Friday, November 21, 2008

LGBT people not second-class citizens

(from the Daily O'Collegian)
By Megan Foster Opinion Columnist
Published: November 21, 2008

Hello, my name is Megan Foster. I’m from a small town east of Oklahoma City and I used to be a homophobe. And, although I’ve come a long way, I still am a little bit.
It’s something I’m working on, but I’m proud to say despite my homophobic tendencies in the past, I have never thought that gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people were second-class citizens.

I won’t lie and pretend that I haven’t mocked a person who was gay or ended a friendship with someone when they came out. These actions were without justification. At the time, I was treating LGBT people as though they were second-class citizens without realizing it.
First, I’ll address some arguments against people having same-sex relationships and then we’ll delve into a more personal area.

Some people compare the LGBT community to bestiality and pedophilia. This practice is abhorrent and atrocious. In a same-sex relationship, the two people involved are consenting adults seeking companionship — the same scenario of a heterosexual relationship. Neither person is underage nor an animal. Neither has the inability to give consent for actions he or she does not understand or comprehend. There is no comparison that can be made among any of those sexual orientations.

Some people regard being attracted to the same sex as a disease. According to the American Psychological Association, sexual orientation is not a mental illness, and that includes LGBTs. There is nothing wrong with LGBT people.

It is not a matter of choice. Some LGBT people even go through therapy to try and sway their minds so they will be “straight.” These therapies rarely, if ever, work and it’s hard to scientifically prove they do anything. More often than not these therapies harm the individual seeking treatment and the APA does not recommend them.

When it comes to personally dealing with a person of the LGBT community, you might be afraid that they will hit on you or be sexually attracted to you. Are you attracted to every person of the opposite sex on the planet? Chances are that you aren’t attracted to everyone. LGBT people are no different. Just because they like people of the same sex doesn’t mean they like every person of the same sex.

And, in the rare instance that they are attracted to you, how often has a friend of the opposite sex thought you were into them or asked you out when you weren’t attracted to them? Meanings and feelings, like wires, can get crossed or mixed up. Talking it out can quickly remedy the situation.

In either case, it’s nothing that doesn’t happen in relationships between men and women.
Another fear might be that if you spend too much time hanging out with gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people that you might become one.

If you’re even worried about that, you probably already are.

Hanging out with men does not make me want to be a man. Hanging out with women does not make a man want to be a woman. Hanging out with a pineapple plant doesn’t make me want to become one, even though pineapples are delicious.

Think about it this way: When describing your friends, what’s the first thing you would say? Maybe you describe your friends’ hair color or their favorite type of music or even their favorite pasttime. The first words out of you mouth would not be their sexual orientation, even if you had caught them masturbating to something you find disturbing.

The last point I’d like to make is about same-sex couples having the right to get married and adopt children.

There’s no legitimate reason they shouldn’t be allowed to get married. If marriage is so sacred, why do we have a 50 percent divorce rate?

Jennifer Baker, the director of marriage and family therapy program for the Forest Institute School of Professional Psychology, found that in first marriages 50 percent end in divorce. For second and third marriages, the chance of divorce increases.

And the whole argument about procreation being the basis behind marriage is bogus. Although some people might seek to get married for procreation, many who procreate do not get married. Other couples are reproductively challenged and have trouble conceiving, but they get married anyway.

Several studies can be found on the American Psychological Association’s Web site that state “Beliefs that lesbian and gay adults are not fit parents likewise have no empirical foundation.” Some of the studies found that lesbian mothers and gay fathers can be better parents than their heterosexual counterparts.

In conclusion, denying someone friendship, or even rights, because you’re scared they may hit on you or because their sexual preference isn’t “straight” is disgusting.

So show them a little love, respect and some understanding. You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll realize they’re people just trying to get by. And you might even find you have some things in common. Sexual orientation is just one of the many, many things that makes a person who he or she is.

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