Right down from the labeling of AIDS as GRID, or Gay-Related Immune Deficiency, this community has historically faced rampant discrimination and stereotyping at the hands of their own family, friends, employers, healthcare providers, and government.
“Many LGBT people are too shy to go to health centers to get services as they face a lot of discrimination when they get there. There is an idea that you can contaminate people somehow. I came out as bisexual the same year as I started RUMI and I’ve experienced many difficult situations since. Once I went to get tested for HIV and I realised the doctor did not want to touch me. They separated me from the rest of the people in the clinic. That really brought my heart down. If it can happen to me, who can stand up for myself, what will happen to those who cannot speak out?”
– Brian Byamukama, founder of RUMI (Rural Movement Intitiative)
This discrimination however didn’t restrict itself to the AIDS crisis. Homophobia, so deeply embedded in society, continued to persevere, even in an age where queer rights were on the rise.
Ignoring the past, no matter how unpleasant, isn’t the solution but tackling it head-on, dismantling, and obliterating it? Yes, please.
Here are a few of the cobweb-ridden myths that were and still are propagated by homophobic culture:
Pedophilia, the wolf in homosexual sheep’s clothing
One myth perpetuated shamelessly by homophobic culture, is an apparently iron-clad link between pedophilia and homosexuality. The power of this myth lies in the apparent threat to children, because who would ever risk their child’s safety?
Anti-gay activists don’t shy away from asserting gay men as child molesters. A far cry from the truth, it has no statistical or factual background, with scientific research giving no evidence to back these claims.
In one review of the scientific literature, Dr. A. Nicholas Groth wrote:
“Are homosexual adults in general sexually attracted to children and are preadolescent children at greater risk of molestation from homosexual adults than from heterosexual adults? There is no reason to believe so. The research to date all points to there being no significant relationship between a homosexual lifestyle and child molestation. There appears to be practically no reportage of sexual molestation of girls by lesbian adults, and the adult male who sexually molests young boys is not likely to be homosexual”
(Groth & Gary, 1982, p. 147).
In conclusion: No, gay men are not psychopaths waiting outside schools with candy to lure kids, contrary to what anti-gay propaganda wants you to believe.
Same-sex couples make second-rate parents
A major hurdle in the path of same-sex couples wanting to adopt, this myth once again finds its footing it in the out-dated view of the traditional, ‘ideal’ family; a husband, a wife, and kids.
A question of “Will Children Raised in Homosexual Households Become Gay Or Face Sexual Identity Crises?” is often raised. The answer to this is put succinctly (and even a tad bit wryly) by one researcher, “If heterosexual parenting is insufficient to ensure that children will also be heterosexual, then there is no reason to conclude that children of homosexuals also will be gay.”
Be it their emotional development or otherwise, studies show that children brought up by same-sex couples do just as well as those raised by heterosexual couples.
In “Children of Lesbian and Gay Parents,” a 1992 article in Child Development, Charlotte Patterson states, “Despite dire predictions about children based on well-known theories of psychosocial development, and despite the accumulation of a substantial body of research investigating these issues, not a single study has found children of gay or lesbian parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents.”
A homophobic weapon that works pre-emptively too, it is also extremely discouraging for gay kids to hear that they will not make good parents on account of not fitting into the ‘traditional nuclear family’ as projected by a heteronormative society.
All gay men are effeminate
This one can be traced centuries back, as it stemmed from the origin of the word ‘gay’ which originally meant happy, cheerful, colourful, and flashy. This stereotype has been fed to us by television and rom-coms for countless years, usually projecting the trope of an effeminate gay best friend who loves fashion and knows his way around make-up.
While it may be true for a fraction of gay men, it leaves the men who don’t fit into this narrow, constrictive stereotype at a peculiar disadvantage; when the representation of your community is so skewed, it’s hard to relate and identify in the first place.
Being gay doesn’t imply having to confine oneself to any extremes of femininity or masculinity; that’s up to the individual, always.
Being gay is a choice
One of the most dangerous myths surrounding the gay community is the belief that homosexuality is a ‘condition’ that can be ‘cured’ and that being straight is the only natural sexual orientation. This myth can lead to a spectrum of problems; casual denial from friends and family, right up to conversion therapy, and death.
In an issue of the Science Magazine, geneticist Andrea Ganna performed a genome-wide association study on nearly half a million participants to study genes associated with sexual orientation and found loci implicated in same-sex sexual behaviour indicating that, like other behavioral traits, non-heterosexual behavior is polygenic.
It isn’t against nature but is a matter settled by nature, not swayed by any whim, threat or compulsion besides one’s fundamental wiring.
Written by Kavya Cocasse
Image Credits (in order): @lifeisam.art.ini (Instagram)