This paper is devoted to exploring a cultural group with which I have insufficient experience. It is the LGBT community that includes sexual and gender minorities. Although they managed to gain the rights for which they had been fighting, they are still discriminated against and misunderstood.
The essay will focus on the facts and surprising information learned about the community from scholarly sources, from the media, and the impact of the research on my expectations of the following immersion activities. The first part of the essay will discuss the LGBT community through the lenses of scholarly articles according to several aspects.
Key Things Learned
Attitudes, Beliefs, and Values
The group values are, perhaps, influenced by the LGBT people’s turbulent experience. They tend to support the Democratic Party and enjoy the entertainment industry while perceiving the Republic Party and the military negatively (Pew Research Center, 2013). The community seems to reject traditional family values and gender roles because they are forced from childhood (Katz-Wise et al., 2017). In the end, the LGBT group developed its own identity and continues to challenge the heteronormative thought.
Group Self-perceptions and Issues Related to Stereotyping
Stereotypes play a significant role in how a certain group is generally perceived. The negative ones persist towards the LGBT community, but its members learn to anticipate and challenge them (Smith & Gray, 2009). The survey of LGBT Americans states that about 90% believe society to be more accepting, while many were stigmatized in some way (Pew Research Center, 2013). Altogether, LGBT people appear to recognize the positive changes in their perception but maintain that some people do not accept them, which is also true for other minority groups.
Customs, Practices, Behaviors
As the LGBT community is diverse, it is hard to define such customs that would apply to all members. It seems that the Pride Parade that occurs during the Pride Month in June is one event that unites the community and challenges the heteronormative norms (Bruce, 2016). Unlike other forms of protests, such as the black rights one, Pride is more normalized (Bruce, 2016). Drag is also a widespread practice, although it is more common for gay men and transgender individuals to participate (LeMaster, 2015). Overall, this part underlines some mainstream LGBT practices, but there are not exhaustive.
The community’s relationship with religion is complicated, strained by its negative views towards LGBT people. According to the survey of LGBT adults, most members consider religious groups unfriendly, and about half do not affiliate with any (Pew Research Center, 2013). Faithful LGBT people tend to experience an identity conflict that causes one to reconcile the identities or abandon one of them (Wood & Conley, 2014). The community has a unique relationship with religion, so it is difficult to compare it with other groups, and it seems that the subgroups share the same experience.
Societal Perceptions, Opportunities, and Barriers in the U.S. and Internationally
Internationally, LGBT rights are still in jeopardy in countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia. For instance, the latter forbids same-sex marriage, persecutes people for the propaganda of same-sex relationships, and the public perception towards the community is also negative (Buyantueva, 2017). It appears that it will take a long time until LGBT rights are universally recognized and socially accepted in the countries with them in place.
Key Historical Events and Figures Impacting the Culture
Most of the important events for the LGBT group seem to have happened recently. They include Stonewall riots from the 1960s and the legalization of gay marriage finalized in 2015 (Hegarty, 2018). According to the survey of LGBT adults, Obama is considered the most important public figure in advancing the community’s rights, and his administration coincides with the latter (Pew Research Center, 2013). It seems that there is a correlation between the figures who impacted both black and gay cultures, as Stonewall riots participants Stormé DeLarverie and Marsha P. Johnson, for example, were black LGBT people (Stein, 2019). Overall, the discussed events seem to be formative in shaping the group’s identity.
Key Things Learned Through Internet/Media
After interacting with scholarly sources, I decided to browse some LGBT-themed websites and engage with different types of media. I visited Out.com, which serves as a news outlet, to view the recent articles and the editor’s picks. One of those was about RuPaul’s Drag Race, which seems to be a popular TV show in the community and appeared in the previous research (Street, 2020a). Another article focused on the MTV’s VMA 2020 Awards, highlighting the group’s gravitation towards the pop culture (Street, 2020b).
Then I visited an outlet that targets LGBT women, AfterEllen, which is probably named after Ellen DeGeneres. It was different from encompassing websites, and one article offered a perspective on portraying lesbians in media (Alejandro, 2020). The information was overwhelming, but I enjoyed reading LGBT people’s perspective.
