Introducing a Series on LGBTQ+ Stereotypes

Sometimes, this blog is a smorgasbord of social justice issues, and I’m fine with that. However, given this time in history with LGBTQ+ issues, I want to spend a bit more time on LGBTQ+ issues, and particularly stereotypes that go with being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer,[1] intersex, and asexual. 

To elaborate on the time in history we are at right now (just to give a quick summary for those who aren’t fully aware), here are some important LGBTQ+ events going on, all at the same time:

  • The 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots is coming up at the end of June. For those who don’t know about this piece of LGBTQ+ history, these riots were a series of violent confrontations between the police and gay people at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. To read more, read this Encyclopedia Britannica piece.
  • Numerous governments across the world, including the federal government and some state governments in the United States, have tried to undermine or take away LGBTQ+ rights.
  • Several religious institutions, most notably the Methodist Church, are grappling with LGBTQ+ issues.
  • The United States Supreme Court is considering a case on whether current federal law bans workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Given all these events, as well as the fact that so many of the bad things that happen are the result of some of these LGBTQ+ stereotypes, it’s important to address those stereotypes here and now.

So, my plan is to dedicate a post a month (or so) to stereotypes with regards to a major group in the LGBTQ+ community. Many of the stereotypes discussed will be ones I’m aware of, but I would definitely encourage my readers (and especially people with firsthand experience of being LGBTQ+) to let me know of stereotypes that I should cover, as well.

This way, by the time the series is done, probably around December by my calculations, we are hopefully all ready to confront some of those harmful stereotypes, both within ourselves and others.


[1] The “q” in LGBTQ could also stand for “questioning.”

Hafuboti [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D

LGBTQ+: Beyond Marriage

Given the fact that October is LGBT History Month, I think that it is both important and appropriate to dedicate a blog post during the month to the topic of LGBTQ+ issues.

In particular, I want to use this post as a warning against viewing LGBTQ+ history in the way that many of us view the civil rights movement for African Americans: ending with one or two major events.

In history classes, the African American civil rights movement is often taught as having ended decades ago, with legislation like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This is the case, even though many civil rights problems still remain in 2017.

I fear that many of us in future generations will view the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement in a similar way: ending with one or two major events. The only difference is that instead of the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act with African American civil rights, we have the allowance of same-sex marriage in all fifty states and the lifting of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” with LGBTQ+ rights.

The problem, however, is that there are many LGBTQ+ civil rights which should exist but don’t. Here are a few examples:

  1. Most states have no laws regarding discrimination in schools on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  2. Most states do not prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  3. Many states do not address hate crimes that are on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  4. Most states do not prohibit discrimination at public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

I can add many other things to the list, but the point of having this list is to show that the LGBTQ+ rights movement should not be viewed as ending just because the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal. That was one step in the process for securing LGBTQ+ rights, but it is by no means the only step or the last step.

If people view the decision to legalize same-sex marriage as the last or only step in achieving LGBTQ+ civil rights, then issues such as the ones I mention above will continue to exist for decades to come. Hopefully, that won’t be the case.

Here is a map showing states and where they stand on a variety of LGBTQ+ issues—this map from the Human Rights Campaign: https://www.hrc.org/state-maps

The #MeToo Campaign

As readers of mine probably know by now, there has been a #MeToo campaign which has put a spotlight on how big of a problem sexual violence, particularly sexual violence against women, really is.

As such, there are a few things that I feel led to say about the organizers, participants, survivors who decided to not participate, male and nonbinary survivors of sexual violence, and men.

To the organizers of this #MeToo campaign, most especially activist Tarana Burke (who created the original movement) and actor Alyssa Milano (who helped make the hashtag viral)—thank you. Your goal was to make others aware of how much this nation and world has a serious problem with sexual aggression and violence. I think you all succeeded. Hopefully this awareness can turn into ending rape culture. But all of you, as the organizers, took a big step in this much-needed journey. As a result, “thank you” frankly feels like an inadequate thing to say.

To participants in the #MeToo campaign—thank you. Everybody involved in this of was extremely brave and vulnerable. Every one of you made others more aware of how enormous this problem is and all of you did that at the risk of everything from potential backlash to potential flashbacks. Once again, thank you.

To survivors who didn’t participate—your story is no less valid because you didn’t participate. To the contrary, maybe some of you didn’t participate at least in part because your story/stories is/are so fresh and raw. I hope that others who hear your story in the future (if you do ever decide to share your story) will not make your stories any less valid because you emotionally were not able to participate in the “me too” campaign.

To male and nonbinary survivors—your story is no less valid, either. Just because you don’t fit into the most common story of sexual violence (a man committing violence against a woman) doesn’t mean that your story is somehow less true, or that you are any less of a survivor than anyone else.

To fellow men—we need to hold ourselves and each other accountable. We need to realize how our own actions and the actions of those around us contribute to rape culture. Whether it be not always listening to others (an area I realized I was weak at) or making so-called “rape jokes” (not funny, by the way), whether it be the way many of us have been conditioned to be controlling or the way some of us may turn a blind eye to the aforementioned “rape jokes,” we need to improve. So let’s start thinking about how we can get ourselves and others completely away from rape culture and the toxic masculinity which contributes to rape culture.

Finally, to people who got to this point in my post—thank you for at least taking this issue seriously enough to get to this point. I just hope that we can also take this issue seriously enough to start actually addressing it.

