Defining Characteristic of LGBTQ Community Essay

Introduction, lgbtq as a community, challenges in the community, benefits of the community.

A defining characteristic of human beings is that they are social creatures. As such, relationships play a crucial role in the lives of all individuals. In most cases, people with some similarities group together and form an entity known as a community. By definition, a community is a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

Every person has a strong need to belong to a community. We all desire to be accepted by the people around us. As a human being, I desire a relationship with people who have attitudes, interests, and goals similar to my own. I have found this relationship in the LGBTQ community, which I am a member of.

The LGBTQ is a community since it bares some of the defining characteristic of a community. Brown and Hannis (2012) document that a community possesses attributes that easily distinguish it from the rest of the society.

The distinguishing attribute of LGBTQ people is that they have non-heterosexual sexual orientations. Another community characteristic of members of the LGBTQ is that they share in a belief, which is that people should not be discriminated against because of their sexual preferences. In addition to this, the LGBTQ is a community since it is made up of a relatively small segment of the society.

There are a number of challenges to being a part of the LGBTQ community. To begin with, this community still exists in an environment where discrimination based on sexual orientation persists. While the society is today more accepting of LGBTQ lifestyles than in the past decades, there is still significant contempt and negative pressure for LGBTQ members. Fetner, et al. (2012) reveal that once a person is involved in the LGBTQ community, he/she becomes easy to identify by the rest of the society.

This can provoke a backlash and make visible some of the hostilities to LGBTQs that remain hidden so long as the LGBTQ people are not identifiable. Being a member of the community therefore exposes me to being targeted by intolerant people who have strong anti-gay sentiments. If I was not a member of the society, I might have been able to go undetected by such people and therefore avoid discrimination.

Within the community, there is a lot of dispute and infighting. At times it feels like the LGBTQ is made up of five separate communities that have been bundled together but do not share goals or interests. People in the LGBTQ are likely to gravitate to the individuals who most closely share their identity and experiences (Nash, 2011). Lesbians therefore form a sub-community within the LGBTQ and so do gays, bisexuals, transgender and queers.

In addition to this, there is a tendency of the gay and lesbian members to isolate the transgender from their social life (Nash, 2011). This is based on the perception that transgender is not a matter of sexual orientation and as such, the issues affecting this group are different from those of the lesbian, gay and bisexual peoples’. This affects the overall cohesion of the group making it harder to tackle the important issue of obtaining justice in the society.

In spite of the challenges experienced by the LGBTQ, this community imparts a sense of positive identity and belonging to its members. Fetner, Elafros and Bortolin (2012) confirm that the LGBTQ community is a form of social support for individuals who are likely to feel isolated in the wider society because of their sexuality.

While in this society, I feel empowered by being surrounded by people who share my values and attitudes. In addition to this, I am able to gain knowledge and skills from more experienced people in the community. The LGBTQ is a place for sharing experiences and learning from other members who have faced challenges that I am going through in life. By listening to other members, I am able to obtain important life lessons that I can apply in my life.

The LGBTQ community creates a space that is free of the prejudices and discriminative attitudes that are commonplace in the greater society. In this space, I am able to express myself without fear of being judged. Being in a place where I am understood and accepted is emotionally beneficial.

Without the safe environment provided by the community, LGBTQ individuals are at greater risk of a host of social problems including depression, suicide, and drug use (Fetner, et al., 2012). The LGBTQ plays a positive role by creating a safe environment for its members.

Membership to the LGBTQ community is optional and a person has to make an individual choice to join the community. A lot of people who are eligible for membership to the community due to their sexual orientation have not joined since they fear the stigma attached to being an LGBTQ.

My decision to be a member of the LGBTQ was based on my belief that there should be more advocates for the issues that the group currently faces. By being a member of the community, I can make a positive contribution and therefore play a part in bringing about complete equality for the group.

Being a member of the LGBTQ community provides me with the opportunity to access a number of facilities specially created for my community. On of these facilities is the 519, which is a community center that plays a major role in my community. This 519 was created to serve the LGBTQ community in the Toronto area. It offers space for my community to interact and form greater ties. There are a lot of activities that can be engaged in at this space including promoting awareness of LGBTQ issues.

The Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto (MCC) is a Toronto based church that is welcoming to the LGBTQ community. While the church also has a heterosexual membership, it openly affirms the LGBTQ people and advocates for sexual equality in spite of a person’s orientation (MCC, 2014).

While I am a Muslim, I regularly volunteer at the MCC church. I feel that this church plays a major role for member of my community. It provides spiritual nourishment to a community that is otherwise ostracized by the mainstream churches. For this reason, I feel that it is my duty to contribute to the church by providing my services through volunteering.

Belonging in a community is important for the healthy social functional of an individual. Through this paper, I have discussed my membership to the LGBTQ community. For me, being a member of the LGBTQ is not only a positive experience but a beneficial one. This community provides me with a sense of belonging and acceptance that cannot be obtained in the larger society.

Brown, J. D., & Hannis, D. (2012). Community Development in Canada. (2nd ed.). Toronto: Pearson Canada.

Fetner, T., Elafros, A., & Bortolin, S. (2012). Safe Spaces: Gay-Straight Alliances in High Schools. Canadian Review of Sociology, 49 (2), 188-207.

MCC (2014). The Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto: Mission Statement. Web.

Nash, C. J. (2011). Trans experiences in lesbian and queer space. Canadian Geographer, 55 (2), 192-207.

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Essay Samples on LGBTQ

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Persuading for Equality: Embracing LGBTQ Rights

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Best topics on LGBTQ

1. LGBTQ Rights: Navigating Equality and Inclusivity

2. LGBTQ Rights: An Argumentative Landscape

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5. LGBTQ Discrimination: Overcoming Prejudice and Fostering Inclusion

6. The Argumentative Discourse Surrounding LGBTQ

7. The Argument for LGBTQ Community Empowerment

8. Accepting the LGBTQ+ Community: Inclusivity and Equality

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20 Must-Read Queer Essay Collections

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Laura Sackton

Laura Sackton is a queer book nerd and freelance writer, known on the internet for loving winter, despising summer, and going overboard with extravagant baking projects. In addition to her work at Book Riot, she reviews for BookPage and AudioFile, and writes a weekly newsletter, Books & Bakes , celebrating queer lit and tasty treats. You can catch her on Instagram shouting about the queer books she loves and sharing photos of the walks she takes in the hills of Western Mass (while listening to audiobooks, of course).

View All posts by Laura Sackton

I love essay collections, and I love queer books, so obviously I love queer essay collections. An essay collection can be so many things. It can be an opportunity to examine one particular subject in depth. Or it can be a wonderful messy mix of dozens of themes and ideas. The books on this list are a mix of both. Some hone in on an author’s own life, while others look outward, examining current events, history, and pop culture. Some are funny, some are very serious, and some are decidedly both.

In making this list, I used two criteria: 1) queer authors and 2) queer content. There are, of course, plenty of wonderful essay collections out there by queer authors that aren’t about queerness. But this list focuses on essays that explore queerness in all its messy glory. You’ll also find essays here about many other things: tornadoes, step-parenthood, the internet, tarot, activism, online dating, to name just a few. But taken together, the essays in each of these books add up to a queer whole.

I limited myself to living authors, and even so, there were so many amazing queer essay collections I wanted to include but couldn’t. This is just a drop in the bucket, but it’s a great place to start if you need more queer essays in your life — and who doesn’t?

Personal Queer Essay Collections

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel- Essays by Alexander Chee

How to Write An Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee

It’s hard for me to put my finger on the thing that elevates an essay collection from a handful of individual pieces to a cohesive book. But Chee obviously knows what that thing is, because this book builds on itself. He writes about growing roses and working odd jobs and AIDS activism and drag and writing a novel, and each of these essays is singularly moving. But as a whole they paint a complex portrait of a slice of the writer’s life. They inform and converse with each other, and the result is a book you can revisit again and again, always finding something new.

essays on lgbtq

I Hope We Choose Love by Kai Cheng Thom

In this collection of beautiful and thought-provoking essays, Kai Cheng Thom explores the messy, far-from-perfect realties of queer and trans communities and community movements. She writes about what many community organizers, activists, and artists don’t want to talk about: the hard stuff, the painful stuff, the bad times. It’s not all grim, but it’s very real. Thom addresses transphobia, racism, and exclusion, but she also writes about the particular joys she’s found in creating community and family with other queer and trans people of color. This is a must-read for anyone involved in social justice work, or immersed in queer community.

essays on lgbtq

Here For It by R. Eric Thomas

If you enjoy books that blend humor and heartfelt wisdom, you’ll love this collection. R. Eric Thomas writes about coming of age as a writer on the internet, his changing relationship to Christianity, the messy intersections of his queer Black identity. It’s a lovey mix of grappling and quips. It’s full of pop culture references and witty asides, as well as moving, vulnerable personal stories.

Cover of The Rib Joint by Julia Koets

The Rib Joint by Julia Koets

This slim memoir-in-essays is entirely personal. Although Koets does weave some history, pop culture, and religion into the work — everything from the history of organs to Sally Ride — her gaze is mostly focused inward. The essays are short and beautifully written; she often leaves the analysis to the reader, simply letting distinct and sometimes contradictory ideas and images sit next to each other on the page. She writes about her childhood in the South, the hidden and often invisible queer relationships she had as a teenager and young adult, secrets and closets, and the tensions and overlaps between religion and queerness.

July 2018 book covers

I Can’t Date Jesus by Michael Arceneaux

This is another fantastic humorous essay collection. Arceneaux somehow manages to be laugh-out-loud funny while also delivering nuanced cultural critique and telling vulnerable stories from his life. He writes about growing up in Houston, family relationships, coming out, and so much more. The whole book wrestles with how to be a young Black queer person striving to make meaning in the world. His second collection, I Don’t Want to Die Poor , is equally wonderful.

essays on lgbtq

Tomboyland by Melissa Faliveno

If you’re wondering, this is the book that contains an essay about tornadoes. It also contains a gorgeous essay about pantry moths (among other things). Those are just two of the many subjects Faliveno plumbs the depths of in this remarkable book. She writes about gender expression and how her relationship with gender has changed throughout her life, about queer desire and family, about Midwestern culture, about place and home, about bisexuality and bi erasure. Her far-ranging essays challenge mainstream ideas about what queer lives do and do not look like. She asks more questions than she answers, delving into the murky terrain of desire and identity.

essays on lgbtq

Something That May Shock and Discredit You by Daniel M. Lavery

Is this book even an essay collection? It is, and it isn’t. Some of these pieces are deeply personal stories about Lavery’s experience with transition. Others are trans retellings of mythology, literature, and film. All of it is weird and smart and impossibly to classify. Lavery examines the idea of transition from every angle, creating new stories about trans history, trans identity, and transformation itself.

Brown White Black: An American Family at the Intersection of Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Religion by Nishta J. Mehra book cover

Brown White Black by Nishta J. Mehra

If there’s one thing I love most in an essay collection, it’s when an author allows contradictions and messy, fraught truths to live next to each other on the page. I love when an essayist asks more questions than they answer. That’s what Mehra does in this book. An Indian American woman married to a white woman and raising a Black son, she writes with openness and curiosity about her particular family. She explores how race, sexuality, gender, class, and religion impact her life and most intimate relationships, as well as American culture more broadly.

essays on lgbtq

Blood, Marriage, Wine, & Glitter by S. Bear Bergman

This essay collection is an embodiment of queer joy, of what it means to become part of a queer family. Every essay captures some aspect of the complexity and joy that is queer family-making. Bergman writes about being a trans parent, about beloved friends, about the challenges of partnership, about intimacy in myriad forms. His tone is warm and open-hearted and joyful and celebratory.

