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Remembering Jamel Myles, 9-Year-Old, Gay, Suicide Victim

Jamel Myles Suicide Gay Child Bullying

Jamel Myles was a 9-year-old child from Colorado who committed suicide four days into the 2018-19 school year as a result of bullying at school after coming out as gay to his family and classmates. This is his story.

Content Warning:

Suicide, bullying, death.

The following is a true story about the loss of an extremely young LGBTQ child that took place at the beginning of the current school year. About Magazine cautions readers who may have suffered from any of the above keywords in our content warning that this piece may be disturbing, unsettling, and triggering. Reader discretion is advised. 

DENVER — There is no nice way to begin this article. A nine-year-old boy named Jamel Myles committed suicide at the beginning of this school year, and homophobia is to blame.

Over the summer Jamel, a young child who liked Pokemon and YouTube videos, came out to his family as gay. His family members responded well, particularly his mother who immediately affirmed her unconditional support of her young son, reassuring him “I still love you.” In terms of coming out at home, Jamel was actually quite lucky. Though coming out can be frightening and dangerous for most, matters at home continued satisfactorily. With the encouragement of his family bolstering him up, Jamel began the new school year with a tender flame of excitement. He was ready to start the fourth grade, and he was ready to come out to his classmates, too.

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Jamel playing with his beloved Pokemon cards.

Four days.

Jamel Myles was relentlessly bullied for four days before he took his own life. Within that short span of time before his death, Jamel had confided in his older sister about what was happening at school. The other kids at his Colorado elementary school had been mocking and insulting him for his sexuality, he told her, with some of his classmates even telling him that he should kill himself. Jamel did not share his bullying with his mother, which she now deeply regrets. She didn’t know that the bullying was taking place until it was too late.

The death of any child is particularly tragic. Children, with their tiny bodies and missing teeth, have not yet developed the cognition to understand the permanence of their actions, nor that of death. Indeed, their brains haven’t yet developed enough to comprehend the finality of their behavior and that of another’s life. They do not realize that there is not another chance, that there is no way to go back. Young boys are particularly in danger, perhaps because of poor impulse control or increased risk-taking behavior. Jamel is one part of an increasing percentage of youth suicides that are plaguing America.

By the same token, it can seem chilling that children so young can bully another student literally to death. Could the prepubescent bullies have truly encouraged a little boy to end his own life? Did they understand the consequences of their words? Perhaps most importantly, do they realize now what they have done wrong?

Although my initial reaction to the news of Jamel’s death was shock and horror, another part of me is now just angry. I am angry that this happened to a child in the year 2018. I am angry that so many adults around me believe that the struggle for LGBT rights ended in 2015 with marriage equality. I am angry that adults are so blind to how their behavior perpetuates despicable prejudice for the next generation. Although, even as I felt the shock of it all when I first learned of Jamel’s death, that same part of me that was so furious understood exactly how this happened.

All it takes are a few intolerant parents. Maybe one of his classmates came from a family of hellfire-and-brimstone Baptists, and that classmate heard every Sunday about how homosexuality is a moral failure that comes directly from Satan. I know that I certainly heard that enough times growing up not all that long ago. Or maybe one of Jamel’s classmates came from a family where the classmate’s dad, upon seeing two men holding hands, would mutter under his breath about how being gay just ‘ain’t right.’ I heard that growing up, too. Or maybe this classmate didn’t have particularly political parents and just heard it on a Christian radio station, or on a Fox News debate, or on some kind of “family values” advertisement, or driving by a protest. Our world drops reminders, both subtle and overt, that gay people are still very much *not* accepted by a large percentage of this country. There are infinite ways that a child can learn to hate.

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Jamel lounging playfully inside a box of Cheerios.

So these children absorb tiny cues over and over again, about how to hold prejudice against LGBT individuals. Then these children actually meet a gay person. After nine or ten years of homophobic osmosis, they are ripe with insults and Bible verses and hate speech slogans. One or two children lead the charge, and the rest who don’t know any better but want to be popular and mean-spirited for a laugh join in, too. Four days later, a little boy dies.

People on the internet took to asking, “How could he even know he was gay? He was only 9.” Of course, they never ask that question of straight children, nor do they ask, “Who taught these children so much hate and prejudice?” exasperatedly followed by “They’re only 9.” The latter question is infinitely more pressing.

