We’ve all heard the phrase, “I’d go gay for her.” It’s spoken around us, online, and on television. The majority of people who say this are women, either talking about a famous actress or singer. Most people have an automatic reaction to someone’s beauty, resulting in them saying something like this. No one does it to be rude or offensive, but the phrase truly is more than just a funny joke. By saying that you’d “go gay” for someone, you’re saying that being gay is a choice. As the majority of people are aware that being gay is not a choice, saying something like this completely invalidates that. And it needs to stop.

Regardless, I cannot sit here and say that I’ve never uttered those five words. Back when I was a kid, and heteronormativity was all I’d known, this phrase was the only way I could let out that part of me. At the time, I wasn’t aware of my sexuality, or even others that had existed, so for me to somehow be able to comprehend the quote is surprising. My friends and I would see Gabriella from High School Musical, Maddie from The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, and plenty of other gorgeous women on Disney channel, and say these words. When you’re that young, it’s not that big of a deal. You’re still learning and getting used to how the world sees things. But as a 17-year-old, seeing people who are the same age continue to use this phrase is heartbreaking.

When I sit on Twitter, Facebook, and sometimes even Instagram, and see people talking about women this way, saying that they’d “so TOTALLY go lesbian for her!” I feel personally hurt. In 2015, the only people who continue to think that being gay is a choice are religious extremists and many Republicans. So to view people, sometimes including my friends, who obviously know that it’s not a choice, say things like this disgusts me. They are not aware of what they’re doing to people in the LGBTQIA+ community that constantly struggle with the thought of it being a choice. It’s a very heavy topic for us, and it seems that people do not understand how it feels to hear that phrase.

Whenever I hear it, I feel like I got punched in the stomach; like someone’s invalidating everything I’ve lived through. I feel as though my sexuality is all I am, in the worst way possible. It’s so hard to be accepting of yourself when the entire world is saying that they’d “turn” gay for someone like Halsey, even though they’d never go near a vagina in their entire life.

When all these people, sometimes even including the LGBTQIA+ community, speaking these words, how are we supposed to fix it? There isn’t a need for rallies, or protests, or even a powerpoint presentation on the topic. All we need to do, as a community, as supportive human beings, is educate people. It seems overused, yes, but it works. As long as you are kindly educating someone, without yelling at them, it will make them at least think about their actions. There could even be a chance of them becoming fully aware. I will continue to do my part in educating people, and I hope everyone else will do the same.