Myth and Reality

For many people, much of what they think they know about GLBT people is based on the myths they've heard about them, not the realities. Sorting out the myths and realities can lead to greater self-awareness which motivates us to learn more and become accepting of those whose sexual orientation may be different from our own.

People who are lesbian, gay, and transgender can usually be identified by certain mannerisms or physical characteristics.

GLBT people come in as many different shapes, colors, and sizes as do heterosexuals. Only a very small percentage has stereotypic mannerisms and characteristics. In fact, many heterosexuals portray a variety of the so-called gay stereotypic characteristics. Some members of different subcultures may tend to mimic or imitate specific behaviors in an effort to "fit in."

In a GLBT relationship, one partner usually plays the "husband" or "butch" role and the other plays the "wife" or "femme" role.

This is an old pattern that was evident in some gay or lesbian relationships when gay and lesbian people had only the traditional heterosexual relationships as a model. Today, most gay and lesbian people work to develop relationships based on principles of equality and mutuality where they are loved for who they are and not for the roles they play. There is no right or wrong way that prescribes how to divide roles between partners.

We do not know what causes homosexuality.

This is by far one of the most controversial issues. Perhaps a better question would be: "What determines our sexual orientation?" To date, no research has conclusively established the causes of either homosexuality, bisexuality, or heterosexuality. Some believe that orientation is predetermined genetically or hormonally. Others maintain that all humans are predisposed to all variations of sexual/affectionate behavior and learn their orientation.

Most people who are lesbian or gay could be cured by having really good sex with a member of the other sex.

There are no cures. Many gay and lesbian people have had satisfying heterosexual experiences in their lifetime. Most people who identify as gay or lesbian would never choose to be sexually active with members of the other sex and would resent and challenge the inference that heterosexuals have a corner on the market of "good sex."

The majority of child molesters are gay or lesbian.

Statistics regarding child molestation prepared by the Boston Advocates for Human Rights reveal that, "the vast majority of child molestation - over 90% - is performed by heterosexual males. The man who is sexually interested in children is rarely homosexual."

Most people who are lesbian or gay regard themselves as members of the other sex.

Most, if not all, gay and lesbian people are very happy with their gender. In many ways, their identity is seen as a celebration and affirmation of their gender, not a rejection of it. Many times people confuse homosexuality with transsexuality or transvestism. Transsexual people feel as if they were born into the wrong body and should be the other sex. Transvestites are people who often dress in the traditional clothing of the other sex. Most transvestites are heterosexual.

Homosexuality is not "natural," that is, it does not exist in nature; therefore this proves it is dysfunctional.

Each culture defines what is "natural" to fit its own context. Historians tell us that homosexuality has existed since the earliest of human societies. Anthropologists report that lesbians and gay men have been part of every culture. In one study of non-Western cultures, 64% of the respondents considered homosexuality as "normal and socially acceptable." It is also a well known fact that same sex behavior is "natural" between animals.

People who are GLBT should not be teachers because they will try to convert their students to their lifestyle.

It is impossible to convert heterosexuals to being homosexuals, just as it is impossible to convert homosexuals to being heterosexuals. Based on what is known about sexual attraction, this is simply not possible.

People who are GLBT have made a conscious decision to be that way.

While researchers continue to disagree on the causes of sexual orientation, most agree that there is a predisposition or genetic relationship involved. The only place where choice seems to come into play is when GLBT people decide how they will acknowledge the identity that they are. "Coming Out," or acknowledging one's sexual orientation, to oneself or others, can be a lifelong process. GLBT people are often in a continual state of deciding whom to come out to, and with whom to "stay in the closet."

There are very few "bisexuals;" most people are either completely homosexual or heterosexual.

The pioneering studies of Dr. Alfred Kinsey and his associates are most frequently cited on this question. This data suggested that, in fact, few people are predominantly heterosexual or homosexual. Most people fall somewhere along the continuum between these two end of the scale, and thus, have the capacity to experience both affection and sexual feelings for members of both sexes.

There are some significant differences among the lifestyles of GLBT people.

This tends to be a true statement in that all people tend to develop their own individual lifestyle. Just like there are differences between the lifestyles between men and women, there are differences between the lifestyles of gay men and lesbians. It is also important to note that there are significant distinctions between the communities. For example, just as there are a variety of different women, so are there a variety of different lesbians.

Homosexuality is a type of mental illness and can be cured by appropriate psychotherapy.

In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of official mental illnesses. In 1974 the American Psychological Association did the same. The APA went further to state that: "Homosexuality, per se, implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability, or general social or vocational capacities."

One homosexual experience as an adolescent will play a large part in determining whether a person will be homosexually oriented as an adult.

Many, and perhaps most, gay and lesbian people have had early heterosexual experiences, and continue to identify themselves as gay or lesbian. Similarly, there are many heterosexual people who have had sexual contact with a person of the same sex, and continue to define themselves as heterosexual. Sexual orientation for most people goes well beyond just sexual acts, including both a culture and lifestyle.