Cover of Forty-Three Septembers by Jewelle Gómez

Forty-Three Septembers by Jewelle Gómez

In these contemplative essays, Jewell Gómez explores the various pieces of her life as a Black lesbian, writing about family, aging, and her own history. Into these personal stories she weaves an analysis of history and current events. She writes about racism and homophobia, both within and outside of queer and Black communities, and about her life as an artist and poet, and how those identities, too, have shaped the way she sees the world.

Cover of Pass With Care by Cooper Lee Bombardier

Pass With Care by Cooper Lee Bombardier

Set mostly against the backdrop of queer culture in 1990s San Francisco, this memoir in essays is about trans identity, being an artist, masculinity, queer activism, and so much more. Bombardier brings particular places and times to life (San Francisco in the 1990s, but other places as well), but he also connects those times and experiences to the present in really interesting ways. He recognizes the importance of queer and trans history, while also exploring the possibilities of queer and trans futures.

Care Work cover image

Care Work by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

This is a beautiful, rigorous collection of essays about disability justice centering disabled queer and trans people of color. From an exploration of the radical care collectives Piepzna-Samarasinha and other queer and trans BIPOC have organized to an essay where examines the problems with the “survivor industrial complex,” every one of these pieces is full of wisdom, anger, transformation, radical celebration. It challenged me on so many levels, in the best possible way. It’s a must read for anyone engaged in any kind of activist work.

I'm-Afraid-of-Men-shraya-cover

I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya

I’m cheating a little bit here, because technically I’d classify this book as one essay, singular, rather than a collection of essays. But I’m including it anyway, because it is brilliant, and because I think it exemplifies just what a good essay can do, what a powerful form of writing it can be. By reflection on various experiences Shraya has had with men over the course of her life, she examines the connections and intersections between sexism, transmisogyny, toxic masculinity, and sexual violence. It’s a heavy read, but Shraya’s writing is anything but. It’s agile and graceful, flowing and jumping between disparate thoughts and ideas. This is a book-length essay you can read in one sitting, but it’ll leave you with enough to think about for many days afterward.

Gender Failure by Rae Spoon and Ivan Coyote

Gender Failure by Ivan E. Coyote and Rae Spoon

In this collaborative essay collection, trans writers and performers Ivan E. Coyote and Rae Spoon play with both gender and form. The book is a combination of personal essays, short vignettes, song lyrics, and images. Using these various kinds of storytelling, they both recount their own particular journeys around gender — how their genders have changed throughout their lives, the ways the gender binary has continually harmed them both, and the many communities, people, and experiences that have contributed to joyful self-expression and gender freedom.

The Groom Will Keep His Name by Matt Ortile

The Groom Will Keep His Name by Matt Ortile

Matt Ortile uses his experiences as a gay Filipino immigrant as a lens in these witty, insightful, and moving essays. By telling his own stories — of dating, falling in love, struggling to “fit in” — he illuminates the intersections among so many issues facing America right now (and always). He writes about the model minority myth and many other myths he told himself about assimilation, sex, power, what it means to be an American. It’s a heartfelt collection of personal essays that engage meaningfully, and critically, with the wider world.

cover of wow, no thank you. by Samantha Irby

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

I’m not a big fan of humorous essays in this vein, heavy on pop culture references I do not understand and full of snark. But I absolutely love Irby’s books, which is about the highest praise I can give. I honestly think there is something in here for everyone. Irby is just so very much herself: she writes about whatever the hell she wants to, whether that’s aging or the weirdness of small town America or snacks (there is a lot to say about snacks). And whatever the subject, she’s always got something funny or insightful or new or just super relatable to say.

Queer Essay Anthologies

Cover of She Called Me Woman by Azeenarh Mohammed

She Called Me Woman Edited by Azeenarh Mohammed, Chitra Nagarajan, and Aisha Salau

This anthology collects 30 first-person narratives by queer Nigerian women. The essays reflect a range of experiences, capturing the challenges that queer Nigerian women face, as well as the joyful lives and communities they’ve built. The essays explore sexuality, spirituality, relationships, money, love, societal expectations, gender expression, and so much more.

essays on lgbtq

Untangling the Knot: Queer Voices on Marriage, Relationships & Identity by Carter Sickels

When gay marriage was legalized, I felt pretty ambivalent about it, even though I knew I was supposed to be excited. But I have never wanted or cared about marriage. Reading this book made me feel so seen. That’s not to say it’s anti-marriage — it isn’t! It’s a collection of personal essays from a diverse range of queer people about the families they’ve made. Some are traditional. Some are not. The essays are about marriages and friendships, parenthood and siblinghood, polyamorous relationships and monogamous ones. It’s a book that celebrates the different forms queer families take, never valuing any one kind of family or relationship over another.

Cover of Nonbinary by Micah Rajunov and Scott Duane

Nonbinary: Memoirs of Gender and Identity Edited by Micah Rajunov and Scott Duane

This book collects essays from 30 nonbinary writers, and trans and gender-nonconforming writers whose genders fall outside the binary. The writers inhabit a diverse range of identity and experience in terms of race, age, class, sexuality. Some of the essays are explicitly about gender identity, others are about family and relationships, and still others are about activism and politics. As a whole, the book celebrates the expansiveness of trans experiences, and the many ways there are to inhabit a body.

Cover of Moving Truth(s) edited by Aparajeeta Duttchoudhury

Moving Truth(s): Queer and Transgender Desi Writings on Family Edited by Aparajeeta ‘Sasha’ Duttchoudhury and Rukie Hartman

This anthology brings together a collection of diverse essays by queer and trans Desi writers. The pieces explore family in all its shapes and iterations. Contributors write about community, friendship, culture, trauma, healing. It’s a wonderfully nuanced collection. Though there is a thread that runs through the whole book — queer and trans Desi identity — the range of viewpoints, styles and experiences represented makes it clear how expansive identity is.

Looking for more queer books? I made a list of 40 of my favorites . If you’re looking for more essay collections to add to your list, check out 10 Must-Read Essay Collections by Women , and The Best Essays from 2019 . And if you’re not in the mood for a whole book right now, why not try one of these free essays available online (including some great queer ones)?

essays on lgbtq

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LGBT - Free Essay Samples And Topic Ideas

Among cultural and ethical impacts, a special community in the society of the United States society has been pressed for its sexual orientation. Many people blame them for being who they are. Such a community is called LGBT, which incorporates lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. If this theme is close to you and you are aware of specific issues these people face, you can embark on writing argumentative essays about LGBTQ. There is much to write about their rights, relationship, societal acceptance, or discrimination. Also, there is a place to argue about the government’s attitude toward the LGBTQ community. So, there are enough issues to raise and discuss in your essay.

To make your research easier, we recommend you study available essay examples on LGBT. This will help you direct your thoughts and problems you want to argue in your research paper. Make sure you start with an outline where you point out the introduction, main body, and conclusion to bring up a quality paper. If you don’t feel confident with your topic about gender equality, you can always come to our LGBT essay topics section. Once you define a theme for your paper, ensure to define an interesting thesis statement.

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Sexual Prejudice Towards LGBTQ and Gender Differences

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The ongoing political debate over Health Care Reform has been unfolding for over a century. Lately, the focus has been on discontinuing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and its impact on specialty populations inside our community. It is not surprising how the pro’s and con’s of this topic is so heavily debated, due to the variety of cultures and diversities classified as “specialty populations” in the United States. When discussing this topic, one must be able to differentiate and fully […]

Mentoring LGBT Youth

Abstract Mentoring LGBT youth is especially important due to the incredibly high rate of suicide in the LGBT community. According to the Human Rights Campaign around twenty-six percent of LGBT youth stated that they “always feel safe in their school classrooms” which is nearly a quarter of all LGBT reported youth. It was only five percent that stated that they felt that “all of their teachers and school staff are supportive of LGBT individuals” (hrc.org). Moving on to the home […]

LZ Granderson and Issues LGBT Community

I already knew the LGBT were discriminated against. What was startling to me were the maps Granderson pulled up, giving visual to the states that have laws protecting LGBT people, more importantly, that most states do not. I guess I never thought about the fact that without specific laws protecting LGBT American's, there is no protection against being fired, evicted from housing, and being disqualified to adopt. I think I based LGBT issues on what is reported in media, which […]

Substance Abuse Among LGBT

Dating as far back as the 1920's the gay rights movement has slowly fought for the rights and changes that have made the United States what it is today. Beginning from the stonewall riots, to enacting laws against sexual orientation discrimination, as well as the ""Don't ask don't tell policy"" and the landmark supreme court decision Obergefell v. Hodges, that extended the right for same sex couples to marry nationwide. All of these are just some of the most progressive […]

What it Means to be Transgender

Being transgender is a very controversial topic. Some people say being transgender bad and that your commiting a sin, some people say it's alright and to do what you feel what's right as long as you're being true to yourself, and other people just don't care. I believe being transgender is not good or bad. But the question being asked, is transgender good or bad? This not the real question, the real question that people are asking is transgender a […]

Gay Bullying: Bullying in LGBTQ Students

In the past ten years an overwhelming amount of students have come out to say that they are some form of LGBTQ. According to the center of disease control roughly 1.3 million high school students identify as LGBTQ. These students face turmoil and outright discrimination in school. The widely used acronym stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender etc. While repetitive bullying has occasionally lead to self mutilation or suicide, bullying in LGBTQ teens make both of these occurrences significantly more […]

How are LGBT+ People Portrayed in the Media?

How gay men and lesbians are presented in the media has been one of the most abundant areas of analysis and research within homosexual studies as well as a queer theory since the 1970s (Gudelunas). Although in a relatively recent area of study, this work is considered essential for a better understanding of how a modern gay and lesbian identity was shaped, reflected, and at times ignored by mainstream media (Hoffman). In the United States and soon to be everywhere […]

The LGBT Subculture – Same-Sex Attraction

The LGBT subculture refers the same-sex attraction. Individuals who belong in this subculture include Lesbians (females attracted to other females), Gays (males attracted to other males), Bisexuals (people attracted to both same and opposite sexes), and Transgenders (people who have undergone sex change). The LGBT subculture is among the minorities within society due to discrimination from individuals who are against the LGBT society. Individuals who belong to the LGBT subculture are vulnerable as they face the risk of being attacked […]

Self Esteem Among the LGBT

Abstract This study observed how self-esteem is seen among those who are a part of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community. At times it will be referred to as LGBTQ which includes queer as well. Data from multiple studies on each part of the LGBT was studied to see if self-esteem is affected. Minority stress scales, self-esteem scales, mindfulness acceptance, and family and friends were looked at to see if any of those might influence stress. Self-esteem is […]

Transgenders in the Church

As the issue of gender identity and how to handle it has become more prevalent over the recent years, churches in the United States have been forced to make decisions about their ideologies regarding these individuals. As was the case with homosexuals before them, transgender and non-binary persons have long faced discrimination from religious groups, in large part due to the church struggling with how the concept of transgender persons fits in with the traditional idea of the creation of […]

LGBTQ Representation in Media

The representation of LGBTQ people in mainstream media in recent years has been questioned for some time now. In a 2017 InStyle article Alim Kheraj unfolds the findings of GLAAD Studio Responsibility Index- GLAAD being a media monitoring organization with the mission of holding media outlets accountable for their representation of LGBTQ people. Kheraj points out that major productions studios, who reach massive audiences globally, fail to represent queer people, especially those who don’t identify as lesbian or gay as […]

LGBT Employment Discrimination

Abstract Diversity at workplace has been an important agenda to be achieved by most of the organizations. Legally India has taken many steps in this area to identify the rights of LGBT community. Discrimination and the fear of discrimination is an important concern among the minorities at workplace. They get ignored and ill-treated by the other employees for their sexual preference. Nevertheless progress have been made in this sector and organizations have developed many policies to protect the rights of […]