To address the death of Jamel Myles and to prevent future youth suicides, adults in America need to have a societal reckoning. This will come as no surprise to actual gay people — I’m preaching to the choir here. But the adults that are apolitical, the people who don’t necessarily agree or disagree with gay rights and don’t care enough to act either way: these are the adults that we need to be fighting. Apathy in the face of injustice is just another form of injustice.

jamel-myles-mom-leia-pierce-1-696x669-696x600 Remembering Jamel Myles, 9-Year-Old, Gay, Suicide Victim
Jamel and mother Leia Pierce.

It is not enough to feel indifferent about gay rights. It’s not enough to avoid voting because you believe that it doesn’t affect you. It is not enough to remain silent around homophobic people, even if you don’t agree with them. We each have a responsibility to stick up for LGBT people actively, every single day, every single time an injustice occurs, every single time we hear hate speech. We have a responsibility to teach that sort of love and support to the next generation, too.

If one or two students had stood up for Jamel, if just one of students had parents who had taught them to stick up LGBT people in the face of bullying … could things have ended differently? I think so. I really do think so.

Rest in peace, Jamel Myles.

Editor’s Note: Spectrum South & QFest

Last night (Monday, 30 July 2018) QFest held its annual queer film festival’s closing night presented by another queer Houston magazine, Spectrum South. And I have some thoughts.

Dear Readers,

I’m not going to lie to you. Until I was editor of this magazine, I wasn’t that highly involved in the LGBTQIA community here in Houston. Sure, I served as the volunteer chair for Pride Houston, Inc. for a year and a half before. But even then I wasn’t going out to support community events very often, because most of my time was absorbed with work and school and running my committee for Pride. Besides, the way I saw it, working in such a large capacity for the fourth largest LGBTQ Pride parade and festival in the country seemed like I was doing more than my part. But over the last nine months that I’ve served in my capacity as editor-in-chief of About, I’ve learned that just working for organizations in the community isn’t quite enough to make effective change. In order to really make a difference, to really see our community thrive and succeed, to really normalize LGBTQIA people in our community, we have to work not only behind the scenes and in the stage’s spotlight. We have to show up in the audience to cheer on other queer people, their businesses, and their organizations.

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SS creative director, Kelsey Gledhill, About editor Anthony Ramirez, SS editor Megan Smith.

That’s why it meant so much to me to get to be in the audience of the closing night of QFest this year. QFest Houston, which just closed out its 22nd annual film festival, is dedicated to the promotion of LGBTQ artists and artwork, led by artistic director Kristian Salinas, and co-artistic director, Michael Robinson. Their closing night film, a Yen Tan picture entitled 1985, told the heart-wrenching story of a young man named Adrian visiting his Ft. Worth family from Manhattan at what would likely be his last Christmas in 1985 while living with HIV/AIDS. We’ll have a full review of the film available tomorrow, but for now, just take my word (and tears) for it — it was amazing.

But even if the film hadn’t been my favorite, it told a story that many LGBTQ people of my generation need to see. I’m 24. I’m young to be doing what I do. And as someone just becoming involved in the community over the last year, I still have so much to learn about the history of our people and how close to the brink we are politically of falling into the places from which we (read: the older LGBTQ generations) have worked so hard to remove us. But films like 1985, and organizations like QFest whose mission it is to promote and share them serve as a stark reminder that when it comes to the trans people in our community, the nonbinary people in our community, the bisexuals in our community, and the people of color in our community, we still have so much work to do before we truly attain equality for all queer people. The road has gotten easier for gay men and women (especially those who are white). It’s not perfect, but it’s gotten easier, and then backslid some since around … I don’t know … November 8th, 2016? But the aforementioned members of our community who don’t have the privilege that the white gay/lesbian members do are traversing a much more difficult road. And it is our responsibility to see to it that they are getting the equal representation, support, and advocacy that we are given. Moreover, it isn’t just our responsibility to take on, but it should be our privilege to do this for them.

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Why? Because it’s the right thing to do. Because they’re our people, too. Because they are people, too. Because we can’t preach that love is love if we don’t show our love for everyone that it takes to make up this beautiful, variant, individualistic community.

And Salinas, Robinson, and QFest’s other staff, supporters, and fans seem to take both that responsibility and privilege quite seriously. Year-after-year, the festival brings to the screen for Houstonians films that speak to, about, and for the LGBTQIA communities of past and present. This year was no exception, and its films were powerful, poignant, and penetrative of our hearts and minds.

