being "different" sound like a positive or a negative experience to
you? For gays and lesbians, daily living can be a frustrating and painful experience
in our society. Because they are different in their sexual orientation, gays and
lesbians have been oppressed. They suffer social, religious, economic, political
and legal discrimination. Much of this discrimination is based on the myths people
believe about gays and lesbians. For gays and lesbians to be treated equally in
our society, we need to dispel these myths. What is most needed is the elimination
of the irrational fear and hatred some people have for intimate, same-sex relationships.
This irrational fear and hatred is called homophobia.
OK to call gays and lesbians names like "queer," "faggot,"
and "dyke" because they are "deviant."
Fact: A gay
man or lesbian is someone whose primary sexual and affectional preference is for
a member of his or her own sex. This is different from the statistical norm, but
difference does not equal deviance. If it did, blue-eyed people and left-handed
people _ who are also in the statistical minority would be considered deviant.
Male homosexuals generally prefer to be called "gays," while female
homosexuals generally prefer to be called "lesbians," although the term
"gay" is often acceptable for both sexes. To be called "queer,"
faggot" or "dyke" is derogatory and insulting.
Gays and lesbians are mentally ill.
Fact: Homosexuality is
considered normal in most of the world's cultures. In 1973, the American Psychiatric
Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders and declared
that homosexuality is as healthy as heterosexuality. Like anyone else, however,
gays and lesbians can become maladjusted when they are treated with hostility.
Gays and lesbians are not "normal."
Fact: Sexual behavior and orientation exist along a continuum that ranges from people
who are exclusively attracted to members of the same sex, to people who are equally
attracted to members of both sexes, to people who are exclusively attracted to
members of the opposite sex. All are normal.
lesbians are few in number and "hide out" in careers like theater, interior
design and cosmetology.
Fact: A generally accepted statistic is that
approximately one in 10 persons is gay or lesbian. Gays and lesbians are found
in all walks of life and in all professions. For example, consider the following
professional associations: the National Lawyers Guild Gay Caucus, the Association
of Gay Psychologists, the Gay Nurses Association, the Association of Gay Seminarians
and Clergy, the Gay Airline Pilots Association, and the Gay Prize Fighters of
America Association, to name but a few.
Gay men like
to dress as women; gay men wish they were women and lesbians wish they were men.
Fact: Gay men and lesbians, for the most part, are comfortable with their identities
as men and women and have no desire to change their sex.
and lesbians are a menace to children.
Fact: The overwhelming majority
of child molestation cases 95 percent involve heterosexual men and are committed
against females under the age of 18.
Gays and lesbians
Fact: Homosexuals are neither more nor less sexually
promiscuous than heterosexuals. Like heterosexuals, many gays and lesbians are
involved in monogamous relationships, considering themselves partners and committed
to each other for life. Some gays and lesbians may also choose to remain celibate,
and others may have multiple partners, just as some heterosexuals do.
Parents cause their children to become gay or lesbian.
Fact: Reasons that a particular sexual orientation develops are unknown. Current research
indicates that it is a very complex matter that involves both biological and environmental
influences. Just as we cannot explain what makes some people heterosexual, we
do not understand what makes other people gay or lesbian.
a gay or lesbian could just meet the "right" member of the opposite
sex, then he or she could fall in love and be "cured."
Fact: Many gays and lesbians have dated members of the opposite sex but find it more
fulfilling to date members of their own sex. Most gays and lesbians have no desire
to change their sexual orientation. Those who do are usually reacting to negative
societal attitudes toward homosexuality.
If a friend
tells you he or she is gay, then that friend is coming on to you.
Fact: Being gay involves more than a person's sexual activity. When friends "come
out" (reveal their homosexuality) to you, they are essentially inviting you
to know them as whole people. If a gay person chooses to come out to you, then
that person has decided to share part of his or her identity with you. Such a
disclosure means only that this friend trusts you, not that he or she would like
to become sexually involved with you.
If you have friends
who are gay or lesbian, that must mean you are also gay.
or loving someone who is gay or lesbian does not make you gay any more than liking
someone who is Catholic or Jewish makes you Catholic or Jewish.
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is a gay disease.
Fact: AIDS is caused by a virus. Viruses infect all kinds of people, regardless of their
sexual orientation. AIDS is spread through the exchange of bodily fluids, such
as blood, semen and breast milk. Some people have contracted AIDS from sharing
intravenous needles. While AIDS has been contracted by a large number of gay men,
it has also been contracted by heterosexual men and women as well as and children
and even infants. Associating with gays does not mean you will get AIDS. For further
information about AIDS, contact Aids Community Services (847-2441 or 847-AIDS)
or the National Gay Task Force Hotline (1-800-221-7044).
State University of NY at Buffalo, What are Your Beliefs About Gays and Lesbians?,