1. How has growing up in society as a LGBTQ individual changed since the beginning of time
LGBTQ individuals faced much opposition in the earlier times more than they do now. Some of the terms used to address the group, case in point, 'queers,' set them apart as a group that was odd or strange. As a result, they were stigmatized as a funny lot that failed to adhere to societal standards. Since the 20th century, the term queer was used as a derogatory label for the homosexual people especially the men (Dallmann, Boesenberg &Klepper, 2016). The use of the term waned for some time, but it came back to use again by artists, academicians, and activists around 1990. The word ‘gay’ then became a common reference for the group and was a positive label in contrast to queer. However, an AIDS backlash that affected especially gay men in the 1980s led to government indifference as well as an activation of Moral Majority Christian Movement that was against Gay. Consequently, the gay people and AIDS activists did some protests to make themselves heard. They shouted slogans as 'We Are Here, We Are Queer Get Used to It.' This brought the term 'queer' back to use since the group referred to itself using it. Independent films and books were done in this period to highlight the group' issues. Similarly, gay and lesbian studies were established in the 90s in the queer theory. These were also included in feminism and gender education. Beforehand, even though a gay couple would be in love, they would go separate ways and marry people from the opposite sex as allowed by the society. They were afraid of stigmatization or being blotted out by the public, which was yet to accept the notion.
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2. How It Affects An Individual Physical, Mental, And Psychological State.
Smit et al (2012) define stigma as a characteristic that conveys the negative social identity in an individual or group. It is also defined as the situation that diminishes the individuals' subjective value based on their membership to a group. It is a mark of disgrace that makes the stigmatized person devalued. Discrimination, which is the unjust treatment, based on their real or perceived status follows stigma. Given that definition, it should not be a surprise if a member of a group that is stigmatized, case in point, the gay society suffers mental health issues such as depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, or even acute stress disorder.
Negative attitudes on individuals based on their gay status have been rampant in the society since the beginning of time. Smit et al. (2012) posit that the HIV-positive gay men have a higher tendency of withdrawing from the social scenes. Consequently, the polarization affects their emotional, social, and physical health Discrimination and stigmatization cause the gay men to become suicidal as reported by Hilton (2011). His study revealed that the frequency of Lesbian/Gay (LG) suicide was very high in 2010, bringing the issue of the group's rejection to the forefront. The individuals face rejection from others, especially family members when they disclose their sexual orientation. The study reveals that most of the LGs begin disclosure at the beginning of their adolescent years and in young adulthood. Hilton (2011) posits that the stage consists of one becoming aware of their sexual orientation and initial sexual encounters as well as self-labeling. As a result, the step of one coming out and being accepted by the family is vital for development, especially for the adolescents. Further, Hilton posits that most LG individuals, heterosexuals, and bisexuals value their family members as they provide emotional and physical support and a connection with the past. Moreover, the family provides the environment in which they make discovery of the world that surrounds them. Despite that, one of the hardest experiences for the LGs is making disclosure of their sexual identity to their families. Augelli in Hilton (2011) states that the disclosure of an LG to the family of origin including siblings and parents is a time of crisis in the family development. Anecdotal accounts of parents who have had LG children disclose their statuses indicate that it resembles the grieving process that follows the loss of a loved one as it induces sadness, anger, guilt, denial, and shock. As a result, the LG individuals observe these negative reactions and suffer rejection that may sometimes lead to stress and depression. It becomes hard because they face worse rejection in their workplaces and in the general society, making them outcasts in most cases. MacDonald in Hilton (2011) states that the gay people are the only minority whose families reject them on a consistent basis as other minority families face prejudice as a unit (Sandfort, Melendez & Diaz, 2007). As a result, the LG people who face rejection from their own families suffer from alienation, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, and suicidal attempts. They as well engage in risky sexual practices. The study further says that most family members respond in a hurtful manner to the LG's disclosure, leading to the above vices.
Rice, Rice,& Madrid (2013) reveal that the stigmatized groups such as the LGBTQ individuals face many social and economic barriers. They face harsh judgment at their places of employment and may be denied jobs by employers. Gay individuals are also most times not likely to receive help from heterosexual males. They are most times denied apartments or admission to places in preference for the heterosexual men. The study also shows that gay tourists face more discrimination during their visits than their heterosexual counterparts do. Employers also may change the level and length of questions during interviews upon knowing the gay candidate's orientation (Rice, Rice,& Madrid, 2013). Employers use a wide variety of discrimination tactics that would not easily be discovered by the anti-discriminatory bodies such as the government and unions. Moreover, when gay people work among heterosexuals, they most times face discrimination, especially in firms that have not provided gays with protection. Heterosexual people are also likely to move to new care providers in healthcare if they discover that their doctors are gay. Sandfort, Melendez, & Diaz, (2007) also report on a Latino based study that indicated that gays reported having been raped and abused in their lives and they also had more homophobic experiences.