Inequality and Discrimination LGBTQ Face

Hugo Lopez SOCI 1306 April 7, 2019 M. Laurel-Wilson Inequality and Discrimination LGBTQ Individuals Face Ever since early ages, LGBTQ individuals have been coping with discrimination. The severity of the issue varies from lynching to even avoiding sitting right next to them. These issues can also vary from public spaces (train station, school, bus), to even their workplace, and even at home where they do not get support from their family. Having to face this discrimination daily is why so […]

Inclusive Sex Education for Lgbt in Schools

As a person of color and sister of two gay brothers, I have been deeply concerned of the topic of inclusion of all type of minority groups, especially those in the LGBT community. For many years they have been treated as outsiders of societal standards and living with constant fear that they will be next in line to being stoned to death. We hear and see in the news of LGBT individuals who have been physically attacked or killed for […]

Disenfranchised Transgender People of Color Current Events

Ever present and always relevant, transgender issues deserve a lot of traction and there is this excelling push for reformation. Nonetheless, passionate hearts, old and young continue to fight for their own. Whether you are an ally or personally affected, the drive for change still remains. I, myself, a member of the LGBTQIA also referred as Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual community, proud representative of the “B” and as a woman of color I am fully aware […]

LGBT Adoption Rights

The LGBT community in America has come a long way in recent years. In June of 2015, President Barack Obama announced to the public that The United States Supreme Court struck down all state laws banning same-sex marriage. A similar law was passed that prohibited businesses from discriminating against potential or current employees due to their sexual or romantic orientation. It was a huge step forward for the LGBT community. More americans were able to express their true selves, without […]

LGBTQ Rights and the Labeling Theory

Hello Katie. Thank you for sharing your post. I like how you incorporated Greek cultures concept of sexuality. In fact history and culture have been very influential in how human sexuality is perceived. I like how your post talks about "The Label Theory" you state in your post "There is a theory called the "Label Theory" and it basically states that "people come to identify and behave in ways that reflect how others label them". This is definitely a challenge for […]

Oppression in the LGBTQ Community

The LGBTQ community in America has been faced with discrimination for decades. This discrimination is called heterosexism. The LGBTQ community has a long history of being attacked both physically and verbally by heterosexual communities that want to oppress their rights. The oppression of the LGBTQ community has been going on for several decades, and there is still very apparent hatred towards the group and its allies. The LGBTQ community and their allies have faced discrimination in their everyday lives, even […]

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<h2>How to Write an Essay About LGBT</h2> <h3>Understanding the LGBT Community</h3> <p>Before writing an essay about the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) community, it's important to understand the history, struggles, and achievements of this group. The LGBT community represents a diverse range of identities and experiences, and it's crucial to recognize the complexity and nuances within this community. Begin your essay by defining what LGBT stands for and discuss the evolution of the community and its identity over time. It's also important to acknowledge the historical context of LGBT rights, including the challenges faced and the milestones achieved in the fight for equality and acceptance.</p> <h3>Developing a Thesis Statement</h3> <p>A strong essay on the LGBT community should be anchored by a clear, concise thesis statement. This statement should present a specific viewpoint or argument about the LGBT community. For example, you might discuss the impact of legal recognition of same-sex marriage, analyze the representation of LGBT individuals in media, or explore the challenges faced by transgender individuals. Your thesis will guide the direction of your essay and provide a structured approach to your analysis.</p> <h3>Gathering Supporting Evidence</h3> <p>To support your thesis, gather evidence from a variety of sources, including academic research, historical documents, and current news articles. This might include data on LGBT rights and public opinion, studies on the psychological impact of societal acceptance or rejection, or examples of LGBT representation in popular culture. Use this evidence to support your thesis and build a persuasive argument. Be sure to consider various perspectives and address potential counterarguments to your thesis.</p> <h3>Analyzing Challenges and Progress</h3> <p>Dedicate a section of your essay to analyzing both the challenges faced by the LGBT community and the progress made over the years. Discuss issues such as discrimination, mental health, and societal acceptance, as well as the successes in legal rights and increased visibility and representation. Explore how these challenges and achievements vary across different cultures and countries, highlighting the global aspect of LGBT issues.</p> <h3>Concluding the Essay</h3> <p>Conclude your essay by summarizing the main points of your discussion and restating your thesis in light of the evidence provided. Your conclusion should tie together your analysis and emphasize the significance of understanding and supporting the LGBT community. You might also want to suggest areas for future research, policy development, or social action to continue advancing LGBT rights and acceptance.</p> <h3>Reviewing and Refining Your Essay</h3> <p>After completing your essay, review and refine it for clarity and coherence. Ensure that your arguments are well-structured and supported by evidence. Check for grammatical accuracy and ensure that your essay flows logically from one point to the next. Consider seeking feedback from peers, educators, or experts in LGBT studies to further improve your essay. A well-written essay on the LGBT community will not only demonstrate your understanding of the topic but also your ability to engage with complex social and cultural issues.</p>

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20 LGBTQ Collections of Poetry, Short Stories, and Essays

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Some of our favorite new collections of short-form writing by queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming authors.

Almost Home by Madison Kuhn, the Instagram-famous poet and author of Please Don't Go Before I Get Better , is a mesmerizing new collection of poems and prose exploring the meaning and concept of "home," and the process of discovering it within one's self. At 23, Kuhn had already lived in 24 places. Almost Home is her attempt to reconcile her feelings of displacement in the world and achieve at least an emotional and spiritual sense of permanence and stability. Told from the framework of a figurative house, from front porch to bedroom, Kuhn takes you on a spellbinding journey through some of the most intimate parts of her life -- from childhood traumas to learning how to give and receive love. (Gallery Books) -- DG

We Still Leave a Legacy by Philip Robinson is a moving collection of verses by the award-winning poet and well-known activist, dedicated to his own friends and loved ones who transitioned from this world due to HIV/AIDS, cancer, or some other life-altering, debilitating condition. The Black gay writer actually began writing the book nearly 30 years ago when he started his lasting role as a volunteer and activist for HIV/AIDS causes. This touching memoriam, now available in paperback, lovingly gives honor to the many in Robinson's life who were gone from this realm too soon. (We Still Leave a Legacy Press) -- DG

Lord of the Butterflies by Andrea Gibson, the renowned queer spoken-word poet, is a captivating collection of writings that take a delicately nuanced and artistic look at gender, love, heartbreak, and family -- in addition to being a book of protest. Within her exciting prose, Gibson fiercely tackles some of today's most pressing and controversial issues as a society. Whether she's lashing out at gun violence, homophobia, or white supremacy, the winner of the first Women of the World Poetry Slam in 2008 goes right for the jugular with her powerful and unapologetic style. (Button Poetry) -- DG

Boss Broad by Megan Volpert, the acclaimed queer feminist teacher, poet, and author, is a new collection of over 40 of her most riveting poems in which she creatively utilizes iconic pop-culture references, from Bruce Springsteen lyrics to Steven Colbert and Patti Smith mentions. "I like working behind enemy lines to knock down powerful, sinister people," Volpert recently told Arts ATL . "In their place, I put queer feminism with splashy, campy, rock 'n' roll attitude." Don't miss out on this timely and exciting commentary that flips the script on an antiquated, patriarchal mindset with brilliant, insightful results. (Sibling Rivalry Press) -- DG

Aviva-No by Shimon Adaf, originally written in Hebrew, is a small collection of poems that artfully combines contemporary Hebrew, Arabic, and Old Armaic languages with ancient biblical, Talmudic, and Rabbinic text. Much of the prose focuses on Adaf's perspective as a member of Israeli society and the daily violence he's witnessed, as well as his sister's untimely death at 43. Now carefully translated into English (alongside its original Hebrew) by Yael Segalovitz in this new paperback edition, all can devour Adaf's often surreal and though-provoking writings. (Alice James Books) -- DG

Feed by Native-American poet Tommy "Teebs" Pico continues to prove his mastery of longform poetry with his fourth installment in a series of short books ( IRL , Nature Poem , and Junk ) that carry on a single narrative. In the semi-autobiographical series, we've seen the narrator through an intense love affair, and its eventual demise. Now in Feed , we witness our protagonist struggle with the aftermath of these events, mixing authentically modern cultural touchstones with thoughts of deep introspection. And lots of humor. Focusing on his relationships with culture and food, or lack thereof due to his post-colonization existence as an Indigenous person, Pico delivers an insightful, often hilarious, and too-rarely-told perspective of modern Native American life. (Tin House Books) -- DG

Frame of Mind: Punk Photos and Essays from Washington D.C. and Beyond, 1997-2017 photographed by Antonia Tricarico captures the gritty heart and soul of the late '90s punk scene in all its sweaty, raging glory. Focusing on bands born out of the D.C. area -- like Fugazi, Deep Lust, Lungfish, and Stinking Lizaveta -- this decadent coffee table book also features dozens of bands and artists (L7, Babes in Toyland) beyond the D.C. demographic who have drawn inspiration from this particular sect of punk. Though the photos feature artists of all genders, the fascinating essays that accompany them were penned by an impressive roster of women in rock (Joan Jett, Alice Bag, and Lori Barbero, to name a few). These writings, alongside renowned rock photographer Tricarico's unforgettably visceral images, make you feel like you've won the ultimate backstage pass. (Akashic Books) -- DG

Delicate Tiger. Ferocious Snowflake. by Christopher Soden is a carefully chosen selection of the famed critic's reviews of theatrical productions. Whereas other reviewers often focus almost primarily on what did or did not work in a staging, Soden approaches from a different point of view. His perspective focuses instead on what he finds uplifting in a production, with purpose as much as execution. As a result, his reviews are less an attempt to shape reaction to a particular performance as much it is to subtly realign the perspective and perception in general of the audience. This unique view of the reviewer as a more priest than judge has endeared him to both his devoted readers as well as the professionals who stage the productions. In addition to teaching and writing reviews, Soden's Queer Anarchy performance piece won the Dallas Voice 's award for Best Stage Performance. (Lulu) -- Donald Padgett

Step Lightly by Kendall Klym, PhD, is a powerhouse collection of 15 short stories exploring the art of dance, movement, and the ongoing journey of connecting our hearts, souls, and bodies. A former professional ballet dancer, Klym channels the power of self-expression through dance in an array of human tales -- from an amateur ballerina in her 40s who forms a bond with her dance class, to a woman with a broken marriage whose newfound love for belly dancing sparks a sexual awakening, to a fantasy tale of a magical dessert that summons the ghost of legendary Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova to anyone who eats it. The award-winning storyteller's debut short story collection tickles the imagination while encouraging us to form a better relationship with our bodies. (Livingston Press) -- David Artavia

Running Upon the Wires by Kate Tempest secures the 34-year-old poet's place as one of the greatest young writers today. An incredibly personal collection of poems divided into three parts (The End, The Middle, and The Beginning) is a special experiment crafted beautifully by Tempest to show that love, the driving theme in the book, knows no direction. Her intuitive craftsmanship is on display in various forms of ballads, formal lyrics, and a bit of impetuousness laid out in the form of fragmented sentences beautifully written to represent peace within chaos. A true wordsmith, the London-born poet, playwright, and spoken word performer has managed to create a piece of work that stays ingrained in your mind long after putting it down. (Bloomsbury Publishing) -- DA

The Moth Presents Occasional Magic: True Stories About Defying the Impossible edited by Catherine Burns brings everything we love about the acclaimed radio show and podcast, The Moth , into a suspenseful written narrative. Burns, The Moth 's long-time artistic director, brought together people from across the globe to offer their tales of when they had to face the odds, and won. All stories were handpicked from the best narratives ever told on the hit show, meticulously translated for the page. A true emotional ride from start to finish, Occasional Magic will make you laugh, cry, and ponder about how fascinating humankind really is. (Crown Archetype) -- DA