Following the awards ceremony (full list of winners at the end of the article) and the screening of 1985, guests were invited to join both QFest and LGBTQIA magazine Spectrum South down the hall of the Rice Cinema building for a night of entertainment courtesy of the lovely staff at Spectrum. And let me tell you … Spectrum South sure does know how to throw a helluva party. Bradley David Janacek showed up to rock the DJ booth, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio spilled into glasses, a step-and-repeat sporting Spectrum South’s logo dropped against the back of a GIF-creating photo booth, blue and purple floor lights illuminated the walls and ceilings, and a great number of supporters, sponsors, enthusiasts, and artists tiled something of a mosaic throughout the venue. Spectrum South (with the help of their sponsors Bradley David Entertainment, Morena Roas Da Artist, the Catastrophic Theatre, Stages Repertory Theatre, Mystiq, the Orchard Films, Pearl Bar Houston, and the Houston Film Commission) brought the five-day film festival to a climactic end and brought together people from all over our community.

I’d be remiss, however, if I were to pigeonhole Spectrum South to just being incredible party planners, because what they did was so much more than that.

4Hb8DMv Editor's Note: Spectrum South & QFestBy partnering with QFest, Spectrum South opened the door and laid out a welcome mat for young LGBTQIA people to enter into the world of queer film culture. In its 22 years serving the community of queer artists and supporters, QFest’s biggest supporters are of the generation of the time from whence it began. And while that generation is just as important in the normalization of queer people — more so, maybe, considering that they were the ones who fought for our rights, who rioted at Stonewall, who marched in Pride marches before they were parades and when the world wasn’t accepting of us — its up to the new generation to make sure that this legacy continues on throughout our lives and those to follow. And we can’t carry it to the next generation if we don’t participate in it ourselves. It’s easy to shrug off politics and say that everything is corrupt or that our votes don’t make a difference. Apathy is always easier. But the easy road isn’t always the best road to travel. It’s a shorter road, true; but it’s a road that ends in a bleak, lifeless field of disparity for queer people. Our crops can’t grow there if we, the people, are not watering and tending to them. And while we have many amazing cis and straight allies, we cannot rely solely on them to make the difference to better our future.

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Spectrum South’s Barrett White and Dani Benoit

Spectrum South does not take this responsibility lightly. Its co-founders (editor-in-chief Megan Smith and creative director Kelsey Gledhill) put on a sort of proverbial armor every day to bring to the Southern queer people groundbreaking information, thoughtful opinion pieces, lovely community and individual spotlights, and a monumental effort (and a successful one, if I do say so myself) to homogenize queer people into the ranks of straight, white, cis people (read: men). They humbly state that their mission and vision are “to bring visibility to the diverse and resilient individuals, groups, and personalities of the ever-growing queer South,” but I for one think that Spectrum South‘s leading ladies and extraordinary staff aren’t giving themselves the credit they deserve. They aren’t just bringing our visibility to the eyes of straight, white, cis people; and they aren’t just normalizing queer people of all kind to straight, white, cis people; they’re teaching all people (gay, straight, trans, white, black, and/or otherwise) that queer people are making contributions to this world that have gone for too long unrecognized and unappreciated without standing on a soap box or shouting to be heard over the masses.

And that’s the magic of Spectrum South. Any other magazine or newspaper or media outlet of any kind might not show up to support OutSmart, and the Montrose Star, and even our very own About Magazine — businesses that many might view to be their competitors. But you know who would?

Spectrum South.

Captaining their ship are two queer women who have worked in the journalistic market (and beyond) and who have faced hardships and adversities of their own. Yet, here they are, over a year after opening their doors, still kicking ass and celebrating our people. They aren’t just breaking the glass ceiling, they’re sweeping up the floor beneath it and making sure that no shards are left behind to gash the women and queer people who follow in their footsteps. Because at the end of the day, their vision isn’t one of self-importance or making truckloads of money or even just having the chance to write and do what they love.

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Artist Morena Roas & About Media television host, Mel Rose

Their vision is that of a beautiful, adversity- and homo/transphobic-free future in which people are just people, but where queer people match cis/straight people in renown. And here at About Magazine, that’s our vision for the future, too. And that’s why it is so easy for us to also show up and support them, to share their work, and to cheer them on. More importantly, that’s why it is so easy for us at About to be inspired to do more, to do better, and to help them and all queer people and businesses be successful in whatever way we can.

As long as their are organizations like QFest and companies like Spectrum South, the queer community in the South (and all around the world) can only get better. But they can only make things better if the community shows up. To learn. To support. To fight.

