These general misconceptions apply to both gays and lesbians. The erasure of andro- and gyne- make it so that there is the only misconception that the only monosexual identifiers are homosexual and heterosexual. So this is more of the General Misconceptions for Gays and Lesbians.
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“I can tell if someone is gay (or lesbian) just by how they look.”
Sexual/romantic orientations are different from gender expression and a person’s general appearance. They are relatively unconnected for the individual. However, a person may try to fit into the stereotype of what a sexual/romantic orientation may look like so then that they can be assumed correctly but that is not everyone.
As a result stereotypes like: Gay men are… effeminate, obsessed with fashion, well-groomed, enjoy shopping, have limp wrists, and talk with a lisp- often come up.
Lesbians have… short hair, body piercings, tattoos. They are masculine, tomboyish, outspoken, angry, aggressive, moody, emotional, good with mechanics/tools, and into sports. They can’t be feminine.
These stereotypes do not apply to the highly diverse gay/lesbian community. To say that all gay men and lesbians are like this is also invalidating for those who don’t fit into these stereotypes. Even within the gay community, some people are told that they are not gay because they don’t look like it (the stereotype).
“I’m not homophobic because I don’t want to kill or bully gay people, unlike ISIS and other places.”
The fact that you don’t murder gay people does not mean you are not homophobic. There are a variety of ways to be homophobic like saying “I’m cool with gay people but I just don’t want them kissing in front of me, you know?” Also, this is the equivalent of saying- I don’t hate women, I just think they are too emotional to be in higher management positions as a CEO.
“Homosexuality is caused by childhood trauma or bad parenting.”
“There is no evidence to suggest that how people parent their children has any direct involvement in the type of sexual orientation a child subsequently develops.” (“Myths and Stereotypes that Dehumanize Gay Men”).
“Others suggest that sexual abuse in childhood can cause the development of a homosexual orientation. Again, there is no evidence to support this claim. The suggestion that abuse causes the development of a homosexual orientation doesn’t hold up given that many gay men have no such abuse history” (“Myths and Stereotypes that Dehumanize Gay Men”).
The environment is also theorized to be a contributor towards a person’s sexual orientation. Also, we have to question whether someone can be gay and not know it because of the harsh living environment as a child and perhaps in the present. You can see this with older generations of LGBTQIA people who come out when they are much older, in +20 years, compared to today’s youth that come out as early as 3 or 4 for trans kids and late Elementary School for kids with non-heterosexual orientations. Can an unforgiving childhood environment with abuse force a child to be closeted indefinitely?
“Being gay is a choice.”
Homosexuality and sexual orientation as a whole can be created through a variety of variables within our control and variables outside of our control. “There is substantial evidence of various connections between genes, brain, hormones and sexual identity,” [Clinton Anderson, the director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns Office of American Psychological Association] said. “But those do not amount to a simple picture that A leads to B” (“Genetic or Not, Gay Won’t Go Away“).
However, I disagree that all of us are born with a certain orientation as an argument because
“We don’t need to be born this way to refute ludicrous assertion that homosexuality poses some special threat to the stability of the American family. We need only note that heterosexuality… isn’t any lucky charm, and yet no one’s trying to heal the straights” (“Genetic or Not, Gay Won’t Go Away”).
“If you stop having sex with people of the same binary gender, then you’re not gay anymore.”
First, a person’s sexual/romantic orientation is predicated on who they find active in a sexual or romantic which may include sexual or romantic fantasies. A person’s behavior and how they act on those desires does not determine their sexual/romantic orientation.
Second, this is a gross double standard that heterosexual society as a whole puts on homosexuals and other people of minority orientations. If someone who identifies as a heterosexual is celibate, that person is still considered a heterosexual-straight person. They are simply not acting on their desires.
“You can’t be a gay or lesbian unless you have been with someone of the same binary gender.”
Again, like the misconception said before, your sexual/romantic orientation is not predicated on your behavior or experience. In addition, your behavior or experience does not determine your sexual/romantic orientation identity which may be different from the traditional definition of the term.
“If you’re a gay man and you find a woman sexually and/or romantically attractive, then you’re no longer gay. Then if you are a lesbian woman and you find man sexually and/or romantically attractive then you are no longer a lesbian.”
As seen from Kinsey’s research, those who identify as bi, straight, or gay aren’t 100% attracted to only the genders that you think. (Also, I apologize if this scale bothers anyone since it only includes binary genders.) Each of our sexualities isn’t 6 or 0 like people assume. In Kinsey’s research, he found that most people fell between 2-4.
In addition, this is an example of identity policing. It is rude and also immoral to say that someone isn’t a certain orientation because they have attractions that doesn’t line up with the traditional definition of the word. For example, a transman might have identified as lesbian before coming out but he still identifies as a lesbian because he doesn’t feel like he is heterosexual. This is especially applicable to minority identities like bisexual, polysexual, pansexual, and asexual identities.