Whereas is Layli Long Soldier's debut collection of poetry highlighting the cultural erasure of Native Americans by the United States. Its unapologetically strident and evoking language shines a light on the broken promises and evolving barriers the government has placed on Native tribes for centuries. Originally published in 2017 and now available in paperback, the Oglala Sioux author's collection of poems is still relevant today and is beautifully expressed through complex historical narratives. The winner of the 2016 Whiting Writers' Award, Long Soldier's work justifiably raises our level of consciousness to new heights. (Graywolf Press) -- DA

Heed the Hollow is Malcolm Tariq's captivating collection of poetry beautifully examining what it means to simply... be. More specifically, the poet explores the full scope of how to rebuild ourselves from the in and out, to be full while at the same time being hollow, to be aware of our humanity, our Blackness, our sexuality, while at the same acknowledging our past, present, future, and what it all means. With deeply moving metaphors and sharp imagery with backdrops of the American South, Tariq plants an emotional seed that dares us to examine our history while remaining conscious of our present path. (Graywolf Press) -- DA

This Wound Is a World by Billy-Ray Belcourt is an anthology of poems from Canada's first First Nations Rhodes Scholar. Describing himself as "one of those hopeless romantics who wants every blowjob to be transformative," his poems upset genre and effortlessly play with form. They pave a path for a new perspective and interpretation on queer and decolonial theory, and Indigenous poetry in Native America. His words leap from the page as they challenge coloniality of the present, and the tyranny of sexual and racial norms. Equal parts manifesto and memoir, This Wound Is a World is an introspective call to turn to love and sex to understand the plight of Indigenous peoples, and offer a path to dealing with sadness and pain without sacrificing history and identity. Belcourt is from the Driftpile Cree Nation and has won numerous awards for his poetry. (University of Minnesota Press) -- DP

Black Light by Kimberly King Parsons is a lush, gritty, dark, and delicious collection of short stories by the award-winning writer. Told with wit, style, and unapologetic honesty, Parsons's writings unearth the places deep within ourselves that most of us prefer would remain buried. From describing cool, indifferent family dinners to hot-blooded trysts at a Texas pay-by-hour motel, Parsons creates vivid scenes most can relate to at some point or other in their lives, whether they'd like to admit it or not. Queer feminist author and critic Carmen Maria Machado ( Her Body and Other Parties ) called the stories in Black Light "grimy and weird, surprising, [and] utterly lush." (Penguin Random House) -- DG

Dearest Lenny: Letters from Japan and the Making of the World Maestro by Mari Yoshihara offers a fresh perspective on the life of world-renowned classical musician Leonard Bernstein. Through never-before-seen letters from two relatively unknown Japanese individuals, readers get an intimate peak into the famous maestro's personal life and relationships. One of the individuals in question was Kazuko Amano, a woman who started sending Bernstein fan letters in 1947 and grew to become a close family friend. The second set of letters were from Kunihiko Hashimoto, a young man who fell in love with Bernstein in the late '70s and eventually became his business representative. Through reading these beautifully written letters, one can see the powerful impact and influence the man, and his music, had on those around him. (Oxford University Press) -- DG

Allen Ginsberg: South American Journals (January-July 1960) edited by Michael Schumacher is the second of a three-volume series of Ginsberg's personal journals (the first volume being Iron Curtain Journals and the final volume, The Fall of America Journals , is forthcoming). Ginsberg went to South America in 1960 to attend a literary conference and ended up staying for an adventuresome six months. Writing more during this period than in any of his other journals, the great Beat poet's entries are peppered throughout with poetry, notes on his dreams, and other random existential thoughts and ideas. In the South American Journals, Ginsberg recounts his travels through Chile, Peru, particularly his visit to Machu Picchu, and his quest for the source of ayahuasca (also called yage ) -- a natural hallucinogen made from local vine that was recommended by his friend and fellow adventurer, William S. Burroughs. (University of Minnesota Press) -- DG

Nonbinary Memoirs of Gender and Identity edited by Micah Rajunov and Scott Duane is a collection of first-person narratives that explore the lives of individuals across the gender spectrum. The book is divided into five sections ranging from stories that help define our concepts of gender and representation to the development of community and a greater acceptance in the mainstream. The reader will find plenty with which to connect and identify. There are stories dealing with self-realization and coming out, creating one's own person, learning how to stand up, and also stand out. Contributors to Nonbinary Memoirs reads like a who's-who list of LGBTQ , trans, and genderqueer icons -- including activist and author (and the first to coin the term "gender queer") Riki Williams, journalist S.E. Smith, scholar Genny Beemyn, author and social media personality Jeffrey Marsh, poet Christopher Soto, and many others. The voices given agency here speak to everyone who has ever questioned their identity and the rigid roles assigned to them by a non-accepting society. (Columbia University Press) -- DP

Evolution by Eileen Myles, now in paperback, is a collection of the writer's lively and wonderfully creative poems. From the author of the wildly inventive and critically acclaimed Afterglow , a clever dog memoir, comes a fresh collection of vivid prose that conjures everything from exotic imagery of far-off travels to everyday walks through Marfa, Texas, with Honey the pitbull. Don't miss this latest treasure from the queer, award-winning poet who prefers they/them pronouns and has authored over 20 books, including Chelsea Girls and Cool for You . (Grove Paperback) -- Desiree Guerrero

Disintegrate/Dissociate by Arielle Twist, a Cree, Two-Spirit, trans femme poet and sex educator whom you may know from a widely circulated piece for Them on what it's like to be an Indigenous trans woman on Thanksgiving. This impressive debut collection of Twist's poetry was initially part of Arsenal Pulp Press's series of works exclusively written by queer BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) writers. In Disintegrate/Dissociate , she delves into the intricacies of being human, not shying away from topics like death and transformation. With sparse yet powerful words, Twist's poems explore the depths of grief, trauma, displacement, and identity -- both cultural and sexual. Balancing her rage with delicacy and tenderness, she navigates through what it means to be an Indigenous trans woman in our modern world. "With few words, she conveys so much about the legacies of colonization, the terror of transmisogyny, and the colossal force of them both," said Alok Vaid-Menon, transfeminine activist author of Femme in Public , adding, "In a political moment hell-bent on erasing Indigenous trans voices, Twist's Disintegrate/Dissociate is here to stay." -- DG

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How Are LGBT Youths Affected by Discrimination and What Can Schools Do to Help?

This essay shows how discrimination leads to increased high school drop out rates for LGBT youths and, of greater concern, increased rates of suicide and substance abuse.

Gaell Jocelyn-Blackman

In this paper, I will discuss the different types of discrimination that LGBT youths are faced with and the effects on these youths. The paper will elaborate on the severe impacts on LGBT youths not only caused by discrimination but also due to lack of support and guidance. The paper will also discuss the roles of the parents and schools in helping minimize discrimination against LGBT youths. This paper will also hopefully instruct schools and parents to accept and support gay students rather than add to the discrimination that they already face. Doing so will reduce the high school drop out rate and most importantly the youth suicide rate. In essence, the purpose of this research paper is to identify the different effects on LGBT youths due to discrimination and to explore various actions that can and should be taken by schools and parents to help these youths live a normal and happy life. Therefore, my target audience is the school system as well as the parents of LGBT youths.

Suicide is the leading cause of death among gay and lesbian youths. Gay and lesbian youths are 2 to 6 times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual youth. Over 30% of all reported teen suicides each year are committed by gay and lesbian youths. . . . Gays and lesbians are at much higher risk than the heterosexual population for alcohol and drug abuse. Approximately 30% of both the lesbian and gay male populations have problems with alcohol. Gay and lesbian youth are at greater risk for school failure than heterosexual children. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1989, as cited in “Today’s Gay Youth,” n.d., n.p.)
Substantially higher proportions of homosexual people use alcohol, marijuana or cocaine than is the case in the general population. (McKirnan & Peterson, 1989, as cited in “Today’s Gay Youth,” n.d., n.p.)
Approximately 28% of gay and lesbian youths drop out of high school because of discomfort (due to verbal and physical abuse) in the school environment. (Remafedi, 1987, as cited in “Today’s Gay Youth,” n.d., n.p.)
Gay and lesbian youths’ discomfort stems from fear of name calling and physical harm. (Eversole, n.d, as cited in “Today’s Gay Youth,” n.d., n.p.)

M any people are guilty of discrimination against LGBT youths, whether consciously or unconsciously. LGBT youths are faced with daily discrimination from society, peers, family and even school teachers and administrations. The above statistics not only show that LGBT youths lack support and guidance but also prove how much these youths are clearly affected, in more ways than one, by discrimination. Cole (2007) mentions that there is a higher rate of abuse, neglect, and discrimination against LGBT youths than straight youths. I believe that most parents would prefer their children to be straight than to be gay, and most school officials also prefer straight students over gay students. This preference could be a contributing factor in discrimination against LGBT youths. This paper will hopefully capture the attention of parents and schools and perhaps help modify their outlook on LGBT youths. Fundamentally, I will attempt to answer the following questions throughout the paper: What are the effects of discrimination against LGBT youths? What is the role of the parents? What is the role of the schools? How can parents and schools work together to help minimize discrimination against LGBT youths? What more can be done? Before answering those questions, I will start by addressing the types of discrimination that LGBT youths are faced with.

Types of Discrimination

Some of the comments that LGBT youths are faced with are as follows: “I hate gays. They should be banned from this country;” “Get away from me, you faggot. I can’t stand the sight of you;” “These queers make my stomach turn.” Those are only a few of the biased statements that LBGT youths are faced with in society. According to Cole (2007), the word “faggot” is often used by anti-gay peers to terrorize LGBT youths. Words such as “faggot” or “gay” are sometimes used in a negative sense to express something either stupid or uncool (Human Rights Watch, 2001, p.35). When that occurs, it shows an even greater sign of discrimination against LGBT youths. I noticed that these words are not only used in the real world but also in movies and TV shows which makes it harder for LGBT youths to deal with. In addition to the discrimination from society and their peers, LGBT youths also endure discrimination from home/families and particularly schools.

“Today’s Gay Youth: The Ugly, Frightening Statistics” (n.d.) reports that one half of LGBT youths are neglected by their parents because of their sexual preference and approximately a quarter of LGBT youths are mandated to leave their homes. Cole (2007) explains that rejected LGBT youths generally do not learn how to build a relationship with peers or families. As a result, it creates a state of loneliness and isolation for them. Some LGBT youths are both verbally and physically abused by parents (“Today’s Gay Youth,” n.d.). In addition, roughly about 40% of youths that are homeless are classified as LGBT youths. The same article shows 27% of male teenagers who classified themselves as gay or bisexual left home due to quarrels with family members over their sexuality. Needless to say, parents and families play a big part in discrimination against LGBT youths and the effects that it has on them.

Nevertheless, it appears that the majority of the discrimination against LGBT youths emanates from the schools that they attend. Are schools taking any actions to minimize discrimination against gay students? What are they doing to help these adolescents? The following quote is an explicit example of how schools can contribute to discrimination against LGBT youths:

I took a call from one sixteen-year-old who came out to his counselor. The only other person he’d told was his friend in California. The counselor said, “I can’t help you with that.” After he left, the counselor called his mother to make sure she knew. The youth went home that night not knowing that he’d been outed to his parents. Sitting around the dinner table, his mother said to him, “I got a call from the school counselor today. We’re not going to have any gay kids in this family.” His father took him outside and beat him. (as cited in Human Rights Watch, 2001, p.106)

Human Rights Watch (2001) also reports that the same youth was harassed by his peers once they found out about his sexuality. At this point he turned to suicide, but was fortunately taken in by a family member who lived out of state where he finished school (p. 106). In the mentioned quote, the sixteen-year-old student did not get any support from his school guidance counselor or his parents. If his own school and parents would not give him any guidance or support, who else could he turn to? What is the alternative? This example could be a common concern throughout the world, where LGBT youths are not comfortable with their gender at school at home. Consequently, they are faced with an alternative which is rarely a positive one. The alternatives that they face may include depression, substance abuse, violence, and even suicide.

