The LGBTQ movement and myth-busting – Your official guide
We must adapt with our times. This phrase, bandied about hundreds of times in various contexts has never been more true than in the case of the LGBTQ community and the way society perceives them. Gone are the days when cinema can casually mock their sexual orientation, or when people can humiliate s
We must adapt with our times. This phrase, bandied about hundreds of times in various contexts has never been more true than in the case of the LGBTQ community and the way society perceives them. Gone are the days when cinema can casually mock their sexual orientation, or when people can humiliate someone by calling them ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’. Far from being embarrassing, asserting your sexuality is now a thing of pride and personal identity. And for those who cannot accept this new reality, tough times lie ahead.
While the discourse on homosexuality has bounded ahead, practice still strolls behind lazily. It is not enough to decriminalize homosexuality: it is important for there to be a change from the grassroots level. People can still hold beliefs and harmful stereotypes against members of the LGBTQ community, and that is equally harmful as the state punishing individuals.
There are many different ways in which awareness can be raised among the masses. Certain brands and celebrities are certainly doing their bit in ensuring that the world in the coming years is a more tolerant and accepting place. Several grassroots organizations too are conducting expansive campaigns to touch the lives of thousands of people in order to sensitize them about the issue of homosexuality. These campaigns are extremely useful not only for people to understand and accept them, but also to allow members of the LGBTQ community living in hiding to come out and accept their true selves.
Different parts of society are progressing at different rates, and while the ultimate goal is complete equality, it would be naïve to expect it to arrive immediately, and without struggle. There is a lot that NGOs and celebrities can, and are, doing, but it simply isn’t enough. A real change cannot arrive until every single person decides to take a stance and oppose homophobia in any form or manner. When every single person, no matter their age, community, or religion, push for LGBTQ equality, it is sure to come.
So, before you head out there to fight for the rights and dignity of the LGBTQ community, here are a few tips and biases to keep in mind. Whenever you spot them, in yourself or in others, make sure to bring it up and resolve it right then and there. After all, the change is genuine and lasting only if everybody accepts it from within.
Here’s what you got to be mindful of:
(1) LGBTQ people are more promiscuous
Absolutely not! Homosexual people, just like heterosexual people, are driven by the same set of desires and expectations. They are no different, in that, being gay or being a lesbian does not make you more likely to seek physical intimacy. How much sex you seek is completely dependent upon you as a person, and not on your sexual identity.
This is a common myth promoted to try and portray LGBTQ members as toxic presences whose entire lives depend upon sexual satisfaction. On the contrary, they are normal people who go about their lives and battle ups and downs just like all of us. Sure, their sexual identity is important to them in a way that it is not to heterosexuals. After all, the latter haven’t had to hide and fear their desires for decades. But just because they are gay does not mean they want to sleep with every person in sight.
If you hear someone say or imply such a thing, ask them to think of how many times they have such thoughts in a day. The debate will end right there!
(2) Lesbians hate men.
No they don’t. They just don’t want to sleep with them.
This is an awfully common myth purported mainly by men who are insecure of the ‘competition’ or simply ridicule lesbians as being too manly or too butch. The truth is very very different. Just because a woman is not interested in you does not mean that she hates you, or that she is too manly to ‘into’ you.
There is a lot of cinema mocking lesbians for this reason alone, and it is completely unjustified. Their sexual preference has nothing to do with how they perceive an entire gender. Sure, if a man is particularly repulsive, they have every right to hate him. Heck, they probably shouldn’t be the only ones keeping their distance from such a man. Lesbians and men can be friends, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. They certainly don’t need to hate each other.
In conclusion, whether a lesbian woman hates a man or not depends only upon what kind of a man he is, not on the fact that he is a man.
(3) Children of LBGTQ parents will turn out to be LGBTQ themselves.
Nope. Here’s an interesting lesson: you are born with your sexual orientation. In other words, there is no way you can contract ‘gayness’ the way you contract a disease simply by exposure. That is just patently false.
Children of LGBTQ couples are straight or gay depending upon how they were born. There is nothing in the world that can change that. The only difference is, living with two gay dads or two moms will encourage them to open up and discover their sexual identities sooner, and in a much more healthy manner. They cannot, however, be influenced into ‘becoming gay’ just by being around gay people.
It is interesting to look at what a reverse case would look like. If people believe that being adopted by gay parents makes you gay, then being born to straight parents would certainly mean that their children are also straight. But, of course, that is not true. As is evidenced by millions of people across nationalities, ethnicities, ages, and income levels, gay sons and lesbian daughters are born to straight parents.
