Why "Be" LGBTQ?

Jul 16, 2009

What is LGBTQ culture in NYC? Perhaps you are wondering why I would want to delve into understanding this topic. I imagine that for many of you reading this that immediately emotions rise from your inner core. Perhaps you yourself are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gender, or queer. My answer is such that I was raised in the South where having any association with LGBTQ culture had and still has immediate and dangerous consequences, where people aside from places like Miami were forced to stay closeted, and where homosexuality only came up in conversations when bashed in some form.

Fast forward to late 2008 when I move to New York City, birthplace of the gay rights movement. Although I am heterosexual, I have a definite interest in understanding what makes up this culture and want to actively befriend people that are LGBTQ. I have heard that about one every three people in NYC are LGBTQ and believe that society will be changed and impacted by this community on an ever increasing scale. As a teacher, I believe it is important to help students both understand and empathize with LGBTQ students and that this is part of the solution to ending the escalating violence against those in this community. Submitted for you are some of the highlights in my research. I also welcome any comments and/or feedback related to this discussion post.

In an interview with Jeffrey Satinover, he argues that among other things that homosexuality is changeable and a coping mechanism to deal with negative factors in modern society. He also argues that people are LGBTQ because at impressionable ages they experimented with non-heterosexual, non-monogamous sexual encounters.

Now we are looking at a generation of young people who are exposed to a sometimes explicit, and sometimes implicit set of values that says that homosexuality is perfectly okay—it's just a complement to heterosexuality. The implication of such a set of values to an impressionable, possibly confused and certainly exploring youngster, is that there is no reason whatsoever not to go out and try it and see whether it fits. It's simply that a door has been opened and a certain number of people will walk through that door and thereby expose themselves to terrible risks at an age where they are not really capable of making intelligent judgments about the risks. (Satinover, 2004) Satinover goes on to say that psychology has played a role in giving homosexuality a negative stigma until recently when psychologists began to validate homosexuality as normal and stopped considering it a mental disorder. Ultimately though, he states that, "... I believe homosexuality—like narcissism—is best viewed as a spiritual and moral illness."

Image: "homosexuality is a disease," istolethetv, June 25,2007.http://www.flickr.com/photos/istolethetv/626528203/

The second article I read/listened to presented the case that homosexual behavior is viewed with polar outcomes in America and Europe and that this bipolar view was supported by Sigmund Freud. "The vehement belief that is a form of emotional illness is predominantly an American phenomenon. Ronald Bayer, in and American Psychiatry: The Politics of Diagnosis, cites a letter written by Sigmund Freud in 1935 to an American mother who wanted her son "cured" of his homosexuality.

Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation, it cannot be classified as an illness."" (Cornett, 1995) The article also uses research conducted in the 1950s to inform readers that those who are LGBTQ generally remained LGBTQ after reparative therapy unless they were " strongly motivated to change." Validity of this stance and public acceptance began in the 1970s as portions of society agreed with the perspective that LGBTQ people were merely choosing a healthy alternative form of human sexuality. Furthermore during this time, some reasoned that psychologists doing a disservice to homosexuals by attempting to change them."

Part of LGBTQ culture is a negative stigma. This negativity and/or perhaps fear and misunderstandings about LGBTQ culture have led to increased hate crimes and continued discrimination. This prior knowledge led me to my third article written by Herdt and Koff. These writers cited the roles of historical and religious influences on homosexuals. "When science displaced religion as the esteemed cultural authority during the Enlightenment, some medical pioneers hoped to protect homosexuals from persecution by arguing that homosexuality was a biological condition rather than a moral defect. Though well intentioned, these efforts paved the way for homosexuality to be classified as medical "degeneration" or a mental "disease" during the early twentieth century. By the 1960s changing notions about sexual liberation and modern scientific research led many to challenge the stigmatization of homosexuality and inspired the gay rights movement." Herdt and Koff also argue that the Church's (Christianity) loss of dominance as a global power player further caused the stigma. Despite Freud's efforts to de-stigmatize homosexuality, later psychoanalysts promoted the notion that it was actually caused by bad parenting. (Herdt and Koff, 2005) However, "In the early 1950s, ... sociologist Clelland Ford and biologist Frank Beach showed that sexual practice varied enormously across a sample of many societies around the world. Homosexual practice was approved and permitted for some persons in more than 60 percent of the groups they surveyed." It seems reasonable then that some in the LGBTQ community live that way because their lives are accepted by their society and not deemed outsiders.

Honestly, my head swims when I think of the numbers presented above (The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 2003) and in a brief American Magazine article. The magazine wrote in 2009 that over 85 countries, particularly those in the Middle East, have death penalties for same-sex relationships and that according to the FBI that "hate crimes in this country against gays and lesbians rose by 6 percent, while crimes against almost every other group fell." How can that be in the "Land of Freedom" unless people believe their individual freedom gives them the right to kill and abuse those who are LGBTQ for simply being themselves? It simply grieves me.

