As someone who grew up in a conservative state but attended a very diverse school, I have made wonderful friends; some who happen to identify as a bisexual, a gay person, or as someone who identified as an LGBTQ member. Listening to their experiences and obstacles regarding their sexuality intrigued me as I realized that this is a group of people that needs support. Despite being in America and in the 21st century, bigotry continues make its mark and slither into nearly every aspect of the LGBTQ community. Since high school, I have been a proud ally and wanted to research more into what this community has to go through and how we can handle those issues. According to the selected articles, many of these issues are related to several aspects of psychology which include learning, personality, therapies, motivation and emotions, human development, and social psychology. They also include thinking, intelligence, language, health psychology, human development, states of consciousness, and sensation and perception. The eight articles I have looked into highlight the battle for this community to strive towards acceptance and equality.
According to “We Must Be Better: A Young Black Student Takes His Own Life”, Nigel Shelby was a 15-year old black high school student in Alabama who committed suicide. His family claims that the homophobic bullying in high school may have contributed to him ending his life. Pierre-Antoine Louis, the author of this article, is also a gay black man who can empathize with Nigel’s experience in high school. According to the Center of Social Equity, 74 percent of LGBTQ youths do not feel safe within the school they attend. They also don’t feel comfortable turning to the teachers for help. Not feeling safe or comfortable enough to reach out for help can cause many members to struggle.
In the article, “Hallmark Channel Pulls Zola Ads Featuring Brides Kissing”, Hallmark pulled four ads which showed two brides kissing after a conservative group called One Million Moms created a petition that urged Hallmark to remove the ads for “decency” reasons. Hallmark claimed to have removed these ads since they did not follow with the no-PDA guidelines despite having ads showing exactly the same behavior only with heterosexual couples. After the pulling of these ads, Hallmark received backlash from Twitter as people boycotted the company through the hashtag, #BoycottHallmarkChannel. People believed that the pulling of the ads were homophobic and offensive. Hallmark, in response to the backlash on Twitter, apologized for the pulling of the ads.
Unfortunately, not only is the LGBTQ community fighting for acceptance, some are fighting to keep their jobs. According to “Can Someone Be Fired for Being Gay? The Supreme Court Will Decide”, in more than half of the states, an individual can be fired over their homosexuality. As of October 8th 2019, the Supreme Court will determine whether or not Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 includes LGBTQ people. If so, this would provide protection for gay and transgender people across the nation. Some argue that the title did not intend to include sexual orientation while others argue that sexual orientation is a sex-based classification because it cannot be defined without sex in the first place. There have been cases where people have been fired for being gay. Gerald Bostock, for example, lost his job as county government employee in Georgia after he became more open about his sexuality.
Who holds office can impact a great deal to the LGBTQ community as shown in the article, “New York City Is Ending a Ban on Gay Conversion Therapy. Here’s Why”. Corey Johnson, a member of the New York City Council, claims that the New York City Council will lift the ban on gay conversion therapy. The ban on conversion therapy consisted of violators being charged if they offered services to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity. Despite Corey Johnson being an openly gay man and the fact that gay conversion therapy has been discredited, this repeal was done to avoid a lawsuit from a conservative Christian legal organization that could have taken the city to the Supreme Court. Since the Supreme Court is conservative after Trump won office, New York has become more conservative, so it is likely that the state would lose the case.
Thankfully, with every step back, there can be another step forward. In “Utah Is Latest State to Ban Conversion Therapy for Children”, Utah, despite being one of the most conservative states in the nation, banned therapists from practicing conversion therapy on minors. The already discredited practice has been considered unprofessional conduct for therapist with punishments including the revoking of a violator’s license. However, this ban does not apply to clergy members, religious counselors, and family members. Despite so, the LGBTQ community considers this a big step towards the right direction.
