Fears That Hinder Acceptance of the LGBT Community

I have a heavy question for you on this Friday. How do we defeat the idea that sexuality is not a choice? I feel like most readily accept the idea that it’s okay to be gay. Years go by and people are getting more used to the idea a human being can be something other than straight. Still, I hear echos about a boy ‘becoming’ gay because he likes pink. Or a girl becoming a lesbian by…. wait, is there a stereotype for that? Let’s talk about that.

Many times on this blog, I have mentioned by idea that patriarchy, as it exist today, is more about masculinity than being male. Anything masculine is held on a pedestal why anything feminine is seen as weaker and less important. Maybe that’s why I can’t think of a stereotype for a woman who will grow up to be a lesbian. In my head, all I see is a tom boy, which I rarely see used derogatorily

In the end, the idea that anyone grows up to be gay, lesbian or otherwise in the same way someone might grow up to become a lawyer or teacher is just crazy. When I was in high school, I remember hearing the whispers. It was said that any boy who had mostly girls as friends or who considered a girl his best friend was gay.

Again, I don’t recall an opposite stereotype where a girl who has mostly guys for friends will become lesbian.

Despite the fact society has slowly accepted that  there is more than one sexuality, the idea someone’s environment makes that decision still prevails. I don’t get it. Have people come to accept multiple sexualities while still assuming one’s sexuality is a choice?

There was once a show (whose cancellation I am still upset about) called The New Normal. It revolved around the lives of a gay couple hired a surrogate and paid her by allowing her and her daughter to live in their home.  One episode revolved around the Boy Scouts, an organization one of the men had fond memories of. He decides to get involved with the local group of a scout leader.

For the whole episode, life was surprisingly good. The other leaders were more than welcoming and enjoyed hanging out. He and the others exchanged stories about their significant others like they were the best of friends. You spent much of the episode thinking it was about how the Boy Scouts could accept a gay person. The twist came when one of those same leaders told him he and the others were kicking him out. “It’s not that we don’t like you or support your lifestyle decision,” he said. “I just don’t want my son to grow up like you.”

Acceptance doesn’t erase this fear one’s child might be something other than straight.

This photo, “Boy Scout Flag Salute IMG_1364” is copyright (c) 2014 Steven Depolo and made available under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license
This photo, “Boy Scout Flag Salute IMG_1364” is copyright (c) 2014 Steven Depolo and made available under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Maybe that’s really the key here. Once, in high school, I discussed the idea of adoption with my dad. I said something about wanting to adopt a child from another country and he warned me against adopting a child whose skin was a different color than mine. His reasoning was that such an arrangement would label the child as different, increasing the chances they will be bullied in school. This is one of the worries I discussed in Monday’s post about male and intersex genital altercation. It’s not that parents are always for or against something, but that they fear what their child’s life will be like without that procedure.

I imagine, when parents think about their child being gay, bisexual or any of the other sexualities out there, they fear the bullies they will face. Plenty of people in the LGBT community end up killing themselves because of how they are made to feel about themselves. The number of LGBT youth who are homeless is increasing. These are hardly struggles a parent wants their child to have.

Yet, the solution to convincing society that sexuality is not a choice involves solving those problems. We have to act, stopping those who bully LGBT youth (and bullies in general). We have to open our hearts, pressure our government and fix the increasing problem of homeless LGBT youth. If we don’t, parents will continue to dread the day their child tells them they are gay. We have to work for a world that is truly accepting, where you can’t be evicted or fired for your sexuality (believe it or not, that’s still legal in most states).

Now, we have reached the opening of this blog. How do we stop those bullies? How do we convince others to accept the LGBT community ]so they are not evicted or fired for being who they are? It’s connected to gender equality. More specifically, it’s related to equality between masculine and feminine qualities. A person who likes pink shouldn’t be treated any differently than boys and girls who prefer green, yellow or blue, regardless of gender. A person who prefers to wear dresses shouldn’t be treated any differently than those who prefer pants, regardless of gender.

I could list on. The more I write on gender equality, the more I realize how connected women’s rights and LGBT rights are. They are really just gender rights. Gender equality includes all genders and all sexualities. It means we should all be able to be who we are and to be valued for the qualities that make us a unique individual, regardless of their masculinity or femininity.

