Due to the lack of understanding, acceptance, or even acknowledgment of LGBT identity in the social work profession and the community at large, members of the LGBT community often have to confront the challenge of dispelling popular misperceptions and myths. Only when we address existing stereotypes that continue to fuel people’s homophobic attitudes, will we overcome issues of social stigma, alienation, intolerance, and discrimination that are expressed toward, and impede effective social work service delivery within, the LGBT community.
All Gay Men Are Effeminate And Flamboyant
Just like the lesbian stereotype, this is another complete bull. In a place like Nigeria, you would have a relatively easy time being gay as long as you are masculine and fit into society’s image of what it is to be straight. So long as you are “mando,” then you cannot be gay. Just because many gay men tend to be colourful and are effeminate does not mean every gay man is. This stereotype dates back to the word “gay” itself, which had originally been used to describe someone who was overly cheerful, loud, and happy. Over the years, the etymology of the word has had a widespread effect on how gay men are perceived. The media has also not been helpful with this stereotype but just so you know, your straight-acting gym buddy friend could be a power bottom taking it up the butt in the men’s locker room from that sissy boy you look down on!
Lesbians Hate Men
You may have had your straight friends talk about lesbian this way. The notion is that most lesbians are feminists who hate men and would rather sleep with a woman to avoid men (scum). Just because a lesbian dates other women, that doesn’t mean she despises men. Yes, a lesbian might not need a man sexually but they maintain other relationships with men whether friends, colleagues or family members.
All Gay Men Are Sexual Predators or Pedophiles
“That boy na gay, e go burst your yansh,” “I cover my yansh with the blood of Jesus.” Can you take several seats back already because ain’t nobody interested in your butt? Gay men do not pose a danger to society as widely believed because being gay does not make one a sexual predator or pedophile. The narrative has been fueled by stories of priests abusing boys in the Catholic church. Just as heterosexuals have rapists and sexual abusers/predators, the queer community has as well but it is not synonymous to one sexuality.
All Lesbians Are Masculine
Yes, some lesbian women are masculine-presenting in their appearance and disposition but just like the rest of the world, every lesbian is different. You cannot define a group of people into such stereotypical boxes. Another misconception that goes hand-in-hand with this stereotype is that lesbian relationships include one woman who is more “masculine,” and one who is considered more “feminine,” i.e. the butch-femme dynamic. Same-sex relationships are exactly what they are, same-sex, there is no need to apply gender roles to those involved in same-sex relationships. All we can tell you is that just like every other human, lesbians come in all shapes, sizes, races, and gender expressions.
All Bisexual People Are Promiscuous
Let’s face it, many still discriminate against bisexual people in the LGBT community. Not only do they have to face backlash from the heteros but also from within the community. With this discrimination also comes the misconception that bisexual people are promiscuous. The logic is that since they get to have the best of both worlds, then they must find it hard to stay put with one person. Many even blamed bisexual people for spreading HIV and AIDS, all on the assumption that bisexual people were engaging in more dangerous sexual activities. There are cases of not wanting to date bisexual people because of the stereotype that they cannot be monogamous. This stereotype is not only unfair but completely untrue. Bisexual people are just as capable of forming monogamous relationships as heterosexual, gay, and lesbian people.
All Transgender Women Are Drag Queens
For those who may not be as familiar with the transgender community, it’s easy to assume that all trans women are drag queens and vice versa. But it is also egregiously incorrect. A drag queen is simply a man who takes on a female persona while in costume or performing. Those who choose to dress in drag don’t necessarily identify as women when they aren’t in drag, a distinction that often isn’t considered. Trans women, on the other hand, are people who were born with male genitalia but identify as women. They’re not putting on a show by wearing feminine clothing, they’re expressing the gender with which they identify.