QFest 2018 was a massive success; and we are so humbled by the opportunity to be there, and so excited that our friends at Spectrum South saw the importance of the organization and took the initiative to do something to increase its visibility so that our generation and the generations to follow will still be able to experience and create the kind of beautiful art that QFest provides to Houston’s LGBTQIA community.

Congratulations, QFest and Spectrum South. I speak for everyone at About Magazine and our subsidiaries when I say that we are so proud of the work you’re doing and that we will always support your endeavors.

Best,

Anthony Ramirez, Editor-in-Chief


2018 QFest Winner’s List

  • Audience Award: Señorita Maria, la Falda de la Montaña (directed & written by Rubén Mendoza)
  • Houston Film Critics Society Award: Dear Fredy (directed & written by Rubi Gat)
  • Fundamental Jury Prize for Best Screenplay: Kill the Monsters (directed & written by Ryan Lonegran)
  • Reinventing Marvin Jury Prize for Best Dramatic Performance or Most Inspiring Living Subject of a Documentary: Señorita Maria, la Falda de la Montaña (starring Maria Luisa Fuentes)
  • Special Jury Prize for Best Cinematography: He Loves Me (directed & written by Konstantinos Menelaou with cinematography by Kostis Fokas)
  • Grand Jury Prize: Dear Fredy (directed by Rubi Gat)
  • Freedom of Vision Award: Air (directed by Anatol Schuster & written by Schuster & Britta Schwem)

Opinion: Michelle Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

The seemingly harmless 32-year-old comic tore the Trump administration and the media to shreds with her White House Correspondents’ Dinner stand-up gig … and it was beautiful.

The White House Correspondents’ Association (you know, those people who sit in the press room of the White House shouting questions that typically go unanswered or answered falsely by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders) is treated annually with a nice dinner at the White House. The dinner is typically attended by the bulk of the administration, the president and vice president, members of the association intertwined with celebrities and other Washington big-wigs. However, in both 2017 and now 2018, Donald J. Trump has made the choice to not attend the festivities for one reason or another. In his place in 2018, Trump sent Huckabee Sanders.

The evening always boasts at least one entertainer, who in the past have included Jay Leno, Bob Hope, Wanda Sykes, Aretha Franklin, and many others. Last year, Daily Show senior correspondent, Hasan Minhaj, entertained the room, making one-liners about Trump, his staff, the turn-over rate (which even in late April of 2017 was alarmingly high), Russia, and, of course, the press. Minhaj committed himself to performing at the expense of the administration, and was widely regarded for doing so tastefully. This year, (also) Daily Show contributor/writer, Michelle Wolf, was tasked with the honor of performing … and she took no prisoners.

It was mesmerizing.

Throughout the bulk of her performance, Michelle Wolf took jabs at Donald Trump (“Trump is racist, though. He loves white nationalists, which is a weird term for a Nazi. Calling a Nazi a ‘white nationalist’ is like calling a pedophile a ‘kid friend,’ or Harvey Weinstein a ‘ladies man,’ which isn’t really fair — he also likes plants.”), Mike Pence (“Mike Pence is what happens when Anderson Cooper isn’t gay.”), Sarah Huckabee Sanders (“I loved you as Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale. Mike Pence, if you haven’t seen it, you would love it.”), the press corps (about CNN:“You guys love breaking news, and you did it, you broke it! Good work!”) and so many others. When she took the stage, it was probably a general assumption that this tiny, 32-year-old, not-that-famous comedienne from Pennsylvania was going to perform some quick burns, but that she would do so apologetically and with respect to the administration.

What’s the old saying about assuming?

Michelle took the stage and held her own. She had no problem roasting individuals who were seated before her, and even those just a few chairs from her (read: Sanders). She delivered jokes with impeccable comedic timing and proved to the entire world that she’s just as pissed about the state of our nation’s government as many of us are. And by the time the dust had settled, Michelle Wolf became a name that everyone in America would soon know.

However, much like the 2016 election, reactions to the event were … well … divided. While many liberals and anti-Trump advocates rallied around Wolf and lamented their praises, the right, the administration, as well as a great deal of the media, felt differently. Just this morning, even the White House Correspondents’ Association president, Margaret Talev, even released a statement via Twitter responding to Saturday’s monologue. In the statement, Talev outlines that the spirit of the WHCD was “not to divide people”, and went so far as to state that Wolf’s set was not in the spirit of that mission.