Do you know of a stereotype about a girl growing up to be a lesbian because of what she likes or doesn’t like? What will be needed to erase the idea sexuality is a choice for good?  What is the effect on young girls, when they see boys being condemned or made fun of for liking pink or having interests in other ‘girly’ things?

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46 thoughts on “Fears That Hinder Acceptance of the LGBT Community”

  1. Interesting how you talk about the stereotype of a boy being suspected as gay, but cannot think of an equivalent for a girl being suspected as lesbian except for being a tomboy. I suspect that this is because being masculine (strong, leader, confident) is admirable and being feminine (delicate, weak, cautious) is not. So boys are judged more harshly for being feminine than girls are for being masculine.
    I think we need to be able to accept that it’s okay for boys to be feminine and girls to be masculine, and that there are all sorts of varieties on this spectrum. It kind of comes before the big questions of sexuality. Boys should be free to wear pink without being ridiculed, and girls should be free to play with trucks and trains. When we still colour-code babies by their sex, we’re placing a lot of emphasis on gender at a stage in their lives where it has very little bearing on who they are.
    I know that some people just know at an early age whether they are straight or gay, but it took me a very long time to work where I fell on the spectrum. Maybe that’s in part where the idea of ‘choice’ comes from – for those who aren’t inclined strongly in one direction or another, they would take the path of least resistance and ‘choose’ to be straight. Of course, now society has changed to encourage questions of the wider community and the idea of the freedom to be who we really are would spook some people. Things can be easier for some when there is simply a standard set and they forever work to attain it. Open up the possibility of acceptance of their true selves, they’re terrified because they’ve lost the foundation of who they are – what society was telling them they should be.
    I think younger generations growing up in a different societal climate will benefit from this openness. I remember talking to my grandma about feminism. She is a feminist, no doubt about it, but she just accepted her role as the submissive housewife because ‘that’s what they did’. She sees no reason to leave her husband now even though they clearly don’t love each other and he’s making things hard for her by controlling what she does. She’s somehow still committed to the status quo, even though she doesn’t believe in it. She doesn’t want me to get married. She wants me to pursue a career.
    I think it might be slow, but it is happening. We just have to keep talking, keep being open to the possibilities of life and encouraging society to me more accepting.

    1. “I think we need to be able to accept that it’s okay for boys to be feminine and girls to be masculine…”

      This really stuck out to me. I once discussed gender equality in anime where we discussed the lack of strong female lead characters in anime. I spoke up, saying that – while having more female fighter and such is great – women who fit traditional roles should also be valued. Why can’t we have a thrilling story about a stay at home mother? Why can’t a girl be girly, love pink and still have a strong role in the story.

      That’s why I like talking about masculinity and femininity as they relate to gender rights. It’s not just that all genders deserve equality, but that masculine and feminine traits both deserve to be admired for their value and strength.

      1. I completely agree. After all, both masculine and feminine traits have their uses in society, as well as those traits which don’t clearly fall in either category. Japan is an interesting source to compare this though – they never had a sexual revolution, so the idea that men are the breadwinners and women are house-bound is stronger over there than it is in the west. Having said that, I have seen that pride of feminine traits shining through in anime – gentleness, caring, consideration, as well as the practical things like cooking (which does seem to be highly valued over there). I just wish some people could be more accepting that these traits should be valued in men too (and those who don’t fall at the extremes of the gender spectrum). Then on the other hand, there are people who don’t like women acting masculine (which is commonly seen as an aggressive female, which is supposedly worse than an aggressive male). I could talk about this all day, but I’m glad to hear your thoughts and that there are open-minded people like you there, willing to talk about these things.

        1. I feel the same way. I could talk all day about this subject. I’ll just leave it with this: Masculine traits and feminine ones should be equally valued regardless of the gender of the person displaying those traits.

