The stigma of homosexuality
Despite how mainstream homosexuality is becoming, as it pertains to personal experiences there continues to be a stigma around being gay. This is true in differing degrees across THE UNITED STATES, credited to differing degrees of approval (Canada with homosexual marriage vs. the US who is still endeavoring to pull their leave of their ass- I could say that, I’m American), but regardless of where you live, coming out isn’t easy.
How Many People Are Gay? More LGBT Americans Self-Identifying As Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay Or Transgender LGBT Facts: Gallup polling show that 4 percent of Americans are LGBT. But with more millennials self-identifying as LGBT, that number could one day reach the oft-cited ‘1 in 10.’
I think there are a great number of reasons why this is actually the case. Traditional religions continue to preach that homosexuality is irregular, immoral and wrong. Culture perpetuates various gay stereotypes which can be hard for a few gay men to recognize with when they may be first developing. Developing places you immediately into a minority group, which might not be something someone has experienced before. There is certainly angst about disappointing your loved ones & friends, about the ramifications that could result from acknowledging that part of yourself and just overall fear of the unknown.
It’s my estimation that stigma has a significant affect on the homosexual community. It frequently causes people who have recently turn out to lash out, go to extremes, and struggle with finding who they are in the context of adding “homosexual” with their list of attributes. We’ve all seen it- a child from a small town who’s just come out and quickly becomes the neighborhood chew up toy, etc…
How different would the experience be if we lived in a society that taught their children acceptance? A society that didn’t incite dread into the minds of their youngsters by teaching them that being gay means you’re a freak, that you’ll never be happy. A culture that advocates love without conditions rather than love with restrictions…
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning (LGBTQ) teens are more than three times as likely to attempt suicide as their heterosexual peers, a U.S. study suggests.
At the chance of seeming self-indulgent, I’ll use my very own experience for example. However, bear in mind that while it offers a great deal with religion, this should by no means be construed as me being anti-religion, because I’m not. Religious beliefs has its benefits exactly like anything else- and articles about acceptance that then rips into the spiritual sector would be hypocritical to its core meaning.
I was raised in the suburbs, south of Salt Lake City, Utah in what’s known as “Happy Valley” because of the extremely concentrated LDS population. As most people know, Utah is home bottom to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints- in any other case known as the “Mormons” or “LDS”, and I was born involved with it and raised as an associate. Now, before I get into the rest of this, there are always a couple of things you should know about the LDS church. Mormons aren’t allowed to have pre-marital sex and masturbation is also forbidden. I also need to talk about that Mormon’s don’t do “confession” in the Catholic sense, but there is a “repentance” process to be followed if you sin. Part of that process includes heading to your bishop (the same to a pastor/local cathedral head) and confessing to him. It’s also not unusual for adults to also inform their parents, and could or might not be asked to by the bishop.
My family- without perfect (whose is?)- is amazing and I really like them with all my center. Overall, I had fashioned a great youth. Even while an openly gay man, I feature a lot of who I am today to growing up as a Mormon and to the strength of my family. With that said, like most people, there were intervals of my child years after i was the brunt of jokes, picked on and bullied. I spent most of grades 5 through 8 being called titles like “fag” and “fairly son”, which is difficult for any child (whether he realizes he’s homosexual or not).
I was about 13 while i had my first sexual experience with another boy, who was simply about my same age group. We visited school and chapel together and even though I was sexually energetic with men from then until my mature year of senior high school, I put no proven fact that I was actually homosexual until my father told me so.
At various points, I would talk with my parents & bishop (separately) and start the repentance process for what I was doing with these other men. Every time, I explained what I’d been up to filled up with guilt, pity and remorse, but at no time did I actually think I had been gay. I just thought I was doing bad things and that eventually, I’d stop; meet a great woman; get wedded and that might be that. During my last discussion of the type with my parents- the summertime right before 12th grade- my father finally just said: “Kevin, you’re gay.”
I lost it. I mean seriously, lost it. I had been shocked that my own father, of all people, would join the rates of bullies that held telling me I was gay. I was a Mormon, I couldn’t possibly be homosexual! After my initial surprise and burst of outrage, my Dad ended me by stating “Kevin, I’m not aiming to be suggest. Inform me what gay men do.” I told him and he replied by stating “Okay, now inform me personally what you’ve been doing?” and as soon as the words left my mouth… I knew.
Blah blah- fast forward 3 years to enough time after i finally quit wanting to “fix it” and accepted which i was homosexual, deciding that there surely is nothing incorrect with it. I informed my parents (it didn’t go well), moved up to Sodium Lake City and then started a 2-calendar year string of making bad decisions. After spending years within an environment that forced me to block out even the likelihood of who I had been, and then consequently to spend years looking to “correct it”… I just dove quickly the deep end.
I went from one extreme to the other almost overnight. One day I was “Mormon Kevin”, who didn’t swear, didn’t drink coffee, tea or alcoholic beverages, or even watch R-rated movies. The very next day, I used to be (what I thought was) Gay Kevin… who swore as much as he possibly could, who began doing drugs and partying nearly every evening and basically did anything and everything he “wasn’t supposed to do”.
I couldn’t keep employment; I had been constantly moving from spot to place, and eventually was theoretically homeless and living off of my friends. My car was repossessed, I defaulted on my credit card bills… in short, I was a train wreck. I wanted love just about anywhere I possibly could find it because I was so desperate showing everyone these were wrong- that I possibly could find love and that I wasn’t a freak. At the same time, the drive to satisfy those eager needs continued to add gasoline to the open fire of my performing out, therefore i continuing to make one bad choice after another for a good year or two.
Now, imagine we lived in the culture I mentioned previously. In the framework of my own story, it could have preserved me many years of fooling myself about my very own emotions; many years of confusion in what I was doing vs. who I used to be. It would’ve kept my body from some quite serious self-inflicted abuse, from ruining some friendships that should have lasted forever… and countless other things.
(I will interject here quickly that I’m not in any way unhappy with my entire life. Sure, there’ve been tough times, but who hasn’t got those- and everything before has led me to where I am now… and I’ve truly never been happier with who I am and where I’m at: life is fantastic!)
The driver of the gay stigma in my own story mostly stems from being raised in a community largely predicated on one specific religion, but it’s important to understand that it’s not the only cause and that religion isn’t always a cause generally. Even people who don’t develop up with any kind of religious beliefs in their life still face major hardships with coming out. Homosexuality is dispersing to the mainstream- but once it becomes personal, it’s a different story altogether.
Even for individuals who grow up in more liberal and accepting environments suffer from the stigma of being gay. They worry if their parents will still love them if they’re gay. They worry about what their friends will think, if they’ll still be friends, if they’ll be accepted. Even in “gay-friendly” cities like Vancouver and San Francisco you have kids sense repressed and frightened because of the general idea that gay people are “different” or that it’s in some way abnormal or wrong. We need to get to where kids are growing up with the data that it’s okay for them to be just that: THEM. And… we need them to understand that being gay doesn’t define you as a person. It is part of you, but only a component. You are able to be whatever you desire to be and life’s opportunities are yours for the taking… going about getting them just might be a little different.
Someday, being gay will be as inconsequential as whether you’re right or left-handed, but it’s not going to happen before world realizes that homosexual people are literally exactly like everyone else (barring our innate fabulousness, of course). Keep in mind Harvey Dairy when fighting Proposition 6… people need to find out who we are. They need to know that their attitudes, their actions, their words and their deeds every day influence the people they love- whether they know it or not.