Term Paper: Human Sexuality Glbtq the Glbtq (Gay Lesbian

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Human Sexuality GLBTQ

The GLBTQ (gay lesbian bisexual transgendered and questioning) community is defined by the interests and concerns of a number of different members of this group. While there are a number of issues of joint concern to members of this community, the community is also divided by the unique experiences of several subsets. Specifically, lesbians, transgendered individuals, bisexuals, and individuals of color often have unique interests and concerns that set them in conflict with the larger community. For lesbians, transsexuals and bisexuals, the experience of sexism within the GLBTQ community defines much of this conflict. Cultural differences lead to a unique experience for double minorities that can conflict with the larger community, while some subsets of the community such as homosexual Latinos must deal with a unique combination of gender, racial, and cultural issues that set them apart from the larger community.

Issues within the GLBTQ Community

There are a number of issues of joint concern to members of the GLBTQ community. These include issues of sexual orientation, civil rights, medical concerns, and gender issues. Many of these issues are also shared with other traditionally oppressed groups (such as African-Americans), but many are largely unique to the GLBTQ community.

Deborah Menkart notes the GLBTQ community shares a commonality with other groups, such as the American Civil Rights Movement. She notes these groups share a desire to "be treated as human beings, to be treated fairly, to enjoy fully the rights articulated in the U.S. Constitution and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to exercise the ensuing responsibilities, such as voting" (p. 4).

Certainly, the Civil Rights movement and the Gay Rights movement share several similarities. Both movements desire equal treatment for all individuals. Further, both movements have often faced tremendous resistance from larger American society. Certainly, such resistance remains today against the Gay Rights movement, given the often high levels of homophobia in society in the United States (Menkart).

As such, those within the GLBTQ community share a commonality of belief with both members of their own community, and certain members of larger American society. This can be seen in a comparison of the Black Panthers' famous ten point program, and a similar program designed for the GLBTQ community. In 1972, the Black Panthers created a ten point program that would help lead them to freedom. This ten point program can be thought of as the platform of the Black Panther Party.

In her book, Putting the Movement Back into Civil Rights Teaching, Deborah Menkart outlines a ten point program for the GLBTQ community. This program includes a number of points that represented the needs and desires of the GLBTQ community as a whole. These include freedom from hate crimes, freedom from questioning, harassment, and job discrimination, equal rights to marry and adopt and raise children, equal representation in the educational curriculum, freedom from housing discrimination, equal medical and other benefits for life partners and spouses, representation in government, accurate representation in the media and positive public role models (Menkart).

As such, the ten point program for the GLBTQ community reflects many of the common interests or concerns of the different constituents of this group. All members of this group desire in the basic freedoms and rights noted in the ten point program, as well as others represented by the U.S. Constitution and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

These common concerns and interests often come from shared experiences of those within the GLBTQ community. As Kevin Jennings and Pat Shapiro note, many of those within the GLBTQ community suffer isolation, depression, and harassment by society at large and peters, especially during teenage years.

However, there are also areas in which the interests or concerns of the different constituents of the GLBTQ community might conflict. Specifically, the interests and concerns of the lesbian community may potentially differ from that of male members of the GLBTQ community.

Sexism in the GLBTQ Community

Those within the lesbian community must often deal with a double social disadvantage: that of being lesbian, and of being female. Notes Deborah Menkart, "through organized religion, conventional wisdom, and the law, women have all too often been discouraged - if not banned - from participation in public debate and from holding public leadership outside of female-only groups" (p. 5). Despite sometimes outright discrimination, Menkart notes that "women have voiced public opinion and exercised leadership in the earliest days of European encounter, slavery and abolition, various wars, women's suffrage, and women's liberation movements" (p. 5).

During the Civil War, the actions of women often worked both for and against strategies used by African-American men and white men. Class, in this historical context, we see that gender can play a role in social expression. As such, women provide a "different sensibility" (Menkart, p. 5) to social issues, such as civil rights and issues of sexual orientation, purely by virtue of their gender experience.

Certainly, sexism exists within larger North American society, and is also clearly present within the GLBTQ community. As such, sexist attitudes and beliefs of the male GLBTQ community often conflict directly with the interests and goals of the lesbian community.

The roots of such sexism run deeply within society as a whole. Professor Anna Alexander of the Simone de Beauvoir Institute notes, "we live in a patriarchal society where power, money and sex are controlled by men" (cited in Zanazanian). Given the deeply rooted societal nature of sexism, it is perhaps not surprising that sexism is clearly apparent within the GLBTQ community. Thus, sexism within the GLBTQ community represents a larger social problem, rather than simply a specific issue within the GLBTQ community (Zanazanian).

There are number of reasons, specific to the GLBTQ community, that help explain the presence of sexism within this community. Specifically, gay males tend to be wealthier than lesbians, giving them greater economic power. Further, males outnumber females within the larger GLBTQ community. This is also exacerbated by the fact that males tend to be more comfortable assuming leadership roles within the community (Zanazanian).

One of the key conflicts between the lesbian community and the larger GLBTQ community is that of the relative importance of sexual identity and gender. Notes sociologist Irene Demczuk, "For women, being homosexual comes second to being a woman, while gay men identify themselves as homosexual first and foremost" (cited in Zanazanian).

Transgendered individuals and bisexuals often experience the impact of sexism within the larger GLBTQ community. These individuals often have no distinct male or female identity, thus threatening the identity of many other gays and lesbians. Often, bisexuals and transgendered individuals are stereotyped as unsure of their gender role. Professor Anna Alexander of the Simone de Beauvoir Institute notes that transgendered individuals "blur the boundary between male and female and thus are more subversive" (cited in Zanazanian). Alexander notes further, "both groups (transgendered individuals and bisexuals) are the most hated and abused within the gay and lesbian community" (cited in Zanazanian).

Racism in the GLBTQ Community

Similarly, the interests or concerns of double minorities might conflict with those of the larger the GLBTQ community (Jennings and Shapiro). These minorities often face unique religious and cultural difficulties. Jennings and Shapiro note the experience of Jason, an 18-year-old gay man with a Chinese heritage. After coming out, Jason noted "I began to distance myself for my cultural heritage. The Chinese families view homosexuality as abnormal and immoral. This caused me to hate myself for being yellow. Reconciling and integrating my sexual identity and cultural background is a major obstacle for me" (p. 214). Further, Jason has not come out to his parents, noting "this puts an incredible barrier between us. I am afraid that they will be deeply hurt and confused when I decide to share this part of my life with them" (p. 214).

Jason's experience reflects the experiences of many individuals of color within the larger GLBTQ community. These individuals often experience significant conflicts between their sexual orientation, and cultural traditions. As such, they find it difficult to reconcile being a member of the GLBTQ community and a person of color. Persons of color that commonly face this issue in America include African-Americans, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, Arab-Americans, African-Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, and individuals of mixed race (Jennings and Shapiro).

Members of the GLBTQ who are also people of color often face challenges that are unique to their specific situation. As such, these challenges in experiences set them apart from the larger GLBTQ community. Note Jennings and Shapiro, "not only must (GLBTQ) teams of color confront persuasive anti-gay bias in the broader culture, but they also face (a GLBTQ) culture dominated by Whites who can be ignorant or even hostile towards people of color" (p. 215). Thus, members of the GLBTQ community who are also people of color often find themselves in conflict with the larger, white, GLBTQ community.

This inherent conflict between people of color within the GLBTQ community and the larger, white, GLBTQ community is exacerbated by Cultural differences. As such, the interests or concerns… [END OF PREVIEW]

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