Ten Myths About Homosexuality


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Ten Myths About Homosexuality

Myth #1: Homosexual men molest children.

Reality:

This has been repeatedly shown not to be true by scientific studies. The conclusion of experts in the field of sexual abuse, based on a number of studies, is that molesting of children occurs among heterosexual and homosexual men to the same degree. The vast majority of those who molest children are heterosexual. The average offender is a white heterosexual male whom the child knows.

Myth #2: You can spot a gay or lesbian person by the way they act and dress.

Reality:

Some people believe all gay men are effeminate, and all lesbians are tomboys. While there are some gay and lesbian persons who fit these stereotypes, they are no more representative of all homosexual people than are the Marlboro man and Scarlett O'Hara types representative of all heterosexuals. Homosexual people generally look and act like everyone else. Most people never suspect the sexual orientation of a homosexual individual.

Myth #3: I've never met a homosexual person.

Reality:

Most people know a number of homosexual persons, but are unaware of it because these persons are "in the closet". Because of intense prejudice and hatred directed toward lesbian, gay and bisexual people in our society, many are quite reluctant to reveal their sexual orientation. As noted above, most homosexual people look and act just like everyone else. They come from all walks of life, all races, all economic levels, all political perspectives. So heterosexual people can assume that they probably have homosexual neighbors, friends, relatives and fellow worshipers - although those persons may be afraid to reveal that they are gay or lesbian.

Myth #4: To be bisexual implies that a person has multiple partners.

Reality:

Bisexual individuals have affection and sexual feelings towards persons of the other sex, as well as the same sex. This does not imply involvement with more than one partner any more than a heterosexual person's ability to be attracted to more than one person implies multiple partners.

Myth #5: Homosexuality is a mental illness.

Reality:

While once classified as a mental illness, both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association have removed homosexuality from their list of mental disorders. Numerous studies have shown that homosexuality is not linked with psychological disturbance and is in no sense a "mental problem."

Myth #6: Christians are united in their opposition to homosexual people and homosexuality.

Reality:

There are a wide variety of opinions about homosexual persons among the various Christian denominations, and among individuals as well. Some religious groups interpret certain Biblical passages as injunctions against homosexuality, while others view these passages in the light of historical context, pointing out other passages Christians no longer take literally, such as those advocating slavery, dietary laws and ritual purity laws. In addition many Christian denominations have issued statements condemning discrimination and prejudice against homosexual people, as have a number of Jewish and other religious groups. There are numerous congregations who welcome and affirm homosexual Christians as fully- participating members of the body of Christ, with unique gifts to offer.

Myth #7: Homosexual persons have many sexual partners and do not develop long-term relationships.

Reality:

Certainly, there are individuals within the gay, lesbian and bisexual community who have many sexual partners. Studies indicate, however, that most homosexual persons value and want long-term relationships and that a large proportion are involved in stable, close relationships. In studies which involved older lesbian and gay individuals, it was not unusual to find couples who had been together for over twenty years. In addition, many gay and lesbian people, like many heterosexual people, are celibate either for periods of time or for their entire lives.
Homosexual couples do face particular challenges, however. Our society does not provide any of the supports for these relationships that it provides for heterosexual couples - none of the social, legal, economic or religious supports - and often no family support. In a culture where even marriages, which are legally and socially sanctioned, have a high rate of failure, it's impressive that so many same-sex couples do stay together.

Myth #8: Homosexual people want special rights, and that's not fair.

Reality:

Basic human rights are not special rights. The right to get and keep a job based on merit is not a special right. The right to be served food in a restaurant is not a special right. The right to have housing is not a special right. The right to walk down a street and not be attacked because of who you are and whom you love is not a special right. Homosexual and bisexual people want the same rights that are guaranteed to all Americans. In recent years, ballot initiatives have been put forward in a number of states and cities, accompanied by much misinformation about "preventing homosexuals from getting special rights." In effect, what these initiatives do is interfere with legitimate efforts to end discrimination in areas such as jobs, housing and public accommodations.
Myth #9: Homosexual people are bad parents.

Reality: Some people believe that children of lesbian or gay parents are more likely to grow up to be homosexual. Others are concerned that these children will grow up without appropriate ethical values. With respect to the first belief, there is no evidence that children of same-sex couples are more likely to grow up gay. Most homosexual persons were conceived and raised by heterosexual parents. There is increasing evidence that sexual orientation is fixed early in life by biology.
Regarding the second concern, a homosexual orientation does not make a person unethical. In fact, being the victims of so much hatred and prejudice often makes same-sex parents even more committed to teaching their children the values of kindness and charity. Dr. Judd Marmor, past president of the American Psychiatric Association says, "There is no evidence that heterosexual parents are more loving, stable, or supportive in their parental roles than homosexual men and women."
Many gay and lesbian people live in committed long-term relationships with their partner, living a domestic life similar to that of heterosexual marriage. Many same-sex couples raise children together. In addition, a high number of homosexual individuals are accepted and welcomed by their parents, siblings and other family members. Many lesbian and gay people report that the decision to come out to their families brought new support and closeness.

Myth #10: Homosexual people want to come into our schools and recruit our children to their lifestyle.

Reality:

There have been attempts to bring "gay" issues into schools, but certainly not to convert anyone. There is no evidence that people could be "recruited" to a homosexual orientation, even if someone wanted to do this. The intent is to teach adolescents not to mistreat gay and lesbian classmates, who are often subjects of harassment and physical attacks. Talking openly about homosexuality is also crucial to students who are lesbian or gay. Feeling alone, frightened and confused, these young people are much more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. A recent study indicates that 30% of gay and lesbian students attempt suicide around the age of fifteen-a sobering finding.


Note: Resources from the Church Council of Greater Seattle, P-FLAG NH Seacoast, People of Faith Against Bigotry of Portland, OR, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the books; A Certain Terror and Homosexuality: Research Implications for Public Policy have been used in this article and are gratefully acknowledged.


Jan Wright or Dawn Richberg, AFSC, 1414 Hill St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104 ; Phone: 313.761.8283 (voice/TDD); Fax: 313.761.6022; E-mail at AFSCJan@aol.com


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