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Gender and sexual identity - Essay Example

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Name Instructor Class 16 November 2012 Gender and Sexual Identity: Being Gay and a Woman A rich, black gay teenager and a poor, blonde, smart Latina are some of my friends with gender issues. Joshua wants a normal life, but he keeps his real sexual identity hidden from the public view…
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16 November Gender and Sexual Identity: Being Gay and a Woman A rich, black gay teenager and a poor, blonde, smart Latinaare some of my friends with gender issues. Joshua wants a normal life, but he keeps his real sexual identity hidden from the public view. He believes that he will be disowned, when his family learns the truth. He fears the bullying that comes with being gay too. Belinda seeks to be appreciated for her intelligence and humor, not for her physical appearance. They confide in me because as they say, they never need to hide, when they are with me. I love them for who they are. I respect their sexual identities and admire their strong personalities. These gender experiences of my friends demonstrate the intersections among race, class, and gender issues, which help understand how society conditions unfair gender and sexual identity prejudice that affect families and individuals. I have not had any gay friends until I met Joshua, someone who is rich and yet so unhappy because of the prejudice against his gender, and his social status and his family that promote strong prejudice against gays. Joshua is a black gay, which for him, makes his situation more uncomfortable. Being black, he says: “I’m supposed to be a thug, a macho man or something. But I am not a macho man. I am gay, and that puts me at risk in my own racial circle.” At the same time, Joshua comes from a rich family, a family where homosexuality is highly negatively criticized. He says that he wanted to admit the truth to his family already. But something horrible happened. A distant cousin confessed he was gay. His family accepted his admission, but treated him coldly afterwards. In their community, he experienced physical and emotional bullying. In a week, he committed suicide. His suicide was kept under wraps from the media through money. Joshua is shocked. He could not believe that a family member would be so cruel to their own flesh and blood. His analysis of what happened saddened me: “This is not civilization. And that is not a family.” We talked about society and sexual identity. He expressed disappointment with families that do not want to support the identities of their children. He could not help it if their neighborhood has a traditional view regarding sexuality, but he expected families to be more tolerant. The discussions and readings in school showed that family, neighborhood, and culture interact to shape individual sexuality and gender identities and experiences. When the culture is not tolerant to diversity in sexuality, and the media looks down on gay people through stereotyping them, families can see homosexuality as something to be ashamed of. Furthermore, some people have deeply-set prejudice against homosexuals. For them, they are lower kinds of people. Joshua experiences gender discrimination because of culture, family, and neighborhood factors. He cannot escape his environment that fails to accept his sexual identity. When asked how he will deal with his circumstances, Joshua notes that he will choose silence, while he is still young and openness by the time he can have a stable job of his own. He feels anxious that he cannot be who he is. But he is a practical-minded person: “I mean, Frederick Douglass learned to read and write first before he ran away. I must be self-sufficient before I admit I’m gay. If they boot me out, I can live on my own.” He wants to be financially independent before saying the truth. He seeks to finish his schooling, which he cannot afford with part-time jobs. Joshua wants to make sacrifices, until he is ready to stand on his own. Another friend experiences assaults on her gender. Belinda is beautiful, funny, and strong-willed, but because she is blonde and heavy-busted, she regularly experiences being sexually harassed and stereotyped as a “bimbo” and a “slut.” She lives in a low-income neighborhood, where many men and boys have some problems with a smart blonde. She says: “Sometimes, when they talk dirty to me, I want to talk back in French and then curse them in Chinese. I hate it that they treat me this way because of how I look.” I feel sorry for her every time she tells me about people harassing her. What is harder is that as she is growing more intelligent, she admits that it isolates her from her family: “They are good working class people, but they have no interest in college, ideologies, feminism, and all that. For them, those are crap. It makes me sick to feel that I no longer belong with my family.” She does not know how to connect anymore with them, when more serious issues are being discussed. Furthermore, Belinda senses her isolation from her community. She says: “Some of my good childhood friends aren’t my friends anymore. They say I think I’m better than them, but I’ll end up like them, a Latina pregnant without a husband very soon.” She cries sometimes when she talks about these issues. Her dilemma concerns complex and interconnected challenges, where the center is gender prejudice with social class conditions. Gender is not free from other social problems, and the cases of Belinda and Joshua demonstrate that their gender is connected with their social status and race. Belinda feels the sexualization of her gender and race. For her, these are detriments to her self-development, but she is determined to surmount them. Joshua experiences severe sexuality prejudice. He hides his sexuality for now, but he is preparing for to express his identity, despite the potential consequences. These friends are individuals, but they are not treated as free individuals in the society they live in. Nevertheless, they inspire people to become who they are and not what society expects them to be. They are reminders of the diversity of the human race, that no person or group should stop from their pursuit of personal growth and happiness. Read More
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