Gay community: Wikis

  
  
  

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The gay community, or LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community, is a loosely defined grouping of LGBT and LGBT-supportive people, organizations and subcultures, united by a common culture and civil rights movements. The term "gay community" may also refer to gay men only, or to gay men and lesbians only. These communities generally celebrate pride, diversity, individuality, and sexuality. LGBT activists and sociologists see LGBT community-building as an antidote to heterosexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia,[ [sex-negativity]], and conformist pressures thought to be exist in the larger society. The term gay pride is used to express the LGBT community's identity and collective strength. The LGBT community is diverse in political affiliation. Not all LGBT individuals consider themselves part of an LGBT community.

Groups that may be considered part of the LGBT community include gay villages, LGBT rights organizations, LGBT employee groups at companies, LGBT student groups in schools and universities, and LGBT-affirming religious groups.

Within the LGBT community there exist identifiable sub-communities, such as the leather community, the Bear community, the chubby community, the lesbian community, the bisexual community, the transgender community, the drag community, and the rave community.

Contents

Symbols

The gay community is frequently associated with certain symbols; especially the rainbow or rainbow flags. The Greek lambda symbol ("L" for liberation), triangles, ribbons, and gender symbols are also used as "gay acceptance" symbol. There a many types of flags to represent subdivisions in the gay community but the most commonly recognized one is the rainbow flag. According to Gilbert Baker, creator of the commonly known rainbow flag, each color represents a value in the community: hot pink=sexuality, red=life, orange=healing, yellow=the sun, green=nature, blue=art, indigo=harmony, violet=spirit. Later, pink and indigo were removed from the flag to lead to the present day flag which was first presented at the 1979 Pride Parade. Other flags include the Victory over AIDS flag, Leather Pride flag, and Bear Pride flag.[1] The lambda symbol was originally adopted by Gay Activists Alliance of New York in 1970 after they broke away from the larger Gay Liberation Front. Lambda was chosen because people might confuse it for a college symbol and not recognize it as a gay community symbol unless one was actually involved in the community. "Back in December of 1974, the lambda was officially declared the international symbol for gay and lesbian rights by the International Gay Rights Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland." [1] The triangle became a symbol for the gay community after the Holocaust. Not only did it represent Jews, but homosexuals who were killed because of German law. During the Holocaust, homosexuals were labeled with pink triangles to distinguish between them, Jews, regular prisoners, and political prisoners. The black triangle is similarly a symbol for females only to represent lesbian sisterhood. Gender symbols have a much longer list of variations of homosexual/bisexual relationships which are clearly recognizable but may not be as popularly seen as the other symbols. Other symbols that relate to the gay community and/or gay pride include the gay-teen suicide awareness ribbon, AIDS awareness ribbon, labrys, and purple rhinoceros.

Human and legal rights

Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry argued before the Supreme Court in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale and founded the modern same-sex marriage movement.

The LGBT community represents a social component of the global community that is believed by many, including heterosexual allies, to be underrepresented in the area of civil rights. The current struggle of the gay community has been largely brought about by globalization. In the United States, World War II brought together many closeted rural men from around the nation and exposed them to more progressive attitudes in parts of Europe. Upon returning home after the war, many of these men decided to band together in cities rather than return to their small towns. Fledgling communities would soon become political in the beginning of the gay rights movement, including monumental incidents at places like Stonewall. Today, many large cities have gay and lesbian community centers. Many universities and colleges across the world have support centers for LGBT students. The Human Rights Campaign,[2] Lambda Legal, the Empowering Spirits Foundation,[3][4] and GLAAD[5] advocate for LGBT people on a wide range of issues in the United States. There is also an International Lesbian and Gay Association. In 1947, when the United Kingdom adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), LGBT activists clung to its concept of equal, inalienable rights for all people, regardless of their race, gender, or sexual orientation. The declaration does not specifically mention gay rights, but discusses equality and freedom from discrimination.[6]

The headquarters of the Human Rights Campaign. One of the largest gay rights organizations in the United States.

Same-sex marriage

In parts of the world partnership rights or marriage have been extended to same-sex couples. Advocates of same-sex marriage cite a range of benefits that are denied to people who cannot marry, including immigration, health care, inheritance and property rights, and other family obligations and protections, as reasons why marriage should be extended to same-sex couples. Opponents of same-sex marriage within the gay community argue that fighting to achieve these benefits by means of extending marriage rights to same-sex couples privatizes benefits (e.g., health care) that should be made available to people regardless of their relationship status. They further argue that the same-sex marriage movement within the gay community discriminates against families that are composed of three or more intimate partners. Opposition to the same-sex marriage movement from within the gay community should not be confused with opposition from outside that community.

Media

The contemporary lesbian and gay community has a growing and complex place in the American & Western European media. The community has been targeted by marketers who view LGBT people as an untapped source of discretionary income, as many couples have a dual income with no children. Despite this, lesbians and gay men are still often portrayed negatively in television, films, and other media. The gay community is constantly battling with this negative media and overcoming stereotypes. LGBT identified people look just like any other person so the media puts an image on the gay community to make it as visible as a difference in skin color. There is currently a widespread ban of references in child-related entertainment, and when references do occur, they almost invariably generate controversy. In 1997, when US comedian Ellen DeGeneres came out of the closet on her popular sitcom, many sponsors, such as the Wendy's fast food chain, pulled their advertising.[7] Also, the media has somewhat made the gay community included and publicly accepted with television shows such as "Will and Grace" or "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." This increased publicity reflects with the Coming out movement of the LGBT community. As more celebrities came out, more shows developed, such as the 2004 show "The L Word." With the popularity of gay television shows, music artists, and gay fashion, the Western culture has had to open their eyes to the gay community. In some pop culture, gays are purposely portrayed as overly promiscuous, flashy, or having a bold personality for entertainment's sake. In the United States, gay people are frequently used as a symbol of social decadence by celebrity evangelists and by organizations such as Focus on the Family. Many LGBT organizations exist to represent and defend the gay community. For example, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation in the United States and Stonewall in the UK work with the media to help portray fair and accurate images of the gay community.

