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LGBT People: Irrational Prejudice, Fears, and Bigotry Still Abound

Peace, harmony, and lifelong learning are Liz's passions. She's outspoken on education and childhood and is an activist in local politics.

Who Are LGBT People?

The initials LGBT stand for "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender." It seems that bringing up this topic opens a can of worms each and every time. There is no need for this to be the case. The fact is, not one of the persons who fit into these particular "boxes," ( much as I dislike labeling people), deserves the vilification they receive on an almost daily basis.

Oh, how it dismays me to see one group dismiss another as "Those People!" It is the second word that counts—we are all people! Some of us associate with and affiliate ourselves with various communities. So what? There are assorted political groups; different religions; those who do not subscribe to religion and various races. None of that changes our underlying humanity. We all still bleed red blood and share the same four blood types; we all still have feelings that can be hurt; we all will eventually die, for none of us are immortal.

The problems stem from learned attitudes. It is ironic that these attitudes of intolerance, bigotry, and yes, hatred, are taught by the very institutions claiming to teach love, tolerance and to not judge others. That's right: churches and religions.

“What a sad era when it is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice.”

— Albert Einstein

Religion Is Not an Excuse to Be a Bigot

What really irks me is that self-righteous folks try to use (actually twist) their religious teachings to justify their personal prejudices—in the case of Christianity, the very basis of their teaching centers around "love thy neighbor," and "judge not lest ye be judged." The haters do not practice what they preach, making them hypocrites of the first water.

The real question is, why should anyone have to come out to anyone else in the first place? It's none of anyone else's business. "Are you heterosexual?" is not a question anyone asks, and they know they should not. But oh, my goodness. . .if someone is LGBT it's suddenly announced to the world!

“It is nonsense for the Government to allow any loopholes for religious homophobia. Bigotry is bigotry whether it's dressed up in the language of faith or not.”

— Giles Fraser

Being Different Is an Ongoing Problem in Society

It is interesting and educational to realize that most of the same arguments currently used to denigrate the LGBT community were also used to explain the reasons why women should not get to vote, or why blacks should not have any rights at all.

It seems society must always have some group to pick on, or someone is unhappy. In my opinion, this behavior reflects nothing so much as an individuals' own sense of insecurity. Hatred is taught and learned, not inborn.

A group of infants and toddlers exhibit no prejudices in playing together. It is their parents who are guilty of passing along this sorry example of how to behave. . .except it is rather, an example of how not to behave!

I'd like to share a couple of quotes I came across recently, both of which deal with judgmental, intolerant people. Interestingly, these come from those who follow paganism or Witchcraft. (Though some of them might be both—I don't know and I don't care; it's none of my business.) Nonetheless, they, too, fall outside of the mainstream of opinion and beliefs, and are subject to many of the same mistreatments. Remember the infamous Salem witch trials?

"Being a Witch doesn't make me different, ignorant religious views do."

"Never judge something you don't understand."

Prejudice Comes Up in the Most Subtle of Ways

Here is a hypothetical conversation between two friends, one of whom is looking for a good mechanic.

Person A: My darn car broke down again, and I need a mechanic. The last guy I went to cheated me!

Person B: I go to Henry, he’s right downtown, and very reasonable.

Person A: Great! Thanks. I’ll give him a call right away.

That’s how it goes if the mechanic is a heterosexual. But, if they are anyone fitting into the LGBT classification, the conversation is sometimes different:

Person A: Gee—my danged mechanic cheated me the last time, and my car has broken down again.

Person B: Well, you could take it downtown to Henry (he’s gay, but he’s an okay guy), and he’s never cheated me at all.

Person A: (Sounding incredulous) He’s gay? A gay mechanic? I thought they were all into art and interior decorating and stuff.

Person B: I know, huh! But he is a mechanic, and a good one.

Person A: Okay, well, I guess I’ll give him a try. . .I just hope he doesn't try to pull anything funny on me, you know?