Effects of Discrimination

LGBT youths endure hostile verbal and physical harassment that can be excruciating for them (Human Rights Watch, 2001, p. 35). Human Rights Watch (2001) also states that although the youths that were interviewed emphasized their fear of physical and sexual assault, being called words like “faggot,” “queer,” or “dyke,” daily is still destructive (p.35).

One young gay youth who had dropped out of an honors program angrily protested, “just because I am gay doesn’t mean I am stupid,” as he told of hearing “that’s so gay” meaning “that’s so stupid,” not just from other students but from teachers in his school. (Human Rights Watch, 2001, p. 35)

Over 25% of LGBT youths are high school drop outs because of the discrimination they are faced with in the school atmosphere (“Today’s Gay Youth,” n.d.). The article also states the LGBT youths have a greater risk of academic failure than heterosexual students. Furthermore they don’t get involved much in student activities and have very little dedication to the school’s agendas because school isn’t a safe, healthy, or productive learning environment. Therefore, LGBT youths make an attempt to live, work, and learn with continuous fear of physical assault at school (“Today’s Gay Youth,” n.d.).

Physical abuse against LGBT youths usually occurs due to disregarded harassment (Human Rights Watch, 2001, p. 42). Human Rights Watch (2001) says that the number of physical assaults that were reported by interviewed LGBT youths had an enormous psychological impact on them, mainly because the physical abuse followed constant verbal and non-physical harassment that was overlooked by school officials (p. 42). For example, a lesbian student reported that several months of harassment and verbal threats grew to physical abuse. “‘I got hit in the back of the head with an ice scraper.’ By that point, she said she was so used to being harassed. ‘I didn’t even turn around to see who it was’” (Human Rights Watch, 2001, p. 42). Another incident mentioned by Human Rights Watch (2001) involved a tenth grade gay youth who was hit in the back of the neck with a beer bottle. He literally had to crawl to the nearest friend’s house for immediate assistance. The same youth was beaten up in the seventh grade by a couple of anti-gay kids (p. 42). One last example entails another gay youth who first suffered from verbal assault and students throwing items at him. Subsequently, a group of anti-gay students strangled him with a drafting line so bad that it cut him. Later that school year the youth was dragged down a flight of stairs and cut with knives by his classmates (Human Rights Watch, 2001, p. 42). Fortunately, he lived to talk about it.

Human Rights Watch (2001) implies that verbal and physical violence is a tension that LGBT youths have gotten accustomed to; however, it is damaging to their psychological wellbeing (p. 68). Many of the LGBT youths interviewed by Human Rights Watch (2001) reported signs of depression such as: “sleeplessness, excessive sleep, loss of appetite, and feeling of hopelessness”(p. 69). One reported incident involved a gay youth who could not take it anymore. He started to skip school so that he would not have to put up with the harassment anymore. He stayed at home all day and ended up missing fifty-six days of school. The youth explained, “‘It was mentally and physically stressful for me to go to that school. I remember going home and waking up in the morning just dreading it; dreading the fact that I would have to go back to that school’” (as cited in Human Rights Watch, 2001, p. 69). Other youths reported that even when the harassment was not addressed directly toward them, they were affected by it. One youth implied that discrimination and harassment makes him feel like he is backed up into a corner and so sad that he wants to cry (Human Rights Watch, 2001, p. 69). It is no wonder LGBT youth turn to drugs, alcohol, and suicide.

Cole (2007) claims that discrimination against LGBT youths can create repression along with a deficiency in their natural growth. Discrimination also has a social and emotional impact on them. Instead of being social individuals, LGBT youths remain in the closet and hide. The loneliness that they bear can turn into depression which often leads to substance abuse or even suicide. LGBT youths have greater chances of alcohol and substance abuse than heterosexual youths (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1989, as cited in “Today’s Gay Youth,” n.d.). Also, roughly about one third of LGBT youths have a drinking or drug problem. Human Rights Watch (2001) interviewed some LGBT youths who say that they drink to the point of passing out or to feel good and normal (p. 69). The lack of support from parents or schools can possibly make them feel like there is no hope of ever living a happy life and being productive (Human Rights Watch, 2001, p. 68).

Roles of Parents

50% of all gay and lesbian youths report that their parents reject them due to their sexual orientation. In a study of male teenagers self-described as gay or bisexual, 27% moved away from home because of conflict with family members over sexual orientation. (Remafedi, 1987, as cited in “Today’s Gay Youth,” n.d., n.p.)
26% of gay and lesbian youth are forced to leave home because of conflicts over their sexual orientation. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1989, as cited in “Today’s Gay Youth,” n.d., n.p.)
In a study of 194 gay and lesbian youth, 25% were verbally abused by parents, and nearly 10% dealt with threatened or actual violence. (D’Augelli, 1997, as cited in “Today’s Gay Youth,” n.d., n.p.)
Approximately 40% of homeless youths are identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual. (Eversole, n.d., as cited in “Today’s Gay Youth,” n.d., n.p.)
Service providers estimate that gay, lesbian and bisexual youths make up 20-40% of homeless youth in urban areas. (National Network of Runaway and Youth Services, 1991, as cited in “Today’s Gay Youth,” n.d., n.p.)

It appears that the lack of support, protection, and guidance from family also has a major effect on LGBT youths. Perhaps, if their families were more supportive, the suicide and depression rates of LGBT youths would be moderately less. I believe that parents should embrace their children no matter what their sexual preference is. For an adolescent, I think that family should be the primary source for seeking support and guidance. When parents reject their gay or lesbian adolescent, I feel that it can possibly set him or her up for failure. This era is the time when adolescents would need their parents’ love and support the most. I also sense that when LGBT youths don’t get the love and support that they are looking for from parents, it contributes to their state of depression and suicidal phase. Therefore, parents of LGBT youths should take time to reflect on the circumstances before they make the wrong decisions.

One way of showing support would be for the youths’ parents or family to intervene with the school or at least make an attempt like the mother in the following quote:

“The more I talked to teachers, the superintendent, and the principal, the more they just kept throwing up brick walls and trying to convince me I would have to let my son go through this,” Ms. Cooper said. “But no child should have to go through this, whether he’s gay or not. When [bullying] gets to the point where a kid wants to quit school and give up his future, something has to be done.” (Browman, 2001, p. 3)

In the above case, the parent was being supportive to her gay son while the school officials were not. Like many other schools, they choose to ignore the fact that the gay student is being bullied and discriminated against. As mentioned earlier in the paper, that kind of response from schools also contributes to the effects of depression on LGBT youths.

Roles of Schools

“Educators cannot ignore the risks faced by homosexual students, but deciding how to deal with the issue should be a matter of local concern” (Archer, 2002, n.p.). In his article, Archer is stressing that educators must address discrimination against gay students and must put aside their personal views to create a safe environment for these students. In her article, Browman (2001) also talks about the lack of attention from school teachers and administrators toward gay discrimination and harassment. Browman (2001) acknowledges the educational effect on LGBT youths due to constant harassment in school. A very interesting point that was made in this article is, if a student makes a racial comment in school, he or she gets punished. So why should remarks like “dyke,” “fag,” or “queer” be acceptable? Are those words equal to the same level of discrimination as making a racial comment? The article advises that the problem of discrimination or harassment can be addressed at the verbal stage before it gets to the physical point or causes the youth’s academic learning to be harmed (Browman, 2001). The article continues to imply that teachers and administrators often fail to cease discrimination or harassment against LGBT youth. They are either afraid of facing prejudice from others or perhaps even because of their own prejudice (Browman, 2001). The article also suggests a way to express to all students that harassment or discrimination against LGBT students will not be tolerated. Consequences such as school conduct codes and discipline policies should be established as well as anti-harassment rules (Browman, 2001).

Browman (2001) reports that Human Rights Watch completed a two-year study on the topic where an immediate response was obtained from educational groups such as: The National Education Association, The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Educational Alliance, and The American Federation of Teachers. The three groups adhered in influencing the Education Department to defend and protect gay and lesbian students from discrimination. They add that schools are making an effort to create a safe environment for all students where they can all be treated with equal respect and dignity. Accordingly, the department fights to provide the schools with information and guidance to help solve the problem of discrimination against LGBT youths (Browman, 2001).

Furthermore, New York City has made an attempt to come up with a solution that they thought would possibly reduce discrimination against LGBT youths by opening an all-gay school. I see this movement as a possible increase in discrimination against LGBT youths. If they are all put together in one school, how is that helping them deal with discrimination from society, peers and others outside of the school? And how is that teaching anti-gay students not to discriminate against LGBT youths? I don’t think isolation from the rest of the world is the best solution for LGBT youths. They are human beings just like the rest of us and they should be treated accordingly. I agree with what is stated in Browman’s (2001) article about the schools accomplishing all they can to stop discrimination against LGBT youths.

The two primary sources that have the power and ability to diminish discrimination against LGBT youths are schools and parents. In my opinion, they are the ones who have the greatest influence on LGBT youths and in turn have the ability to reduce substance abuse, educational failure, and suicides. Parents and schools need to realize how much they can help diminish the effects of discrimination against LGBT youths if they work together and productively. Clearly, if they remain on the same page they can ease the agony for LGBT youths and help them live a normal and happy life. One method that can be exercised in schools is a homosexual sensitivity training for anti-gay students and school officials. The training would benefit both students and school officials. I think that it would help the school officials manage whatever prejudices they may have against LGBT youths. Since anti-gay bullying students are perhaps ignorant to the subject, schools should modify a system where all students can be educated on the subject. It would probably help the students get a better understanding if homosexuality was compared to other subject matters such as culture and religion. Students should be provided with a full view of the subject just like any other. If this method helps only two out of ten anti-gay students cease discrimination against LGBT students, I am sure that it will make a difference. An additional scheme that should be established is monthly meetings between school officials and parents to review the progress of measures that are already in place.

Before writing this research paper, I never imagined how immensely affected LGBT youths were by discrimination. It is awful what they go through and how most people are clueless or even careless about what these youths endure. LGBT youths are faced with discrimination, torture, and sometimes even execution because of who they love, how they look, or who they are. I believe that sexual orientation and gender identity are integral aspects of ourselves and should never lead to discrimination or abuse. Doing this research not only made me realize the intense discrimination suffered by LGBT youths but also had an impact on me. This research has made me want to advocate for more laws and policies to help protect LGBT youths. I have gained a ton of information and knowledge during this process. However, if my readers obtain half of the valuable information that I have obtained, I know that I have accomplished my task.

Archer, J. (2002, February). Local schools must address safety for gays. Education Week, 21 (23), 3. Retrieved October 12, 2007, from EBSCO Host database.

Browman, D. H. (2001, June). Report says schools often ignore harassment of gay students. Education Week, 20 (39), 5. Retrieved October 12, 2007, from EBSCO Host database.

Cole, S. (2007, April). Protecting our youth. Edge . Retrieved October 31, 2007, from www.edgeboston.com

Human Rights Watch (2001). Hatred in the hallways. NY: Human Rights Watch.

