Imagine being a teenager who has just realized they might be gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, trans, or multiple things at the same time. Imagine feeling somewhat lost, lacking a support circle, or even if you have that, still being bombarded by a mostly intolerant society that who you are is not normal, that people like you usually end up living sad and unfulfilled lives. Maybe you don’t need to imagine that. For many of us, this was our reality growing up, especially if we were brought up in a conservative society, in an unsupportive environment and without positive role models to look up to.
What was vital for you during this period? What did you desperately search for, in order to find your place in the world? Supportive friends? A LGBT group? Books and movies? Probably all of these together, but at the same time what we sorely need as LGBT+ people, are positive role models.
Society tends to abstractly remind us that if you work hard enough you’ll achieve anything you want, you will become anyone you dream of. While that can be a motivational thought for many, it isn’t always that easy – or rather, it’s easier for some people who are born with certain privileges into this world, and it’s harder for other people who aren’t, and have to fight a bigger battle for their efforts to be validated and recognized.
One of those privileges and biggest sources of motivation is seeing people like you achieving the things that you are trying to achieve. It’s like being told “look, she made it! If she is famous/successful/happy/accepted, then so can you!” It’s being actively shown that there’s point in trying and in believing, and that’s definitely more effective than generic, abstract reassurance.
Having positive role models in all domains and disciplines of professional, political, social and cultural life, helps increase visibility, replace stereotypes against LGBT people with diversity, and encourage us to try more things and to not be afraid.
Today, there is an increasing number of visible LGBT role models in science and sports, and there are countless examples of celebrities people to look up to in the arts, in politics and in other domains.
However, we still need visibility. Things aren’t that positive in every country and type of society, and there are many places and contexts in which LGBT people are still vastly underrepresented. Especially when it comes to minorities – racial, religious, disability, bodily diverse – we still have a long way to go. Even when there are LGBT people represented, let’s say on TV, in films, or in politics, more-often-than-not they are white, able-bodied, conventionally attractive, etc.
Our community is much more than that. We have countless different experiences, and we need to see all of them embodied in people who have achieved things that inspire us in life, whatever these things may be. We need to be reminded that we, too, can do it.
The Pride Power List 2017 includes people of all identities and experiences who are successfully in all domains of human life. It is strongly recommended that you check this list if you are seeking inspiration and motivation to work hard for your dreams! So many wonderful people who started off just like you are in there!
Positive role models remind us that we’re not alone, that everything is possible for people who look, feel and live like us.