Screen-Shot-2018-04-30-at-4.00.13-PM Opinion: Michelle Wolf in Sheep's ClothingEven the president felt the need to take to Twitter to comment on the performance he had not even the courage to attend, stating that Wolf “bombed.” Conversely, many big-names from the left have stepped up and sworn their allegiance to Wolf, supporting her and defending her in social media battles.

Screen-Shot-2018-04-30-at-3.50.41-PM Opinion: Michelle Wolf in Sheep's ClothingScreen-Shot-2018-04-30-at-3.51.52-PM Opinion: Michelle Wolf in Sheep's ClothingScreen-Shot-2018-04-30-at-3.53.28-PM Opinion: Michelle Wolf in Sheep's ClothingScreen-Shot-2018-04-30-at-3.54.06-PM Opinion: Michelle Wolf in Sheep's ClothingScreen-Shot-2018-04-30-at-3.54.46-PM Opinion: Michelle Wolf in Sheep's ClothingYes, Michelle Wolf put on a performance that is going to be long-remembered, as well as one that will be go down in history as controversial. But why was it so controversial? It didn’t seem controversial when a scathing performance was given by the aforementioned Minhaj the year before. And while he too was met with criticism for some of his remarks by the right, the amount of blowback didn’t include a personal letter from the WHCA.

And why is it that America is so angry? (Let’s be honest, it’s mostly because she’s a liberal woman, and liberal women apparently shouldn’t have opinions … least of all express them). Wolf did her job. Not just as a comic (and it was really freaking funny), but as an American. She used the opportunity to point out through satire and rhetoric the issues that a great deal of Americans have with the administration, as well as the press (and even added to the end of her set that Flint, Michigan still doesn’t have clean water.). And while you may not often hear the words ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ being shouted throughout the halls of the White House as they were last night (then again, how can I really know that?), Wolf’s commentary was tasteful and rewarding.

Trump is racist, though. He loves white nationalists, which is a weird term for a Nazi. Calling a Nazi a ‘white nationalist’ is like calling a pedophile a ‘kid friend,’ or Harvey Weinstein a ‘ladies man,’ which isn’t really fair — he also likes plants.

—Michelle Wolf

Everyone is concerned for Sarah Huckabee Sanders and President Trump for what Wolf had to say about them; but what about what those two say to all of us on a daily basis? It’s no secret that Donald Trump is a compulsive liar. He usually gets caught in his lies, denies them, is presented with evidence, denies that, and then comes around and says, “Oh, sure. Yeah. I think that did happen. But it’s okay, because it was just me.” Huckabee Sanders does nothing to help that situation, as she conveniently holds a title that requires her to relay a great deal of those lies to the press. And the problem with the both of them? As they’re spewing bullshit to America, they’re doing so with faces that read clearly: I believe what I’m saying is true. To add insult to injury, Trump doesn’t just tell lies, he’s also a self-proclaimed sexual assailant (refer to the Billy Bush recording travesty), and talks about people—often his constituents, mind you—as if they’re not people, but pawns in his real-life game of Monopoly.

Have we so quickly forgotten how he accused Megyn Kelly of having “blood coming out of her wherever” when she chastised him for his behavior during a debate? Are we ignoring how he mocked a disabled news reporter on live TV at a rally held in South Carolina? Are we forgetting how his temper tantrums have brought us to the brink of nuclear war more times than a few? What about his proposed ban on transgender military members? What about the time he claimed that sexual assault in the military is just what happens when men and women work together? Oh, and there was that time he joked about dating his own daughter (that one still makes me cringe).

Wolf did what Wolf was there to do and she did a damn fine job doing so. The backlash she’s receiving is basically to say that we are now supposed to hold the comics in this country to a higher standard than we are the leader of the free world. And that sort of assertion is, quite frankly, ridiculous. She tackled issues that people don’t want to talk about, including the press pandering to the president for ratings and money.

Wolf wasn’t what the crowd was expecting that night at the WHCD … and thankfully so. Whether you like what she had to say about the president, his administration, or the press, Wolf showed up and did her job the way that a comedian is supposed to (and much unlike the president’s record has proven, she did so without insulting the image or body of a single woman). When is the Trump administration going to show up to do their jobs the way they’re supposed to?

You can watch Michelle’s full remarks here.

Intersex Awareness Day 2017

Intersex Awareness Day 2017
A graphic created by Anthony Ramirez for Intersex Awareness Day 2017.

