Let’s cut right to the chase: what is it about homosexuality that terrifies people so much? If you read the comments under any piece on LGBT issues you can’t miss it: the judgment, rigidity, and revulsion, right up to an almost irrational rage and anger. Fear. Down-dirty-fist-balling-teeth-gritting fear.
But why? Really, why? I get unfamiliarity, awkwardness, even discomfort at times, but why the rabid, rigid, revolting fear? Let’s break it down and see if we can’t shed at least a little light on what, beyond Biblical rhetoric and bigotry spin, is so feared about homosexuality.
The 10 Most Biggest Myths About Homosexuals And Why They’re Wrong:
1. Gay sex is disgusting, it makes me sick to think about it.
First suggestion: don’t think about it. But more importantly, how often do you actually sit around and think about straight sex? I mean, really, really envision the sweating, grunting, jaw-aching gymnastics of straight sex from an objective perspective? If you take away love, attraction, and participation, and look at generic, grinding, animal sex from distance, with objectivity and the anatomical/gynecological view, any sex – gay or straight – can look a little disgusting (come on, that porn with the all-girls ‘soccer team’ and their ‘initiations’ with play-things as big as bats??). Gay sex falls into the same wide spectrum of experience as straight sex and if we judged each other by the prettiness, choreography, and appeal – or lack thereof – of our sexual activities, odds are we’d all be cringing from time to time.
2. A child doesn’t come into his or her sexuality until puberty, making them a blank slate that can be influenced and manipulated toward the homosexual lifestyle; thus being around gays (including their gay parents) can ‘turn them.’
Balderdash. Regardless of the sexual changes and awakenings that come with puberty, a child comes into this world with an individual genetic map and “the environment a child grows up in has nothing to do with what makes most gay men gay. Two of the most convincing studies have proved conclusively that sexual orientation in men has a genetic cause.” (We’ll presume women, as well.) Meaning, listening to Liza Minelli, putting mylar wallpaper in the bedroom, playing with trucks instead of dolls, or lying in the cot next to a homosexual boy in Scout camp will not make a child gay if he or she is not genetically set up that way. In short, you can’t “catch it.” As for the children of gay parents, “research suggests that sexual identities (including gender identity, gender-role behavior, and sexual orientation) develop in much the same ways among children of lesbian mothers as they do among children of heterosexual parents.” [Source: American Psychological Association]. So let us repeat: YOU CAN’T CATCH IT!
3. A child can be influenced by gays to try homosexual behaviors they might not otherwise.
I’m not even going to get into the science of this, I’m only going to ask you to picture one thing, Mr., Mrs. or Ms. Straight Person: could anyone make you feel sexually attracted to your own gender? Putting aside violent sexual coercion, could anyone convince you to have sex with someone of your gender? I didn’t think so. Sexual orientation is a genetic predisposition, not a whimsy. Besides silly girls who kiss each other for their boyfriends’ benefit without the authentic urge to do so, you can’t make somebody gay if they are not gay. On the other hand, if you feel like you could be seduced into a homosexual encounter, perhaps there’s more to your sexual psyche than you’ve realized and that might need some honest exploration.
4. Homosexuals secretly want to spend time with kids so they can convince them of the gay lifestyle.
Uttered by a straight person with a straight face. If you sat down with a Nazi and asked them about Jews, they’d vomit up a litany of heinous descriptions to ascribe to the demographic. Ask a KKK member about blacks and they’ll run off a list of traits so vile as to make your stomach turn. Any straight person who fears homosexuality can be counted on to say something this offensive and ridiculous as well. Gay people have no interest in recruiting kids to the lifestyle… they don’t score points for statistics. That’d be Scientologists and Mary Kay salespeople.
5. Child molesters tend to be homosexuals:
This is a big one… a lie, that is. We look at the sexual scandal in the Catholic church and the presumption is that because so much of it it involves men having sex with boys, the likelihood is that most of those priests are gay; from there we can extrapolate that most child molesters are gay. Except that’s wrong. It leaves out a tremendous amount of qualifying and control factors that must be applied to make such a judgement. In fact, actual studies have proven otherwise. From Facts About Homosexuality and Child Molestation, Psychology/UC Davis:
Are homosexual adults in general sexually attracted to children and are preadolescent children at greater risk of molestation from homosexual adults than from heterosexual adults? There is no reason to believe so. The research to date all points to there being no significant relationship between a homosexual lifestyle and child molestation. There appears to be practically no reportage of sexual molestation of girls by lesbian adults, and the adult male who sexually molests young boys is not likely to be homosexual. [Emphasis added.]