Unsatisfied with just reading, I decided to experience some of the community’s media. I listened to an album by a transgender woman that was politically charged and sentimental (Anohni, 2016). I also immersed myself in a record by a gay man who projected his experience with love and growing as an LGBT individual (Sivan, 2015). After my pleasant time with the music, I switched to the movies about the community. Portrait of a Lady on Fire, which was made by a lesbian, offered a fascinating outlook on how LGBT women lived in the past (Sciamma, 2019). Meanwhile, Moonlight emphasized the harsh experience of the black community members (Jenkins, 2016). Overall, the media made me more empathetic towards the community and taught me how resilient it is.
I cannot say that the information I learned regarding the LGBT community was particularly ground-breaking and culturally shocking. Although my experience with the group is limited, their values reflect their experience, while their struggles are known. However, it was surprising to see the variety of LGBT media outlets, including those focusing on a specific part of the community. They reflect how diverse the group is and show that some of its members may simultaneously battle different types of discrimination, for example, racism and homophobia. I believe that the LGBT community offers a unique perspective on how to persevere and thrive.
Impact on Expectations
Before the gathering of information, I had my share of preconceptions about the LGBT community, which I planned to keep to myself. However, after learning about the group in-depth, my attitude towards the members positively changed. I cannot say I was prejudiced, but I was culturally unaware of some facts about the community.
Although it was compelling to read the scholarly reports on the group, the fascinating part was reading the news websites and discovering music and movies made by LGBT people. Those outlets and media provided me with information on what the community enjoys, the relevant topics, and the existing issues. Moreover, all the mentioned aspects vary greatly depending on the ethnic and gender background.
Ultimately, I believe that now I am well equipped to interact with a member of the LGBT community regardless of who it might be. I am aware of the diversity of the group and the variety of topics that concern LGBT people, so I will be able to maintain conversations and establish a meaningful connection. However, I admit that the person might not be interested in the issues of their community and would instead focus on mundane matters.
Alejandro, G. (2020). The lesbian-after-the-fact phenomena. AfterEllen. Web.
Anohni. (2016). Hopelessness [Album]. Secretly Canadian; Rough Trade.
Bruce, K. M. (2016). Pride parades: How a parade changed the world. New York University Press.
Buyantueva, R. (2017). LGBT rights activism and homophobia in Russia. Journal of Homosexuality, 65(4), 456–483. Web.
Hegarty, P. (2018). A recent history of lesbian and gay psychology: From homophobia to LGBT. Routledge.
Jenkins, B. (2016). Moonlight [Film]. A24.
Katz-Wise, S. L., Rosario, M., & Tsappis, M. (2016). Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth and Family Acceptance. Pediatric clinics of North America, 63(6), 1011–1025. Web.
LeMaster, B. (2015). Discontents of being and becoming fabulous on RuPaul’s Drag U: Queer criticism in neoliberal times. Women’s Studies in Communication, 38(2), 167–186. Web.
Pew Research Center. (2013). A survey of LGBT Americans. Web.
Sciamma, C. (2019). Portrait de la jeune fille en feu [Portrait of a Lady on Fire] [Film]. Lilies Films.
Sivan, T. (2015). Blue Neighborhood [Album]. Capitol; EMI Australia.
Smith, M. S., & Gray, S. W. (2009). The courage to challenge: A new measure of hardiness in LGBT adults. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 21(1), 73–89. Web.
Stein, M. (Ed.). (2019). The Stonewall riots: A documentary history. NYU Press.
Street, M. (2020a). Drag Race’s widow Von’Du to take a break after ‘fandom’ hate. Out Magazine. Web.
Street, M. (2020b). Yes, Lady Gaga wore 6 masks, won 5 trophies at 2020 VMAs. Out Magazine. Web.
Wood, A. W., & Conley, A. H. (2014). Loss of Religious or Spiritual Identities Among the LGBT Population. Counseling and Values, 59(1), 95–111. Web.