  2. In regards to the boy scouts, Another thing I hate hearing about is when a gay man would like to be a scout leader or is a scout leader and they find out he is gay, besides asking him to leave as you stated above, they also make the comment that they don’t want a gay man around young boys because he would “do something” to them which angers me to know end. Just because he is gay doesn’t mean he is a pedophile. Which also follows with straight guys who feel uncomfortable being around a gay man because he will hit on them or “try something” with them. I can’t tell you how much I heard that in highschool! I just wanted to grab them and say puh-lease, don’t flatter yourself. Most gay men have what I call “gaydar” and know who is gay and besides, they have standards, they aren’t going to jump on the first thing that they come across. And gay men aren’t savage crazy rapists that can’t hold back either. Just being in your presence isn’t going to make them jump you and “try something”, i.e. rape, as most high school boys suggested.

    1. I can’t help but feel like it’s spillover from the catholic priest sexual abuse scandal. You have a case where men are in a position of trust and authority around boys and use that to sexually abuse them; because it is members of the same sex involved, it is homosexual. While the Catholic church is attacked constantly because of this abuse and outcry over “homosexual pedophile priests”, the Boy Scouts see this and don’t want to end up with the same problem as the Church. It manifests as discrimination against homosexuals. They’ve weighed the risks and decided it is better to be branded as descriminatory than to be entangled in scandal when a scout leader molests a boy. Despite this attempt, they still aren’t able to prevent all instances of abuse, but they can at least say that they’re trying to do something about it.

      The biggest irony was that one used to be called a ‘fag’ for being in the boyscouts. I’m sure that factors into it, too.

    2. I’ve heard that some straight men are afraid of gay men because they fear gay men will treat them they treat women. The idea of being objectified and cat-called makes them uncomfortable. It also angers me because it supports the idea that all men are animals who can’t control their baser urges. I hear that rhetoric all the time and it’s infuriating. Men don’t run around fucking everything they find attractive. Most men, gay, straight or otherwise, understand the meaning of consent. And the idea that homosexuality is in any way, shape or form comparable to pedophilia is just insane.

      1. Yes — It’s not like being hit on is all that awful. You just say “No thanks” and it’s usually fine. So they must be thinking of something they subconsciously know is totally inappropriate and harmful – ie they don’t mean they’re afraid of being “hit on,” they’re afraid of being HARASSED, and they can’t actually tell the difference between the two. This is troubling for anyone the straight dude is attempting to hit on.

    3. That drives me nuts too. I actually plan on talking about the comparison of homosexuality and pedophilia in the near future.

      I don’t see why gaydar should even matter. It seems like common courtesy. If you express romantic interest in someone and they turn you down, that’s that. It’s not like anyone but a jerk would keep pressuring after that.

    4. Amen to all the above. People, in general, don’t jump on whatever they find attractive. Unless you have some kind of deranged mind, people want consent. I’ve had multiple men and women tell me they’d be unable to get it up if they knew their partner wasn’t into sex, let along if they were kicking a screaming to get away.

      Being around gay people does nothing more than prove they are the same as all the rest of us. You don’t just magically become gay.

  3. What about the individuals who have come out and said that, for them, it was a choice? While it may not be a choice for everyone, should those for whom it was be silenced and marginalized? One problem with the “not a choice” angle is that it props up the argument for mental illness; they can’t help it because they’re broken in the head.

    It is interesting, however, that most of the people who have come out and said that it was a “choice” for them have been women. Could it be that women have more freedom of sexual identity than men? Is it that no man could ever admit that he’d freely choose to be with another man?

    1. Women’s sexuality is considered more polymorphous than male sexuality. If you consider that women who identify as polyamorous are likely to indulge in mutual pleasure with women while poly identified males are less likely to indulge in similar activities with males as well as studies that monitor blood flow to genitals whilst different subjects are exposed to varying erotic images that showed an elasticity in female arousal responses in comparison to male subjects.

    2. I have thought about both of these things. I see sexuality more like hair or skin color. It’s not that something is wrong or broken, they are just different. And I have heard of people who say they made the choice to be homosexual. I have only heard of such a thing through people who are against homosexuality.

