Yesterday, I received the news that gay marriage has been legalized in all fifty states across the country by the Supreme Court. The happiness I felt about this ruling couldn’t be truly described that day. I have always believed homosexuals should have the right to exchange vows and get married just like everyone else in society and deserve to be treated equally under the law and Constitution. However what does legalizing gay marriage mean to society and will it change how homosexuals, bisexuals and even transgender people are seen and treated in society? Thus the challenges homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender people face as well as the initiatives taken to make sure that they are treated with respect and find allies who will help them better themselves in society will be discussed.
Being a heterosexual , cisgender, Black women, I don’t exactly know how it is like to be homosexual, bisexual or even transgender in society. Though I face the double minority status of being Black and female, my heterosexuality privileges me over women who happen to be homosexual, bisexual and transgender out there. Due to my experiences with racism and sexism growing up in a small, Southern town, I always saw myself as a victim and that no one is more marginalized than a Black woman. It has some truth to it since Black women face vitriol and opposition from Black men and non Blacks alike in the media and how Black women are faced with the burden of uplifting their communities all by themselves. However seeing the way homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender people were treated in the area that I grew up in really opened up my eyes to how others perceive and treat them. Thus decided to take time off of my struggles and address the challenges of the LGBTQ.
My best friend in high school is bisexual and I have a few homosexual friends as well. I hung out with her and her ostracized homosexual and bisexual friends and felt like I belonged and fitted in. What I didn’t like was how heterosexual students of different races would pick on them and call them weird and ostracize them for their sexuality and call them names like ”fag”. That really bothered me even though I am not a homosexual or bisexual. And when I did stand up for them, I was called a ”fag sympathizer” and ”loser”. I remember a transgender girl who And this leads me to my own research mixed in with experiences on how homosexuals and bisexuals are treated in society and allies who advocate for them.
What are the challenges homosexuals, bisexuals, and even transgender people face in society?
Homosexual, bisexual, pansexual and transgender people are all different categories of people. Homosexual people are people who happen to be attracted to those of the same sex. Bisexual people are people who happen to be attracted to both those of the opposite and same sex. And transgender people are those whose gender identify differs from the sex that they were born with biologically. The challenges and struggles they face will be discussed as well as allies and people who align themselves with them to help them progress and adjust to society.
I am aware that these people are individuals with different life experiences, interests, goals however what many of them have in common is the discrimination that they face for their sexuality or identifying outside of the normal gender binary. From what I have seen, those who identify outside of normal gender binary and sexuality face being ostracized by family, friends and those around them because many of people don’t understand why this person’s sexuality or why they chose to be another gender(transgender people). As a result of such intolerance, many homosexual, bisexual and transgender youth are kicked out of their homes by their parents and other relatives, picked on at school, face discrimination in the work place and some even face violence from others as well. There were even studies that suggested that those identify outside of normal gender binary and sexuality have less access to adequate healthcare and are less screened for healthcare issues than heterosexual people. And in a survey of three hundred and ninety bisexual, homosexual and transgender people, one in seven of them expressed fear of gender and sexuality based violence. In fact, eighty five percent of these correspondents expressed facing some form of gender and sexuality discrimination and violence in their lives.
In many other parts of the world, homosexuals and others who identify outside of the gender binary face even more hazardous threats to their lives. Whatever discrimination and harassment gays, transgenders and bisexuals face while living in Western countries such as the United States, Canada and the UK is nothing compared to how many people beat and murder random homosexual people in countries such as Uganda, Nigeria, Jamaica, India, Zimbawe, Russia, Ukraine etc. In many of these countries, legislations are passed deny homosexuals their right to live freely and exercise their rights as citizens. The Ugandan Anti Homosexuality Bill is an example of a legislation that limits the rights and freedom of homosexuals in other parts of the world. The Anti Homosexuality Bill prohibits homosexuality practiced in public and those that did faced life in prison. Fortunately, this legislation was struck down.
I know how many other countries and cultures demonize homosexuals and homosexuality because my family hails from Jamaica and many of my family members are homophobic and disapproving of homosexuality and homosexuals in general. In fact, homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender people are targeted as victims of hate crime and denied protection of their rights from the government in Jamaica. Many are fired from their jobs, threatened by others, subjected to sexual violence and thrown out of their homes. However this is a very common existence for many homosexual and transgender people in many other parts of the world.
The initiatives taken to ensure equality for homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders and allies who take such initiatives to ensure equality for them?
Regardless of the people out there who against helping and bettering the plight of LGBTQ, there are a number of allies who are actually for helping homosexuals and transgender people get back on their feet and adjust to society. There are homeless shelters slowly opening across the nation for gay, bisexual and transgender youth who have been kicked out of their homes or kicked out of their communities. Thrive Youth Center in San Antonio, Texas is one of these homeless shelters for LGBTQ youth between the ages of eighteen and twenty five to live in until they can get a job and get back on their feet. However unlike other homeless shelters, Thrive Youth Center accepts transgender youth into their shelter. There are other people out there that are willing to hire gays, bisexual and transgender people in jobs and accept them as human beings regardless. Recently, the White House hosted the first ever Global Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Human Rights Forum brought together LGBTQ allies all over the world together to promote and protect the rights of LGBTQ people around the world. The discussions in this forum speaks about counteracting legislation that discriminates against these people and protects their rights by diplomatic means from foreign assistance throughout many countries across the world.
Ultimately, I wasn’t comparing my experience as a heterosexual Black women to what homosexuals and transgender people go through. Those are two completely different struggles however I was willing to use my heterosexual privilege to realize that I didn’t have to go through what homosexual, bisexual and transgender women go through in society. Legalizing gay marriage in this country is a good step in promoting marriage equality and equality for those who want to get married but doesn’t fit into regular gender binary. However legalizing gay marriage wouldn’t necessarily end discrimination against them in society though they have many allies behind them as well.