Gatekeeping in the LGBTQ+ Community

Illustration by Kaiya Moultrie

Life can be a struggle when you are constantly told to hide who you are, especially for the LGBTQ+ community. The queer experience is one of constantly trying to find a place to belong. 

There are people who have found solace in various queer spaces, whether it be online or places on campus.

What happens when you are deemed not 'queer enough' or 'too queer' for those spaces?

Gatekeeping is defined as the act of controlling or limiting general access to something.

Gatekeeping has become a prevalent problem within the LGBTQ+ community, where some people take it upon themselves to determine who is ‘queer enough’ to be a part of the community and certain spaces.

In cases like these, safe spaces stop being safe for many queer people, who not only face discrimination from many non-LGBTQ+ people but from people within their community as well.


The term biphobia refers to the belief that monosexuality, people who only engage in relationships with one sex, is superior.

One of the challenges that members of the LGBTQ+ community face, specifically people who identify as bisexual, is the notion that they aren’t really queer because they are ‘straight passing,’ a term used to describe people who tend to fit into the mold of what is valued by cisgender heterosexual people.

This notion can erase people's sexualities and gender identities, causing discomfort in a community that promises to be inclusive towards others.

“We [she and a friend] were talking about someone else who identified as bi and they said that, since she had never dated a man she wasn't bi,” Phoebe Huey, a fourth year Industrial Design major at RIT, explained.

Huey, who currently does not have a label, said when she identified as bisexual she was nervous due to the stigmatization around bisexuality.

“There shouldn't be a gold standard to your sexuality, your journey's your own, you're not lesser than or more or better than somebody because of who you dated.”

Hearing someone talk about bisexuality this way made her feel uncomfortable since at the time she had not been with someone of the same sex. 

“[For me] it was kind of the opposite, I hadn't dated a woman. So that just made it harder for me to want to come out to people, just knowing that some people have that kind of mindset,” Huey explained.

 The notion that people fake being bisexual goes even further when someone changes their identity.

Sexuality has always been a struggle for me, and I have had a hard time throughout my life accepting who I am. I changed my label depending on what I felt more comfortable with.

I experienced ostracization within the community from other queer people, I was told I was faking it, or to 'make up my mind.'  

Ashton Marhevka, the vice-president for Outspoken at RIT, discussed how bisexual people have oftentimes been excluded from queer spaces.

Bisexual individuals are often judged superficially: People see them with their opposite-sex partner and they are deemed straight. It has created an environment where to be LGBTQ+ you have to meet a criteria to be accepted as part of the community. 

This leads to bisexual people being excluded from queer spaces.

"Some people use[straight passing] as a means to exclude people. For example pride parades, [people say] you can't go to this pride parade because you're a straight couple," Marhevka said, explaining how bisexual people in opposite sex relationships are discriminated against.

 Gold Star Lesbian

Gold star lesbian is a term that refers to lesbians who have only had sex with other women and not cis men.

This term is very controversial, some take pride in the term while others feel that it further makes women's sexualities defined by men. 

A cosmopolitan article discussed why the 'gold star lesbian' is harmful.

It stated that the term is insensitive toward trans and bi women, survivors and lesbians who have been with men in the past before coming out. 

It gatekeeps the community by putting a standard that lesbians prioritize in dating while belittling the experiences of lesbian or bi identifying women.   


Among the gay community, there is an issue with masculinity.

An article by explored how toxic masculinity is prevalent in the gay community.

Masculinity is oftentimes valued more in relationship partners, which in return puts pressure on gay men to be more masculine. 

This causes a problem where more feminine presenting gay men are disregarded in the dating world.

This problem extends the other way where nontraditionally masculine gay men exclude masculine presenting gay men because they are deemed 'not queer enough.'    


Bisexuality is not the only identity to be put under a microscope. In regards to being transgender, the term transmedicalism is a term used to define the belief that in order to be trans you must experience some form of gender dysphoria.

“It takes away the spectrum of it, like a bullet list,” Marhevka said. “We've broken down the binary and replaced it with another binary.”

Transmedicalists often fall into the mindset that you also need to medically transition to 'officially' be trans. This disregards people who are trans and don't go through surgeries.   

" I'm on HRT, that's all I'm going to do," Marhevka stated.  "I don't [personally see] the reason why I want to get further surgeries after."

There are trans people who can't transition either due to the cost or other reasons. 

This ostracization plays further into the harmful mindset that gender is a strict binary, when a more accurate description is a "bimodal distribution," and is more akin to a spectrum.

“We've broken down the binary and replaced it with another binary.”

Where These Issues Stem From

These issues stem from the way our society has marginalized queer people.

People shun others for not appealing to the standards that non-LGBTQ+ people have placed on us for acceptance.  Sometimes this anger is born from envy, and other times it stems from the oppression they have endured.

Instead of fighting within our community, we should support one another no matter what and focus on undoing the harmful things that we have been conditioned to believe.

There should be acceptance among one another for who we are.

“There shouldn't be a gold standard to your sexuality, your journey's your own, you're not lesser than or more or better than somebody because of who you dated,” Marhevka said.