Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Two times this week I heard gay men talking about the lack of role models when they were growing up in a closeted society.  Their desire to see others like themselves living their lives and solving their problems is so natural.  We all look to those around us for clues on behavior, ethics and, well, role modeling.

What stuck me, too, is that by keeping themselves secreted, it wasn't only other LGBT people who lost the opportunity to learn and grow by their example, it was all of us.  After all, it has been proven that prejudice and negativity fall away when people are exposed to those who are different.  As more LGBT people live their lives in the open, raise families and participate in the community; the community has, in turn, embraced them and supported them.

My son educated me to the fact that the reason gay men, in particular, were thought to be promiscuous had more to do with the fact that society didn't accept them coupled up, so their option was to have secretive sexual encounters. The secrecy and lacking the option for open, intimate relationships led to lives where promiscuity was just the way it was done.  Ultimately and unfortunately, it also led to the spread of HIV/AIDS.  Bringing those issues, rights and lives into the light has resulted in our society becoming educated and accepting of our differences and aware of our similarities.  With that acceptance, the spread of the virus has decreased.

I can't say how I formed my attitudes about the LGBT community.  I don't recall my parents discussing it.  None of the gay kids or teachers in my high school were open - but that was 40 years ago!

One of the first times I actually became aware of my feelings were when my kids asked me about 2 men holding hands.  I said there was nothing wrong with people loving each other - no matter what kind of couple they were.  I was proud of the way I answered that question then and really proud of my continued growth and education since. I guess I managed to grow up along with society though I am sometimes saddened by how far we still have to go to become equals.


smalltownme said...

I don't think I was really aware of homosexuality, except for Liberace, until college. And then I met some gay people and so what, you love who you love.

So life in general led me to some insights about family members. One hated men and was just destroyed when her "best friend" married her brother. Her anger and despair didn't make sense to me when I was 12 but as I gained perspective I understood.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

I never really thought about the lack of role models. It hurts to think about, that people can feel so very alone in their own lives.
As a young adult, I worked in a rather social setting with people who had some different lifestyles (including a gay man and a lesbian woman). She still struggled with the pain of losing a former girlfriend; he greatly missed his boyfriend who was attending a university 1500 miles away. At that point in my life, it was no different than any other friend who had suffered a break-up or missed a boyfriend. I think that anytime you actually get to know someone in a positive way [who is different from you and your beliefs/background] it becomes difficult to form negative opinions about a group of people different from yourself. (For example, if you spend time getting to know someone who practices Islam, it is difficult to think negatively about all Muslims.)
Thanks to my getting to know my co-worker, I did not hold the opinion that all guy guys were swinging singles.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

In fourth and fifth grade I was friends with a boy who was thought to be gay. I'm sure life got pretty awful for him when he went to Jr. High. My mother raised us to not be bigoted against anybody, so I was so surprised at some of the things you hear.

I love that it is really nothing at all to teens and young adults (for the most part) what sexual orientation someone is.