Who goes into office can have a huge impact on the LGBTQ community as shown in “Adoption Groups Could Turn Away L.G.B.T. Families Under Proposed Rule”. According to the article, under the new Trump administration, a proposed law could allow adoption agencies and foster care to deny their services to LGBTQ families due to religious reasons. This would undo what Obama’s equality regulation back in 2016. Some critics argue that it is problematic that some adoption agencies would put their religious beliefs above a child’s need. The White house claimed that it is not the federal government’s business of forcing adoption agencies from choosing to help children and their faith.
Unfortunately, many members will refuse to associate with the LGBTQ community out of fear of being judged while some would even go against the community. In “Aaron Schock, Former Illinois Congressman, Comes Out as Gay”, a former resigned Republican, Aaron Schock, came out as a gay man. In a post on his website, he describes his struggles with his sexuality and growing up in his religious household as a child. However, people did not take this well considering Schock has a history of anti-LGBTQ actions such as opposing gay marriage and the fact that he never apologized for any of his anti-LGBTQ antics in his lengthy post. People have also pointed out his other problematic past actions such as his alleged lavish spending and counts of wire fraud.
If people come together for a cause, such as fighting homophobia, it can bring about awareness and potential solutions. According to “Swiss Vote to Penalize Public Homophobia”, Swiss voters have agreed that public homophobia must be penalized, which has brough attention to an antidiscrimination law that has been worked on for years. This law would attempt to protect the LGBTQ community by penalizing public degradation of someone’s sexuality. Many opposers of this law argued that this is another form of censorship and that the Swiss citizens had the right to voice their opinions regardless of how much other people disapprove of it. Activists of LGBTQ rights believe that this law will significantly help protect the LGBTQ community.
As homosexuality and the LGBTQ community becomes more mainstream and thankfully, more accepted, there are still obstacles that this community will have to overcome. It was only back in 2015 when gay marriage was finally legalized in all fifty states. While that is a big step towards the right direction, there is still so much that can be done to protect the LGBTQ community from injustice. There is far more to this community than just marriage rights. There are still social issues that need to be addressed and legal action that needs to happen to help secure the safety of the LGBTQ community.
Growing up in the south and in a conservative and religious family, homosexuality was something that I grew up thinking as something that should be avoided and unmentioned. Eventually, as I became older and more autonomous, I started forming my own opinion of the LGBTQ community. I’ve never viewed it as morally wrong but rather simply different. I saw absolutely no reason to mistreat those over a few differences since we are all different, but at the end of the day, we are all human. I’ve started realizing the abuse the LGBTQ community had to suffer. I saw headlines highlighting hate crimes against those who identified with the LGBTQ or even those who were simply allies. I started noticing bigotry against the LGBTQ community in real life. I witnessed my Sunday school assistant instructor target a transgender boy in front of the class, telling the boy that he was “going to hell” for his gender identity. As I walk in the hallways of my school, I heard the phrases and slurs such as “that’s so gay” when referring to something unpleasant. I saw online comments, videos, and images exhibit verbal violence and hatred towards the LGBTQ community. I’ve seen some of my friends struggle to be accepted in school and unfortunately, at home as well. After realizing how incredibly cruel the world is towards the LGBTQ community, I started to become more actively involved within the community. I eventually joined the GSA, the gay straight alliance, at my school and began looking for ways to help as an ally.
As I became an ally for the LGBTQ, I have heard countless methods on how to combat homophobia and help the community become more accepted by society. I believe we must tackle issues in the system and in our social environment. We must tackle these issues united as well. The more unity, the louder our voice is, then it is more likely we will be heard. I would strongly encourage for those to voice their opinions in support for the LGBTQ community and suggest their own solutions on how to help the community. I believe an impactful way to help this community is by just being there for them. Unfortunately, many members are subjected to verbal abuse, rejection, and even physical assaults; these perpetrators may very well be family members of the LGBTQ member. Additionally, if there are young people killing themselves over homophobic abuse, we need to start helping now. According to “We Must Be Better: A young Black Student Takes His Own Life”, Nigel Shelby, a gay high school student who committed suicide from, as his family claims, homophobic abuse from other students. Nigel’s death should be a sign that homophobia of all forms needs to be addressed as of now. I used to attend a private Catholic school back in Alabama, and the homophobia I witnessed was obvious among the students and the staff members as well.
