
No one should ever be made to feel less-than for who they love. I’ve been put down for being bi/pansexual by other LGBTQ people who said I couldn’t make up my mind about being straight or gay. I’ve been denied access to certain queer groups offering support for women who like women because I don’t ONLY like women. Nope, not ok. My sexual orientation is just as valid as anyone else’s.
My personal beliefs about religion.
While I’m always striving to improve my communication and methods of expressing my ideas, and I admit I may need educating to accurately understand what other people believe, my beliefs are precious to me and I expect the people in my life to respect me as I am.
My mental health and traumas.
This is probably the most important one on this list for me.
I can’t help having anxiety and depression, or having lived through so many major life traumas that have made my mental illnesses worse. I didn’t choose to have ADD. The only choice I had was to get counselling, start meds under my doctor’s supervision, and to take personal responsibility to constantly work on these areas of my life to improve my ability to cope with them.
While I am open to respectful, caring assistance from my friends, and I will sometimes seek or accept advice from people I trust on these matters, I have been crushed and humiliated at how some people have treated my mental illnesses. Being called childish or weak for being triggered, or implying that my therapist and doctor’s glowing reports are wrong and I’m still a failure at managing my mental health, is incredibly discouraging.
People who haven’t lived with severe mental illness do not understand how devastating these comments and non-supportive attitudes are to the mentally ill. But even other mentally ill people do this. Some judge others for not coping like they do, or for experiencing mental illness differently.
If you don’t have something kind and supportive to say about someone’s mental illness, please keep your opinions to yourself. You’re just causing them more pain and may actually set them back even farther in their recovery by dashing their self esteem that they’ve worked so hard to build up. If they’re already getting treatment and you can see that they’re working on themselves, be supportive! Or be quiet and let them recover at their own speed! But don’t play doctor with them when they haven’t asked for your help. Just offer your support when you can, put up boundaries if you need to for your own mental health, and respectfully direct them to mental health resources and professionals if they’re truly falling apart on their own.
Don’t be unaccepting under the guise of expressing your opinions. If your opinion says that someone else is wrong or foolish just because they are different than you, and they aren’t hurting you with their differences, then I recommend this old saying:
“If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”