When I first moved to Galveston with my husband, we were immediately surprised with how accepting people were of us as a couple. We are not one of those couples who regularly kiss or hold hands in public. Yet when we frequent Home Depot, grocery stores, and restaurants together, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out we are in a relationship.
While the world has definitely become more accepting of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) persons as a whole, there still seems to be a lack of understanding about our “lifestyle”. I intentionally use the term lifestyle in quotes because I challenge the thought that we live a different lifestyle than our straight friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc.
Do not get me wrong. I recognize we as LGBTQ people do have aspects of our lives that are different. I have to watch where I display affection to the person I love in public. Getting married we had to deal with chapels and churches that only marry men to women. I, along with my LGBTQ colleagues, have to overcome those who discriminate against us at work or socially. Despite all of these challenges straight people often do not face, the daily “lifestyle” of a LGBTQ person and straight person is not always that different.
Straight and LGBTQ people work, pay bills, hang out with friends, and are trying to live our best lives possible. Some stereotypical “straight” activities are now more common among the LGBT, such as getting married and having kids. I even know an openly gay minister. There are also straight people who are engaging in stereotypically “gay” activities such as visiting gay bars and males getting manicures. Even some of the seedier LGBTQ stereotypes are being more recognized as present in the straight community, such as open relationships, casual sex, and recreational drug use. These are just a few examples of how there is not a set lifestyle path based on one’s sexual orientation. Rather, one’s lifestyle path and options should be shaped by one’s interests and goals.
Galveston residents and tourists have definitely embraced the integration of the LGBTQ and straight “lifestyles”. Being a small city with no true gay neighborhood, there has been a cultural integration of LGBTQ and straight people that has allowed for us all to experience that we are more alike than not in our day-to-day lives. The gay bars draw a diverse crowd of all sexual orientations who just want to have a good drink, fun, and watch a show. The restaurants have crowds of all types with friendly waitstaff who don’t give tables of LGBTQ customers inferior service. Local shops are willing to help any shoppers who come in. While no place is perfect, Galveston is definitely on the right path with removing barriers and the stereotype that those of us who are LGBTQ have to live a certain lifestyle that is defined by our sexuality.