Myths and Realities about LGBTQ people
For many people, much of what they think they know about LGBT people is based on the myths or stereotypes they’ve heard about them, not the realities. Sorting out the myths and realities can lead to greater self-awareness which motivates us to learn more and become accepting of those whose sexual orientation may be different from our own.
People who are lesbian, gay, and transgender can usually be identified by certain mannerisms or physical characteristics.
GLBT people come in as many different shapes, colors, and sizes as do heterosexuals. Only a very small percentage has stereotypic mannerisms and characteristics. In fact, many heterosexuals portray a variety of so-called gay stereotypic characteristics.
In a GLBT relationship, one partner usually plays the “husband” or “butch” role and the other plays the “wife” or “femme” role.
While some same-sex couples do take on “butch” and “femme” roles, that is not necessarily the standard. Many same-sex couples work to develop relationships based on principles of equality and mutuality where they are loved for who they are and not for the roles they play. There is no right or wrong way that prescribes how to divide roles between partners.
If my friend is GLBT, he or she might hit on me.
You have no more reason to think that your friend will hit on you than you have reason to believe that any of your friends may hit on you. While sexual orientation is a statement of sexual attraction, it in no way means that every lesbian will be attracted to every woman or every gay man will be attracted to every man or that every bisexual person will be attracted to everyone, just as heterosexuals are not attracted to EVERYONE of the opposite sex.
Most people who are lesbian or gay could be “cured” by having a really good relationship with a member of the opposite sex.
This prevalent myth is based on the assumption that same-sex relationships are not as valid as opposite-sex relationships. Sexual orientation is not determined by behavior, but by feelings, attraction and emotions.
Most people who are lesbian or gay regard themselves as members of the other sex.
This statement addresses some of the confusion surrounding sexual orientation versus gender identity. Most gay and lesbian people are very happy with their gender. In many ways, their identity is seen as a celebration and affirmation of their gender, not a rejection of it. Transsexuals or transgendered people feel as if they were born into the wrong body. This is different than sexual orientation in that it is not based on attraction, but more on a personal, individual level that oftentimes has nothing to do with who they are attracted to.
People who are GLBT have made a conscious decision to be that way.
While researchers continue to disagree on the causes of sexual orientation, most agree that there is a predisposition or genetic relationship involved. The only place where choice seems to come into play is when GLBT people decide how they will acknowledge the identity that they are. “Coming Out”, or acknowledging one’s sexual orientation, to oneself or others, can be a lifelong process. GLBT people are often in a continual state of deciding whom to come out to, and with whom to “stay in the closet”.
There are very few “bisexuals”; most people are either completely homosexual or heterosexual.
The pioneering studies of Dr. Alfred Kinsey and his associates are most frequently cited on this question. This data suggested that, in fact, few people are predominantly heterosexual or homosexual. Most people fall somewhere along the continuum between these two ends of the scale, and thus, have the capacity to experience both affection and sexual feelings for members of both sexes.
Hanging out with gay people might “make” me gay.
Sexual orientation is not something that is “contagious”. It is an important part of every person and a very individual decision, not something that can be changed or directly influenced by the people you surround yourselves with.
Adapted from Trinity College’s Ally Page