In the past few years, people in the United States of America who identify as being a part of the LGBTQ community are progressively encouraged each day to publicly announce their desired sexual orientation due to recent strides in equality. When looking back into history of America, there were countless events where individuals who came out as homosexuals in the past were viewed as ‘disturbing’ and ‘inappropriate’ and were severely punished for doing so. This resulted into the tragic reality that individuals that were born in the upcoming generations afterwards being ashamed for what they truly identify themselves as.
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As a phenomenon of the increase in individuals coming out as homosexuals, they wanted to possess the right of joining in matrimony with the person that they desire to love despite their gender. After years of battling whether they should allow the idea of gay marriage to take place in different states, the whole country eventually decided to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide on the 26th of June in the year of 2015. This marked the start of the rise of the LGBTQ movement in America, or so one would’ve thought. Although they have this big advantage, individuals and couples that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender up to this day have many disadvantages compared to the heterosexuals. For example, why do the LGBTQ community receive unequal employment opportunities in the work industry? Why do they receive jarring judgement for raising their own children? Also, why are the transgenders’ rights of continuing to serve in the military being taken away by the current president of the United States? These are some of the many questions that go through one’s head when they are a part (or an ally, like I am) of the LGBTQ community. To this day, members of the LGBTQ community are still experiencing discrimination regardless of their actions and educating society can help bring awareness in order to reduce these inequalities.
Having a stable employment is one of the biggest necessities that an individual should possess in order to survive as a functioning independent person in society. Tragically, one of the major problems that the LGBTQ community is facing is the fear of losing their positions in their jobs. Unemployment of the homosexuals exist because of the judgements made by their customers or co-workers based upon their sexual orientation. In their workplace, 53% of the LGBTQ employees have reported hearing offensive jokes and humor about lesbian or gay people at least once in a while (Human Rights Campaign, 2014). Furthermore, 80% of the LGBT community, especially in the transgender population, has experienced multiple types of harassment or different forms disrespectful approaches while being in a work setting (James et al., Dec 2015, p. 155). As a result, employees that are LGBT have a higher chance of getting fired. Companies tend to remove employees who do not contribute a good reputation to the company and since the LGBTQ employees are being discriminated, they would not want them to stay there any longer and give the company a bad reputation. These fired employees can be protected by the state-level protection for sexual orientation”a law that can prevent the homosexuals to get fired based on their sexuality, but only twenty-three states in the U.S. are using it (Human Rights Campaign, 2018). In other words, there is no state-level protection for sexual orientation in the remaining twenty-eight of the fifty states, which means that LGBTQ employees in more than half of the states in the United States are fired for being identified as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender without any form of protection from the government (Human Rights Campaign, 2018)
Ironically, employment can negatively affect the people in the LGBTQ community as much as being unemployed. Unemployment can destroy a person’s mental health and possibly ruin their experiences in searching for medical health services, especially if they are not financially stable. In Lori Ross’s research article, Kirk, a transgender man who was earning low income, was interviewed and mentioned that stress is a derivation of employment because of the discrimination that he been through while working and unemployment has the same effect because of the tension of not succeeding in searching for a better job that has less discrimination (2018, p. 9). As a result of indecisiveness, it can lead to isolation which is one of the factors that causes depression, low self esteem, and other mental issues (Ilardi, 2009). As they seek medical attention in order to reduce their mental damage, individuals in the LGBTQ community also experience discrimination in this setting. In 2017, more than 50% of the people in the LGBTQ community talked about how they are being discriminated by many health care providers (Singh and Durso, 2017). Unlike the individuals who are fired for being homosexuals, individuals of the LGBTQ community are not protected by the state for being discriminated in the medical field. Authors Sejal Singh and Laura E. Durso also mentioned in their article, Widespread Discrimination Continues to Shape LGBT People’s Lives in Both Subtle and Significant Ways, that the LGBTQ community should be protected by the Equality Act, which is a comprehensive bill that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (2017). Doing this will further help prevent these types of prejudice from happening so the people who identify as homosexuals can receive the medical help that they really need. The people in the LGBTQ community are dealing with the harsh reality of not being genuinely accepted in society not only in their workplace but also in the medical field.
One component that can help individuals or couples in the LGBTQ community with their mental health is the idea of having or adopting children with the person that they love, similarly to how heterosexual couples would also want to have children in order to form a family and form a stronger bond with their spouse at the same time. Raising children is a big step in a person’s life, but imagine if that advantage was taken away from a person because of their sexual orientation. Most will say it would be soul crushing. In some countries, being a non-heterosexual couple is still being identified as a crime and they have a bigger chance of being abducted, tortured and even killed together (Amnesty International, 2017). This is not the case in America, but the homosexual couples still get bashed on the concept of becoming same-sex parents since the children that they will raise are allegedly more likely to experience gender and sexual disorders (Family Research Council, 2018). However, in the replication and the baseline model on Table 2 in Paul Sullins’ research, the outcomes of the children that were raised by same-sex couples did not have drastically different results from children raised by heterosexual couples (2017, p. 4). Although same-sex couples can raise children like heterosexual couples do, they cannot biologically have their own children. However, adopting foster children is their next common option which not only change their own lives but can also change the lives of children living in foster homes. More than 20,000 children are not adopted annually, and they stay in their foster homes until they reach a certain age where they can supposedly live independently by themselves but this eventually results to homelessness since they lack the chance of having a guardian to teach them how to take care of themselves (ABC News, 2016). Therefore, couples in the LGBTQ community should not be underestimated when it comes to raising children and growing their own family since it benefits both the same-sex couples and the children that are being adopted and raised. People presume that children are more likely to become gay themselves if they are raised by same-sex couples. Ironically, most individuals that identify as homosexual were born and raised by a heterosexual couple so does that indicate that there is a possibility that one of the parents are homosexual? Let’s think about that.
