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LGBTQ Defined

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Gay. To some people this word may invoke a feeling of awkwardness, and perhaps even tension. “Coming out of the proverbial closet” as gay can be a  difficult challenge for many teens. Some may not even be familiar with the terminology that describes how they are feeling. For those of you who are curious about all of the current LGBTQ terms out there, we have included a common list.

First of all, what is LGBTQ, and what does it stand for? LGBTQ in its entirety can be as cumbersome as LGBTTQQIAAP, which stands for: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, and pansexual. Below is a brief description of many common terms describing sexuality and sexual identity:

    • Asexual: one who does not feel any sexual attraction to any gender.
    • Ally: a heterosexual/straight person who supports the gay community.
    • Bisexual: a person sexually attracted to both women and men.
    • Butch: a person who tends to lean towards being masculine
    • Cisgender: identifying as the sex you were born with.
    • Femme: a person who tends to lean towards feminine. More commonly associated with lesbian women.
    • Gay: a person sexually attracted to another person of the same gender; this includes women but most refers to men.
    • Gender Fluid: may refer to themselves as he or she depending on the identity they are comfortable with.
    • Homosexual: a person who is sexually attracted to people of the same sex.
    • Intersex: previously referred to as “hermaphrodites,” intersex people are born with both male and female genitalia or  may have both male and female chromosome markers.
    • Lesbian: a woman who is sexually attracted to another woman.
    • Pansexual: one who is sexual attracted to all people regardless of gender identity.
    • Queer: a term used to refer to the whole LGBTQ community, used only amongst each another. In some instances it may be considered rude for someone who is not LGBTQ to call someone who is, “queer”.
    • Questioning: those who are questioning their gender identity, or sexuality.
    • Transgender: a general term that refers to any person who does not identify with the gender they were born with.
    • Transsexual: refers to those who identify with and want to permanently change their assigned gender through sex reassignment surgery or hormone replacement therapy.

Many people in the gay community have had to fight prejudice for common everyday civil rights. Things like serving in the military, marrying someone you love, having a same gender partner or spouse on one’s health insurance, or the right to adopt children, were once denied to people born gay. Groups fighting for the civil rights of gays started as early as the 1940’s.  The 1993, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” allowed gays to serve in the military but not openly. It was repealed in 2010. By 2012, gays could openly serve their country. Many countries in the world have legalized gay-marriage, including most of Europe, South America and all of North America. In June of 2015, gay marriage was finally legalized in America making us the 17th country to do so. Gay people still have to fight for equality in the workplace and have been trying to get the The Employment Nondiscrimination Act passed since the early 1990’s. It is hard to believe that, in 2017, there are still people who are discriminating against others. There are many terms that are commonly used when describing people who are prejudiced against gays:

  • Homophobia: fear or dislike of gay people
  • Biphobia: fear or dislike of bisexual people
  • Transphobia: intense dislike, fear or prejudice against transgender or transsexual people

Dr Qazi Rahman  of London Universities  Institute of Psychiatry states that people may be born gay. His group studied the genetic markers thought to be responsible for sexual orientation. There is much research needed in this area of genetics. Sex hormones in prenatal life may also play a role in how a child develops. Studies have also shown that brain pattern responses differ in persons attracted to the same sex versus those attracted to the opposite sex. Other researchers have noted that sexuality is on a spectrum or may be fluid.

Regardless of the reasons for someone being homosexual, many teens today seem to be open- minded and accepting of all peoples sexual differences. There seems to be some divide along political lines recently, but for the most part, teens at JE seem to be against discrimination. This is still a touchy subject though, because people generally do not want to make assumptions about a person’s beliefs and don’t want to end up offending them or hurting their feelings. People’s sexuality is their own private business and shouldn’t be used against them by society. People may think that LGBT is such a controversial subject because it is now starting to become a more common topic of discussion. It seems that many more teens are coming out of the closet in high school then ever before. It’s not that there are more gay people, it’s  more likely  due to there being  more acceptance among the American public.

We asked staffers on the Voice of JE, and this is what they had to say:

“Not everyone is informed about the gay community… It’s so personal. ”

“It’s confusing to be told all of your life you are supposed to be one way, when secretly you know that doesn’t feel right.”

“…a lot of people are quick to judge…can relate to religion, and that people are going to hell…people judge each other before they meet each other…who a person is shouldn’t be based on sexual orientation.”

“People can be harsh to one another, so it makes it difficult for someone in the LGBT community to come out or discuss their sexual orientation to someone else for the fear of rejection and bullying.”

“Even though it’s a very diverse group all gays do have something in common…their experience of stigma…and their sharing of their coming out process”.

“It’s becoming less touchy…depends on everyone’s opinions…both sides are passionate.”

“I felt more comfortable with myself after coming out! There were no more secrets, and no changing my mannerisms. . .As someone who is homosexual, I think that most people are not awkward around me; but some people might be super awkward about it.”

 

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