Stereotypes within sexuality

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As a homosexual male I’m victimised to some horrible outdated stereotypes on a daily basis. You are supposed to play into the different gender roles in society. The way you should act, dress, should talk and how you present yourself. Your whole demeanour is a target for abuse just because of who you are.

For men especially, gender roles are highly conflated with sexuality stereotypes (Lehavot & Lambert, 2007). These set of ideas and judgements can really damage somebody’s mental health. Homosexual males judged to possess hyperfeminity qualities because of their sexual identity. Nobody should have the fear of being judged because of your identity and your beliefs. Judging somebody because of their sexuality is discrimination and sadly it is still common amongst bigoted individuals.

This isn’t acceptable and here are a few ways to take notice and make a stand. Firstly you need to point it out, speak up and be an example. You cannot sit in silence, if you spot somebody who is being discriminative by making sexist comments please challenge their beliefs and try and educate them. Some people might make Ill judged comments unnoticeably and have no intention of harm playing it off as a joke but they also need to be put on alert that in todays culture it is unacceptable.

We should be comfortable in our own skin and have the freedom to express ourselves without the fear off being judged. Sadly that isn’t the reality we live in and people still are homophobic based off their exaggerated perceptions of these stereotypes. This is why Famous protests like Stonewall had to fight against discrimination back in 1969 which lead to the beginning of gay pride. In todays culture LGBT+ pride is the promotion of the self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT+) people as a social group’ (Gay Pride wikipedia 2020).

You should never be judged based on perceptions or stereotypes because of your sexuality and this is why I wanted to finally address this and talk about how it has affected my life. So here we go.

My experiences battling stereotypes

Football

Growing up I was raised to play and love sports where my keen interests were mostly in football. Even in todays culture it is very rare to see an open homosexual male make it professionally because they fear it can damage their reputation and make them an easy target for abuse.

This began in 22nd October 1990 when Justin Fashanu became the first professional footballer to come out as gay. This was a huge shocking the footballing world and even his brother fellow professional footballer described Justin as an ‘outcast’ and even Justin’s manager footballing legend Brian Clough described Justin as “bloodypoof”. Justin was the cover story for the July 1991 editor of Gay Times where he revealed that no club offered him a contract since coming out as gay.

This is astonishing considering just ten years earlier he was the first black footballer to have been bought for £1,000,000 when he moved to Nottingham Forest. Sadly after his career plummeted due to being gay Justin moved to America where he was accused of sexual assault and he feared due to his homosexuality he would be unfairly sentenced so instead decide to move back to England and hang himself. Justin was found hanged in a deserted lock-up garage he had broken into, in Shoreditch, London. In his suicide note, he stated: “I realised that I had already been presumed guilty. I do not want to give any more embarrassment to my friends and family.” Justin was wrongly accused saying in the suicide note the sex was consensual and today we honour the first homosexual male footballer who had to suffer to help others openly be who they are. Finally in 2020, Fashanu was honoured with being inducted into National Football Museum Hall of Fame, a truly deserving recipient.

Justin Fashanu

I thankfully have grown up in a different time where people in our community from all walks of life can openly express themselves and be who they are. Although we are by no means equal, we still get insulted, tormented and threatened on a daily basis just because of who we fancy. In football even on the 1st February 2020, two West Ham United fans were arrested in London Stadium by the police for directing homophobic chants towards Brighton & Hove Albion fans during a Premier League Match.

This is why people struggle to come out in the public eye or even to their friendships group. I was judged in school for the way I acted so badly I spent hours at home trying to walk straight and how I should talk to people making sure I lowered the tone in my voice not to sound too ‘camp’. I was judged for being who I am first and my ability second, which reminds me of when a guy I played football with told my friend ‘he is a gayboy but he is a class goalkeeper’. My sexuality has no affect on my performances or who I am as an individual so Ill mannered comments like that really can be hurtful to somebody. Especially as I was only 13 years of age, I was still discovering things and certainly was not aware of what I liked, what my sexuality was or who I was.

