LGBTQ+ is an umbrella term for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and many other queer identities based on people’s sexualities and preferences. Often, people belonging to the LGBTQ+ community face a lot of discrimination and prejudices due to a history of atrocious stereotyping against them. They hear vulgar and derogatory comments as abusers point them out.
MENTAL HEALTH AND BODY IMAGE ISSUES
The prevailing mindset is such that individuals of the queer community have a hard time accepting themselves while growing up. As human beings, their innate desire of conforming to the existing societal norms takes a toll on their mental health. The fear of coming out as themselves and not being accepted by a society that only believes in the idea of ‘opposites attract’ is daunting. This creates pressure so unimaginable that they sometimes push themselves to take dangerous decisions like self-harm. Their inability to fit in the ‘society’ and the constant hate they receive forces them to lose connections with the world. They encapsulate themselves in smaller worlds and ‘their’ own community with people like ‘them’. Yes, this is how queer people are talked about, with constant alienation, like they are different from the ‘healthy,’ ‘normally functioning’ humans.
Queer people have to struggle with anxiety, depression, and many other severe mental health issues due to self-consciousness and their sexual orientation. It’s hard indeed to stay positive and calm when others look down upon you with constant hatred and negativity.
People sometimes even associate non-binary identities with mental illness and believe that their different preferences are a result of the disease. This happens due to a lack of awareness regarding sexual identities and sex education in itself. Proven science says that having a different sexual preference or orientation is not because of a problem with the brain. Those who identify as parts of the LGBTQ+ community are just as normal, sane, and healthy as anybody else.
PREJUDICES AND STEREOTYPING
From a very small age, queer people suffer constant and cruel discrimination in many aspects of their lives. Those with overt sexualities or who do not particularly line up with rigid gender norms become outcasts. Men with feminine traits and women with masculine are looked upon with disgust, suspicion, and loathing. The office atmosphere is unwelcoming and cold towards them. They face the same discrimination of not getting an equal status at their workplace. Delayed or no promotions, regardless of how well they perform.
Society forces many ridiculous and baseless stereotypes upon the LGBTQ+ community. Gay men are often referred to as “eunuchs” or seen as transgenders. Ignorant abusers associate them with feminine traits. They face ridicule for who they are, constantly body shamed. People’s understanding of the queer community is so hazy that 8 out of 10 would say all gay men are feminine and vice versa, which is simply not true.
LACK OF EDUCATION AND AWARENESS
These stereotypes did not just come about, conjured out of thin air. Movies and TV shows over the decades have played a significant role in giving these nonsensical stereotypes ground in the minds of the common masses. Even now, people remain unwilling to try understanding the psycho and sociological needs of the queer community.
The problem lies in the lack of ‘necessary’ education at the very primary level, at home as well as at school. From the very beginning, every child learns that there exist only two gender identities – that of a male and a female. That a parent can only be a mother or a father. That boys are always stronger and must be guilt-stricken if they are even a bit feminine or if they cry easily or love to play with dolls instead of football. That girls must always be responsible for household chores, must have a soft, motherly nature.
In want of answers, children turn to unreliable and spotty sources. Our education system must understand that the scope of a healthy sex education curriculum is not just the basics of human reproduction. It has to also discuss the different identities that exist. Parents must be open with their kids, discuss topics that matter and not shush up at hearing these topics.
ASEXUAL, AROMANTIC AND, ANDROGYNOUS
The plurality of identities on the spectrum has faced little to no discussion at all. Androgynous is the term representing people who possess significant characteristics of both — the masculine as well as feminine.
Moreover, the spectrum contains many other sexual identities like asexuality and aromanticism. Broadly speaking, asexual people experience little to no sexual attraction regardless of gender. On the other hand, aromantics do not have romantic feelings towards any gender. Their preferences differ on many levels. Some identities fall under these broad divisions.
Asexual/Aromantic- no sexual/romantic attraction towards anyone.
Greyasexual/ Greyromantic- in simple and most layman terms, these are the people who come somewhere between asexual/aromantic and sexual/romantic. Their identities are flickering.
Demisexual/Demiromantic- they experience secondary attraction, i.e., they are attracted to an individual only when the bond is deep and they have known someone for a long time.
Reciprosexual/Recipromantic- attraction occurs only until they are sure that the other person reciprocates their feelings
Akiosexual/Akioromantic- their attraction dwindles the moment their feelings receive reciprocation
BOOKS AND MOVIES
Some widely-admired books and movies talk about the LGBTQ+ community and even have queer characters as protagonists. Such works of art create awareness about the feelings and the lives of queer people. That it’s just their preferences that are different and unlike what society thinks, they feel and need love as well.
THE SONG OF ACHILLES
This masterful work of literature beautifully threads the popular tale of warrior Achilles from Greek mythology. Written by Madeline Miller, the book is captivating and heartbreaking, therefore, a definite page-turner. It puts forth the idea of Achilles and Patroclus being more than just best friends, as suggested by Homer in his The Iliad. The two are portrayed as lovers in Miller’s retelling. Their story revolves around the famous Trojan War, Achilles’ wrath cycles, and other important events. The most important of these to the plot are the fruition of love between the couple and the death of Patroclus. Even though the death of Patroclus is inevitable, as every Greek mythology reader well knows, the event’s narration has a painful grace that you can’t help reading with blurry eyes.
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
The author of this coming-of-the-age novel, with a 2017 movie adaptation, is Andre Acumen. Call Me By Your Name is set in the summer of 1983 in Lombardy, Italy. The story revolves around 17-year-old Elio Perlman and 24-year-old Oliver. This heartbreaking gay romance movie ends with Oliver announcing his engagement and Elio sitting by the fireside going over the sweet memories he had created with Oliver. Acumen brilliantly puts down the narrative. The perfect title also suggests that the two are each other’s soulmates, representing Plato’s symposium.
There are a lot more books and movies which have beautifully presented LGBTQ+ stories and are worth exploring.
A lot of people ‘sympathize’ with the LGBTQ+ community, confusing the mere fact that it’s not one’s sympathy or pity the community requires. It is their peers’ understanding. These biases even today seem so deep-rooted in our society that they might take decades yet to be really eliminated. A queer person is not malfunctioning or mentally ill in any sense, the way society portrays them. If you cannot bring yourself to love them, don’t hate them either. They are just as valid as anyone else!
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