      To me… and I don’t have anything to back this up, I’m just thinking through my fingers…. if you can choose one over the other, is that similar to being bisexual or pansexual? Can you be bisexual but prefer one gender over the other. I mean, I could never choose to lay with a woman. I’m not sexually attracted to them. That someone could choose implies that they feel sexual attraction to both genders but specifically choose to lay with one.

      I honestly thought about this when I wrote this post, but I didn’t know enough to say something on it. I’d be interested in studies on people who say they choose their sexuality. Science shows there are differences in the brain between hetero and homosexuals. How does the brain of someone who choose homosexuality compare?

      Lastly, I do think women these days have a little more freedom with their sexuality. People don’t care if women kiss or hold hands in public. They hardly care if they have sex with each other so long as it’s for the pleasure of a man. However, that a man would ever so much as hold hands with another man is often frowned upon. It’s an interesting conundrum.

  4. If the media spent as much time on the scientific evidence that sexuality is biological as is does on the Kardashians, we might see a change in opinion.

  5. Very good post, very thought-provoking. Personally, I believe that sexuality is a choice, a decision made by the individual. I don’t believe that one is born gay or straight; I realize also that this line of thinking is unpopular in today’s society.

      1. Well, since I am a male, I choose it perpetually. What do you mean ‘when’? A person decides what they will do with their lives, and that includes with the inherent sexuality. We all have a choice to make. I choose to the path of male sexuality, which of course is hetero. A male who chooses homosexuality is just that — a person who chooses a different path. The idea of ‘when’ is not relevant.

        1. You’re working from a presumption that male sexuality is inherently hetero when homosexuality has and will exist throughout human and animal biology. People no more choose their sexual identity than they do the colour of their eyes, which is supported by large reams of scientific peer reviewed studies. Certainly the expression of sexual identity is a choice but to presume that someone chooses, cultural differences aside, ostracism, abuse and denial of self expression is unsubstantiated. We will agree to disagree because I acknowledge your beliefs based as they are on your subjective reality. I could be wrong but my studies and reading reflects a different proposition to yours.

  6. I have two sons and never had to deal with them being bullied, etc because they are masculine and leaders. And probably werent presumed as other than straight. But as a parent, I would have supported them regardless. And you’re right, I’m sure plenty of parents to be worry about this, and would prefer having straight children. I’ve heard a guy I know say he would completely disown his son if he “turned gay.” I believe people are entitled to live their truths.

    1. People are allowed to live their truths, but what is true for them may not be true for someone else. I think it can be hard for some people to accept that others are just different, that they may have truths different than their own. That doesn’t make one or the other right or wrong. It just makes them unique individuals.

      Once society accepts that things like sexuality are not a choice but something some is born with, like hair color or sex, then I think we’ll see less people disowning homosexual children.

  7. I don’t know if you heard about this, but a while back, there was an eleven-year-old straight boy named Michael Morones, who was a “bronie” and was teased and bullied so much about being gay, that he attempted to commit suicide by hanging himself. They were able to save his life, but because of the oxygen that was cut off to his brain for so long, he is severely handicapped now. It is such a sad story. His parents have spoken out about this unfortunate event on Facebook and Twitter, and have a lot of updates on their son. Bullying has such a strong affect on kids. I really wish that schools would be more open to teaching tolerance to children. Because kids are the future, and it starts with them!

    1. I did hear about that story and it’s so sad. His interests were harmless. They didn’t devalue him in the least. I hope his bullies were severely punished. I’ve heard others where boys wear my little pony back packs to school and are told to never again because they are a distraction. They should not be punished. It’s time bullies were put in their place. That parents should have to fear them to that extent is nauseating.

      1. Well, I read that the kids continued to tease and make fun of Michael even more when he was in the hospital, which is just so sick. It’s just so appalling to me that people are judged in this day and age for liking something that society says is strange or wrong to like because of your sex. There’s nothing wrong with boys playing with dolls or liking the color pink. Nobody cared that I had a He-Man doll when I was little, or had toy race cars. It’s just so dumb to judge anyone for things like that.

  8. It’s interesting how Cher — worshiped by and friendly to the LGBT community — had to work through her feelings about her child, first Chastiy’s lesbianism and then Chaz’s transformation.

