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Running Head: EXPLORING CULTURE ESSAY

Cassidy Brinley
University of Kentucky
Exploring Culture Essay
CIS 110
10/23/2014

EXPLORING CULTURE ESSAY

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Abstract

Homosexuality is any sexual attraction to (or sexual relations with) person of the same sex. This paper
will be focused on the gay aspect of homosexuality. Like any sexual orientation there are many aspects
that define homosexuality. Since gays have a large variety of cultural differences, other orientations tend
to perceive them differently. The purpose of this paper is to define the gay culture, how it is perceived,
and how it is stereotyped.

EXPLORING CULTURE ESSAY

Exploring Culture Essay


Starting from the origins of homosexuality, the term homosexual was created in the
nineteenth century by theorists to describe a sexual and emotional interest in members of ones
sex (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 2013). Throughout the history of homosexuality, it has
been frowned upon because of the cultural differences among sexual orientations. The main
cultural differences that define the homosexual culture are religion, family dynamics/values, and
stereotypes.
Among the cultural differences and their many aspects, people of opposite sexualities
often encourage homosexuals to keep their sexuality hidden. For instance, men in the military
were often told the phrase Dont ask, dont tell. Saying that homosexuals were allowed to be in
the military, but werent allowed to tell anyone. About 17 years later, President Obama signed
the bill repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell which was the first step in removal of the law. Men
serving in the military were advised that until then the policy would still apply, and that they
could potentially face its sanctions if they identify themselves publicly as gay (Heath, 2011).
Furthermore, it is understandable why gays are more likely to keep their sexuality hidden. After
reading many interviews from Heaths article Tell: An Intimate History of Gay Men in the
Military, It was hard not to notice the frustration of these anonymous servicemen. People
commonly mistake homosexuality as only men having sexual attraction for men. However,
Homosexuality is any attraction to (or sexual relations with) person of the same sex.
From marriage laws, media portrayal and even politics; what used to be an unacceptable
form of sexual orientation is gradually becoming socially accepted in some ways. Gay marriage
is now legal in thirty two states (ProCon, 2014). The media portrayal on this sexual orientation is
becoming more and more common every day in things like, sports, movies and TV shows. For

EXPLORING CULTURE ESSAY

example, the hit TV show Modern Family has portrayed a same-sex marriage as one of the
main roles. The couple is known for adopting a daughter and being very flamboyant. Some
homosexuals could see this stereotype as offensive since not every homosexual man should be
defined at that stereotype.
Stereotypes
Even though the homosexual culture is becoming accepted in many ways, it can still be
defined by many different and sometime offensive stereotypes. Stereotypes are
a simplified and standardized conception or image investedwith special meaning and held in co
mmon by members of a group (Dictionary.com, n.d.). Stereotypes can be good and bad, in some
ways stereotypes can be a very positive things for a specific group of people. For example,
Asians being smart, oddly that could be a positive stereotype. However, there are also negative
stereotypes, for example: Homosexuals being called feminine. Homosexual men are often
stereotyped as feminine rather than the stereotypical masculine man. There is research that
suggests gay men do prefer certain professions, like fashion, interior design and hair coloring,
and that lesbians are more likely to prefer sports and the military. Researchers say it's because
lesbians, on average, are attracted to more masculine occupations, and gay men tend to prefer
more feminine occupations. (Stossel, 2006). With this being said, Homosexual men are often
stereotyped as feminine when theyre really just doing what they prefer to do, a person of the
opposite sexual orientation could also enjoy those feminine aspects but not get stereotyped as a
homosexual.

Stereotypes of homosexuals are often tied into bullying and abuse, due to differences
some people cannot simply over look. Nine out of ten LGBT (including gay men) have reported

EXPLORING CULTURE ESSAY

being bullied at school regarding their sexual orientation. (Gay Bullying Statistics, 2014). LGBT
is a community containing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. Whereas bullying to straight
people is often tied to things like appearance or low self-esteem. LGBT students are two to
three times as likely to commit suicide as heterosexual students and may account for a startling
30 percent of all completed youth suicides.11These students are also more likely to experience
suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts than other students.12 (Violence prevention works, n.d.)
Upon discovering an organization on the University of Kentuckys campus called
OUTsource, which is an organization that allows students learn more about their sexual
orientation and to provide the University of Kentucky with diversity. While interviewing people
of this culture, Interviewee #1, who requests to stay anonymous; when asked What was the
most stereotypical thing that has even been said to you? said:
Interviewee #1:
My date and I were called faggots at a school dance. I had been out for a while, so I
brushed it off relatively easily. My date had only been out for a few weeks though, so he
hadn't developed the thick skin that a lot of gay people have. It really affected him, and
he ended up running back into the closet and telling everyone that we went together as a
joke, and that he lost a bet or something. It was terrible, and although I wasn't affected by
the hate speech, the hate speech ended up affecting someone I was close to, which in turn
affected me.
Although the only word said was faggot, it had such an impact on both of these men. As I said
before, these cultural differences have the power to make people keep their sexuality hidden,
even if it is just a derogatory word.

