Considered a sin in the past, homosexuality has been finding acceptance of late with more people open to the idea of an individual’s freedom to choose their partner, irrespective of the gender. There are still two factions today, one which supports same sex marriage and rights, while another that opposes it. With the two groups fighting to prove themselves right, several theories have been established about homosexuals to sway people, one way or another, and some of these theories are nothing but myths. Some of the most popular myths about homosexuals are:
10. Homosexuals are promiscuous and don’t have long lasting relationships
Since same sex unions are perceived as being immoral and unnatural, most anti-gay activists believe that homosexuals cannot stay in a loving, committed relationship and tend to always have numerous sexual partners. The length of a relationship and the choice to stay monogamous depends on the individual and compatibility of the couple, irrespective of whether they are homosexuals or heterosexual, hence generalizing the success or failure of a relationship and judging promiscuity on the sexual orientation of people is baseless. In fact, studies involving homosexual couples proved that number of partners for homosexual or heterosexual people is more or less the same, and in fact the break up rate for homosexual couples is slightly lower than for heterosexual couples as observed over a period of 12 years.
9. All homosexuals are paedophiles
This myth is believed to have been spread by discredited psychologist Paul Cameron who has been campaigning for the anti gay movement, and despite several research and works proving his theories false, yet anti gay organizations use his works to slander heterosexuality. A study by the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Canada in 1989 led by Kurt Freund survey comparing arousal of heterosexual and homosexuals found no difference, as well as research by Carole jenny of the University of Colorado health sciences center in 1994 proved that this was indeed a false myth on the basis of the results obtained by surveying cases of sexual offences committed against children by adults.
8. Homosexuals abuse drugs
A very popular stereotype with regard to homosexuals is that they abuse drugs. Most of the research done to discover proof about this seemingly widespread habit in sexual minorities has been with gay men, and it couples with another myth which says that homosexuals tend to be party animals and indulge in unsafe sex practices with multiple partners, which is also again just a stereotype. Though how these myths came about is not known, it could have come from beliefs of homophobes or the few homosexuals who do belong to this category, might be influencing young men, new to being gay, and forcing them to join their lifestyle.
7. Homosexuals are contagious
It is one of the most ridiculous myths, since it is not possible to alter someone’s sexual preference by manipulation or any form of association. According to anti gay activists, being gay is a choice and can be cured, while according to pro gay activists, being gay is inborn and genetic, hence cannot be changed. While both beliefs are not completely false, they are not true either. According to research studies and findings, it is believed that sexual preference to an extent is biologically dependent, and somewhat on the external environment. This myth may have come out through incidences where certain people come out of about their sexuality very late in life, usually after they are attracted to someone of the same sex, giving rise to the belief that it was transmittable. The anti gay premise that being homosexual is contagious, negatively implies that homosexuality is a disease.
6. Transvestites and transsexuals are homosexuals
Often confused with one another, the perception that gay men like to dress up like women and behave like them and lesbian women are masculine and prefer being butch has led to the belief that transvestites and transsexuals must be homosexuals. A transvestite is simply a man who likes to dress up in women’s clothing irrespective of his sexual preference, whereas a transsexual is anyone who wants to change their gender because he/she feels trapped in his/her body and this again has no relation with what kind of a sexual partner the person wants. Hence, confusing them up is derogatory and ignorant.
5. Homosexuals are unfit to raise children
General opinion of people opposing children raised by same sex couples, is their argument, that it is confusing for them with respect to conventional gender roles and societal expectations. Results of studies comparing the upbringing of children by homosexual and heterosexual parents, proves that they are both equally fit as parents, and children in both cases are healthy both physically and psychologically. Research done to find out if homosexual couples pose greater risk for mental health problems or disparities in social adjustment for kids proved that it was not so. More than the gender or orientation of the parents, what influences kids is their relationship with parents, support, security and level of competency offered by parents.
4. Homosexuals are born that way
In 1993, Dean Hamer’s study in a reputed research journal, ‘Science’ claimed that homosexuality is genetic, and is something that people are born with. This news spread like wildfire, with radio announcements and reports in newspapers and magazines and gave birth to the myth of the “gay gene”. This theory, though controversial and without any scientific backing is being used by pro gay activists since the fact that sexual orientation is inborn or related to your genetic makeup makes it more acceptable to society in general. A study published in 1991 showed that the release of sex hormones from pituitary gland, in control of the hypothalamus, differ in homosexual and heterosexual men and similar studies have revealed subtle differences in brain structure, which affect sexual orientation. But brain development continues after birth hence the fact that homosexuality exists from birth is not true.
4. There are gender specific roles in homosexual relationships
This myth made more sense a couple of decades ago when duties were more gender specific and well defined. The wife or the female of the house would stay at home and do the cleaning, cooking and take care of the house and kids while the husband or the male of the house would be the earning member to work and provide for the rest of the family. Hence the relationship between homosexuals was also compared by considering this typical model, giving rise to the common myth perpetuated about homosexuals that though they are of the same sex, one who is more feminine will take on the role of the wife and in case there is a child involved, the mother; while the one who is more masculine will be the husband or the father. In today’s world of gender equality where both wives and husbands work and share the work, the concept of gender specific roles has become redundant.
2. Homosexuals can be cured
The reason that most homophobes and anti gay campaigners believe why homosexuality should be banned and made illegal, is that it is against religion as well as against nature. From an abomination, a mental illness to a disease, homosexuality has been given various negative descriptions, and it is this notion that leads to the belief that since it is an error, it can be cured. Due to societal pressures, many homosexuals have been forced to undertake techniques such as praying or cure therapies by religious groups, reparative therapy with psychiatrists, hormone and behavioral therapies. In the 50’s and 60’s extreme methods such as shock treatments, brainwashing as well as drugs were used. Since then, it has been widely accepted that it is not a disease to be cured. The American psychiatric association in 1973 and the American psychological association in 1974 removed homosexuality from it list of mental illnesses.
1. Homosexuals want to be like the opposite gender
If there is something that most movies that have homosexual characters have portrayed, is the false notion that all gay people are extremely feminine in behavior and tastes, and that all lesbian women ape men appearance wise and by being more aggressive. Also most often, gays are thought to love frequenting bars, shopping and be restricted to jobs related to the fashion world such as interior designing, while lesbians prefer butch jobs. It is possible that some of those qualities are present in some homosexuals, but it cannot be generalized for the entire community. They are as diverse as heterosexuals when it comes to tastes and behaviors, and stereotyping them in particular roles just marginalizes them. Hence just by observing someone’s walk or sense of style, you cannot predict their sexual orientation. It is believed that this myth holds its origin in the belief that men are known by their masculinity and women by their feminine grace; hence homosexuals who like people of the same sex must possess characteristics of the opposite sex.