Continued Marginalization: Societal Expectations
Although the LGBTQ+ community has made tremendous strides in the fight for equal rights in the last decade, there is still quite a long way to go. Gay marriage was legalized by the Supreme Court through the Equality Act in 2015, which was a huge step for LGBTQ+ couples. However, members of the LGBTQ+ community are still being discriminated against and oppressed on a daily basis. There are people who are purposely cruel and belittling to LGBTQ+, but there are also a lot of cultural and societal norms that contribute to the discrimination of and stigma surrounding the community.
One of the most common societal norms that are prevalent in our culture is heteronormativity. Heteronormativity is best defined as the general assumption that everyone is heterosexual, or straight. This has been produced by the mindset that being straight is “normal”, while any other sexuality is strange or unfamiliar. These messages are supported by the media. There are rarely LGBTQ+ individuals portrayed in movies, television shows, commercials, and other mass media. Representation has gotten better, but it’s not always accurate or shown in a positive manner.
Religion has also played a huge role in the oppression of LGBTQ+. While oppression within religion is by no means true of all religions, certain sects or group of people who interpret those religions believed that being LGBTQ+ is wrongful. This is damaging to those who have religious families or even are religious themselves. If an individual is raised being taught that being gay is wrong, it can really be detrimental to their self-worth, self-expression, happiness, and overall quality of life. It can lead to the repression of feelings and an inhibition of being one’s true self.
Coming Out: The Possible Consequences
Since there are so many societal expectations and stigmas, coming out as LGBTQ+ can be a fragile and vulnerable experience. Even though we live in a time where being gay is the most accepted it’s ever been, there are still countless individuals who have no tolerance for those within the LGBTQ+ community. This is particularly harmful to the youth in the community, especially if they live in an unaccepting community or come from a family that has no tolerance for those who aren’t straight.
Because of this intolerance, the amount of LGBTQ+ youth who are homeless or have been kicked out of their homes and communities is astounding. In fact, quite a lot of LGBTQ+ end up either on the streets, in foster homes, or even in juvenile delinquent centers. However, all of these doesn’t mean that one can never come out. It’s just that much more important to ensure that you are in a safe, accepting environment before deciding to inform people of your sexual or gender identity.
Discrimination in Schools and Work Environments
Bullying is already a tremendous problem in schools, but being LGBTQ+ only makes one’s likelihood of being harassed that much higher. In fact, a whopping 90% of LGBTQ+ students have reported that they have been harassed in some way during their time in school. All of this oppression and discrimination discourages LGBTQ+ students and causes them to drop out from school, explaining why their grade point average is often lower than their heterosexual counterparts. Thankfully, the development of Gay-Straight Alliances and other LGBTQ+ organizations are becoming more and more prevalent.
LGBTQ+ individuals have a much higher chance of poverty, mostly because it can be difficult to keep a job in an oppressive, intolerant workplace. This explains why there is a fairly high turnover rate of LGBTQ+ employees. In addition to this, it has been proven that there have been some cases of discrimination when it comes to wages. There has been evidence in the past of heterosexual employees being paid more than LGBTQ+ employees, which also leads to a higher risk of poverty and homelessness.