EXPLORING CULTURE ESSAY

Stereotypes often come from people with traditional values, that only a man and
woman can be together. Stereotypes usually occur from people that arent educated on the
subject, this even includes family members of homosexuals. In the article Could your child be
gay? Stephanie Dolgoff, says You can believe that homosexuality is a natural part of the
human experience, but at the same time be worried that your child is going to face
discrimination. It can be hard, though. Many parents feel they are responsible. They think,
What did I do wrong? (Dolgoff, 2013, paragraph 22). This article explained the unanswered
question of what its like for gay parents. Throughout my research on the homosexual culture,
the common aspect of how parents of a gay child are perceived occurred frequently. So not only
is are the stereotypes being geared toward the homosexual individual, but also the parents of that
person.
Like I said before, the stereotypes that have been made throughout history; have made it
more difficult for homosexual men to come out. The term coming out is used as a saying
when a person is revealing their sexuality to the world and even themselves. In another
interview conducted with and OUTsource member, Interviewee #2, who also requests to remain
anonymous said:
Question: Did your family members agree with your decision? Did you think yout
family would completely change once you told them you were gay?
Interviewee #2: To clarify, there is no choice to be gay. If there was a choice, I would
have chosen to be straight. There is, however, a decision to come out of the closet. But
everyone in my family was mostly okay with it.

EXPLORING CULTURE ESSAY

This interview with interviewee #2 was the most intriguing because he brought up the fact that
being homosexual is not a choice, as if its too powerful to keep hidden. Like I said before about
homosexuals keeping their sexual orientation. Someone can only do that for so long. As a
heterosexual, attempting to keeps things like that a secret would be incredibly hard difficult.
Now raises the big question about the interview, is homosexuality a choice? No one
has the power to efficiently answer this question. Its almost like the question, is god real?
However, there are many opinions. Some of those including: No. Sexual preference is
biologically determined. Government should protect gay people from discrimination because
homosexuality is an unalterable aspect of their identity. And Yes. People choose to be gay.
They are making an immoral choice, which government should discourage.

(huffingtonpost, 2014).
Family Values
Homosexual families and heterosexual families differ when it comes to family values.
Family values are a familys principles or standards of behavior; familys judgment of what is
important in life. Heterosexual families are considered to have the most traditional house hold,
along with values. A traditional household is generally as a father, a mother, and two children.
Those two children are expected to follow in the footsteps of their mother and father; this
includes religion, family values/dynamics, and marriage. With this being said, a house hold with
a homosexual as a parent or a child; completely violates the values of a traditional heterosexual
house hold. Especially when a child or parent of a traditional household comes out with their
sexuality, this really shifts a household from traditional from non-traditional. The parent not only
has to worry about stereotypes and bullying, but also how their child is raised in this world.

EXPLORING CULTURE ESSAY

On the other hand, when a homosexual becomes a parent through adoption, surrogate,
etc.; they also are worried about how their child and how they will be perceived. Perception also
has an effect on the way the family as a whole is stereotyped. Which lead to bullying and abuse,
not only to homosexual individuals, but also family members. Obviously, after being thought of
as normal your whole life, things are going to change when all of a sudden youre homosexual.
Your world is going to be different. During an interview with members of the outsource
community, Interviewee #1 said:
Question: How do you think family dynamics differ from a straight persons family
dynamics?
Interviewee #1: I think it depends on how the family views the sexuality. Personally, my
family treats me no differently than my straight brother, because honestly, my sexuality isn't as
important to them as my wellbeing, and I think more people should have that behavior. I've
talked to a lot of gay people who's family's weren't so accepting, though. Typically, they grew up
in conservative, Christian households (the opposite of mine) and there are a lot of variations from
there. One guy is still in the closet to his family, one guy's mother skipped town when she found
out her son's sexuality, abandoning him. Some people have been kicked out of their homes, or
have been forced to go to "gay to straight conversion camps", which I solidly believe aren't real,
they just urge you to suppress your sexuality some more, causing a ton of inner turmoil and years
and years of stress when you find out years later that yeah, you're still gay.. There are some
families who are surprisingly accepting of the information too, though. I'm extremely lucky that
my family didn't care at all about my sexuality.