All this goes to show is that being surrounded by straight people does not mean you will turn out straight, and being surrounded by LGBTQ people does mean you will become LGBTQ.
(4) Being LGBTQ is a choice.
Many things in life are a choice, but being gay is not. This is probably the most pervasive myth everywhere, and also the most potent one. It is what detractors say in order to mock or ridicule LGBTQ people. Once again, this is far from the truth.
Someone is either born gay, or lesbian, or asexual, or straight. They are not molded according to their social environment, or by logic. It is just a fact of life, just like humans are born with two hands instead of three, and ten fingers instead of six. Of course, your social environment has a huge influence on how you comprehend your sexual identity. Children from conservative families have a much harder time coming out to their parents or being accepting of themselves as compared to children who are supported and accepted for who they are. But again, this has no impact on whether the person is LGBTQ or not.
It is interesting to note: if being gay is a choice, then being straight too must be a choice. After all, if a man can just decide to not be attracted to other men one fine day, surely that must be true of a man who decides not to be attracted to women. Heterosexuality is not the default option.
At this point, it is enough to just ask yourselves: can you suddenly change who you are attracted to? Can you just alter your desires and realign them towards a whole different gender? If the idea itself seems unfathomable, you have your answer. Just like you can’t start being attracted to someone, similarly LGBTQ people cannot just ‘choose’ to not be gay or lesbian. They are what they are. And that’s completely fine.
(5) LGBTQ people cannot be religious
In this case, it is actually a fact that many LGBTQ people are atheists, or at least, non-believers. It becomes hard to be part of a community whose holy scriptures openly denounce homosexuality and ask them to be banished from society. As a result, many LGBTQ people tend to distance themselves from institutions such as the Church, or the Temple, or the Mosque.
However, this is a common trend and by no means a rule. While there are many who do not follow organized religion, there are several others who are devout believers in various faiths. Being LGBTQ does not mean you cannot believe in your god, no matter which religion you belong to.
Following a religion is about following a faith and certain beliefs about the world. If a certain religion gives you the solace and direction you need in your life, you will follow that religion. The same is true for LGBTQ people. For those in that community who believe in their gods, they happily follow the scriptures and the commandements. How they navigate their religious and personal beliefs is something each of us has to navigate for ourselves. LGBTQ people are no different.
(6) LGBTQ relationships don’t last as long as heterosexual relationships do.
Your sexual orientation has nothing to do with how long or how happy your relationship with your partner is. This is a common misperception along the lines of homosexual people being too promiscuous too hold onto a relationship. And once again, the real situation is much simpler and much more logical than such sweeping generalizations: you will have a happy relationship depending on what you want from life, and what kind of a person you are. That has nothing to do with being gay or being straight. Plenty of straight and gay people have healthy, happy relationships, just like plenty of straight and gay people have toxic, short-lived, and unhappy relationships.
Time and again, we return to the same hypothesis: that people are people and their sexual identity has nothing to do with their beliefs, behaviors, or persuasions. People are complicated beings and being homosexual is a part of that identity, certainly not the whole of it, and certainly not enough to typecast them into certain ‘types’ of people.
(7) Having gay friends doesn’t automatically free you from homophobic attitudes.
This one is the most important because it’s insidious. While it is easy to catch openly homophobic behavior, it is much more difficult to capture quasi-homophobic behavior because it pretends to be ‘woke’ while it actually is not.
This one is important for all those people who say that having gay friends, or even knowing gay people automatically makes them cool, and not like those other people who are openly homophobic. In fact, such a belief itself is harmful and causes harm to the LGBTQ community.
To be truly accepting of the LGBTQ community is to respect them and give them their space. It is to befriend and stand up for their rights, in public and private. It is to educate yourself about their shared struggles and strife and to be empathic of their lives. It is to realize your relative privilege in comparison to them, and to be both thankful for it, and to help them become equal. Collecting gay friends just to look accepting is definitely not the way to promote equality, and it definitely means that they are anything but your friends.
(8) They too are normal people.
In all this discussion over who LGBTQ people are and are not, it is easy to overlook the fact that they too are just people who are living their lives the way we are. At the end of the day, accepting them for who they are is the only way for them to feel truly included in society.
They don’t need special laws or any form of mollycoddling, just like they don’t need to be ridiculed or mocked. They are regular people going about their lives, and as responsible citizens, all we have to do is not get in their way, and be polite enough to smile back when we cross paths. Humanity is the only solution. It is the only way to achieve perfect equality.
With that, move out into the world, and good luck!