Today’s gay youth: The ugly, frightening statistics (n.d.). Retrieved October 31, 2007, from www.pflagphoenix.org

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essays on lgbtq

  • HISTORY & CULTURE

From LGBT to LGBTQIA+: The evolving recognition of identity

As society’s understanding of diverse sexual identities and gender expressions has grown more inclusive, so has the acronym used to describe them.

October is LGBT History Month. Or, as some might say, LGBTQ History Month. Or even LGBTQIA+ History Month.

The terms for the community of people that encompasses people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual are as broad as that community itself: As society’s understanding, recognition, and inclusion of diverse sexual identities and gender expressions has grown, so has its acronym.

( Subscriber exclusive: Read our January 2017 issue dedicated to the shifting landscape of gender .)

Here’s a look at how that evolution has happened—and why it’s all but certain the term will continue to change.

How lesbianism got its name

Out of all the letters in the acronym LGBTQ, the L was the first to come into existence. For centuries, the word had been associated with the works of Sappho, an ancient Greek woman from the island of Lesbos who wrote poems about same-gender passion.

The oldest use of the term to describe same-gender love has been traced back to the 17th century. But its modern use emerged in the 1890s, when it was used in an English-language medical dictionary and a variety of books on psychology and sexuality. Over time, it grew in popularity and was adopted by women who secretly, then proudly, loved other women.

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The dawn of “homosexuality” and “bisexuality”.

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, a 19th century German lawyer and writer who may have identified as gay, was the first to try to label his own community. As early as 1862, he used the term “Urning” to refer to men who were attracted to men. “We Urnings constitute a special class of human gender,” he wrote . “We are our own gender, a third sex.”

essays on lgbtq

But the term was quickly replaced by a word coined by Austro-Hungarian journalist Karoly Maria Kertbeny. In 1869, the Prussian government contemplated adding language that forbade male same-gender sexual activity to its constitution.

In response, Kertbeny wrote a passionate, anonymous open letter to the Prussian minister of justice calling the proposed law “shocking nonsense” and using the word “homosexuality,” which he had previously coined in a private letter to Ulrichs. He also coined the term heterosexual, referring to those who are attracted to people of the opposite gender, and bisexual, which referred to people attracted to both men and women.

Kertbeny’s letter emphasized that same-gender attraction was inborn and challenged prevailing notions that it was shameful and harmful. Early gay rights groups and practitioners of the growing field of psychology eventually adopted the terms.

Gay: Reclaiming a slur

In the late 1960s, activists reclaimed a decades-old slur, “gay.” Throughout the 20th century, same-gender attraction and sexual activity was largely outlawed, and this and other slurs that denigrated LGBTQ+ people were common. Though its origins are murky, “gay” was eventually embraced by men who defied the status quo with open expressions of same-gender love.

Activists also began using other terms like social variant, deviant, and “homophile,” which means “same love,” in an effort to sidestep commonly used slurs, emphasize the loving relationships of same-gender relationships, and protest discriminatory laws. These words were used “as the means whereby individuals could make sense of their own experiences, their active-undergoing of being homosexual in a homophobic environment,” writes sociologist J. Todd Ormsbee.

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By 1980, wrote essayist Edmund White, “gay” had overtaken these other terms for men who are attracted to men. White attributed its growing popularity to the fact that it is “one of the few words that does not refer explicitly to sexual activity.” It was used both to refer to men who love men and anyone who expressed same-gender preference or gender divergence.

“Transgender” becomes part of LGBT

In the 1990s, the longstanding bonds between lesbian, gay, and bisexual people in both daily life and liberation activism led to the widespread adoption of the LGB acronym (lesbian, gay and bisexual).

But it took longer to gain acceptance for another term that is now part of the modern acronym: “transgender.” Though trans people have existed throughout history, the term only came into being in the 1960s. Historians have traced the earliest use of the term to a 1965 psychology textbook, and it was popularized by transfeminine activists like Virginia Prince , who argued that sex and gender are separate entities. As it replaced other terminology that mocked or minimized trans people, “transgender” was increasingly embraced as part of the wider LGBT rights movement and was widespread by the 2000s.

essays on lgbtq

How “queer” became mainstream

More recently, Q has been added to the acronym. In use since at least the 1910s, it was also once a slur used to separate people from a heteronormative society. But “queer” was increasingly used by people within the gay rights movement beginning in the 1990s. Linguist Gregory Coles writes that it “can be read as at once pejorative and honorific,” depending on the speaker’s identity and intention. Scholars largely consider the use of “queer” as one of reclamation.  

( "We are everywhere:" How rural queer communities connect through storytelling .)

Q   also used to stand for “questioning,” as a way to acknowledge those who are exploring their gender or sexual identity. This dual definition points to a larger, ongoing conversation about the meaning of personal identity and whether it’s even appropriate to use umbrella terms like LGBTQ as a shorthand about people’s lived experiences.

An unfinished evolution

Newer appendages to the acronym attempt to embrace an even wider swath of the community. A plus sign, referring to a wide variety of gender identifications and sexual identities, or the initials I (“intersex”) and A (“asexual”) are sometimes added after LGBTQ.

The acronym has its critics, especially among those who argue that no term can ever encompass the entire spectrum of gender and sexual expression. A variety of academic and governmental organizations, including the National Institutes of Health, have recently adopted the term “gender and sexual minority” in an attempt to be even more inclusive.

And it’s all but certain the words people use to describe gender expression and sexual identity will continue to evolve.

“No term is perfect or perfectly inclusive,” wrote a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine committee in a 2020 report. “The beauty of individuality is that self-expression, as well as personal and romantic choices, can manifest in a multitude of ways.”

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Excerpt: Essay on LGBT rights featured in Left, Right and Centre edited by Nidhi Razdan

In this essay, the (in)dignity of our sexualities, activist gautam bhan reiterates that queer politics is not just about the rights of lgbt people but about the larger fight against the patterns of entrenched hierarchy, prejudice and intolerance that continues to bedevil indian society.

There are many lines you can read again and again from the 2009 Delhi High Court judgment — commonly known as the Naz case — that decriminalized same-sex sexual relations in India. Let me give you one that has stayed with me since that day in the courtroom:

The Queer Azaadi March held in Mumbai on February 1, 2014.(Shakti Yadav)

For every individual, whether homosexual or not, the sense of gender and sexual orientation of the person are so embedded . . . that the individual carries this aspect of his or her identity wherever he or she goes. While recognizing the unique worth of each person, the Constitution does not presuppose that the holder of rights is an isolated, lonely and abstract figure possessing a disembodied and socially disconnected self. It acknowledges that people live in their bodies, their communities, their cultures, their places and their times.

essays on lgbtq

Bodies, communities, cultures, places and times. In one sentence, the judges reminded us of what we talk about when we talk about sexuality. Not just sexual orientation or gender identity, meant to be only about some people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Not just something called ‘gay rights’, somehow separated from other intrinsic rights and freedoms. Not even just individual lives lived as if they could exist on islands of freedom.

When they spoke of sexuality, the judges spoke of more than this. They spoke of sexuality as an intimacy both public and private, something we individually possessed but whose life was stitched into what we made together: families, communities, cities, nations. Sexuality as being not just about sex, body, identity and desire, but equally about politics and democracy. Sexuality, they reminded us, can be a powerful litmus test for the possibility of dignity within a constitutional democracy.

As a gay man, this is what I read and heard in Naz: the possibility of, and insistence on, dignity. Sexuality as dignity becomes something else in our hands. It becomes not just about a life free of violence but one of personhood, even of joy. It imagines bodies not just tolerated but loved and desired by ourselves and by others. It speaks of rights not just possessed but practised. It holds choices of ways to live lives that are not just possible but meaningful and feasible, without needing extraordinary courage or immense privilege. It draws spaces from our homes to the public spaces of our cities that can invite and embrace our presence.

When sexuality comes with dignity, we don’t hold our breath so often, whether in fear or regret.

As India turns seventy, what can we say about the possibilities of dignity within our sexualities? In this essay, I offer just two of the many stories one can tell of sexuality in contemporary India. The first is the story of the legal challenge to Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, an 1861 Victorian era law that criminalized ‘voluntary carnal intercourse against the order of nature’ and acted, effectively, as an anti-sodomy statute. The second is a rumination on the Indian city to see what kind of places it offers sexuality, how it holds it, and what it tells us about the possibilities of dignity. These are stories that are both intertwined and distinct, seemingly unconnected but, I will argue, actually deeply imbricated in each other with much to offer us in terms of reading the nation in what seems like another moment of transition and churning.

Activist Gautam Bhan (From Gautam Bhan’s Facebook page)

Moving, Perhaps Forward

In 2015, a student at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru was blackmailed and threatened with being publicly exposed for being gay. When he refused to pay extortion money, the private letters turned into notices pinned on noticeboards on campus. The words were sharp, relentless and inhumane: ‘I think it’s completely shameful, bad, immoral and disgusting. You should go kill yourself. Why do you think it’s illegal to be gay in India?’

For many queer people, this moment is familiar. It is one that many of us have faced or live in constant fear of facing. In some ways, it is the latter that is worse. We live our lives anticipating prejudice. Even before it comes, we are constantly censoring, moving and shaping our lives to evade it or, if we can’t, survive it. Those of us who have the privilege of privacy, scan rooms to find allies, weigh what to tell our doctors, measure out information in our offices and seek safe spaces. Those without this privilege face a much more direct battle to be who they are: an unrelenting and legitimized public violence that falls on working-class bodies in our streets, police stations and public spaces. The law is not the only force behind this violence, but it is an important one. ‘Why do you think,’ the blackmailer asks, ‘it’s illegal to be gay in India?’ When petitioners in the Naz argued that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code played an important part in shrouding our lives in criminality and legitimizing violence, this letter was one of many that we wrote against in our heads.

In 2009, Naz gave many of us — not all, never all, for the law does not have such power by itself — a feeling of complete personhood. This was not just because of the judgment in itself but also because of the kind of judgment it was, the modes of argument, the language it gave us. The judges sought to use the law to build a space around our lives that would embrace, protect, nurture and even love queer people. They never spoke of tolerance. They imagined law at its best, its highest form, as an instrument that would not just protect difference but value it. When they asked us to embrace our ‘constitutional morality’— our morality as citizens, not as individuals — they gave us a way to be democratic, to separate our personal beliefs and our faith from our duties as citizens in a plural, open world. Naz was never just a judgment on gay rights: it was a judgment on dignity, on the possibility of social as well as political equality.

In December 2013, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court overturned Naz. On that day, I remember, it had simply felt difficult to breathe. Naz had seemed to mark a threshold of some kind. Queer struggles had always been much more than the law and more than just one law in particular. Yet, as the battles that had led up to 2009 spilled outward as the judgment’s words travelled outside and beyond the courtroom, it felt impossible to believe that after this one could move — even though hesitantly — anyway but forward. That morning, no other verdict seemed possible. It was. Only one summary sentence was read out and a two-judge Supreme Court bench overturned Naz.

Nidhi Razdan, editor of Left, Right and Centre. (Yogesh Kumar/Hindustan Times )

So what does it look like from within our fears? What has happened since the Supreme Court reversal of Naz? In one sense, it has been extraordinary. The reversal drew widespread condemnation in different forms and sites, from an extraordinary range of voices. The then-ruling government, led by the Indian National Congress, came out for the first time in strong and public support of queer rights as did several other parties including the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Janata Dal (S) and the Aam Aadmi Party. Several parties endorsed sexuality rights in their election manifestos for the 2014 general election, making queer rights a part of every election debate. At the time of the judgment, the attorney general wrote an unprecedented opinion piece in a leading newspaper against the judgment and filed a review petition immediately. Suddenly politics of the party kind became a new battleground for queer rights — something the movement had evaded until now, certain that there was little support to be found. However, another powerful national party — the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — remained steadfast in opposition, and many significant regional parties remained silent.

