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RUNNING HEAD: LGBT Community 1

Cultural Immersion Paper- LGBT Community


Wilmington University
Alexis Scott
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The ideology of gay and lesbian liberation started with movements across the world. Following

the Civil Rights movements, The New Left emerged from student unions not only in North America, but

Western Europe, Japan, Mexico, and Czechoslovakia. From these movements came about a new critique

of family, gender, and sexual repression in the form of gay liberation and lesbian feminism (Adam,

Durvendak, & Krouwel, 1999). By the 1990s, most larger cities through different countries offered gay

and lesbian organizations. In 1979, the International Lesbian and Gay Association was founded. The

International Lesbian and Gay Association gathered experiences from participants around the world.

Specific to United States history, a few of the major milestones in gay rights are the Stonewall

Riots in 1969, law of Dont Ask, Dont Tell, and the Defense of Marriage Act. During this time in

history, police frequently raided gay bars and arrested patrons. On June 28, 1969, the police raided a bar

called the Stonewall Inn, in New York City (Ghose, 2013). 13 individuals were arrested and this caused

an uproar within the gay community. Supporters and protesters rioted for 6 days on behalf of gay rights.

The Stonewall riots is known to be the turning point in the gay rights movement. The 1993 law of Dont

Ask, Dont Tell, allowed military members to remain in the service if they were silent about their sexual

orientation. Although this law brought about controversy, it increased military population. 1996, Clinton

signed The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which deemed same-sex partners married under state or

country law were not eligible for federal spousal benefits of marriage (Ghose, 2013).

The indirect immersion activity chosen was to view a Lionsgate film titled, Moonlight,

directed by, Berry Jenkins in 2016. Moonlight is a story of a homosexual black man's journey throughout

his life, dealing with self-acceptance, bullying within his rough neighborhood in Miami, while living with

a drug addicted mother. The movie portrays the main character, Chiron, as an outcast from childhood. He

struggles with peer acceptance throughout his life and although he is aware that he has feelings for men,

he makes comments that indicate his feelings are wrong and shameful. The first outward act of

homosexuality in the movie is a scene where Chiron and his peer Kevin and sitting on the beach late at
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night. While the young men, who are also childhood friends share a conversation, the two show affection

for one another by sharing multiple kisses and exchanging sexual favors.

Major theme of moonlight is self-discovery. The main character, Chiron, a minority in that he

was a black man, but he was a homosexual black struggling with his identity. The movie shows three

different sections of Chirons life and how he struggles with a never ending battle between his mind and

heart. The movie shows Chirons understanding of his feeling of homosexuality from a very young age

and throughout adulthood, but due to his peers and surroundings, Chiron does not explore this part of his

life. Chiron admits during the third act in the movie which shows Chiron as an adult, that Kevin was the

only man who touched him sexually throughout his entire life. It was not until that moment of confession

with Kevin, did Chiron seem to finally accept himself for who he is, and this is a struggle many face

today. To be a homosexual black man, makes one a minority-of-a-minority.

Another activity I participated in to get a more in-depth understanding of the LGBT community

was my attendance of the Birdcage Bad Girls Drag Show at the Purple Parrot Bar in Rehoboth, Delaware.

I attended this event on Sunday, November 19th, 2017. Purple Parrot is an inviting bar known for its

relatively high homosexual attendance. I have never attended the bar prior to this Sunday because I felt I

would not be able to relate to those in attendance. Initially, I was worried that I would be the outcast as I

am a heterosexual woman, but I was immediately greeted and felt welcomed from the moment I walked

in the door. I went with a friend so that I could attend the show with someone, but I do not feel it took

away from the experience. Although, I attended at a time where the weather is colder and a decreased

number of tourists, I was able to sit back, enjoy my food, and the entertainment. This was not the first

time I witnessed a drag show, but I was just as excited as the first. One of the performances I enjoyed the

most was a song titled, Stronger, by Britney Spears. The major theme I grasped from the experience is

acceptance. From the workers to the guests, everyone was welcoming and genuinely felt happy and
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comfortable in their skin. It was surprisingly refreshing to be somewhere where I did not worry about

anything.

The immersion project was an eye-opening experience for me towards the LGBT community.

Although, I have grown up during the era where acceptance towards this population has grown

dramatically, I have never thought about the struggles and experiences members of the LGBT community

go through. From watching Moonlight I was able to understand that there is more to become a

homosexual that just trying to find acceptance in a world that shuns your chosen behaviors, or your views,

but you also have to deal with others struggles in your life on top of this. It is one thing to be homosexual,

but what if you have to add being a minority, poor, or an outcast. Visiting the Purple Parrot Bar showed

me a glimpse of what life could like in the LGBT community, if the world viewed homosexual

relationships the same as heterosexual relationships. My experience at the bar was joyful, inviting, and

exciting, but that was only within those four walls. Unfortunately, we can not stay within the bar forever

and how receptive all the staff and guests are is not the same as outside of those walls. Fortunately, there

are many organizations that are playing a part to make sure those of the LBGT community feel accepted

and comfortable in their own skin.

