Sexual Orientation/Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered (GLBT) Issues

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CORRECTING MYTHS

Myth #1:  Homosexuality is “Unnatural”
THE TRUTH:  From a scientific point of view, it is “natural”.  Any animal, including humans, is capable of responding to homosexual stimuli.  Research suggests that homosexuality is almost universal among all animals and is especially frequent among highly developed species.  There has been evidence of homosexuality in all human cultures throughout history.  In fact, one anthropological study of non-Western cultures found that 64% of their sample considered homosexuality “normal and socially acceptable” for certain members in society.

Myth #2:  Homosexuality is Just About Sex
THE TRUTH:  “Being gay or bisexual is more than being sexually active with a person of the same sex.  Homosexuality/bisexuality influences the entire span of experiences that life has to offer.  This includes such private maters as love, affection intimacy, spiritual, and emotional support as well as more public matters such as maintaining a household, combining finances, filing joint tax returns and even whom you choose to dance with at a party.  Sexuality is not just a component of our lives, but it deeply informs our identity.  Though many say homosexuality/’bisexuality is and should remain a private matter, such a reference belittles the impact that sexual orientation has on the social, economic, and intellectual aspects of our society.  It is a simplification often used to limit the rights of GLB individuals, and to limit their ability to fight for those rights.  People are political beings.  What we read, what we eat, and who we socialize with are all political statements.  Though there are some aspects of life that are more personal while others are more public, there is simply no clear split between the two.”    From Leigh University and the Campaign to End Homophobia.

Myth #3:  There are Specific Gender Roles in Gay Relationships
THE TRUTH:  There are a variety of forms of gay relationships, just as heterosexual relationships.  Sometimes there may be specific roles for each person; sometimes these roles are very flexible.  Original butch/femme roles may have come from imitating heterosexual roles.

Myth #4:  Gay People Could Change If They Want To
THE TRUTH:
  Research as repeatedly shown this is not true - - that sexual orientation is something we are born with.  Examples of people who claim to have changed their orientation usually indicate someone who has changed their behavior in response to internal or external pressure to be heterosexual.  This is often at great cost to self, because basic feelings haven’t changed.  Sexual orientation emerges for most people in early adolescence without any prior sexual experience.  And some people report trying over many years to change their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual with no success.  For these reasons, psychologists don’t consider sexual orientation for most people to be a conscious choice that can be voluntarily changed.  The American Psychological Association has made several official statements that conversion therapy is unethical.

Myth #5:  Gay People Do Not Have Stable or Long Relationships
THE TRUTH:  Even though gay and lesbian relationships do not have the social supports which heterosexual relationships have, many gays and lesbians form long-term, monogamous, stable relationships and consider themselves to have a lifetime commitment to each other.  Many heterosexual people have trouble forming stable relationships; so do some gay, lesbian and bisexual people.

Myth #6:  Gays and Lesbians Don’t Know How To Be Good Parents
THE TRUTH:  The adoption and foster care screening process is very rigorous, including extensive home visits and interviews of prospective parents.  It is designed to screen out those individuals who are not qualified to adopt or be foster parents, for whatever reason.  All of the evidence shows that lesbians and gay men can and do make good parents.   The American Psychological Association, in a recent report reviewing the research, observed that “not a single study ahs found children of gay or lesbian parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children or heterosexual parents,” and concluded that “home environments provided by bay and lesbian parents are as likely as those provided by heterosexual parents to support and enable children’s psychosocial growth.” That is why the Child Welfare League of America, the nations’ oldest children’s advocacy organization, and the North American Council on Adoptable Children say that gays and lesbians seeking to adopt should be evaluated just like other adoptive applicants.

Myth #7:   Coming Out Is A One Time Process
THE TRUTH:  For most gay people, coming out is a lifetime process.  In any new situation or relationship, the gay person must decide how out to be.  These situations can include simple activities (i.e. shopping, opening a joint checking account, picking out furniture, buying jewelry, taking your child to the doctor, attending parent night at school, or having company over to your home).

Myth #8:  GLBTQ Persons Have No Interest In Spiritual Life Or Religious Identity.
THE TRUTH:  Nothing could be further from the truth.  GLBTQ persons were born into families that have connections, often very strong connections, to religious traditions.  GLBTQ persons therefore have elements of their identities that seek for an understanding of God and a belonging to a religious tradition.  These longings and questions are part of every person’s identity.

The problem comes when certain religious traditions hold beliefs about homosexual identity or homosexually directed behavior that sees these behaviors or even this identity as wrong.  There are passages in the Christian bible that condemn homosexual behavior.  Some religious traditions (for example the Catholic tradition) hold that homosexual persons are valued, as are all persons; but that the sexual orientation is “disordered” and homosexual behavior is wrong.  There are religious traditions that hold that that both the behavior and the person are to be condemned. There are also religious traditions that welcome homosexual persons and also hold that homosexual behavior is as good as heterosexual behavior.

GLBTQ persons do sometimes experience conflict when the religious tradition in which they were raised condemns either their sexual behavior or their sexual orientation.  Some leave their religious traditions and also leave off their search for spiritual meaning.  However many GLBTQ persons continue their search for spiritual meaning either within a tradition that welcomes them, or within their own religious tradition.  Even religious traditions that do not approve of homosexual behavior, nevertheless seek to welcome homosexual persons into their communities.  The questions raised by this myth are not easily answered.  Indeed some religious traditions are experiencing major divisions within their ranks around the position taken by their leaders on the issues of homosexual behavior and homosexual identity.  What is important is that GLBTQ persons continue to give expression to their spiritual longings and ask the spiritual leaders they respect the hard questions.

 

 

Books

  • Permanent Partners: Building Gay and Lesbian Relationships That Last (Berzon)
  • Free Your Mind: The Book for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Youth and Their Allies (Bass & Kaufmen)
  • Is It A Choice? Answers to 300 of the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Gay and Lesbian People (Marcus)
  • Now That I'm Out What Do I Do? (McNaught)
  • Now That You Know: A Parent's Guide to Understanding Their Gay and Lesbian Children (Fairchild & Howard)
  • Out & About Campus (Howard & Stevens)
  • Violence in Gay and Lesbian Domestic Partnerships (Renzetti & Miley)
  • Queer Blues (Hardin & Hall)
  • Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views (Gagnon & Via)
  • What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality (Helminiak)

Internet Resources