LGBTQ+ is an initialism that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer. Before going into further details, let us first understand these terms.
LESBIAN – Used for the females who are attracted to the same sex i.e. women (a homosexual woman). They are also referred to as gay women.
GAY – They too are homosexual, just as with lesbians. It refers to a man who is sexually drawn towards another man.
BISEXUAL – A person (male or female) who is equally inclined towards both genders. It can be emotional, sexual, or merely physical and to any degree.
TRANSGENDER – It is a broader term drawn upon people who don’t resonate with their body assigned at birth. Some also undergo surgeries or hormonal changes as prescribed by the doctor. But again, it varies from person to person and their will to do so.
QUEER – It is a term used for people who do not simply associate themselves with heterosexuality and also don’t fit in other subcategories like gay or trans. Some might use this to express their gender identity too.
Sex and Gender: Know the difference
Sex is defined based on the genitals one is born with and is then labelled male or female accordingly. There are exceptions to this too, which we call intersex. On the other hand, gender is how you are expected to be brought up in a society, where norms vary from culture to culture. This moulds into gender identity (the way you dress or appear).
A brief note on Sexual Orientation
Your sexual orientation tells who you are sexually drawn to. This is mostly formed at a very young age. It may begin as a subtle feeling of attraction at a young age that may proceed to grow more powerful as one grows up, forming into what now is called your sexual identity or sometimes, sexual preference.
It may or may not change over time and is definitely something that can’t be forced upon through medical treatments or therapies. We shouldn’t generalize actions typically associated with one sex as a means of classifying one as a queer person. For example, a boy interested in household chores doesn’t grow up to become necessarily gay. There really isn’t any hard and fast rule. It is, in fact, biological (no shame about it).
What does coming out mean?
It basically marks one accepting oneself and officially making one’s gender orientation public. It promotes not having to live a life you are forced to by societal norms. However, it is not as easy a road as it might seem from the outside. The whole process of coming out can be very overwhelming, horrifying, and even traumatizing for some.
People usually don’t choose to reveal themselves in front of others apart from trusted members of their community or family. Coming out, being a new and daunting experience needs support but is rarely given. You get to learn who and who isn’t supportive or encouraging of the step you’ve taken; or who is phobic or hateful of your community (in which case it is better to distance yourself from them). In all these situations, it is again, you who can decide what is and what is not good for you.
Looking back at history
It must be noted that there isn’t a specific timeline for this. As we dive into the depths of history, it can be found that there is evidence of homosexuality and sexual deviance dating to ancient times in various parts of the world. Africa, Egypt, India, China, America, Persia, Israel, Japan, Europe all have records of people belonging to the rainbow community.
Discrimination against homosexuals was common, mainly as it was a concept that wasn’t what a majority of the society indulged in (people didn’t realize just how many closeted individuals stayed hidden in fear). There were movements held to counter inequality and injustice. The struggle of the LGBTQ+ community hasn’t stopped to date even in such modern times. They still suffer a lot from humiliation, bullying, harassment, and other stereotypical comments. But to look on the brighter side, they’ve come a long way and hopefully, we will ourselves do away with such malpractices.
The disturbing stats
In the present times, there are still many countries that are dead against the Queer community. Some of them are even put to death for consensual same-sex activities. The countries are namely; Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Qatar, Mauritania, Sudan, UAE, Iraq, Somalia, Nigeria, Yemen, Syria.
What’s even worse is that in the countries that have legalized LGBTQ by law, people still struggle a lot socially. There’s harassment at the workplace, discrimination in schools, and moreover inequality on the basis of colour! The Case Western Reserve University has put out a few statistical numbers on the same. Have a look:
- More than one-third of LGBT undergraduate students have experienced harassment within the past year.
- Twenty percent of all respondents feared for their physical safety because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- 71 percent felt that transgender people were likely to suffer harassment, and 61 percent felt that gay men and lesbians were likely to be harassed.
- Forty-three percent of the respondents rated the overall campus climate as homophobic.
These are all figures from the United States but the prejudices are everywhere no matter how progressive the society is.
The Indian Approach to LGBTQ+
India was intolerant to homosexual people until a few years ago when the Supreme Court on 6th September in 2018 gave away the final verdict of legalizing homosexuality and abolished Section 377 of the constitution which states “consensual sexual activity between same-sex people is a criminal offense”. It was definitely a day calling in for the celebration.
Nonetheless, many in our society are still homophobic and the law could certainly not change those mindsets. Many Indians aren’t open to progressive times when it comes to accepting the LGBTQ+ community.
The modern youth, fortunately, are coming forward to vocally address such issues for their fellow queer people and social media has proved to be a helping hand for the same. In the past few years, cinema is also seen passing out a positive message through different genre-based ads/films and people luckily are appreciating the thought behind it. Apart from that, many NGOs are working for the welfare and betterment of the community and they have been receiving tremendous support from society, monetarily and vocally.
There are many renowned names in India like Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi, Anwesh Sahoo, Madhu Kumar who have brought massive changes to the lives of many and continue to do so. We notice families and friends being warm and caring towards them. It’s slow but steady. All this adds up to a seemingly brighter future for our rainbow community.
Your take as a reader
You may or may not belong to the LGBTQ+ community but that shouldn’t stop you from creating a safe place for them. Everything about this, about them, is NORMAL! They’re just as human as anyone else. Nature has created every living being beautifully different. It is us who adulterate it with inequality. Unlike anybody else, they deserve to live their life as per their will and happiness. It’s a basic human and fundamental right. So, instead of treating them with injustice, how about we build a harmonious atmosphere for everyone regardless of the personal choices one makes!? Because LOVE IS LOVE.