Everything you need to know about what it means to be intersex on Intersex Awareness Day

(HOUSTON) — For many in the LGBTQ community, there’s a tendency to forget that the spectrum doesn’t stop at the Q. In fact, the acronym often includes a + at the end, to maintain inclusivity of all the people who aren’t abbreviated in the acronym. However it is seldom remembered that LGBTQ+ is actually LGBTQIA: lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, and asexual.

Many of these terms have been imbedded into our memory by now. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual are the most simple to understand for people outside the community, with trans seeming new to straight, cis-gender people (it’s not new, by the way). Asexuality could be perceived as simple explain to anyone who has no grasp on the subject. But when the word ‘intersex’ is thrown around, most people (including many in the LGBTQIA community) don’t have a clear understanding of what being intersex means.

Today, October 26th is National Intersex Awareness Day. The date marks fourteen years since the Intersex Society of North America (which ceased operations last year in 2016) first commemorated of the event back in 2003. The significance of October 26th, however, comes from that very date back in 1996 when the first public demonstration of intersex awareness was made in Boston by the ISNA. Despite the dissolving of the ISNA, October 26th (as well as National Intersex Day of Solidarity on November 8th) are currently maintained and promoted by the the Intersex Day Project, headed by Morgan Carpenter and Laura Inter since 2015.

Still, the question remains for many people within and outside of the community: what exactly is it to be intersex? Many people (wrongly) associate being intersex with being trans. This is not the case. In fact, it’s completely different altogether. So, to help spread awareness and clear up these misconceptions about being intersex on Intersex Awareness Day, I’ve compiled a list of facts about being intersex that will hopefully serve to create a better understanding of the subject.

  1. What exactly does intersex mean?

The trouble with that question is that being intersex has several aspects. In fact, the term is an umbrella for many variations of similar body types. According to IntersexDay.org, “Intersex people are born with sex characteristics that don’t meet medical and social norms for female or male bodies.” This can many any number of things, with innumerable variations of genitals and reproductive organs that don’t correlate to binary standards.

  1. Is being intersex the same as being a hermaphrodite?

No. For years, hermaphrodite was used synonymously with intersex. This lasted until the mid-20th century, but modern medicine has since begun to segregate the two from one another. By definition, a hermaphrodite is a living organism with both male and female reproductive organs. However due the complexity and presentation of intersex genitalia, including the varieties in which the reproductive organs present, the two have become medically disassociated with one another.

  1. How common is intersexuality?

According to the website for for the Intersex Society of North America, calculating these numbers can be tricky and often controversial. To let them better explain, we have provided a link to their FAQ page where the topic can be summed up in more detail, which can be found here

  1. What happens when intersex is identified at birth?

When identified at birth, many parents make the decision to take medical action to assign their child one binary gender. However, due to the the medical complexities behind intersexuality, a child who is assigned a binary gender at birth may not grow up to identify with the gender they were assigned. Intersex pertains not only to the presentation of the person’s genitalia, but also to the hormones the body produces and the functions of the body—which often are neither male nor female, but instead sometimes somewhere in between. One intersex person—who identifies as female—said in an interview with Cosmo that while she identifies with female and presents with fully-functional female reproductive organs, her body does not produce natural estrogen. This is just one of many ways that intersex can present itself in the human body.

  1. How do intersex people identify in terms of sexual orientation?

Just like with all other people, gender and sexuality are mutually exclusive of one another and are fluid. Intersex people are just people! They’re sexually active and enjoy dating just like all other people. Just like all the other important members of the LGBTQIA spectrum, it’s important to recognize that no matter with which gender or orientation intersex people identify, they were born who they are.

It’s time for people on and off the LGBTQIA spectrum to start being more cognizant of intersex people and to be more inclusive of them. A great starting point is with Intersex Awareness Day, and Intersex Day of Solidarity on November 8th. Ignorance on the matter only leads to exclusivity, and just like all other people—straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, trans, cis, and asexual—intersex people should be recognized and celebrated.

After all, they’re only human. They just want to be treated as such and seen by the rest of the world.

So, today, celebrate an intersex person in your life. If you don’t know anyone who is intersex, celebrate the entire intersex community. Show your support and lift them up. Explain to someone who doesn’t know what it means to be intersex. Spread awareness so that intersex people don’t continue to be swept under the rug.

For more information on intersex awareness, visit IntersexDayProject.org or ISNA.org.