After attending the private Catholic school, I started noticing hypocrisy within certain church members and those who support homophobia and the suppression of the LGBTQ community. While I understand that some people choose not to support the LGBTQ community because that support goes against their religion or their own personal values, what I don’t support are people who actively try to suppress the LGBTQ community and try to impose their own values. There is a difference between having a different opinion and practicing your own values versus trying to prevent a certain group of people to progress towards safety and acceptance. The two things I have particularly noticed among those who actively try to suppress the LGBTQ community are that they selectively pick reasons to justify their homophobia and impose their beliefs and values on to other people. Some of these opposers express their hatred towards the LGBTQ community and attempt to justify their actions by claiming that LGBTQ members are “sinners” according to the Bible. However, everyone, regardless of sexuality, would be considered a “sinner” according the Bible, so it’s very hypocritical. These opposers also seem to completely ignore their own “sins” and specifically target homosexuality. Some people are so adamant about making gay marriage illegal since it is a “sin” according to the Bible but have yet to address with the other “sins.” As for those who try to impose their values on to other people, there is a difference between expressing your own beliefs and values versus trying to force other people to follow those values and beliefs. The argument of “gay people shouldn’t be allowed to get married because it goes against the Bible” or any other concept similar to that is an example of people trying to impose their values. To put this in a hypothetical scenario, if I was on a vegan diet and saw someone eating pork chop in front of me, I would go up to that person and say, “Hey, you can’t eat that. It goes against my diet.” Here’s the problem: it’s my diet, just like how it is someone else’s religion. No one is obligated to follow another person’s religion or follow someone else’s’ values. People are free to do what they please whether it aligns with someone else’s values or not. To purposely prevent someone from doing something that does not affect anyone else is an act of imposition, such as the controversy surrounding the Hallmark ad featuring a lesbian couple. The opposers tried to pressure Hallmark to remove the ad to prevent other people from viewing it when they could have instead switched to a different channel or simply not watch Hallmark anymore.
Another huge obstacle the community face is systematic homophobia. A good example of this is the one in the New York Times article, “New York City Is Ending a Ban on Gay Conversion Therapy. Here’s Why.” The New York Council had to lift the ban since they knew the conservative nature of Trump’s administration would cost them the case even though conversion therapy has been discredited. If the administration was not anti-LGBTQ, the ban probably would have not been lifted in the first place. A more LGBTQ-friendly administration would provide the needed legal protection and opportunities for the community such as the Obama administration, which considered sexual orientation as a protected class in the discrimination regulations. Additionally, according to “Can Someone Be Fired for Being Gay? The Supreme Court Will Decide”, another legal injustice that occurs is that in nearly more than half of the states, people can get fired over their sexual orientation. A person’s sexual orientation does not deny or discredit a person’s capability to do their job. With so many legal obstacles the LGBTQ communities have to face, we must continue to challenge the questionable legalities that are still in effect. This is why it is so important as to who holds political positions.
While there are still many obstacles and conflicts to overcome, the community must continue to push through. If we stop now, the problems the community faces will continue to prevail. Although the backlash can be painful, we must continue to find ways to improve the community’s cause for the sake of members such as my friends.
Although acceptance has increased for the LGTBQ community, there are still more barriers to break down for this community to be protected and accepted. Marriage equality was only the first step out of thousands of steps that need to be taken. If gay teenagers are committing suicide, jobs are lost, and two men can’t fulfill their dreams of having a family, then action needs to be taken with the support of allies and members. Only when we are united together can we successfully go against bigotry and strive closer for a normal life for the LGBTQ community.
My LGBTQ friends deserve the protection and support that heterosexual people have. No one should lose their jobs, feel unsafe, or be prevented to have the same opportunities as everyone else over their sexual orientation. The community should continue to fight for their rights and acceptance for themselves, for the people they care about, and for the future generation. Everyone, gay or straight, is a human being. Everyone, straight or gay, is entitled to have the chance to lead a safe and happy life.