EXPLORING CULTURE ESSAY

These stereotypes often effect an essential aspect of everyone lives, including


homosexuals; family dynamics. Family dynamics are how families relate and interact. Family
members of homosexuals are most likely to have feeling of Anger to sadness, fear to hurt,
confusion to grief, and anywhere and everything in between. (PFLAG. 2014). PFLAG is the
nations largest family and ally organization. Made up of parents, families, friends, and allies
united with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (PFLAG, 2014). As I stated
before, homosexuality can lead to abuse, even in families. With organizations like PLFLAG
and OUTsourse discrimination and abuse within families can be illuminated. Interviewee #1,
from the OUTsource community:
Question:
Interviewee #1: Personally, my family treats me no differently than my straight
brother, because honestly, my sexuality isn't as important to them, and I think more
people should have that behavior. I've talked to a lot of gay people whose families
weren't so accepting, though. Typically, they grew up in conservative, Christian
households (the opposite of mine) and there are a lot of variations from there. One guy is
still in the closet to his family, one guy's mother skipped town when she found out her
son's sexuality, abandoning him. Some people have been kicked out of their homes, or
have been forced to go to "gay to straight conversion camps", which I solidly believe
aren't real, they just urge you to suppress your sexuality some more, causing a ton of
inner turmoil and years and years of stress when you find out years later that you're still
gay. There are some families who are surprisingly accepting of the information too,
though. I'm extremely lucky that my family didn't care at all about my sexuality.

EXPLORING CULTURE ESSAY

Although interviewee #2 did not have any bad or harmful experiences relating his family and his
sexuality, he has known people who have. Sadly, stereotypes can originate within a family.
Without experience, interviewee #2 was aware of what the consequences are of coming out
and how it can affect anyone around you. Those stereotypes come from family values and
traditions, such as religion.
Religion
Today, homosexuals are a favorite target of the religious right, whose members
frequently quote scripture to justify anti-gay bias and even violence. There are even those
who claim that AIDS is Gods punishment on homosexuals. (Revel&Riot, n.d.) Speaking
about religion regarding homosexuals is an unusual topic because its not typical for a
person who likes the same sex to be religious. This is probably because beliefs that say
God hates gays or If youre gay, youre going to hell. Things like this make
homosexuals afraid to even step foot in a church much less spread the word of god. One
could probably say that homosexuals not being religious, is a stereotype or a social norm.
In a video recording that went viral on the internet, a young man was telling his parents
that he was gay. During the video, the mother talked about how god didnt agree with his
decision to be homosexual, so neither would his family. He was told to move out and of course
this young man is going to be hurt and confused that his parents are basically disowning him.
Things in the video recording started getting physically abusive really fast. At one point you can
see the mother charging at him, hitting him, and the father in the background calling him vulgar
names, such as: queer and faggot (Pierce, 2014). The family said they were no longer going
to support him because of his choices, all because they didnt want people to look him
differently.

EXPLORING CULTURE ESSAY

Homosexuals have values, stereotypes, and religious views; like every other human on
this planet. Ultimately, being a homosexual becomes more of a human aspect. We all believe in
some type of stereotype, values, or religion. Homosexuals believe that being sexually attracted to
another man is acceptable, just like heterosexuals believe being attracted to the opposite sex is
acceptable. In this essay, I discussed the different cultural differences of homosexuals; often
comparing it to heterosexuals. Also explaining the different stereotypes commonly used to
describe homosexuals and what theyre defined by. The stereotypes also including their cause
and effect relationship on people, homosexual or not. Also, the different family values and
family dynamics that define the homosexual culture. Lastly, this essay touched on the different
opinions of religion and homosexuals.

References
ABC News. (2006, Semptember) Retrieved from:
http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=2449185

EXPLORING CULTURE ESSAY

ProCon. (2014, October) 32 States with Legal Gay Marriage and 18 States with Same-Sex
Marriage Bans. Retrieved from:
http://gaymarriage.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=004857
GQ. (2011, September). Dont ask dont tell. Retrieved from: http://www.gq.com/newspolitics/big-issues/201109/dont-ask-dont-tell-gay-soldiers-military
Revel and Riot. (n.d.) Gay people and Religion. Retrieved from:
http://www.revelandriot.com/resources/religion/
Huffingtonpost. (2012, October) Retrieved from:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/23/homosexuality--choice-bornscience_n_2003361.html

Violence Prevention Works, (n.d.) Youth Who Are Bullied Based upon Perceptions
About Their Sexual Orientation. Retrieved from
http://www.violencepreventionworks.org/public/bullying_sexual_orientation.page