Yet, it was the support in everyday life that began to show many of us that something had shifted between 2001 when the Naz Foundation filed the petition, 2005 when Voices Against 377 intervened in the case, 2009 when the Delhi High Court ruled and 11 December 2013. The sense in the days post the judgment has been one where a sea of voices has risen against the Supreme Court. One set comes from a generation of urban young people who have come of age in a post-2009 world, a set of political subjects in one sense created by the queer movement of the past decade.

What’s important and a reflection of the movement itself is that the support has come not just from queer people, but across a range of actors, movements and institutions, many of whom had been hesitant friends in the early days of the movement. Progressive groups, state bodies like the National Human Rights Commission, teachers’ associations, professional associations including the medical and mental health establishments, women’s groups, student groups, trade unionists and private companies came out publicly against the judgment. Thousands across the country stood together, repeating the chant that brought together our resistance: ‘No Going Back.’ A week after the judgment, ‘No Going Back’ protests to mark a ‘Global Day of Rage’ took place across thirty-six cities in the world, including seventeen in India. That resistance remains amidst the uncertainty and the fear, unwavering, unafraid. It is that resistance that stands as the legacy of December 2013.

After what should have been a moment of dismissal and closure turned into a moment of beginning, defiance and resistance, I want to believe that efforts to not let the queer movement be reduced to just a legal case against Section 377 have, if only partially, succeeded. The legal journey of the movement looms large at this moment, but the everyday life of our politics has always been about much more — even if the story of that larger politics is less told. Film festivals, workshops, talks and seminars; books, pamphlets, missives, poems, biographies, charters, manifestos; political visions, solidarities with other struggles, protests, pride parades; the creation of social spaces; facing, countering and recovering from acts of violence, blackmail, rape, assault and suicide; engaging with the police, with families, with religious leaders; the judiciary, the state; living open, everyday lives despite the odds, despite the pushback, refusing to stay ‘private’, to stay silent — the 2009 judgment was born not just out of the letter of the law but from this politics that had paved the way for it, that made it possible.

For me, this is — the struggle to change the language and life of sexuality — the legacy of the fight against Section 377. It is not the court case, either in its victory or in its defeat. The communities, cultures and places that Naz reminded us we inhabit are not determined or governed by law alone, just as the victories in law are not made in the courtroom alone. Knowing this, recognizing it, is pivotal.

In February 2016, the Supreme Court once again churned, agreeing in an extraordinary move to reopen Naz. A constitutional bench will now hear a curative petition to decide on the way forward. The legal battle stands reinstated. Yet, regardless of what happens in court, what remains just as true is this: with or without the law, the IISc student wrote back. He pinned a reply on the same noticeboard and spoke about not being ashamed of his sexuality. He reminded us that slowly, even if still incompletely, queer people have begun to win the greatest battle of our lives: we have begun to believe that we have the right to have rights. We have begun to believe that we have the right to dignity, the right to our bodies, the right to be happy. Whether these rights come through law or through struggle, they will come. In a moment, where there are so many who are made to believe that they are redundant and negligible, the value of this cannot be underestimated. You cannot blackmail someone — said the student in his reply pinned with a familiar golden thumb pin on the green felt of the noticeboard — who isn’t ashamed.

Sexuality and the Indian City

I have often wondered what it was that encouraged that student to write back. Somewhere in that moment is a future, a mark of where we want to be. If Naz is right, if we are not disembodied selves, then none of our courage is just our own. It is the public in which we are embedded that makes courage ordinary rather than rare. In public spaces where the norm embraces differences, dignity will not feel like a test. It will not require extraordinary amounts of privilege or courage. For every queer person who writes back to his blackmailer, there are dozens who didn’t, who won’t, who can’t. Our task is not just to celebrate the one who fought, but to create a scenario where the fight won’t be necessary.

Here is where our second story comes up. One that remembers the other lessons from Section 377 — the ones learnt outside the court. One that looks beyond the language of formal rights, institutions and the law. One that takes us back to sexuality in its public life, in the way it shapes the worlds we all must inhabit. The second story then is of one such site where many of us seek to make our lives: the city.

Cities, the story goes, are the roots of civitas and of demos. City, citizens, civility, civilization. Demos, democracy. They are where we come to be modern, cosmopolitan, open to dealing with difference. If sexuality is a test of dignity in our democracy, then our cities are one of its most important examination rooms and battlegrounds. They have been so, globally and in India, often. Let us not forget that Ambedkar rested his fate in the city, seeing it as a site where a new form of life that would shed caste could be possible. His faith is mirrored in much of our sense of urban life: its modes allow and are built on difference, its anonymity a protection. Cities belong to different publics, no single identity, no single way of life, no one sense of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ can dominate a metropolis. It is in such a city that sexuality could, should, must be able to take its different paths, where it can reach for dignity rather than a bare life.

Today in India, our cities often seem silent in the face of this promise. They feel imperilled, distant from their own possibilities. Nowhere is this more evident than when one thinks of sexuality. It is fear, distance, prejudice and intolerance that seem to have dug themselves deeper, just as the institutions and democratic safeguards meant to combat these flounder. The ranks of urban residents who have experienced that deeply queer moment of exclusion and otherness, whether it speaks the particular idiom of sexuality or not, have grown. This matters deeply for sexuality. Queer politics has long insisted that it is not just about the rights of the LGBT people. It has insisted that our multiple identities cannot be pried apart from one another. We are not either Hindu or gay or transgender or Dalit or able or female; we are many or all of them at once. A city that cannot make space for difference and dissent will never be one where queer people can be safe, let alone possess dignity, or attain happiness. A city without a sense of the public — of a shared space, a sense of belonging across difference of all kinds — is and can only be a city of walls, gates and ‘others’.

Bajrang Dal activists threatening a couple at Begum Hazrat Mahal Park on Valentine's Day 2015 in Lucknow. (Sudhanshu Kumar/Hindustan Times)

As I write, the streets of Lucknow are patrolled by antiRomeo squads, seeking to punish love that they can only read in terms of jihad. Love that crosses caste, class or religion is routinely, violently and spectacularly punished. Difference is marked, berated, denied. Universities have become the sites of policing and moral, physical and sexual control. The bodies of African women and men have been brutalized, laid open to legitimized violence in both public and private. People from Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Nagaland have left Bengaluru in midnight trains. The everyday occurrence of sexual violence that women and transgendered people face remains so ordinary that it is often not even recognized as violence until it takes the form of spectacular assault, often death.

The list is endless. We appear to be in our cities, in this historical conjuncture, immeasurably far from dignity, from the possibility of joy. Our fights are still about the barest of life, the right to be free from direct physical violence, to simply be acknowledged, to have the possibility of an encounter unmarked by assumptions and prejudice, to not constantly be on guard, to not constantly hold our breath. Legally winning against Section 377 will just bring queer people into this fight, to have the right at least to begin to fight it — it can do no more.

Why are our cities like this? Behind the incidents of rupture that overcrowd our attention and our outrage, there are patterns. It is those that we need to begin to see. Our cities are deeply divided geographies. All have neighbourhoods, streets and buildings where only those of ‘one kind’ can live, some through power and others through powerlessness. In no Indian city can either law or norm prevent discrimination in being able to rent a house if you step an inch outside marriage, gender norms, religious differences or caste hierarchies. New forms of citymaking seek enclosures, privatize space and create peripheries. Gates rather than streets mark our urban forms, creating spaces where people can only meet as fragments, as others.

Speech feels increasingly censored by force or fear, muzzling both dissent and desire. The political establishment narrows the imagination of what can be said or thought, using the idea of a ‘people’ to exclude rather than open; the imagination of a ‘nation’ to build borders instead of undoing them. A man who asked for the bodies of Muslim women to be exhumed and raped holds a high elected office, another who stood by their sexual and physical erasure holds one higher still. Marital rape remains legal. Sexual violence by the army still claims impunity. In Srinagar, Dantewada and Imphal, no one holds the right to their bodies at all, not even to basic life. Majoritarian power feels emboldened and entitled, the ‘norm’ not a way of life, but simply the way of life. More often than not, such majoritarian thought exercises its power precisely on the bodies, communities, cultures and places that Naz told us we belong to. What does it mean for queer people, any people, to have rights in a moment like this?

It is time we face the patterns of entrenched hierarchy, prejudice and intolerance that have taken hold in our cities. Urbanization has not brought — somehow magically by itself — new forms of social life. It will not until we begin to fight for a new kind of urbanism. Sexuality is never part of the usual discussions on what kind of cities we want. It should be. We will then understand why our newspaper headlines scream what they do, and why these headlines should not surprise us because they, in fact, reflect what we are, what we have let ourselves become.

Dr BR Ambedkar with the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Purshottamdas Thakurdas. (HT Photo)

For those who like to tell the stories through data, here are some. Across 2016–17, the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) surveyed — across the nation — young people aged between fifteen and thirty-four. What they found is the roots of the attitudes that result in the spectacular incidents that draw our outrage but cannot sustain the depths of our inquiry. The survey is stark. Only 4 per cent of young urban residents have married outside their caste. The urban retains caste endogamy, nearly seven decades after Ambedkar’s warning. Nearly 41 per cent agree, in varying degrees, that married women should not work, and 51 per cent think wives should always listen to their husbands. Nearly 75 per cent disapprove of same-sex romantic relationships. For all the incidents we mentioned above, the roots are embedded: nearly 22 per cent express at least some unease about a neighbour from a different religion, 26 per cent about an African neighbour. Nearly half of respondents expressed concern about an unmarried boy and girl living together.

If sexuality is dignity, then its roots are in the quiet everyday of our lives. Once the difference between majority and other, normative and ‘different’ is drawn, the possibility of dignity fades. It will fade, often, into the violence that we can see but this violence is not an agent or an act, it is merely an inevitable outcome. When we look at our cities, we are reminded that these lines of differences are not just between LGBT and ‘others’— difference disrespects such neat categories. It leaks into all our selves and our spaces, shapes the way we encounter and meet each other. It leaks into the possibilities of what we could become.

Where to from Here?

In his last speech to the Constituent Assembly, Ambedkar warned us that the political equality that our Constitution ensures would mean little if the social inequality that marked us was to remain unchanged. His words are well worth quoting at length:

On the 26th of January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognizing the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life?

Today, both his diagnoses and warning feel apt and urgent. The contrasting tales in this essay can be interpreted as political and social equality being related but distinct fights. The fight against Section 377 will bring us more political equality. This is necessary, but not sufficient. The fight for sexuality as dignity cannot be won only through political equality in law and rights. The communities, cultures, places and times we inhabit are where differences take root. It is only in taking on these roots that we can move forward.

LGBT groups in Kolkata protesting against the Supreme Court’s ruling on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalises consensual sexual acts of Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender adults in private. (Ashok Nath Dey/Hindustan Times)

That the roots are intertwined is a truism that is both banal and critical. Our challenge is to find how to fight these roots together, to find ways to take on the entrenchment of difference as inequality and shift its narrative to difference as joy, plurality and multiplicity. I write today to urge us to take the city seriously as a battleground for this struggle, a critical one that will shape much of our futures. Ambedkar’s hope was the cities that could hold the possibility for social equality. He was both right and wrong, but his hope must remain our own aspiration. We cannot cede our cities to an ordering of difference that falls too easily into prejudice, inequality and hierarchies. Doing so, however, means recognizing the terms of this fight. Not just outrage at an incident of sexual violence, not just speaking of LGBT people as if they alone embody sexuality, not pretending that other inequalities — on class, religion, caste and ability — can persist while sexuality somehow changes and morphs into its island of freedom.