    1. I guess accepting others are different is easier than excepting your own flesh and blood is. Kind of like religion. My parents are fine with people of other religions, but if/when I come out as not being Catholic, I may not be so readily accepted.

    1. What do you mean some are treated unfairly? Like some are treated more fairly than others? I think we have boxes for gays and lesbians that we expect them to fit into. May some are treated differently because some fit in the box better than others.

      1. One of the first blogs I read a few months ago was about the singer Sam Smith and the appalling comments that people have called him for being gay. Probable the same thing about football (soccer) players opening up about their sexuality. These are the type of people that aren’t treated fairly i think by others. I do agree though with your explanation about boxes for gays and lesbians.

        1. I was amazed how Smith came on the scene. When his song came on the radio, it was so great. I never heard anyone say “now for the song my gay sing Sam Smith.” I didn’t hear news organizations making a big deal about his sexuality. It was just accepted. Perhaps I just didn’t encounter the right news outlets.

          1. I think people on Twitter and that was commenting about his figure, the way he looks, being chubby and all that. I don’t think it was on the news in particular, just from a blog. “I am not good at one night stands but I’m just a man.” A great and honest line from the song, an inspiration in my opinion for being honest.

  9. I know that sexual orientation is not a choice any more than our gender is a choice. I could explain it to anybody if I had time to talk to them in person.

    When people act like there is something wrong with a boy liking pink, I want to scream! What difference does it make?

  10. I think to make people understand properly we need to explain that sexuality is different to the sex of a person.

    One of my chosen parents (chosen because they are not blood related they just act like my parent) recently revealed to me that they are transgender – something they are afraid to tell their own son. By day she has to be a father, but at night she gets to put on her silky pyjamas and feel comfortable within herself. Why is see afraid to tell her son? Because he doesn’t understand the difference between a persons sexuality and their sex. In fact this young man states that both are choices, which is insane. I should state that this person is married with two children – their wife and daughter know of their true selves.

    Personally I have been called a lesbian because I am a transvestite and enjoy dressing in men’s clothing and hanging out with “the guys” because I have more in common with them, I have my “girl” time too and am not a lesbian. It actually got so bad in academy that people wouldn’t get changed around me in the girls P.E. changing room.

    The teaching that it is not a choice but who that person is has to be taught from a young age because, even as teenagers, we find it more difficult to grasp difference when we are older.

    In my opinion labels make things more complicated. My transgender chosen parent said something that make me feel so sorry for her. She said “I mean does it make me a lesbian in a mans body?”. Which is a horrible thing to HAVE to think about. Why complicate everything with a label? If things were just accepted for what they are then maybe things would be a lot easier.

    1. Labels can complicate everything. If we just accepted the world as is, we could all choose whatever labels we wanted. If you want one, have one. If not, no big deal.

      I am surprised you were called a lesbian just for wearing boys clothes. I did that a ton growing up and no one said that to me. Makes me wonder if your peers were just jealous you got along with guys better than they did.

      1. It was possibly the fact that I got on better with boys, I think it was more the lack of knowledge than anything else though. The lack of acceptance for someone or something different because they couldn’t understand it.

  11. Great minds think alike. I have just done a post on a similar subject I promise I didn’t copy, honest). It’s weird how certain stereotypes exist. Many gay men certainly do have feminine traits. Gay men for instance do seem to bond with women more than straight men. As a straight woman, do you feel bond easily with gay men?

    I certainly wasn’t the butchest of children. As an adult though I don’t really fit into any of those stereotypes, but I have friends who do and I love them. This idea that a child can choose their sexuality is a ridiculous concept, obviously created by a straight man. I’ve got a lot more to say on this subject, but I’m doing another post on it.

    1. What’s odd to me is that the current world seems divided. If you fit a stereotype perfectly, you are looked down upon. If you break the norm, you are looked down upon for being different. There’s just no winning!

      “As a straight woman, do you feel bond easily with gay men?” Unfortunately, I have encountered only a few gay men in my life and I was never close with any of them. One was a good friend, but we weren’t share-our-darkest-secrets friends.

      But I was/am an oddball all around. It’s hard for me, in general, to make close friends.

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