Some bisexuals identify as gay because of the erasure and to avoid questions/biphobic statements from within and outside the LGBTQIA community. Also, many treat bisexual as an umbrella term to indicate poly and pan as well when they identify as bi. While others use bisexual as an identifier because few are familiar with polysexual and pansexual.
Last, for asexual, there are dozens of identities that fall under it that experience even more erasure than poly/pan. In fact, I only learned about about several of the asexual identities about 2 months ago from April 1st, 2016. So, one can understand why a person with a sexual orientation like WTFsexual, demisexual, lithosexual and so on, might identify as asexual so to be recognized.
(There are more examples of identifying with an orientation whose traditional definition and the person’s definition don’t mess up. There is an infinite number of them.)
“You can tell if a kid is gay based on what toys they play with and the clothing they dress in.”
You cannot tell a child’s gender or sexual orientation from the toys they play with. Our society as a whole genders toys to market to gender role upholding individuals. So, if a child plays with “girl’s” toys and wears dresses, they can still identify as a boy/man.
“Gay people have a mission to make you gay. So, if a gay person teaches your children, he/she/they will make them gay!”
First, people who identify as straight/heterosexual often harbor more homophobia than gay people. There is not much of a motivation to even try with the threat of harsh retribution of on the straight person’s part if you fail.
Second, as said before, your sexual orientation could come from a variety of facts, however, it does not come from “making” someone an orientation. Pray Away the Gay camps have shown us that they do not make you a heterosexual.
(I won’t talk about the camps further or the article because it is describing torture which may disturb some readers. If you would like to read more about it, check out the link above.)
It may be a stretch to assume that if you can’t make a homosexual person heterosexual, then you most likely can’t make a heterosexual person homosexual/gay. It may appear so because a gay person may present being gay as not a sin but another sexual/romantic orientation which allows the originally identifying heterosexual/straight child to experiment and maybe realize that they are gay. However, there is a difference between “making” someone gay and providing an alternative point of view displaying homosexual/non-heterosexual orientations in a positive or neutral light.
“Homosexuals aren’t religious.”
Contrary to this stereotype, many gay/lesbian/homosexual identifying people are very religious. Especially those not from the millennial generation, who often see God as creating them as a homosexual person. There are homosexuals who are not religious, however, this can be from previously deconverting or being on the brink when they came out. There is a variety of ways to explain why they are not religious, it simply depends on the person.
In addition, from experience, I have only met religious queer people or heard of not religious queer people. Atheists and the non-religious are as popular within the general population as with LGBTQIA communities.
“They all know each other”
Not all gay people know each other. This is usually refer to gay people in a community where there are over a few hundred people. While gay people might interact with gay people more than straight people do, it is not a guarantee. Some gay people don’t even interact with the LGBTQIA and queer community at large and may not know any gay people. To assume that all gay people know each other is a gross misconception on yours and society’s part.
“They can’t ever be happy.”
While people who identify as homosexual do experience more discrimination than heterosexual individuals, that does not prevent them from achieving happiness. This is the same for all discriminated groups of people. It may be more difficult to be happy but it is not impossible. Especially among gay people, many go onto living happy lives despite the harshest of circumstances.
“One of them is the man and the other is the woman in the relationship.”
If both of the people in the relationship identify as men, then there are two men in the relationship. If both of the people in the relationship identify as women, then there are two women in the relationship. To say that in gay/lesbian relationships is putting gender roles and heterosexual ideas of a relationship on gay/lesbian relationships which doesn’t apply. These ideas of gender roles don’t even apply to many heterosexual relationships. In plenty of them, the man stays at home, doesn’t work, takes care of the kids, while the woman goes out to work in her job to support the family financially.
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This is what the club calls a Living Database which should adapt to the changing needs of our time. In previous decades, certain sexual/romantic orientation, intersex and gender identities didn’t exist because of the lack of talk and representation. The club website will do it’s best to pick up on all the new terms and concepts that are coming out, it is run mostly by 1 person so if something new has come up. It would be AMAZING and much appreciated if you could comment below in whatever language you find preferable (English would be best for the quickest response though). We would most appreciate criticisms, resources, additional information that we missed or any topic that you believe this website should address which it hasn’t. Art, movies, comic books and representation are also considered resources. In addition, if you have questions about the content, feel free to ask questions whether it is through email (check out Contact Us, Doe Mori is the best contact) or commenting below.
– Bigoted, spam, advertising, and extremely off topic comments (ex. Coffee poem) will be deleted.-
Bruni, Frank. “Genetic or Not, Gay Won’t Go Away.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 28 Jan. 2012. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.
Lipp, Murray. “Myths and Stereotypes That Dehumanize Gay Men Must Be Challenged: Start With These 10!” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 19 June 2013. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.