“That’s so gay”. “Don’t be gay”. “No homo”. “What a fag”. All of these remarks can be heard almost daily. It is socially unacceptable or undesirable to be gay. A stigma is a label used to devalue members of certain social groups (Witt). Whether or not these remarks are directed at a gay person, it fuels the stigma against homosexuals and homosexuality.
My mom and dad got divorced in 1997 and my mom came out as a lesbian. Since then she has gotten married (legally in the state of New York) to her partner of 12 years, Lara. I have seen and experienced first hand the discrimination gay and lesbians experience due to the stigma homosexuality has.
Society puts us under immense amounts of pressure not to veer off from the norms. In order to avoid the stigma many people live their whole lives in the closet, afraid of what might happen if they come out. They will be seen as deviant and will experience negative sanctions for their decision to come out as homosexual. Many people are bullied, beaten, and even murdered or driven to suicide because their sexual orientation violates the mores society dictates everyone should live by.
There is group superiority that extreme homophobic people have, such as Focus On The Family, One Million Moms, and the American Family Association. These groups feel as though being gay is deviant and shouldn’t be shown on television, supported legally, or given any civil rights. These people see being homosexual as taboo.
The family structure in American is changing. There is no longer the ideal husband, wife, 2.5 kids, and dog. There are families with adopted children, single parent households, guardians, and families with gay parents. As a child of a lesbian I had my own experiences with the stigma attached to having a gay parent. People assume that the child of a gay parent will become gay themselves. There is this theory that being gay is somehow contagious or a choice.
When traveling to Italy last summer I was in a bit of culture shock when I realized that being gay was more accepted than it is in America. My mom and Lara could walk around holding hands without being stared at. Though as we have seen with each election people are becoming more and more accepting with many states making gay marriage legal. When my mom and Lara got married in New York there was a celebration of love and acceptance. They were finally able to legally declare their love, just as heterosexual couples have always been able to.
Homosexuals have become their own subculture. Since they have been discriminated against and cast as the out group, they have band together. They have their own bars, clubs, vacation spots, and even argot. “Let’s have a kiki”, “spill the tea”, and “throwing shade” all started as “gay lingo” then started spreading to the mainstream media.
There has been a push by the government, media, and people throughout America to take the stigma out of being gay. This will take time and might never happen, but through elections, television shows, music, and people supporting one another the stigma has decreased little by little over time.