Gays’, Lesbians’, And Bisexuals’ Roles Of “Otherne Essay

This essay has a total of 1209 words and 6 pages.

Gays’, Lesbians’, And Bisexuals’ Roles Of “Otherness” In Dominant Culture

Gays’, Lesbians’, and Bisexuals’ Roles of “Otherness” in Dominant Culture
Despite no visible differences such as those of ethnicity and race, homosexuals and
bisexuals are still commonly defined as “other” in our society. Based soley on their
sexual orientation, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals are continually targetted by
intolerance, ignorance, and segregation because of their role as an “other” in the
dominant culture. This “otherness” is a departure in characteristics and behavior from
the range expressed as the local, safe norm. It causes intense concern and an attempt at
comprehension. From this, the mind either quickly moves to apprehension,
misunderstanding, and fear, or to repulsion and hatred. Although the dominant group’s
mindset still exists today, the situation is gradually improving through pro-gay
legislation and continually more liberal views pertaining to sexuality.

A bisexual friend of mine gave me her opinion when she heard the topic of my “otherness”
paper. “I don’t feel my ‘otherness’ on a daily basis because of the ease of ‘passing’ in
a heterosexual world. Actually, my sexual preference is never an issue until someone
makes an ignorant remark or assumption about it,” she told me. The way gays, lesbians,
and bisexuals view themselves as a group contradicts the mainstream opinion of the
dominant culture. Their sexuality is normal and natural to them, and poses no issue until
someone reminds them of their “otherness”. Many people in the dominant culture emphasize
that being gay is a choice. Sexual orientation, whether it be heterosexual, homosexual or
bisexual does not appear to be something that one chooses. Recent studies suggest that
sexual orientation has a genetic or biological component, and is probably determined
before or shortly after birth. Like heterosexuals, gays and lesbians discover their
sexuality as a process of maturing; they are not recruited, seduced or taught to be
homosexual. The only choice gay or lesbian people have is whether or not to live their
lives honestly, or according to societies unrealistic expectations (Bell, Weinberg, M.S.,
& Hammersmith), (Troiden).

Upon coming out to her old friends and people upon first encounters, my friend faces an
internal struggle. Fear of rejection and loss are always a concern. However, coming out
to her parents and family was even more difficult, “I was afraid they would define me by
my gayness, not by my personality or self worth. Not knowing their reaction, I put myself
at risk for losing my family’s love and much of what I consider to be important in my
life.” Because of false stereotypes and unwarranted prejudice towards them, the process
of "coming out" for lesbians and gay men can be a very challenging process which may cause
a great deal of emotional pain. Lesbian and gay people often feel different and alone when
they first become aware of same-sex attractions. They may also fear rejection from family,
friends, co-workers and religious institutions if they do "come out"(American
Psychological Association). Another struggle for homosexuals and bisexuals includes
confronting their religious backgrounds and beliefs. In the Judeo-Christian society in
which we live, homosexuality is heavily frowned upon by religion. In the past, religious
leaders supported the dominant culture’s ignorance about homosexuality by calling it a
'sin'. Strong believers in the biblical translation concur that man to man or woman to
woman intimate relationships are grave sins. Religious people who are gays, lesbians, and
bisexuals are often ostracized by the church community and are looked upon as sinners,
child molesters, and promiscuous individuals. In fact, promiscuity has nothing to do with
one's sexual orientation, but rather one's values and beliefs. Just as in the
heterosexual community, some gay people are promiscuous, some are not. In a 1992 study,
55.5% of gay men and 71.2% of lesbians reported to be in steady relationships (Overlooked
Opinions, 1993).

The dominant group in American society (white, heterosexual, Protestant) continues to view
homosexuality as a major social stigma. Gay culture and lifestyle is often on the
receiving end of many socially acceptable, yet hatefully motivated actions and jokes.
Until recently, AIDS was considered a “gay disease” or a punishment from God by many
misinformed people. The link in people's minds between homosexuality and AIDS is so firmly
established that discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS is inseparable from
discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (Vassal, Fisher, Jurgens, Hughes).
Tolerance within the dominant culture’s view of “otherness” also seemingly varies. My
friend commented, “I’ve noticed that intimate female to female contact (such as holding
hands or kissing) is easier for the public to digest, whereas male to male contact is
definitely unacceptable to the majority.” This societal viewpoint is selective and
hypocritical. My friend also mentioned, “People of the same sex are afraid to befriend
GLBs because they think every hug or smile is a sexual advance.” Contrary to popular
belief, gay men and lesbians are no more inclined to be consumed with sexual thoughts or
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