Mind & Soul

Let's Talk About "Bruno"

Rainbow Flower by Sharon Pittaway

I don't talk about sexuality very often. You can say it's like my Bruno. We don't talk about it. And by "we," I mean "me."

But if you've followed my blog over the years, you've seen me share tales of participating in LGBTQ+ events and supporting the community. Over the past decade, I've written about films I enjoyed at the Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival, the volunteer work that goes into preparing for the IndyPride parade, and bearing witness to the Queer Liberation March on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion in NYC.

What hasn't been shared are my stories about volunteering for the West Hollywood Pride parade when I lived in Los Angeles, attending the formerly known Femme Fatale event during 2017 NYC Pride, or working as the volunteer coordinator for 2 years for Newark Pride. I also don't share details about the people I've met over the years whom I've challenged their beliefs about the queer community, their perception of the "gay agenda," or how self-identity is not a threat to anyone else's self-identity.

I am aware that the queer community is more than Pride month, and I firmly believe that lending my voice to help uplift others does in fact help uplift us all. But I don't talk about all of my experiences on this topic because I consider myself an ally of the LGBTQ+ community, and I believe any good ally should listen twice as much as they talk.

And if any of you have met me in real life, you know I can talk about almost anything with anyone for hours on end. However, as an ally, I know that's not the path I need to follow. The best way to support without claiming the spotlight is to ask others what they need from me, and if I am able, support them as best as I can.

But ... there's another reason I don't talk about sexuality very often.

Still from Encanto - Mirabel and Bruno together

It's because it means so very little to me.

We sadly live in a world where if you're someone who doesn't obsess over sexuality, center sexual experiences over all others, or define yourself by who you are/are not attracted to, you can be made to feel as if there's something wrong with you.

You'll not only feel this way, you'll often be told you are this way. You'll hear things like:

So what you learn very quickly after you come of age is to simply stop talking about it. And over time, the topic just becomes ... Bruno.

When you stop talking about it, the strange looks, judgmental snark, and dismissive comments decrease substantially. When no one knows that you don't define yourself by your sexuality or make it the center of your identity, they just assume whatever they want to assume and you shrug off the stupidity that follows as best you can. When you choose to live your best life quietly abstaining from the countless conversations that might lead to questions about you and your dating life, being ignored actually feels like a win.

And although the restraint can make you feel alone at times, there is freedom in not arguing over whether or not you actually exist.

Aces high by Aditya Chinchure

Unfortunately, when you consider yourself an ally of the LGBTQ+ community, it can be especially disheartening to hear the derogatory commentary, judgments and assumptions come from members of the LGBTQ+ community as well.

Over the years, I've watched loud and proud members of the queer community marginalize the voices of others within the community based on an arbitrary hierarchy of "Queer-er Than Thou." And a great deal of that bias and marginalization is directed toward the Asexual and Aromantic community (Ace/Aro). With much of it often going unchecked, and sometimes, even elevated.

As the popular adage goes, being Ace or Aro is a spectrum, and no two people are exactly the same. But because bigotry is neither new nor creative, those on the spectrum tend to hear the same dismissive, harmful and caustic comments directed at them from people within the LGBTQ+ community as much as those outside of it.

Thankfully, you have those like Yasmin Benoit and Cody Daigle-Orians who chose to push back and speak up about the aphobia in our society in general, as well as in the queer community specifically. Many others, particularly younger generations, have refused to stay silent or tolerate that marginalization any more. They have decided to talk about Bruno. Loudly and proudly.

Why?

Because they know Bruno is amazing, but misunderstood. A bit awkward, but well-intentioned. Compelling, but full of compassion. Aces and aros deserve to be heard, but more importantly, they deserve to not feel as if they have to stay silent. Like the magical Madrigal clan in Disney's Encanto, they are a part of the family that deserves to be included if the family is committed to truly healing and growing together.

And if there are those of us who choose to not talk about it, let it be so that it is not because we are afraid of how people will treat us if we do. Until then, I'll always be an ally.

Top Image: Rainbow flower by Sharon Pittaway on Unsplash | Middle Image: Still from Disney's Encanto featuring Mirabel and Bruno Madrigal | Bottom Image: Aces high by Aditya Chinchure on Unsplash

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