My internship agency is with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware. There are 3 locations within

the state of Delaware, located in New Castle, Dover, and Georgetown. The headquarters, where I

specifically volunteer, is located at 413 Larch Avenue, Wilmington, DE 19804. While Big Brothers Big

Sisters of Delaware is known for its mentoring services, one of the coordinators located at the New Castle

campus helps school organizations, Gay, Straight Alliance (GSA). This introduction of the LGBTQ

Youth Mentoring Program has increased the number of LGBT mentors who want to mentor children and

students apart of the LGBT community. Support of this nature is major for those children who need help

identifying and accepting being apart of the LGBT community. Interested mentors can find information

about the program on the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware website, http://bbbsde.org, in the Mentor
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Opportunities section. The office is very simple, yet welcoming to the LGBT community. On one of the

desks, there is a large rainbow flag to symbolize the LBGTQ community.

While the organization is inviting about the services provided in its LGBTQ Youth Mentoring

Program, I have not heard much about the program while internship. Much of my focus was on

fundraising projects for the organization as a whole. During my experience at BBBS, I had many

conversations with the staff and administrators and I can determine from those conversations that the staff

are experienced with cultural sensitivity. I am aware that all past and present mentors are required to

register for an e-Learning about cultural sensitivity seeing as their matches may be from a different

background than themselves. The LGBTQ Young Mentoring program is a sub-program from the general

mentor services provided. Funding for this program is allocated from the organizational funds gained

through fundraiser events. The member who works directly with the LGBTQ Youth Mentoring Program

is looking to plan an event that could be used to find the program directly.

While Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware offers a program for the LGBTQ community, I

believe more could be done to reach out to children and adolescents who are need of assistance. As stated

previously, the program coordinator in charge of the LGBTQ Youth Mentoring Program, is trying to gain

approval for a fundraiser that would using funds specifically for this program. The additional funding

could be used for programs and outreach in the community. While there is a program offered, from my

experience with the organization, I do not believe much emphasis is placed on the LGBTQ Youth

Mentoring program. These types of services are crucial to adolescents struggling with their identity and

could help in tremendous with proper exposure.

After researching the LGBT community, my placement agency, Big Brothers Big Sisters of

Delaware, and the programs the organization offered, I have been able to conclude the need for services

within the community for the target population. After reviewing the Ethical Standards from the National

Organization for Human Services I chose a few ethical standards that would be important to follow while
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working with the LGBT community. Ethical Standard 7 states, Human service professionals ensure that

their values or biases are not imposed upon their clients (Ethical Standards for Human Services

Professionals, 2017). This standard is crucial when working with vulnerable populations because at no

point do we as professionals want to push our views and values on a client. At BBBS, it is clear that the

organization and its staff are culturally sensitive and accept their clients for who they are. Another

standard that BBBS lives by is Standard 10 which states, Human service professionals provide services

without discrimination or preference in regards to age, ethnicity, culture, race, ability, gender, language

preference, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, nationality, or other historically oppressed

groups (Ethical Standards for Human Services Professionals, 2017). Many organizations make this

information public on their brochures and websites so it is clear that the organization does not

discriminate against any being.

In Conclusion, I have gained much insight on the LGBT community as well as my placement

agency, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware. The project allowed me to understand the importance of

submerging oneself in a community in order to truly understand their lifestyle and values. I was able to

learn more than what is viewed on the outside of the LGBT community by my direct immersion activity,

while the indirect immersion activity forced me think outside the box on the topic. I plan to obtain a copy

of this workbook to apply the skills to my future work.


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References
Adam, Barry, D., Duyvendak, Willem, Krouwel Andre. (1999). The Global Emergence of Gay and
Lesbian Politics. National Imprints of a Worldwide Movement. Philadelphia. Temple University
Press.
Endean, Steve. (2006). Bringing Lesbian and Gay Rights into the Mainstream: Twenty Years of Progress.
New York and London. Harrington Park Press.
Ghose, T. (2013, March 24). 10 Milestones in Gay Rights History. Retrieved October 25, 2017, from
https://www.livescience.com/28133-gay-rights-milestones.html
Ethical Standards for Human Services Professionals. (2017). National Organization for Human Services.
Retrieved from: http://www.nationalhumanservices.org/ethical-standards-for-hs-
professionals#clients
Barry Jenkins (Director). (2016). Moonlight [Motion Picture]. United States. Lionsgate.