Seriously? Why is the person’s sexual orientation even brought up in the second example? (Trust me—it will be!) It has no bearing whatsoever on his qualifications as a mechanic. This is a private matter, and has no business being shouted or whispered about at large.

(Incidentally, the same kind of scenario happens if the mechanic were a woman. . .only the guy would be wondering if he could hit on her. . .)

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“I know I can't tell you what it's like to be gay. But I can tell you what it's not. It's not hiding behind words, Mama. Like family and decency and Christianity.”

— Armistead Maupin

People Can't Change Who They Are

You can't tell a dog to be a cat, and you'd have as much luck trying to tell an LGBT person to change their stripes. It just isn't possible. You don't have to believe me, or think that is only my personal opinion. It has been shown, time and again, in scientific studies and mapping of the brain.

These kinds of data cannot be manipulated by tricky interview questions or veiled threats about "wrong" answers. They are straight up physiology, and with that no one can argue.

I'm not going to use that tired old cliché of "some of my best friends are gay, or lesbian,.." or whatever. It does not matter! I refuse to include such personal information in any introduction!

I will say this: my husband and I are acquainted with a good number of folks from the LGBT community, and truthfully, we have never come across more straight-up, honest, down-to-earth, and honorable people.

The folks we've met don't put on airs and pretend to be something or someone they are not. While there may well be the proverbial rotten apples, we've not found any. We've never been screwed over in a business deal, or had gossip or back-stabbing rumors spread. . .unlike our experiences with a far greater number of 'straight' acquaintances and so-called "friends."

I Will Never Understand

As a happily married heterosexual female, I cannot relate directly to what it is like to experience the discrimination and hatred suffered by the LGBT community. That is the definition of empathy: feeling what they feel because you have been there yourself.

I can, however, relate to what it feels like to be taunted and picked on by bullies—that did happen to me as a child because I did not fit in well with my peer group; I got along better with adults.

What I do feel is human outrage, and sympathy, which is knowing in your heart that something is going on that is just not right, and needs to change. Sympathy is what drives action for the homeless, for battered women, for starving children, and so on. Most have never walked in those shoes, but as humans those who are willing to help simply care because other humans are hurting. (And no, politicians serving a meal or two at a food kitchen for a photo-op don't count!)

Humankind at large must simply let go of these ridiculous and outdated prejudices for once and for all, and simply mind their own business and live their own lives, helping others when and how they can.

Proselytizing, pointing damning fingers, or making discriminatory laws are not the definition of, or way to help!

If we cannot arrive at that point, the world itself will never know peace.

How You Can Help

Wonder how you can help and support the LGQT cause? Not to worry. There's a group for that: Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG.

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”

— Maya Angelou,

© 2012 Liz Elias

Comments

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on October 02, 2015:

Hello, jlpark,

Thank you very much for your insightful comment from your perspective. Every bit of new information will only help, I'm sure.

I did not realize what you pointed out about LGBT people being reluctant to seek medical care. That is a shame. I'm happy to learn you are working toward a solution from your unique position within the healthcare industry.

I'm so pleased you found my article worthy, and I thank you for the praise.

Jacqui from New Zealand on October 02, 2015:

DzyMsLizzy - I cannot believe I haven't come across this hub earlier!!! Thank you for directing me to if through your answer to my question. It is eloquent, to the point, and generally excellently written. I share your views, and feel grateful that we of the LGBT community have you feeling the way you do about us.

My question (that got me to your hub) was in a way a different version of Eric Diekers "finding joy in difference" - I am gay, I know I was born this way, as I've never felt any different. But I was/am curious as to how other people feel that gay people come to the conclusion they are gay, or how they are "made to be gay". I'm trying to find a common ground with those who may be different to me. And it's been an eye opener thats for sure.