A Call to Reflect on LGBTQ+ Issues

This week, I am yet again writing in the aftermath of a very public and visible injustice.

Last week, I wrote on how many of us considered the suicide from Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, and suicide in general, selfish. This week, I am writing in the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s banning of transgender people from the military.

There are many things which are wrong and unjust about the transgender military ban. For starters, he is factually wrong on the claim that transgender people are medically costly for the military; in the absolute worst-case scenario envisioned by a Rand Corporation study of the cost of transgender health care, there would be “a 0.04- to 0.13-percent increase in active-component health care expenditures.” He was also factually wrong on the claim that transgender military cause disruption—just ask the United Kingdom military chiefs who praised transgender troops or the Israeli military people saying that transgender troops are not a disruption. And then there is the fact that active transgender members of the military are left in limbo as a result of Trump’s tweets. There were other wrongs and injustices that Trump committed with the transgender military ban, but those are just a few that come to my mind.

But I don’t want to spend this entire post bashing Trump for this action, because quite honestly, there are probably hundreds of blog posts which do that job already. Instead, I want to use Trump’s action as an opportunity for self-reflection among all of us.

Namely, for those of us who claim to be pro-LGBTQ+ (like Trump did in his convention speech last summer), we should reflect on whether our actions back up any pro-LGBTQ+ words.

There are a few questions I want to ask, in order to help others reflect:

  1. Do you actually do anything to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals?
  2. Do you speak out against anti-LGBTQ+ injustices in public, on social media, at home, the homes of other family or friends, or anywhere else?
  3. Do you go beyond the level of having a “gay friend” or “trans friend” (akin to the “black friend” idea), and actually do something to stand up for the best interests of that LGBTQ+ friend?
  4. Are you just welcoming of LGBTQ+ friends, or are you actually affirming of their identities?
  5. Do you really believe that LGBTQ+ people deserve the same opportunities as straight people, or do you believe that there are limitations on what they can do?
  6. What do you say to others when you talk about your LGBTQ+ friends?

I urge every one of you, as my readers, to honestly reflect on these questions, and do some reflection outside of the scope of these questions. Reflecting on questions like these helped me realize that there is more I could do, and maybe will help some of you realize that there is more you can do. If you reflect on these questions and realize that some of your actions might not support your words on LGBTQ+ issues, then at least you can make positive changes. But if you don’t reflect on questions like these, you run the risk of being like President Trump—claiming to be pro-LGBTQ+, but performing actions which show the opposite.

Author’s Note: This was written at the last minute as a response to President Trump banning transgender people from the military. As such, there may be mistakes in this post. I apologize in advance for those mistakes.

Addressing “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin”

If you are a Christian who has confronted LGBTQ+ issues, or if you aren’t Christian but are familiar with Christian language that is often used with the LGBTQ+ community, you have probably come across a particular phrase.

“Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

I used to be a major believer in this saying. I could never fathom abandoning someone, but at the same time I did not support actions (in homosexual actions) that practically every Christian influence in my life told me was wrong. So to me, “love the sinner, hate the sin” was a good middle ground.

I was not alone in thinking that “love the sinner, hate the sin” was a good approach. I know that because I hear this phrase used frequently in moderate to conservative Christian theology to describe how LGBTQ+ people should be treated. The phrase is used to describe how Christians should be loving to people regardless, but hate the sins that LGBTQ+ people are accused of having. In particular, Christians are often told to hate the so-called “homosexual lifestyle” or “gay lifestyle.”

Speaking as someone who used to be a believer in “love the sinner, hate the sin,” it is a phrase which seems to be disguised in love. After all, you are supposed to love the sinner. It is an especially appealing phrase because it allows you to love people in the LGBTQ+ community without making room for actions that you view as sinful, and it allows you to acknowledge what you view as sinful actions without falling into the stereotypes of conservative Christians holding picket signs which say that people who are LGBTQ+ will go to hell.

But now, I want not just fellow Christians, but all people, to see the phrase for what it is—it is a way of singling out people in the LGBTQ+ community in ways that other people don’t get singled out.

I make this claim because I have never (and when I say never, I really mean NEVER) heard “love the sinner, hate the sin” used in any Christian context outside of discussions about the LGBTQ+ community. I have never heard “love the sinner, hate the sin” when talking about the adultery, envy, anger, lying, or other wrongs that people around us commit (or that some of us commit ourselves). This is the case, even though the problems mentioned above are tied to the Ten Commandments and/or the Seven Deadly Sins (those seven sins are pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth), and LGBTQ+ issues are generally not tied to either one.

Yet, I hear “love the sinner, hate the sin” all the time when some Christians talk about the LGBTQ+ community and the non-traditional relationships that one often sees within the LGBTQ+ community.

The fact that “love the sinner, hate the sin” is used against the LGBTQ+ community and not against anyone else is a sign that the phrase is mostly meant to single out the LGBTQ+ community. Otherwise, the phrase would not just be applied to LGBTQ+ issues, but also issues that violate the Ten Commandments and/or the Seven Deadly Sins, at the very least.

If you, the reader, are tempted to think that “love the sinner, hate the sin” is the way to view people in the LGBTQ+ community, and LGBTQ+ issues, I hope that you at least consider whether you are using that phrase for a variety of other issues. If you only use the phrase for LGBTQ+ issues, then you are singling out the LGBTQ+ community like I once did, whether you realize it or not.