There are approximately 9 million people who belong to the LGBT community in America as per the reports. 3.5% of the entire American population identify as lesbian or gay while 0.3 are transgender (Dallmann, Boesenberg, &Klepper, 2016).
4 . Different movies and how LGBTQ has had an impact .
The Haves and Have Nots film by Tyler Perry has a unique example where gay men are restrained from expressing their true sexual orientation. This happens in the modern Savanna Georgia society where Jennifer and Harrington's son Jeffry is gay from a young age. The Harrington's are highly ranked in the society as they are attorneys and aspirants for the top political positions in the country (OWN, 2017). Jeffry is gay, but the mother constrains him and constantly tries to separate him from the love of his life Wyatt Cryer and even gets him a suitor Melisa whom she blackmails into the relationship. Melissa hails from a poor family, and she needs to pay the medical bills for her dying father in the hospital. Consequently, Veronica volunteers to pay the medical bills on condition Mellissa agrees to get pregnant by the Jeffry. Since Jeffry will not agree Mellissa is forced to drug him and have sex with him so that Veronica can have a grandchild (OWN, 2017). However, Jeffry is not interested in Mellissa since he is gay and she suffers much mistreatment and rejection in his hands. He only agrees to meet her when the mother blackmails him as she covers for his crime and hides his car that killed a little girl in an accident. In another setting, a police officer is also gay but the law restricts the officers from being gay, and so he refuses to come out. However, with time, he becomes Jeffry's secret lover although he has a wife and family to cover up his identity. This movie depicts that even in the modern times. Some families deny their members the rights to be gay or lesbian as this is still labeled as a weakness. Still, the movie shows that police officer are not allowed to be gay even in the modern society (OWN, 2017).
In yet another movie, Too close To Home by Tyler Perry, a gay couple happily lives together in the city, but when they visit the village setting, they are beaten beyond recognition, as queers are not accepted in the village. This answers the question that location determines how acceptable being gay is as the practice is more condoned in urban than in rural settings.
5. Difficulties one may face growing up LGBTQ .
LGBT People experience more psychological distress and higher chances of developing mental health problems owing to the high levels of stigmatization and discrimination in the society. According to McCann & Sharek (2014), the LGBT community faces social exclusion, institutionalized prejudice, homophobic and transphobic hatred, social stress, bullying, and violence from others. Moreover, LGBT face increased vulnerability to drug and alcohol abuse, self-harm and suicidal exposure. The statistics in the report show that 41% and 20% transgender men and women respectively reported suicide attempts. 86% of the people also suffered depression at one point while 27% had self-harmed at least once in their lives.
6. Does an individual's geographic location play a role in how the act?
An individual's location determines how they act as gay rights are allowed in some settings while prohibited in others. As elucidated in the Too close To Home movie described in question 4. Moreover, in some settings like Africa, gay rights are fought, as the people are highly religious. Displaying gay characteristics would mean excommunication from the community meaning that the gay would have to hide their identity. On the contrary, the LGBT couple's are freer in the American setting.
7. Does American culture allow LGBTQ individuals to openly express their concerns with acceptance?
The American law protects minority groups and gay falls within the category. Employers and service providers are prohibited from discriminating people based on their sexual inclinations (Sandfort, Melendez & Diaz, 2007). However, just like in the case of racial minorities, LGBTQ individuals face discrimination and are sometimes not allowed to voice their concerns. Moreover, some families have never accepted their people who are gay, as they feel it is odd or queer. Consequently, many of the LGBT people suffer rejection from the family units. The movies in section 4 also show how the American society behaves towards the gay society despite the permissive law.
Dallmann, A, Boesenberg, E, &Klepper M (2016). Approaches to American Cultural Studies. Routledge: London.
Hilton, A., & Szymanski, D. (2011). Family Dynamics and Changes in Sibling of Origin Relationship after Lesbian and Gay Sexual Orientation Disclosure. Contemporary Family Therapy: An International Journal , 33 (3), 291-309. Doi:10.1007/s10591-011-9157-3
McCann, E., & Sharek, D. (2014). Survey of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people's experiences of mental health services in Ireland. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing , 23 (2), 118-127. doi:10.1111/inm.12018
OWN (2017). Tyler Perry's the Haves and the Have Nots - The Oprah Winfrey Network. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFAF0HGlvTj4zVkAtlFd9fZBIXgVo_uFu
Rice, S., Rice, A., & Madrid, J. (2013). How the Gay Courtesy Stigma Affects Trust in a Programmer's Software Program. International Journal of Technology, Knowledge & Society , 9 (2), 67-80.
Sandfort, T. M., Melendez, R. M., & Diaz, R. M. (2007). Gender Nonconformity, Homophobia, and Mental Distress in Latino Gay and Bisexual Men. Journal of Sex Research , 44 (2), 181-189.
Smit, P. J., Brady, M., Carter, M., Fernandes, R., Lamore, L., Meulbroek, M., & ... Thompson, M. (2012). HIV-related stigma within communities of gay men: a literature review. AIDS Care , 24 (4), 405-412. doi:10.1080/09540121.2011.613910