By: Catherine He
Happy Pride Month! While this year may look slightly different with fewer street parades and in-person gatherings, online celebrations stand firm. As a society, we have undoubtedly reached what Dr. Maha Hosain Aziz refers to as a ‘global spring’ — a movement where more citizens will be challenging their governments, certain policies or leaders through protests in all regions of the world. We must stay informed and keep questioning the norms in which society has instilled into us. This calls for staying informed and clearing any biases that may reside within your mind. Today, we will be debunking five common misconceptions about the LGBTQ+ community.
It’s Just A Phase
This misconception mainly applies to children, but anyone can become a subject of this myth. No, mom, it’s not just a phase. Being a member of the LGBTQ+ community is not a decision that someone can make in the spur of the moment, which means that it is NOT unnatural. In fact, many community members have held on to the same feelings since a young age. Teenagers often go through ‘phases’ (for example, the infamous emo phase) after being influenced by their favourite media, such as books or movies. Given that the entire media industry is still incredibly exclusive, including towards sexual orientation, it’s hard to imagine that someone would go through a phase of being queer when there’s hardly anything out there for them to consume that would have the possibility of ‘influencing’ them.
The “coming out” process can be incredibly stressful and challenging for many individuals to do and often happens after a lot of reflection and courage. People who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community aren’t just playing fun and games; their identity is essential to them and took a long time for them to develop, which is why it’s insulting to call something that took immense bravery a mere ‘phase’.
LGBTQ+ Individuals Are More Promiscuous Than The Straight Population
In case you’re unfamiliar with the term promiscuous, Merriam-Webster defines it as “having or involving many sexual partners: not restricted to one sexual partner or few sexual partners.” In a nutshell, it is an adjective to describe people with transient sexual relations. The only reason why this myth even exists is that promiscuous people are the most visible. However, as the LGBTQ+ community continues to grow with more people “coming out”, this stereotype becomes less and less relevant. With a broader array of the community becoming visible, society realizes that LGBTQ+ people are just as capable of stable and monogamous relationships as anyone else – that their sexual orientation is just that, and holds no power over what their way of life.
Think about the community that you live in. Chances are, a queer couple is living quite normally, raising their families just like any of your other neighbours. However, as of right now, visibility is still an issue, as queer couples often disappear from urban LGBTQ+ communities to settle down in the suburbs or the countryside, where they may be less visible. Hopefully, this changes in the future as our world becomes more accustomed to change.
People Who Are LGBTQ+ Are Easily Identifiable
It’s a common (and harmful!) misconception that people who identify as LGBTQ+ look a certain way. For example, flamboyant men are associated with being gay, and ‘masculine’ women are pinpointed as lesbians. Does this statement make any sense? Take yourself as an example. Yesterday, you wore a lovely summer dress for a picnic with your friends, but today, you’ve decided to wear a suit for your day in the office. Between yesterday and today, has your sexual identity changed? We’ll take a wild guess and say that it hasn’t. You’re still the same person with the same interests, despite different fashion choices. Knowing this, why is it so hard to understand this concept in the context of queer individuals?
Sometimes lesbians will wear beautiful dresses, and sometimes gay men will wear dashing suits, and sometimes vice versa! However, many heterosexuals also display these same mannerisms and characteristics, such as the “tomboy” or the “effeminate” male. The way a person looks or dresses poses no indication of who they are or what their sexual orientation is. There is no checklist for what a queer individual looks like or should act like, and there never will be. It’s about time we stop goading this stereotype on.
There Is A Known Cause For Why Some People Are Queer, And Others Aren’t
News flash: there isn’t a known cause for why some people are homosexual or bisexual while others are heterosexual. Some people choose to believe that sexual orientation is something that is determined before a child is even born through genetics, while others think that it boils down to environmental factors; all humans are predisposed to all variations of sexual and affectional behaviours and that they learn a preference or orientation, as stated by Vancouver Island University. It’s important to note that there is no scientific evidence backing either of these theories.
LGBTQ+ people are found in practically every culture throughout the world and have been a regular part of society throughout history. According to Patterns of Sexual Behavior, a 1951 book published by anthropologist Clellan S. Ford and ethologist Frank A. Beach, 76 contemporary societies studied showed that 64% of their sample societies considered homosexuality normal and socially acceptable. In most cultures, heterosexuality and homosexuality coexist. Same-sex relations were accepted and considered natural in many European cultures until the 13th century, after which same-sex relationships were increasingly proscribed by church and state. Despite all of this, it is important to note that the cause is not very important in the grand scheme of things; being treated with dignity and respect regardless of sexual orientation remains crucial.
There Is A Cure For LGBTQ+ Individuals
There is no cure because there is no illness. Speak with any psychologist, psychiatrist, or mental health professional, and they’ll all agree that mental well-being and stability make up an individual’s ability to lead a fully functioning life. They’ll also agree that homosexuality is not an illness, mental disorder, or emotional problem. Therefore, we can deduce that conversion therapy DOES NOT work, and there is no evidence from the American Psychological Association to show that it does.
Changing one’s orientation does not correspond with changing one’s behaviour, as we went over earlier. To change someone’s orientation would require altering all of their feelings and reconstructing their self-concept and self-identity. The APA pointed out that therapists who undertake this kind of therapy often come from organizations with an ideological perspective against homosexuality. In fact, according to Vancouver Island University, the APA has stated explicitly that “orientation reparative therapy” (conversion therapy) is not recognized as a valid form of therapy. Being queer isn’t an illness; never has been, and never will be.
There is tremendous amount of misconceptions that plague the LGBTQ+ community’s lifestyle on a day-to-day basis. It is up to us, as an entire society, to confront these stereotypes that we have believed in for so long to move forward into the next chapter of necessary change.