Everyone loves getting compliments. Most of the time, something as simple as a friendly comment about your new haircut has the potential to turn a terrible day into a merely mediocre one. Unfortunately, though, not all compliments are created equal, especially if you're a minority. There are all kinds of backhanded compliments given to LGBTQ people, for example, that are actually insults — the kinds of remarks people intend to be flattering, but instead serve to highlight the perceived differences between the LGBTQ community and everyone else.
Often, these "compliments" take the form of microaggressions, or the subtle, daily insults that are part and parcel of being a minority in the modern day. Rarely do people have mmalicious intent behind such comments; saying that their friend "doesn't act gay" often stems from ignorance rather than any overt homophobia (although there's always the chance that it does stem from homophobia, too). In fact, they may be trying to pay a compliment, in a roundabout, heternormative way — which is why it's important to educate people rather than shut them out of the conversation entirely.
On the other hand, that doesn't negate the effects that microaggressions have when you experience them day after day with no end in sight. That's why so many LGBTQ people are so tired of hearing these "compliments."
1. "You Don't Seem Gay."
Believe it or not — actually, just believe it — LGBTQ people aren't defined by their sexuality or gender identity. Some may largely conform to certain stereotypes, while others may never do so; the majority of us are somewhere in between. Sexuality and gender identity is an important aspect of our senses of self, of course, but that has no bearing on anything except who we're attracted to. Saying that someone doesn't "seem" gay, and especially congratulating them on appearing straight, just furthers the idea that LGBTQ people are fundamentally different than everyone else — and that "straight" is the default.
2. "I'd Think You Were Hot If I Was Gay."
Theoretically, this is someone's way of saying you're attractive. Unfortunately, that qualifier tacked on at the end rather takes away from the compliment. Their scramble to keep from being perceived as LGBTQ, which is so strong that they can't compliment someone's appearance without clarifying their sexuality, is essentially an adult version of "no homo," and that's no fun for anyone involved.
3. "I Love Gay/Bi/Trans People."
It's a nice sentiment, but... Really? You love all of us? It's safe to assume whoever says this doesn't actually love every single gay, bi, trans, or QA+ person they meet; we're people, after all, and sometimes that means we're unlikable jerks. Rather, they probably love the stereotypical versions of the LGBTQ community they've come to believe in, not the actual people they encounter.
4. "Trans Men/Women Are Hotter Than Real Ones."
It's great that someone is showing support for the trans community, but statements like this just further the perceived divide between trans and cis individuals by placing them in competition with one another. Furthermore, saying that trans people are more attractive than "real" men and women implies that a trans person's preferred gender identity is "fake." Yikes.
5. "You're Totally The Man In The Relationship."
This one's a doozy, combining both gender politics and a misunderstanding of LGBTQ relationships. Such phrases are generally intended as praise; if you're the "man" in a relationship, you're typically considered the dominant one. Not only does this imply that your partner isn't as deserving of respect, it's also based in gender norms that prize masculinity and devalue femininity — not exactly the stuff of compliments.
6. "You're So Hot, I'd Love To Watch."
This thought is only a compliment in the overheated, oversexed Neanderthal brain from whence it came. To everyone else, a "compliment" like this just makes you want to take a shower.
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