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.
- Corrective rape is used to “cure” lesbians in South Africa, and it appears in the U.S. as well, both as an attempt to “cure” asexuals and as a suggestion for “curing” lesbians in the military.
- Gay teenagers are being tortured in Russia right now for being gay. The list goes on and on…
- I hate to play the Hitler card so early in this argument (or at all, really), but let’s not forget that the Nazis targeted gays, sending them to concentration camps by the thousands and killing off a number of them (I hate to sound imprecise but it’s hard to get solid data).
And here is a list of other ways in which gays and lesbians suffer discrimination and subordination:
- This study demonstrates that gays and lesbians in high-prejudice environments have shorter life expectancies. No further comment needed.
- Uganda’s leader is signing a bill into place that would sentences gays to life in prison. That bill, by the way? Is backed by American evangelical Christians. Do you think they wouldn’t try to pass the same laws here if they thought they could get away with it?
- Between 15 and 43% of U.S. gays and lesbians report experiencing workplace discrimination, with many states not yet having laws that will ban such discrimination.
- There’s a whole host of other bills in the U.S., in various stages of being passed, that attempt to deprive gays and lesbians of basic rights, such as allowing business owners to deny them service.