My research for this discussion post led me lastly to an NPR broadcast from June 2005. More than anything, this broadcast showed me that there are probably more similarities than differences between LGBTQ culture and heterosexual culture. Same-sex camaraderie, freedom from stereotypical roles, and pride in one's self as well as his/her gifts and self identity are celebrated and in part make up the values of the LGBTQ culture. (NPR, 2005) They also make up heterosexual culture as well though. In the end, I'm motivated to continue learning more about LGBTQ culture with an open mind and heart, to positively bring together two increasingly colliding worlds, and to humbly move forward content with these few gems of knowledge gained

9 Chickweed Lane

Sources Cited:

1: Satinover, Jeffrey. "Homosexuality Is Caused by Societal Dysfunction." Opposing Viewpoints: Homosexuality. Ed. Auriana Ojeda. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2004. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. New York Public Library. 14 July 2009 <http://find.galegroup.com/ovrc/infomark.do?&contentSet=GSRC&type=retrieve&tabID=T010&prodId=OVRC&docId=EJ3010143244&source=gale&srcprod=OVRC&userGroupName=nypl&version=1.0>.

2: Cornett, Carlton. "Homosexuality Is Normal Sexual Behavior." Opposing Viewpoints: Human Sexuality. Ed. Brenda Stalcup. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1995. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. New York Public Library. 14 July 2009 <http://find.galegroup.com/ovrc/infomark.do?&contentSet=GSRC&type= retrieve&tabID=T010&prodId=OVRC&docId=EJ3010145221&source=gale&srcprod=OVRC&userGroupName= nypl&version=1.0>.

3: Herdt, Gilbert, and Bruce Koff. "How Homosexuality Became Stigmatized." Contemporary Issues Companion: Gays and Lesbians. Ed. Kate Burns. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2005. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. New York Public Library. 14 July 2009 <http://find.galegroup.com/ovrc/infomark.do?&contentSet=GSRC&type=retrieve&tabID=T010&prodId=OVRC&docId=EJ3010359202&source=gale&srcprod=OVRC&userGroupName=nypl&version=1.0>.

4: "Lives of gays and lesbians.(Brief article)." America. 200. 2 (Jan 19, 2009): 4(1). Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. New York Public Library. 14 July 2009 <http://find.galegroup.com/ovrc/infomark.do?&contentSet=IAC-Documents&type=retrieve&tabID=T003&prodId=OVRC&docId= A192698386&source= gale&srcprod=OVRC&userGroupName=nypl&version=1.0>.

5: "Analysis: TV Land documentary 'Tickled Pink' examines the history of television shows that resonated within the gay community long before homosexuality was openly discussed on TV.(4:00-5:00 PM)(Broadcast transcript)(Audio file)."Day To Day. National Public Radio, 2005. NA. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. New York Public Library. 14 July 2009<http://find.galegroup.com/ovrc/infomark.do?&contentSet=IAC-Documents&type=retrieve&tabID=T005&prodId=OVRC&docId=A161932983&source=gale&srcprod=OVRC& userGroupName=nypl&version=1.0>.

6: "Public opinion on the causes of homosexuality, 2003." ("Nature vs. Nurture," in Opinion of Homosexuals: Religious Beliefs Underpin Opposition to Homosexuality, Part 1: Opinions of Homosexuals, The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, November 18, 2003,


(accessed July 26, 2004) ).Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. New York Public Library. 14 July 2009 <http://find.galegroup.com/ovrc/infomark.do?&contentSet=GSRC&type=retrieve&tabID= T007&prodId=OVRC&docId=EJ2210057649&source=gale&srcprod=OVRC&userGroupName=nypl&version=1.0>


We have had open gay male

wdhaverstock's picture
Submitted by wdhaverstock on Thu, 2009-07-16 12:54.

We have had open gay male students in our school and that helped greatly to blunt to otherwise open homophobia.  This past year lestianism seemed to be in vogue.

I know a lot of teens are

mwhitehouse's picture
Submitted by mwhitehouse on Thu, 2009-07-16 12:54.

I know a lot of teens are interested in this topic.  Among my adult friends, nobody gives a damn about your sexuality unless your promiscous, in which case we will talk about you.

Nice work, Amanda. Just saw

Submitted by Feliciag on Thu, 2009-07-16 12:55.

Nice work, Amanda.

Just saw a video on gender identity, sexual orientation produced in the Bay Area of California.  It might be an interesting resource if you want to start this discussion with your students.  I'll have to contact someone from NWP to get the information and will post it here - somewhere on this site.


You've provided a way for

CHimmel2's picture
Submitted by CHimmel2 on Thu, 2009-07-16 12:57.

You've provided a way for students to think, discuss and comment on this topic in a way that is really safe!

I'll have to read it more thoroughly-which I'm looking forward to doing.

I'm going to look very

klevy's picture
Submitted by klevy on Thu, 2009-07-16 12:57.

I'm going to look very carefully at your discussion for many reasons.  Thanks for choosing this topic because there is so much violence against these students in our schools.  I believe they have the highest suicide rate of any teens and it's discussed the least in our schools.  Currently, 2 of my nieces have majored in LGBTQ in college so I might show them the discussion and see if they will comment.


Karen Levy, Library Media Specialist Columbus Campus H.S. 925 Astor Avenue Bronx, N.Y. 10469

Wow! What a jerk that

CharlieTeachHayground's picture
Submitted by CharlieTeachHay... on Thu, 2009-07-16 13:00.

Wow! What a jerk that Santinover guy is? An "unitelligent choice", so kids who consider their sexuality are idiots, or, at best, fools? People are too nosy. Homesexuality has always been a part of humanity. If we look at the ancient greeks and Romans it was just a part of life. Intelligent men and women have engaged in these practices for all of time. No matter where the morality wheel landed it still persisted. Maybe because it is a natural state of things, like war.  But unlike war, nobody is  getting killed without the injection fear and ignorance in to the public conversation.