It’s been a few years since the Supreme Court decriminalized same sex relations between consenting adults, but myths about the gay community are still plentiful. Misconceptions about the LGBTQIA+ community are not only hurdles to creating a kinder, more inclusive society, but are deeply hurtful to members of the community as well. Gay folks are still seen as anomalies and homosexuality as an odd phenomenon that needs to be scrutinized and understood under a lens. In a world striving to be progressive, such attitudes have no place.
Homosexuality still carries a lot of stigma, and reactions to people coming out are still extreme. Let’s get one thing straight. The LGBTQIA+ community only appears ‘deviant’ because the social constructs of what is ‘normal’ are far too narrow. They are only embracing what comes naturally to them and all that does is make them human. It isn’t up to gay folks to fit into society, but for society to expand and make room for them.
Myths about gay people stem from how they look or act ‘different,’ or outlandish. While they make unique choices about who they are attracted to, or what lifestyle they choose, none of this gives straight people the right to comment, judge or come up with misconceptions about the LGBTQIA+ community. They are human, and fabulously unique, that’s all we need to know.
Many of these myths about gay people are due to a lack of education and exposure. Being conditioned into a heteronormative world, it is highly unlikely that straight people have had the exposure to be well versed with the gay community and their lives. Popular culture often depicts homosexuality as ridiculous or scandalous. This has given rise to a major gap between gay myths and actual facts. The internet, too, has more than enough homophobic content to form misconceptions in people’s minds. All of this has vastly impacted the gay community’s chances of leading peaceful lives, and also of making gay marriage legal in India.
While cis-het people (CIS gendered heterosexuals) in general have had the privilege to not care much about the myths and misconceptions plaguing gay people, it has given birth to an inherent homophobia. There are those who confuse ‘sex’ with ‘gender’, others who still think homosexuality is contagious. These sound funny, especially when straight people realize how ridiculous these myths are. But, plenty of straight people accept these as facts and this has given rise to gay people being consistently hounded and victimized.
As ominous as it may seem, these myths about LGBTQIA+ folks are yet to be busted. But what can be done right now is to educate the masses in a comprehensive manner. In India, especially, the ‘this is not our culture’ card is often played when being educated about gay people. Such people need a reminder of how inclusive culture has always been practiced in India. Homoeroticism and its ilk have already been part of India literature and art and were once considered to be the norm.
10 Gay Facts And Myths
We could spend a lot of more time on the roots of these misconceptions about the gay community, but that’s a discussion for another article. For now, here are the top 10 myths about gay people that straight people believe most of the time.
1. Gay men are feminine
Femininity and masculinity are the two binaries that form heteronormative ideas of sex and gender. These binaries are not only dictated by patriarchal conditioning but are extremely regressive, to the point that a man displaying any feminine traits is immediately (and often derogatorily) labelled homosexual.
The queer spectrum is beyond the conventional boundaries of the proposed gender binary; femininity doesn’t always necessarily point to the traits of being gay. Being gay is a complete lifestyle, encompassing fashion, culture, sexuality and much more. To assume it is no more than just an outward show of femininity is a major myth surrounding gay people.
2. Lesbians have short hair (read boy-cut)
Much like the ‘gay men are feminine’ myth, this too stems from cis het people’s belief that homosexuality is based on outward appearance. Honestly, we think the short-hair look is super sexy haircut and every woman has a right to it regardless of her sexuality.
Lesbians may have short hair, a buzz cut, or long, luscious tresses. So may straight women. This is entirely an individual choice, and not for us to assume. A lesbian could look like your average girl next door. A straight woman may have shaved her head and gotten three tattoos on it. Our appearance has nothing to do with our sexuality and our sexuality is nobody else’s business.
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3. Gay people are promiscuous
Promiscuity is a human phenomenon which doesn’t necessarily align according to one’s sexual orientation. This is one of the most damaging myths about the LGBTQIA+ community.
While many gay people have regular sex with one or multiple partners , others might not. It is ludicrous to assume that a queer person is necessarily more sexually active than heterosexuals. Monogamy is a choice that pertains to all, and let’s not forget, the ‘A’ in LGBTQIA+ stands for ‘asexual.’
4. But who is the wife?
Heterosexuals are so deeply conditioned with regard to gender roles that they tend to constrict everything to fit in with this conditioning. The reality is that no one person needs to assume the role of ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ in any relationship. Homosexual relationships may be more fluid than their hetero counterparts, but again, it is wrong to assume. Cis-hets assume that a ‘husband’ role automatically means more dominance, whereas a ‘wife’ is submissive. But this is a misconception even in cis-het relationships. Similarly, gay people can be dominant, submissive, or maybe even a little of both as per their personalities or a given situation.
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5. Gay people don’t have kids
One of the saddest myths about gay people is that they cannot have kids and even if they do, they will turn their children gay. That is far from true, not to mention downright ridiculous.
Gay people have kids – they either adopt or use alternative methods such as surrogacy. And no their kids are not necessarily gay just because their parents are. There is, in fact, no evidence which can prove otherwise.
6. Gay people can’t have ‘normal’ relationships
Firstly, what is normal and who is defining it? ‘Normal’ in relationships has already been set according to cis-het conventions and anything outside this tidy little box is seen as deviant. The gay community has its own ideas about romance and relationships. Building a healthy gay relationship is a real thing and it does not have to fit the box of ‘normal’ and there’s nothing wrong with.
Gay people have healthy, functional relationships which may or may not be monogamous. They could be a couple with kids, or a couple with pets, or three people living together in love and harmony. This is their normal, and they are under no obligation to explain it.
7. Gay people flaunt their sexuality
If holding hands or being intimate publicly is flaunting, then heterosexuals should stop flaunting their sexuality as well. Come on. This is the 21st century. Are we really going to start judging people for these things now?
This isn’t only a gay misconception, but also an overall restrictive point of view. Well, wake up. The world is different now. Love is love and we are here to show it!
Related Reading: Couples and social media PDA: To share or not to share?
8. Gay people don’t need precautions during sex
They do! Protection is always a must, regardless of your sexual orientation. The lack of sexual education has allowed a lot of myths about LGBTQIA+ people and unnecessarily poisons people’s minds. Even if one is gay or lesbian, practicing safe sex is always advised.
So remember, condoms and dental dams to the rescue! There are many ways to protect yourself from STDs, and one should always make decent use of them.
9. Gay people can turn straight people gay
Wow, this one is truly appalling. No, being gay is not contagious or a disease or some kind of propaganda tool. You are either born gay or you are not. You can’t just turn someone gay. That would be utterly ridiculous.
10. Gay people can’t have sex
Well, all we want to say is – you’d be surprised at how much fun gay people have in bed. One of the silliest yet most common myths about gay people is that they refrain from having sex because it is ‘unnatural’.
Sex is one of the most basic human impulses and gay people have ways of figuring out how to give and receive pleasure, just as straight people do. So yes. Gay people have sex. Many of them are very good at it!
The sad truth
The lack of proper sex-education and sensitization has created these myths which are not only an issue for the queer community but also result in violence and misconception against the LGBTQIA+ community across all layers of society. These myths are evidence of the deep-seated homophobia present in India, and across the world. We’ve begun on the journey to a more inclusive world, but we have a long way to go. .
Manvendra Singh Gohil, the first gay Prince in the world, talks about LGBTQ rights in India