Other than having the disadvantages in gaining employment, prioritization in medical help, and adopting children, another massive problem that the LGBTQ community, specifically the transgender population, used to face is the prohibition of serving in the military forces for the United States as a transgender person. On July 26, 2017, our current president, Donald Trump, composed three tweets mentioning that “The United States Government will not accept or allow… transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military… victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you” (Twitter, 2017). This triggered many Americans on twitter which lead to more hatred for Trump. However, many transgender service members called and sued the president on the spot and mentioned that what Donald Trump was executing disobeys the equal protection of the Fifth Amendment (Doe, 2017). Luckily, the idea of prohibiting transgender people serving in the military was abandoned and thousands of transgender troops continued to serve and enlist (BBC News, 2018). In the topic of politics, not enough people in the LGBTQ community are involved in political representation and the ones who are working for the government are equally as discriminated as the homosexuals in work settings and in health care. One is named Michael Aycox, the first congressional that came out as gay, who have received seventeen death threats in under a month from people who have very loyal religious beliefs (Stack and Edmonson, 2018). Fortunately, Aycox learned how to overcome the severe discrimination and the serious threats that he would receive almost everyday in order to continue to be involved in politics to fight for the rights of the LGBTQ community today and the future generations.
People like Michael Aycox are one of the many reasons why the LGBTQ community remains hopeful for the future. The opposing side might argue that the members of the LGBTQ community do not deserve the right to have same-sex marriage because it defeats the old and traditional definition of marriage which is held between a man and a woman where it officially announces their love and commitment with one another. They also argued that marriage is for procreation and should be kept between a man and a woman since members of the LGBTQ community cannot produce children biologically with each other (ProCon 2018). However, this concept is a type of discrimination towards the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community which creates the LGBTQ community second class citizens (ProCon 2018). Although same-sex couples cannot produce children together, they are eligible to adopt and take care of children who do not have parents or guardians to take care of them. Again, the idea of same-sex couples adopting satisfies both the same-sex couples and the children since they need one another. On a happy note, millennials in the United States are most likely to support the LGBTQ rights. Young people favored Democratic House candidates in the 2018 midterms by an overwhelming and historic margin of 35 percentage points: 67% for the Democrats compared to 32% for the Republicans (Circle, 2018). It is a major increase for the Democrats which also indicates that the bright future of the LGBTQ community is one step closer to them. Like I am, millennials most likely have a friend that have experienced the life of being a part of the LGBTQ community, or these millenials have experienced the life of being a homosexual as well. Since they have been exposed to this concept as children, they grow up to become open minded people and have tend to be more accepting to people who identify as a part of the LGBTQ community compared to the people of age who grew up seeing that being an LGBTQ means you are ‘mentally sick’ and might also be considered as an illegal person.
Commemorating history, during James Madison’s presidency, he wrote the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, which is Freedom of Speech. The First Amendment also further mentioned that:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (Madison, 1789)
In other words, the First Amendment allows individuals to have the right to form any expression with freedom in the United States. It is seen as freedom of self expression; freedom of self identification; freedom to do anything. This pinpoints the LGBTQ community accurately and there should be no reason for them to be discriminated from expressing their sexual orientation since they have the right to do so. This right is also mentioned by a person who fought for rights in history which is Martin Luther King, Jr. He may have fought for the lives of people of color, but he also fought for human rights over all. In King’s speech, “I Have A Dream,” he wrote:
I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” (King, 1963)
Although he was trying to get rid of segregation in a community, he also mentioned human rights regarding of color, religion, and sex and fought for their rights. King also had the same purpose when he had written “The Letter From Birmingham Jail” on the margins of a newspaper while he was in a solitary confinement in the city of Birmingham. In the letter, King was trying to make a nonviolent campaign in order to fight for basic human rights to protect the black people in Birmingham from the segregation and discrimination that was occurring in the city (Rice, 2017). The black people were dealing with many forms of discrimination in history, similarly to how the LGBTQ community are facing the same discrimination today. From seeing how people from history have been fighting for human rights in the past and having a successful results from it, fighting for the rights of the LGBTQ community should not be hard to accept and allow the homosexuals to have their human rights that they deserve.
Through researching this topic, I strongly believe that the discrimination towards the LGBTQ community should be put to an end. To contribute to this, educating society about the struggles that the LGBTQ community face is important because it helps bring awareness to society that the people who identify as homosexuals are not privileged enough as much as heterosexuals are today. Especially since it’s 2018, in a generation where as a nation and society, we have come very far in the history of the United States where all laws in the past are dangling in front of our faces saying that society cannot do certain things like sexual discrimination and yet we are still living off our prejudices. Regarding employment, adoption, rights to serve in the military, prioritization in medical help, and acceptance to society, the LGBTQ community is still struggling for more certain and specific human rights. In thoroughly researching the LGBTQ Activism, it made me better understand the challenges that they face in their everyday lives and the feelings that they bottle inside of them which motivates me even more to fight for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights in order to change the future for the LGBTQ community.
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