When Jarred told his mom that he was gay, she looked at her 18-year-old son, smiled and said she knew, long before he did. He almost cried when she gave him a hug and they went out to dinner. Marcia was not that fortunate. Her dad kicked her out the house long before her mom could react. She lived in shelters and with relatives until she was old enough to support herself.
Then there was Michael. He was a Chicago high school varsity basketball star, who had trophies adorning his room at his parents’ spacious home in suburban Maywood. He had all the girls swooning over him. However, he was gay and hiding a dark secret from everyone. Everyone except a bisexual coach who secretly took him in as a mentor.
As Michael got older, the stress was unbearable. His college years were frustrating as he filled out as a very muscular, handsome man in his 20s. Then, he had gotten married to his high school crush, just to please his curious family.
They had 3 kids, and Michael started drinking and staying out late just to pacify his guilt with his adorable wife. He started cruising bars and doing drugs, and suddenly, his wife left him. But not before she had discovered condoms and a hotel reservation receipt he had forgotten in his jacket.
Sherina was not always Sherina. She was Shawn, a very petite young man, who knew at an early age he loved boys and wanted to live his life as a woman. He was a foster child most of his life, and his parents were drug addicts who left him at the hospital when he caught a seizure at 4. And to top it all off, being abused sexually by many boys in the system didn’t help. As a Hispanic, he was a pretty soft and sweet little boy with great effeminacy.
All these people are gay and had come from totally different scenarios. However, they all have one thing in common – they battled with some form of guilt and stress from homosexuality. People see gay people, the ones who are flamboyant and openly gay, and think that they are disgusting human beings.
What most people in this world do not understand is being gay is stressful and can have damaging effects on one’s mental wellbeing. Even openly gay men and women, who live their lives as the opposite sex of who they really are. They have to face not only homophobia, which is fear of gay people, but rejection and disgusting stares and remarks.
Take my friend (I changed her name) Pamela. She was in a St. Louis shopping mall just over three months ago. She and another lesbian friend were just looking around after having a big lunch.
Pamela decided to go into Footlocker. Being a stud (masculine lesbian), she only wore athletic shoes and apparel, but this time, the trip to the mall took a rather awkward turn. When she entered the store, not one of the three male clerks acknowledged her. Usually in a store, they are breaking their necks to assist the customers.
There wasn’t anything to be fearful of. Pamela was a lovable woman who just happened to love to have sex with women. In my mind, I think the men were moreso intimidated by her masculinity and the vibe she gave off. Maybe they felt homophobia after seeing such a “more-manly” female, and it made them question themselves as men.
Pamela even stood there looking at merchandise and they still were playing and laughing amongst themselves, as if she were a ghost. She complained when her feminine lesbian friend arrived and they broke their necks to assist her. The clerks tried to make up after she went off. She left Footlocker and filed a complaint and has yet to hear back from them.
In an article written by IIan H. Meyer; he reviews research evidence on the prevalence of mental disorders in lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals (LGBs) and shows, using meta-analyses, that LGBs have a higher prevalence of mental disorders than heterosexuals.
The author offers a conceptual framework for understanding this excess in prevalence of disorder in terms of minority stress—explaining that stigma, prejudice, and discrimination create a hostile and stressful social environment that causes mental health problems.
The model describes stress processes, including the experience of prejudice events, expectations of rejection, hiding and concealing, internalized homophobia, and ameliorative coping processes. This conceptual framework is the basis for the review of research evidence, suggestions for future research directions, and exploration of public policy implications.
As we celebrate or do not participate in the Pride, we must respect those who do and live their lives the way they see fit; a way that makes them happy.
We can’t interrupt their principle of pleasure just to satisfy our own inadequate notions. Life is too short. Let live, love and laugh. Happy Pride to all!