GLBT

Recent posts

Does Being Gay Make You A Minority? Part 4

For the final post in this series (here are links to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3) we’ll examine the final 3 characteristics of minority groups based on a sociological list of 5 traits that minority groups tend to share. And we’ll discuss some implications for considering LGBT folks a minority group when it comes to the question of “rights.” 3) A shared sense of collective identity and common burdens: The LGBT community has bonded in order to provide community support to one another, both in cases of discrimination and intolerance described above, and to do what all social groups do for one another (celebrate life, mourn death, share their daily existence, tell stories, make art, help one another, work, gossip, raise children, and so on). 4) Socially shared rules about who belongs and who does not determine minority status: This group might be more porous than other minority groups, since many GLBT groups accept straight allies, asexual allies, and so on within their ranks. But there are still norms for membership, inclusion, and so on. Continue Reading →

Does Being Gay Make You A Minority? Part 3

In this post series, I’m defending the idea of giving GLBT people minority status. My first post gives some background on the issue, while my second post documents the oppression they face, thus fulfilling the first of 5 sociological categories that grant minority status to a group. Now we’ll get into the 2nd of these 5 categories:

2) Physical and/or cultural traits that set them apart, and which are disapproved by the dominant group: as far as I can tell, the scientific community is still researching the nature vs. nurture explanations for same-sex desire (take, for instance, this Slate article explaining some of the recent theories for the biological basis of homosexuality). My educated guess is that there are both biological and environmental factors going into sexual identity, and we’re still figuring out which conditions cause certain factors to come to the forefront. Continue Reading →

Does Being Gay Make You A Minority? Part 2

In the first post in this series, I listed 5 sociological characteristics of minority groups, intending to build an argument that LGBT people are, in fact, deserving of minority status. Here’s where I’ll get into the first – and perhaps most important – of those characteristics. Please note that for the purposes of this discussion, I will be focusing on gays and lesbians; this is not to erase the unique challenges faced by bisexual people, trans*people, queer folks, asexual people, and others, but simply because I’m not trying to conflate all these groups under one umbrella heading, though in some cases it does make sense to consider them grouped together, and I’d argue that they all do deserve minority status based on their uniqueness and their experiences of oppression. 1) Suffering discrimination and subordination: here is a list of atrocities committed against gays and lesbians specifically because they are gays and lesbians:

Numerous hate crimes against gays and lesbians, such as the murders of Matthew Shepard, Steven Simpson, Sakia Gunn, and many, many more, as listed on Wikipedia’s page, History of violence against LGBT people in the U.S. (seriously, click on that last link if you don’t believe that hate crimes against LGBT people are a thing)
Put another way, according to The Leadership Conference, “Of all hate crimes reported in 2007, the proportion committed against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals rose to 16.6 percent, also the highest level in five years.” I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that the population of gays and lesbians probably remained fairly constant, so the fact that the proportion of hate crimes against them went up means that they are being targeted specifically for who they are. Continue Reading →

Does Being Gay Make You A Minority? Part 1

Since I started following the news about HJR-3, the proposed Indiana amendment that would ban same-sex marriage (which will not appear on the 2014 ballot after all), I have gotten more and more involved in debates on why gay marriage should be legal, what gay rights are, and whether the phrase “gay rights” should even exist. One Indiana blogger, Sam Kean, wrote in a blog post titled Sexual Identity & Equality that “The LGBT culture attempts to claim rights as a minority against which discrimination is happening. That claim for equal rights as a minority is based on sexual identity, as if sexual identity must be equated with other essential (permanent) descriptors of human identity–race/ethnicity, gender, nationality (origin), age.” Kean discusses other aspects of sexuality in his blog post, which I won’t get into here, as my main goal is to demonstrate that gays and lesbians do, indeed, deserve minority status. Here’s why. Continue Reading →

The Question Of Gay Marriage In Different Religions

In following recent gay marriage debates in the U.S., I’ve noticed that a lot of the arguments against legalizing gay marriage are religious. They may or may not be explicitly framed that way – some people quote the Bible in their arguments, while others refer to “traditional marriage,” an implicitly Christian construct – but the religious content remains. My issue with taking a religious stand against gay marriage here in the U.S. is that our government is explicitly founded upon the separation of church and state. In my understanding, the application of this delineation is largely carried out through civil rights. So while one religion may discourage its members from same-sex marriage, that shouldn’t affect believers of another religion (or none at all) from being able to pursue same-sex marriage. Continue Reading →

Decoding Trans-With-A-Star

Perhaps you’ve seen the word trans* tossed around on the internet, and perhaps not. Either way, it’s good to be aware that it’s not a typo, but rather, as this Slate article explains, a more inclusive way of referring to identities that transcend the gender binary. This linguistic convention borrows from computer coding: “the asterisk stems from common computing usage wherein it represents a wildcard—any number of other characters attached to the original prefix.” So rather than having to explain that one is attempting to be inclusive of transsexual, transgender, and genderqueer people, one could simply say trans* to refer to the spectrum of non-cisgendered identities. Good to know, right? Continue Reading →

Clearing Up Misconceptions About Trans Women

This blog about myths and misconceptions about trans women, in parts one and two, resolves some fundamental misunderstandings about transgender women. One of my favorite (and by favorite I mean annoyingly common) misconceptions is that transgender people are simply reinforcing stereotypical gender norms. In fact, this view is a typical conflation of gender identity (an internally experienced reality) and gender expression (how one behaves/displays that identity). Even cis-gendered folks usually don’t have a perfect one-to-one correlation between these facets of how gender corresponds to biological sex (which is itself a complicated matter, nowhere near as binary as we make it out to be). I’d urge everyone to read up on these issues so that we can be more informed about the complexity of gender, sex, and sexuality, as well as less ignorant about the lives of those who conform less to these standards. Continue Reading →

Sexuality and Tenure

An assistant professor at Indiana University Northwest reports that she has been denied tenure because she is out as a lesbian. Her publishing record is excellent, and thus she suspects discrimination. This isn’t surprising, given how we’ve seen transgender professors denied tenure. I don’t think it’s fair to ask academics with non-mainstream gender/sexual identities to remain closeted. But that’s essentially what these actions are doing: enforcing a heteronormative ban on behavior that is different. Continue Reading →

Dear Indiana: Please Recognize Federal Laws About Same-Sex Partners

As an Indiana resident, I’m upset that not only is gay marriage still not legal in my state, but that the federal law to extend visitation rights to same-sex partners is not being recognized here. Recently, a woman living in Indianapolis was hospitalized while unconscious, and her (female) partner has been banned from visiting her bedside because the unconscious woman’s mother disapproves of their relationship. A 2010 federal law specifies that even in states where gay marriage isn’t yet legal, hospitals that accept Medicare and Medicaid must extend same-sex partner visitation rights. But that clearly hasn’t happened here. That needs to change. Continue Reading →

Transgender Teen Denied Yearbook Photo

A teenager in Texas is being told that his yearbook photo (in which he wears a tuxedo) will not be published in the yearbook. According to the school district, the photo does not meet “community standards.” This is because the teen, who identifies as male, refused to wear a drape or blouse as was required of the schools’ girls (the school apparently refuses to recognize the teen’s choice to live as transgender). This is unfortunately yet another incident wherein the choices of individuals regarding their own gender or sexuality identity are not institutionally respected. Continue Reading →