Dr. Joe Kort, a well-known therapist who specializes in working with the LGBTQIA+ community, said one of the biggest things society needs to see is how homophobia can impact children.
“Usually it [homophobia] is raised when talking about a gay parent and how they may ‘impact’ their offspring, or how the behavior of gay and lesbian adults will influence them,” said Kort. “But even more rarely do people concentrate on how homophobia impacts children, gay and straight alike, which is far worse than anything a child might be exposed to in a gay pride parade or in observing gay relationships.”
Kort said that developing gay or lesbian adolescents can handle their sexual orientation, but they cannot cope with the homophobic acts and verbal abuse they encounter in schools, homes or communities.
The LGBTQIA+ acronym has grown from its former LGBT, now standing to represent people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex or an ally (or friend to the community).
Brennan Aulds, who identifies as a gay man, said that even now that being gay is more accepted, he still gets treated differently because of his sexual orientation. “I’ve found it’s harder to make true friends with people other than other gay guys or girls,” said Aulds. “Especially with straight girls I’ve always been their ‘gay best friend’ or the gay kid or some object to dress up and set up with any other gay guy ever. It’s always the slight things that are the most bothersome. People see me as a trophy of the community they can use to prove themselves as non-homophobic.”
According to Aulds, the LGBTQIA+ community has made progress in its strife for acceptance, but still has a long way to go. “The Gay community has been accepted fairly well right now,” said Aulds. “Just gay women and men, however. Bisexual people are still treated as second class because they’re seen as indecisive or gay when in reality they’re attracted to two genders.”
The definition of bisexuality is often misunderstood; many people believe it only means attraction to two genders, but in reality, it means attraction to same and other genders, reflecting inclusiveness of gender diversity.
Aulds said people who identify as transgender also still have a very long way to go, noting that many insurance agencies do not cover surgeries and that there is a lack of support in the military and society itself. “Intersex and other sexualities are viewed as not real, and non-binary/gender-fluid people, those who identify with neither gender or both, are seen as mentally ill and indecisive as well even by those in the LGBTQIA+ community,” said Aulds. He said true progress cannot be made until there is full acceptance in society of simply just being a human being.
Grace Allen, who recently came out as bisexual to her family, said she felt like she had to hide who she was,afraid of what her mother’s reaction would be. When she did come out to her mother, she said her mom did not accept her at first and that the first few months after coming out were incredibly tough. She said after a few months her mother is a little more accepting, but still does not think her mother will ever fully understand who she is.
Allen said she chose to tell her mother she identified as bisexual because she thought it would be easier than explaining that she does not label her self, but rather just looks for a human to connect with, no matter what their gender is.