The first step then is to recognize all the multiple fractures that break the bodies of our cities today. It is to step away from our self-congratulation on our gains in political equality to face the reality of the entrenchment and deepening of our social inequalities. The second, for those of us who wish to fight this fight from within sexuality, is to give ourselves new language for this fight, to begin seeing sexuality as a fight for dignity and personhood. The third is to grapple slowly, uncertainly and without any promises of easy wins to find ways to take on the differences between us. One way of moving forward that can hold both the needs and demands of social and political equality together is to frame our struggles for new laws and imaginations that protect different communities from discrimination. Antidiscrimination laws remain huge lacunae in our constitutional jurisprudence, and if the fight for them can create new openings that can begin to call out our existing cleavages, they may well be the first move in reimagining our differences.

Each of us will fight this fight in a different way — in our intimate lives, in our communities, in law, in our streets, in our own minds. All of these fights are needed; none of them alone will be enough. Yet, if sexuality can tell us one thing about India at seventy, it is that Ambedkar’s fight still remains the battle of our time, and that it is high time that the fight for social equality finally found its place alongside, if not ahead of, political equality.

Gautam Bhan teaches at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, Bengaluru, where his work focuses on urban poverty, inequality and welfare. He has been a part of social movements on gender and sexuality rights in Delhi for many years. He is the author of In the Public’s Interest: Evictions, Citizenship and Inequality in Contemporary Delhi, as well as the co-editor of Because I have a Voice: Queer Politics in India.

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Here Are the Most Targeted Books of 2023

Amid a nationwide surge in book bans, memoirs and novels that deal with the experiences of L.G.B.T.Q. people or explore race received the most challenges.

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An image shows 10 book covers set against a bright blue background.

By Elizabeth A. Harris

The most challenged books in the United States in 2023 continued to focus on the experiences of L.G.B.T.Q. people or explore themes of race, according to a report released Monday by the American Library Association.

Amid an explosion of books bans across the country, the association counted more than 4,200 challenged titles , which is the most in a single year since it began tracking this information more than two decades ago. In the years leading up 2021, when the increase really took off, the average number of titles challenged in a given year was about 275, according to the library association.

“More and more, we’re seeing challenges that say, simply, This book has a gay character, or, This book deals with L.G.B.T.Q. themes, even if it has no sexuality in it,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, the director of the American Library Association’s office for intellectual freedom. “We’re seeing those naked attacks on simply the visibility of and knowledge about L.G.B.T.Q. lives and experiences.”

Traditionally, books were challenged when individual parents raised concerns about a specific book their child had encountered in school, and libraries have long had processes in place so that parents could prevent their children from borrowing books they consider inappropriate.

But organized groups have led the charge in this escalation, challenging large batches of titles and circulating lists online — sometimes including dozens or even hundreds of books — to encourage parents and others to seek them out at their local libraries en masse.

Parents and organizers who have pushed to remove certain titles say they are trying to protect children from stumbling on books that are explicit or inappropriate for their age.

Increasingly, Caldwell-Stone said, these challenges are taking place not only in school libraries but in public libraries as well. According to the library association’s report, 54 percent of the challenges they tracked took place in public libraries.

The report also highlighted efforts to counter book challenges. Some local elections and initiatives have come out against those trying to restrict access to books, federal legislators have held hearings on the subject and those who oppose restricting access to certain books have had some legal victories.

Here are the 10 most challenged books of 2023, along with the reasons they were targeted. Several, including “Gender Queer,” “The Bluest Eye” and “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” have been among the most frequently challenged in previous years.

1. “Gender Queer,” by Maia Kobabe

An illustrated memoir by Kobabe, who is nonbinary, was challenged because it contained L.G.B.T.Q. content and was called sexually explicit.

2. “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” by George M. Johnson

This memoir about the joys and challenges of growing up Black and queer was challenged because of L.G.B.T.Q. content and because it was considered sexually explicit.

3. “This Book is Gay,” by Juno Dawson

A nonfiction book that explores growing as an L.G.B.T.Q. person and includes topics like sex and stereotypes, this was challenged because it included L.G.B.T.Q. content, which was considered sexually explicit.

4. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky

This best-selling book for young adults is about a high school freshman in the suburbs in the 1990s. It was challenged for its L.G.B.T.Q. content, as well as its inclusion of profanity, drugs and rape.

5. “Flamer,” by Mike Curato

“Flamer,” a graphic novel for young adults that draws on the author’s own experience, is about a child at Boy Scout camp who is coming to terms with being gay. It was challenged for L.G.B.T.Q. content and for being sexually explicit.

6. “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison

This was Morrison’s 1970 debut, and follows a Black girl who wishes for blue eyes so she will fit the standards of conventional white beauty. The book also address racism and sexual abuse. It was challenged for its inclusion of rape and incest and because its content was seen as promoting equity, diversity and inclusion.

Tie: “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” by Jesse Andrews

A best seller about high school students, this novel was challenged because of profanity and because it was deemed sexually explicit.

Tie: “Tricks,” by Ellen Hopkins

This novel, about teenagers who fall into prostitution, was challenged for being sexually explicit and including drugs, rape and L.G.B.T.Q. content.

9. “Let’s Talk About It,” by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan

A graphic novel about sex and relationships, this was challenged for being sexually explicit and including L.G.B.T.Q. content.

10. “Sold,” by Patricia McCormick

This National Book Award finalist is about a 13-year-old girl who is sold into prostitution. It was challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and included depictions of rape.

An earlier version of this article misstated a title of one of the targeted books. It is “This Book Is Gay,” not “The Book Is Gay.”

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These Were the Most Challenged Books in America Last Year

Titles with LGBTQ themes dominated the American Library Association’s newly released list

Ella Feldman

Daily Correspondent

Books on a table including "Gender Queer" and "All Boys Aren't Blue"

In 2023, the most challenged books across the country were about LGBTQ individuals and people of color, according to a report released today by the American Library Association (ALA). The news follows last month’s announcement that book-banning attempts have reached record highs .

“More and more, we’re seeing challenges that say, simply, ‘This book has a gay character,’ or, ‘This book deals with LGBTQ themes,’ even if it has no sexuality in it,” Deborah Caldwell-Stone, the director of the ALA’s office for intellectual freedom, tells the New York Times ’ Elizabeth A. Harris. “We’re seeing those naked attacks on simply the visibility of and knowledge about LGBTQ lives and experiences.”

According to the ALA, 4,240 unique titles were targeted for censorship in schools and libraries nationwide last year. That’s a 65 percent increase from 2022—and the highest number ever recorded by the organization.

The newly published report includes a list of the most targeted books across the United States. For the third year in a row, Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer: A Memoir took the top spot. Published in 2019, the graphic novel traces Kobabe’s experience navigating gender identity and sexuality in adolescence and adulthood.

The author has spoken in the past about how strongly readers have responded to the text. As Kobabe told NBC News ’ Matt Lavietes in 2021, “I’ve been receiving almost weekly, and sometimes more than weekly, emails from readers thanking me for writing it, telling me how much it meant to them, saying it helped them understand themselves.”

Gender Queer has been controversial ever since its publication, inspiring numerous political and legal battles. However, the controversy has only increased interest in the title, which is “selling better than ever,” as the author told Slate ’s Dan Kois in 2022.

“A book being challenged or banned does not hurt the book and does not hurt the author,” Kobabe said. “The people who are hurt in a challenge are the marginalized readers in the community where the challenge takes place.”

According to the ALA, the second most challenged book in 2023 was George M. Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue (2020), an essay collection describing the author’s experience growing up as a queer Black man in New Jersey and ​​Virginia.

Next on the list is Juno Dawson’s This Book Is Gay (2014), a nonfiction title intended to help young people navigate queer identity, followed by Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower (1999), a novel touching on themes including sexuality, mental health and abuse. Following the premiere of a film adaptation in 2012, the book became a New York Times bestseller .

The list also includes Toni Morrison ’s The Bluest Eye , which is frequently taught in high school English classes. Published in 1970, Morrison’s first novel follows Pecola, a young Black girl growing up during the Great Depression, and explores topics such as racism and sexual abuse.

The ALA’s publication of the report coincides with the beginning of the organization’s National Library Week , a celebration of America’s library systems.

“Each challenge, each demand to censor these books is an attack on our freedom to read, our right to live the life we choose, and an attack on libraries as community institutions that reflect the rich diversity of our nation,” says Caldwell-Stone in a statement . “When we tolerate censorship, we risk losing all of this.”

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Ella Malena Feldman is a writer and editor based in Washington, D.C. She examines art, culture and gender in her work, which has appeared in Washington City Paper , DCist and the Austin American-Statesman .

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Regions & Countries

1. the partisanship and ideology of american voters.

The partisan identification of registered voters is now evenly split between the two major parties: 49% of registered voters are Democrats or lean to the Democratic Party, and a nearly identical share – 48% – are Republicans or lean to the Republican Party.

Trend chart over time showing that 49% of registered voters are Democrats or lean to the Democratic Party, and 48% are Republicans or lean to the Republican Party. Four years ago, Democrats had a 5 percentage point advantage.

The partisan balance has tightened in recent years following a clear edge in Democratic Party affiliation during the last administration.

  • Four years ago, in the run-up to the 2020 election, Democrats had a 5 percentage point advantage over the GOP (51% vs. 46%).

The share of voters who are in the Democratic coalition reached 55% in 2008. For much of the last three decades of Pew Research Center surveys, the partisan composition of registered voters has been more closely divided.

Partisans and partisan leaners in the U.S. electorate

About two-thirds of registered voters identify as a partisan, and they are roughly evenly split between those who say they are Republicans (32% of voters) and those who say they are Democrats (33%). Roughly a third instead say they are independents or something else (35%), with most of these voters leaning toward one of the parties. Partisan leaners often share the same political views and behaviors as those who directly identify with the party they favor.

Bart charts over time showing that as of 2023, about two-thirds of registered voters identify as a partisan and are split between those who say they are Republicans (32%) and those who say they are Democrats (33%). Roughly a third instead say they are independents or something else (35%), with most of these voters leaning toward one of the parties. The share of voters who identify as independent or something else is somewhat higher than in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The share of voters who identify as independent or something else is somewhat higher than in the late 1990s and early 2000s. As a result, there are more “leaners” today than in the past. Currently, 15% of voters lean toward the Republican Party and 16% lean toward the Democratic Party. By comparison, in 1994, 27% of voters leaned toward either the GOP (15%) or the Democratic Party (12%).

Party identification and ideology

While the electorate overall is nearly equally divided between those who align with the Republican and Democratic parties, a greater share of registered voters say they are both ideologically conservative and associate with the Republican Party (33%) than say they are liberal and align with the Democratic Party (23%).

Bar charts by party and ideology showing that as of 2023, 33% of registered voters say they are both ideologically conservative and associate with the Republican Party, 14% identify as moderates or liberals and are Republicans or Republican leaners, 25% associate with the Democratic Party and describe their views as either conservative or moderate, and 23% are liberal and align with the Democratic Party.

A quarter of voters associate with the Democratic Party and describe their views as either conservative or moderate, and 14% identify as moderates or liberals and are Republicans or Republican leaners.

The partisan and ideological composition of voters is relatively unchanged over the last five years.

(As a result of significant mode differences in measures of ideology between telephone and online surveys, there is not directly comparable data on ideology prior to 2019.)

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Table of contents, behind biden’s 2020 victory, a voter data resource: detailed demographic tables about verified voters in 2016, 2018, what the 2020 electorate looks like by party, race and ethnicity, age, education and religion, interactive map: the changing racial and ethnic makeup of the u.s. electorate, in changing u.s. electorate, race and education remain stark dividing lines, most popular.

About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts .

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  23. Book Bans: The Most Challenged Books of 2023 Target LGBTQ Experiences

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