6. Homosexuals have no morals.
Profoundly not true. This is based on the aforementioned Biblical judgment of homosexuals as sinners and is not based in fact. Any human being of any race, creed, color or sexual orientation can run the gamut from sinner to saint; one’s sexual orientation has not a damn thing to do with morality. All one has to do is read a paper, watch the news, or spend a little time in modern culture to see that morality is a dilemma and challenge for a great many people, some of whom are straight as arrows. This argument is akin to one rampant during the pre-civil rights era (and the post-civil right era, for that matter), when conventional wisdom said black men were genetically predisposed to be more criminal, violent and amoral than white men. Nobody believes that anymore, do they??
7. Homosexuals think their lifestyle is superior and, therefore, are out to convince straight people to become gay.
In the great big world and its gamut of personalities, I cannot say there is no one who might feel that way. But as a person who’s been around gays since I majored in theater in college and worked in the catering industry in Hollywood, it is my experience, and that of many others I know, that most gay people could care less what straight people are doing with their body parts and are more concerned with convincing other gay people to go out with them, hook up with them, love them, marry them, or have children with them. Just like straights, they’re looking for love, and ‘all the right places’ for them is where other homosexuals are, not straight people they’d have to browbeat into ‘becoming’ gay. What a colossal waste of time that would be! Strangely, and conversely, I have known straight women in love with men who were clearly gay, but who remained convinced they could love, love, love that man right into a straight relationship. Never happened, unless they were Mormons or, again, Scientologists and had no choice but to live the fake-straight life.
8. Homosexuals believe every straight person is really just a latent homosexual.
I knew one guy in college and a woman in that catering company who thought exactly that. Everyone else? Naw. Just as straight people are clear that a portion of our population really is gay, homosexuals are aware that straight people exist as an authentic majority. They may be dedicated but they’re not delusional.
9. All gay people want to do is f**k, which is why they’re disgusting.
I actually had someone say this to me. Beyond the fact that it’s only as true for gay people as it is for straights, when did we start putting a judgment on the human urge to have sex? Have you ever been in a straight college bar, the gym on Main Street, or the produce aisle at Target? Most sentient people who have a pulse and a libido want to have sex and if it can come with peace, love and understanding, all the better. For some, sure, it’s just about sex. That goes for straight people as well as gays. If you find that disgusting, be clear that it’s a revulsion that should be spread fairly across the orientation gamut.
10. Gay men are swishy and effeminate, and lesbians are all bitchy dykes, both of which really creep me out.
There is no denying those characteristics are present in some of the LGBT community. There are also very macho male athletes who don’t have a swishy bone in their body, handsome leading men who can handily play womanizers on TV, sweetly feminine women who wear Manolo Blanik’s, and models who would make a straight man drop to his knees. Like any demographic, members of the LGBT community are a diverse bunch when it comes to types, styles, looks, subcultures, and sartorial preferences. If the culture of the 50s and 60s could handle Liberace without ‘knowing’ he was gay, how about this 21st century getting a pair and learning to accept all kinds? Just think about how many “creepy” straight people gays have had to put up (think Michele Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Roberson or any of the cabal at the GOP). Get over it.
It’s likely there are more myths and misunderstandings that could be put under the microscope but this is a good start. A culture thrives on its ability to embrace the entirety of its people and, conversely, is diminished by the continued marginalizing and demonizing of those whose genetic makeup puts them in a category both feared and fictionalized. One can hope that a new thought, a focused look at something that might not have been looked at before, could change someone whose fear of homosexuality is so great they cannot embrace tolerance and acceptance. But, odds are, it won’t. Given the religious underpinnings of most homophobia, it’s more likely a burning bush will have to block the path before any significant change can be expected. I’m waiting for that conflagration… I’m a patient woman.