Lesbian Stereotypes

As I said a few weeks ago, I will be doing a series addressing stereotypes for LGBTQ+ people—talking about people who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, as well as people who are intersex and asexual. I look forward to continuing through this series.

As the “l” (for “lesbian) is the first word in the LGBTQ acronym (or LGBTQIA), I think that it would be good for me to start this post (and LGBT Pride Month) by talking about what it means to be lesbian and stereotypes associated with friends, fellow writers, celebrities and others who are lesbian.

A lesbian is a woman who is only sexually attracted to other women. If a woman is attracted to men and to women, she is bisexual, not lesbian.

Now that we’ve defined what it means to be lesbian, we can start to understand what sort of stereotypes are associated with being lesbian. Well, in addition to the general stereotypes that are associated with people with same-sex attraction and relationships (link to previous post), here are some additional stereotypes often associated specifically with lesbians:

  1. Lesbians hate men. No, lesbians do not necessarily hate men. They’re just not sexually attracted to men. And just because one is not sexually attracted to someone else doesn’t mean that they hate the person.
  2. Lesbians have just never found the “right man.” In terms of finding a man for marriage, this is true—lesbians haven’t found the right man. The caveat I would add, however, is that since lesbians are attracted to other women and not to men, people who are lesbian will never find the “right man”; however, maybe people who identify as lesbian will be able to find the “right woman” (if they haven’t already found her).
  3. Lesbians aren’t feminine. There is this idea that lesbians like sports, are butches (which would basically be women dressed in a more masculine way), and like other things that men do. While there are some lesbians who are into those sorts of things, doing a Google search for “lesbians” will help you discover that there are also many lesbians into feminine things too, and that does not make “feminine” lesbians any less valid or lesbian than anyone who is a “masculine” lesbian.
  4. In a household with two lesbian parents, one person has to be the “dad.” Please, let’s not apply heterosexual standards to a homosexual relationship. A mom is a female parent, so both parents in a household led by two lesbians are both moms. If a lesbian couple decides that one of them should take more of the dad-like roles while the other one should take more of the mom-like roles, that’s the couple’s decision. However, once again, we should not force heterosexual ideas onto a homosexual relationship of any kind.
  5. Lesbians like all women. No. Just as heterosexual people have standards and aren’t attracted to everyone of the opposite sex, lesbians have standards and aren’t attracted to everyone of the same sex.

These, of course, are just a few of the harmful stereotypes associated with lesbians. If anyone feels that there were other lesbian stereotypes I neglected to mention, or if anyone wants to expand upon the lesbian stereotypes I discussed in this post, feel free to talk about that in the comments section below!

This is the main Lesbian Pride Flag I see, though I do see other flags labeled as “Lesbian Pride Flags.”

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Stereotypes Associated with People with Same-Sex Relationships

As I said a few weeks ago, I will be doing a series addressing stereotypes for LGBTQ+ people—talking about people who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, as well as people who are intersex and asexual. I look forward to continuing through this series.

However, before going into stereotypes associated with being lesbian, gay, or bisexual, I feel that I should address stereotypes associated with same-sex attraction that I’ve heard from LGBTQ+ friends, writers, celebrities, and others; as all three identities can (in the case of being bisexual) or do (in the case of being lesbian or gay) involve same-sex attraction and feelings, I felt that it was important to address stereotypes associated with people in same-sex relationships in general.

Stereotypes related to same-sex attraction and relationships include, but are not limited, to:

  1. The thought that people who are in same-sex relationships are living out the “homosexual lifestyle.” Yes, people with same-sex relationships are indeed homosexual, just as people attracted to the opposite sex are heterosexual. But people with same-sex relationships aren’t living the “homosexual lifestyle” any more than people in opposite-sex relationships are living the “heterosexual lifestyle.” And yet, the term homosexual lifestyle is used in a negative way and as if it’s a choice that could be easily opted out of.
  2. People with same-sex relationships can’t be Christian. This stereotype, I think, is the result of two things: a) the belief among some Christians that homosexuality is a sin worthy of kicking people out of a congregation and b) the fact that this attitude of rejection pushes many people in same-sex relationships away from a belief in Christ (or at least away from church attendance). The reality, however, is that a Christian is a believer in Christ as Messiah, and is someone who tries to follow Christ in all one is and all one does. Those two requirements for being a Christian are not limited to people who identify as heterosexual.
  3. Same-sex couples “destroy the fabric of families.” This statement begs the question of what makes up the fabric of a family in the first place. Is that fabric a heterosexual couple, or is it something else? Speaking from the experience of being in a loving family, what makes the fabric of families is love, not heterosexuality.

These, of course, are just a few of many unjust stereotypes associated with people in same-sex relationships. If any readers are aware of other stereotypes about same-sex relationships/people with same-sex attraction, or have anything to add about the stereotypes I have discussed above, please feel free to comment below!

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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.”

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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.