Always Exploring - as an RN myself, I have worked with some wonderful straight people too! (haha..) and as a gay woman, I have a good friendship/work relationship with a woman of Mormon faith - we have the most interesting conversations (And I'm learning not to swear so much!), but are able to disagree on things because we respect each other as human beings first. Currently in the process of looking at some policies with another LGBT staff member (very big hospital...but there aren't many of us "Out") to try and make interactions with LGBT patients more acceptable - ensuring staff are educated etc - as LGBT are not as likely to seek medical assistance for a problem due to misunderstandings, discrimination etc.

This hub is awesome. Thanks DzyMsLizzy!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on July 29, 2015:

Hello always exploring,

Thank you very much for sharing your experience, and your valuable insight. It is indeed infuriating that people insist on clinging to outdated prejudices instead of accepting facts, and worse, brush off those facts as "someone's opinion."

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on July 29, 2015:

In my line of work ( Medical field, R.N. ) I've worked with some of the most wonderful people who were gay, both female and male. Some were treated so very badly. Why won't people believe the facts? It is not a choice. Thank God, some churches believe that. I am not gay, but I have a family member who is treated with disrespect and it infuriates me. You have a new fan. Bravo!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on June 30, 2015:

Hello, Ericdierker,

Thank you very much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. It is important to simply respect everyone, for we all have differences of one degree or another; the world would be a very boring place if that were not so.

But, until we can get that basic acceptance of our underlying humanity instilled in all from birth, through teaching the concept, instead of teaching hatred and prejudice, we shall probably remain stuck in a war-mongering society.

I'm pleased you liked the article.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on June 30, 2015:

Very interesting. I am looking into to these concepts in the hopes of forming a more enlightened "opinion". This article is very helpful and seemingly enlightening in it's own right or is that rite? My son is learning to write by wrote his alphabet. He just keeps making some letters using different directions than is "normal". He seems wired a little different than others. The letters are just fine looking and understandable. I think I will just let him be wired differently and find joy in it.

Perhaps I should find joy in others that are wired differently than me when it comes to sexual preferences.

Thanks for your thoughts on the matter.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 14, 2015:

Hello, Sandy,

Agreed. It is not a topic that should be raised in any circumstances, so there should be no issue of any "coming out," for they should not have to. The only people who need to know are the folks themselves, and those within their family and intimate circles.

Thanks for the great comment and the vote!

Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin on April 14, 2015:

I don't understand why people have conversations like the one you mentioned with the mechanic. A person's sexuality does not determine who you are, what you do for a living or anything else. It is discrimination when people do that type of comparison. As with any of the other reasons why people discriminate.

Voted up, which I normally do anyway. I just don't mention it. Maybe I should :)

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on August 28, 2013:

Hello there HappyMikeWritter,

I am so pleased that you found this article worthy of such high praise. I did write from my heart (and my gut). Thank you so much for your nice comment and the vote!

HappyMikeWritter on August 28, 2013:

This is the most uplifting article I red today. There is so many good things I could say. I would just say one. It comes from your heart and that is why it has power. Thank you so much for writing this amazing article showing that you care about LGBT community.

voted up :-)

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on January 13, 2013:

Hello, gmwilliams,

Thank you very much for such high praise. I'm delighted you found the article so worthy. I agree with you at least 1000%; it baffles me daily as to why so many people still must have such a superior, "holier-than-thou" attitude.

Grace Marguerite Williams from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on January 13, 2013:

Great article which should be REQUIRED reading. This is the 21st century and it is quite perplexing that many people still hold to atavistic prejudices. We are ALL ONE regardless of race, gender, class, age, ability, and sexual orientation.

Jean Bakula from New Jersey on September 30, 2012:

As it should be! Best, Jean

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on September 30, 2012:

Hello, Jean Bakula,

Thanks very much for that important contribution to the issue. You are so right; people are all people, no matter how they may "differ." It would be a pretty boring world if everyone were the same.