Much of the negative media that surrounds the gay community has to do with pride parades that turn into drag shows or riots. Opposition argues that such degrees of sexuality and nudity in public is not appropriate. News stories have typically identified the opposition to these demonstrations as lead by Christian conservatives and not political figures.[8]

As companies are advertising more and more to the gay community, LGBT activists are using ad slogans to promote gay community views. Subaru marketed its Forester and Outback with the slogan "It's Not a Choice. It's the Way We're Built" which was later used in eight U.S. cities on streets or in gay rights events.[9]

Buying power

According to Witeck-Combs Communications, Inc. and Marketresearch.com, the 2006 buying power of U.S. gays and lesbians was approximately $660 Billion and is expected to exceed $835 Billion by 2011.[10] Headlines later claimed "'Gay Buying Power' to hit $2 Trillion by 2012."[11] Gay consumers can be very loyal to specific brands, wishing to support companies that support the gay community and also provide equal rights for LGBT workers. In the UK, this buying power is sometimes abbreviated to "the pink pound". More and more Fortune 500 companies are embracing LGBT/gay community consumers to include "domestic partner benefits, non-discrimination policies, and financial support for organizations working to promote equality." [11]

According to an article by James Hipps, LGBT Americans are more likely to seek out companies who advertise to them and are willing to pay higher prices for premium products and services. This can be attributed to the median household income compared from same-sex couples to opposite-sex couples. "...studies show that GLBT Americans are twice as likely to have graduated from college, twice as likely to have an individual income over $60,000 and twice as likely to have a household income of $250,000 or more." [12]

Health

Discrimination and mental health

In a 2001 study that examines possible root causes of mental disorders in lesbian, gay and bisexual people, Cochran and psychologist Vickie M. Mays, of the University of California, explored whether ongoing discrimination fuels anxiety, depression and other stress-related mental health problems among LGB people.[13] The authors found strong evidence of a relationship between the two.[13] The team compared how 74 LGB and 2,844 heterosexual respondents rated lifetime and daily experiences with discrimination such as not being hired for a job or being denied a bank loan, as well as feelings of perceived discrimination.[13] LGB respondents reported higher rates of perceived discrimination than heterosexuals in every category related to discrimination, the team found.[13] According to the Journal of Addiction and Mental Health, around 600 people between the ages of 10 and 24 die each year from suicide and about 32% of these people are lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LAB) youth. "According to researchers and gay advocates, it's not being gay that leads kids down the path toward suicide. It is stigma and discrimination as well as internalized homophobia."[14] A counter argument to this is that the school discrimination and family dynamics are contributing to anyone's self esteem and must be factored into the suicide rates.

HIV/AIDS

The gay community is also commonly linked with the AIDS epidemic. This is because the rise of the gay community and the LGBT movement occurred around the time AIDS epidemic. There was a point in which gays and AIDS were synonymous.[15] Studies have been done that prove that homosexual relations do not cause AIDS or spread AIDS any differently than heterosexual relations. LGBT individuals have specific health care issues and should seek medical practitioners who are sensitive to these concerns.[16]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Symbols of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Movements. Lambda GLBT Community Services. Dec. 26, 2004. [1]
  2. ^ HRC | What We Do
  3. ^ ESF | About Us
  4. ^ [ http://www.wiserearth.org/organization/view/c169c5a5c09f75d33327e1e86832df97 Wiser Earth Organizations: Empowering Spirits Foundation]
  5. ^ GLAAD: "About GLAAD"
  6. ^ Amnesty International USA. Human Rights and the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People. 2009. [2]
  7. ^ Gomestic. 2009. Stanza Ltd
  8. ^ Gay Pride parade attracts thousands. The Irish News. April 4, 2008
  9. ^ Fetto, John. In Broad Daylight - Marketing to the gay community - Brief Article. BNet. Feb. 2001. [3]
  10. ^ PRNewswire. "Buying Power of US Gays and Lesbians to Exceed $835 Billion by 2011." January 25, 2007
  11. ^ a b The Raw Story. Yahoo. June 26, 2006
  12. ^ The Power of Gay: Buying Power That Is. Gay Agenda. August 24, 2008
  13. ^ a b c d Mental Health Correlates of Perceived Discrimination Among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Adults in the United States by Vickie M. Mays, University of California, Los Angeles. Susan D. Cochran, Department of Epidemiology, University of California, Los Angeles, School of Public Health. November 2001, Vol 91, No. 11 | American Journal of Public Health 1869-1876
  14. ^ Journal Of Addiction and Mental Health Surveys Gay Teen Discrimination And Suicide. National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. Jan. 14, 2004. [4]
  15. ^ Haggerty, George. Gay Histories and Cultures. Histories and Cultures
  16. ^ Top Ten Issues to Discuss with your Healthcare Provider, Gay and Lesbian Medical Association

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