One of my cis male friends said he identifies as a lesbian. When I tried telling him that wasn’t okay, he said that I have to respect his identity and that anyone who identifies as a lesbian is a lesbian. He used nonbinary people as an example. He called me a gatekeeper. What can I do/say? Is he right? Can anyone id as a lesbian? Is it always bad to be a gatekeeper?
…i find myself wanting to think that this friend of yours was just kidding, was just trying to pull your leg, was perhaps trying to put into words something about himself but upon failing at finding better words settling on those words– but perhaps i really am just grasping at straws and your friend really is just a cis binary male who identifies as a lesbian. i actually googled “male lesbian” just now and got a surprising number of hits……………..
first of all i must say that i have no authority nor place in saying who can and who cannot identify as a lesbian. i’m not even a lesbian myself.
that said, regardless of the validity of identifying as a male lesbian, if your friend is going to pull the “you have to respect me” card then he should realize that he has to respect you and your feelings as well. respecting him does not mean prioritizing his stance on something over your own. his identity is for him to decide (as well as for him to reap the repercussions of), but you are allowed to feel however you feel about it.
there’s nothing you can do to prevent him from identifying the way he does. after all, you cannot will him to change his identity; that is something only he himself can do. you could try to educate him on the error of his ways (not the least of which includes using non-binary people as a device for his argument, i mean seriously??) but if he’s not open to learning, he’s just going to keep accusing you of gatekeeping or identity policing, so…
personally, i’d be inclined to distance myself from someone like that and not consider them a friend, especially if they were completely disregarding my feelings. he can cry gatekeeper all he likes, that doesn’t mean you have to subject yourself to being around him or that you’re automatically a bad person for not being comfortable with his identity. i am a tad curious, though, what his personal definition of lesbian is since he is of the opinion that a man can be one.
as for whether gatekeeping is always a bad thing… i think an equally valid question is when is it okay for a person who actively identifies as a member of a majority group to invite themself into a minority group that is explicitly or implicitly not for them?