More colleges ought to add such courses, or at least make it a point in some other class.

( Just like I know several people whose political views differ from my own....we simply agree to disagree in that venue, and enjoy our basic friendship otherwise. Sure, we jokingly give each other a hard time; "You're an idiot if you vote for xxx,..." type of thing...but we respect each others right to our own opinions.)

Jean Bakula from New Jersey on September 30, 2012:

Hi Ms. Lizzy,

I live in NJ, and in college they have classes where people get to talk with a person from any of the LGBT families. It seems really eye opening, in a good way. I found that when my son and his college friends took the course, once they had already talked with a real person who faces prejudice about who they are, it was hard not to just accept them as the people they are.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on September 10, 2012:

Hello, there, fpherj48,

I'm hoping we can get millions MORE people on this same page. These bigoted attitudes are not only degrading, unreasonable and hateful; they are just plain stupid.

I quit religion a long time ago--for many more reasons than this one--but these kinds of issues certainly had a hand in the matter.

Thanks so much for your comment in support of the concept of tolerance and "MYOB," and for the votes!

Suzie from Carson City on September 10, 2012:

Lizzy....I am on much the same page as you are. I am often baffled why a homosexual is labeled, in conversation, print, or otherwise, as "gay or lesbian," when this is never the case, for heterosexuals. It's actually bizarre, in my opinion.....We will not hear, 'That's John, (he's heterosexual," and....) nor even are people often referred to in conversation, by their religion or ethnicity, unless that it is quite relative to the conversation topic, specifically.

It's so evident that LBGT individuals are singled out as "unusual" or even worse, something other than merely a person. ......as though we should know this, prior to speaking to them or interacting with them.

I tend to agree with you as well, that the biggest culprit is religion/religious beliefs, etc.....yes, the same groups that preach love, tolerance and unity.........UP +++

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on September 10, 2012:

@ writeronline--You stated it very well. Everything is hunky-dory, until that person is "found out." Well, why would they or should they be "found out?" It truly is none of anyone else's business, and you are oh, so right about learned behavior. That is, indeed, a cop-out of the worst kind, and a very weak excuse for behaving badly. Thank you so much for your wise insight.

@ Pamela99--Thanks for your input. I have no problem with Christians, or anyone of any other religion, as long as they mind their own busness and do not try to force their beleifs onto anyone else. In my opinion, religious beliefs, or lack thereof, are another matter that falls under personal privacy. When someone's brain is simply wired differently from before birth, that's not a matter of choice, it's a matter of fact, and for them to be ostracized because of it is the worst kind of twisting of anyone's relifion. I'm pleased you liked the article, and I thank you for your input.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 10, 2012:

I am heterosexual and a Christian, but I still think everyone must choose how to live their life. It is their chose. We all have to choose the path we walk, and who I am to know what is right for another person? This hub really stated the situation very well.

writeronline on September 10, 2012:

Nice work Ms Lizzy. Not a thing I'd disagree with. You know the one thing that really gets me though, about human prejudice? It's the excuse that, 'it's not their fault they're bigoted, its the way they were brought up, what they were taught as impressionable youngsters; its 'learned behaviour'.

What a copout.

That's nothing more than a convenient cover for people with less than adequate morals, and 'over-adequate' egos, to shelter under. What we learn, we can unlearn - if we want to. As soon as we develop the ability to think for ourselves. Plenty of us have been in situations where it takes some courage to stand against the prevailing view, in my case especially in male settings where it's unexpectedly become apparent that 'John" is gay, so of course we must all suddenly ostracise him, criticise him, deny any good things we've experienced with, or because of him, in the past. I'm not gay, pro-gay, nor anti-gay, it's none of my business. But I absolutely refuse to be coerced into vilifying anyone on the grounds that he/she/they are 'not like us'. When I've had to choose who to walk with in that scenario, it's always the guy who has the greater courage. And that's not the macho man.