Me in my teams kit age 11

Judged for being ‘different’

Nobody should live in fear of being a target of abuse and bullying just because of their sexuality. I can guarantee that if the people who have judged me, if given the chance got to have an open conversation with me they would realise their ideologies they have of what a typical gay man is like is completely wrong.

Every person on this earth has their own individuality, their own talents, own passions and own personality all of which makes them who they are. It is extremely unfair to put somebody into a category based on stereotypes of what perception you may have towards a certain race, gender, beliefs or sexuality.

My favourite hobby is gaming and football, my favourite music artist is Jon Bellion, my favourite drink is a Budweiser and not all my friends are girls. I shouldn’t have to list facts about my life to warrant a reason for you not to judge me, but I just want to make it clear. Stereotyping somebody because of their sexuality is completely unfair and will only reflect badly on the type of person you are.

‘I always knew’

The last stereotype I would like to address is the passive comments that people may make but play it off as a joke. I just wanted to let people know before making this comments have a think about your delivery and if this comment may be taken in the wrong way. We know you mean no harm and just want to ‘lighten the mood’ but there are some situations in which you may just need to listen and be supportive rather than trying to prove a point.

One statement that sticks out to me is ‘I always knew’. I can assure you majority of people reading this can relate to the annoyance of this comment. To clarify I’m talking about if one of your friends have ever reacted to your coming out story with ‘don’t worry I always knew’.

Despite not meaning any menace from it, these sort of comments really gets to me because what they are tying to actually say is judging from my personality they think I match the stereotypes. The standard ‘my gaydar was going off’ can come off judgmental too. This is a mechanism called “stereotype threat” which refers to a fear of doing something that would confirm negative perceptions of a stigmatised group that we are members of.

We are currently living in 2020 where masculinity isn’t judged by social roles anymore. This is why we need to move past these sort of stereotypes because they should no longer exist. We live in a world where you should be able to be what you want and who you want without the fear of being judged.

Please for anybody reading this if your friend decides to finally confined with you and open up about his sexuality please just listen. Please deal with the situation carefully and just support them as they are incredible vulnerable and looking to you to seek encouragement.

Please do not make comments that can knock them down, as when I got told ‘I always knew’ it made me overthink about occasions they may have spoke about this behind my back for the whole time and what else they may be saying. It may sound stupid and over exaggerated indeed but trust me speaking from experience your mind is already overthinking about how others who might not take kindly to the news may react, they don’t need added worries.

The daily struggles of stereotyping somebody

Stereotypes are something of the past as we try and step away from being stigmatised. All I ask if you are reading this is just think before you speak because a remark you think nothing off can seriously harm somebody and stick with them.

I just wanted to be a normal teenager and restated equally like the other boys playing sports but I was always judged from the off. I was always the outcast and it really knocked my social skills which still affects me today suffering from high anxiety when I meet somebody new.

Please just be aware of these situations because people like me endure these sorts of abuse on the daily basis. When we confide in you please just be supportive, it isn’t the time to pass judgment all you have to do is listen.

Stereotypes within sexuality is a very sensitive subject for many people and I hope I have addressed it correctly. This was just my experiences, everybody else is different so please bear that in mind. Talk to your friends, support them and please don’t stereotype.

Thank you x

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An extrovert in isolation – A story by Courtney Groom

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The start of lockdown for me was definitely a rough start. I was already on lockdown two weeks before the official announcement due to my work closing beforehand as I work in a cinema. Before lockdown was even announced I had already lost my job of which I had been a member of staff for only a month, due to the company not having enough money. However, once the country went into the first official 3 weeks I was rehired as it was government guidelines to close everything.

At first I thought, well this will be a breeze, I’ve got games to play, comics to read, shows to watch it will be fine… fast forward to 9 weeks later and still here I am in the same four walls I was in in the middle of March. As the weeks went on my mental health grew thinner and thinner. Events I had planned, mainly comic cons, were all slowly starting to get cancelled. A concert, Billie Eilish, I had been excited for a whole year for had been postponed. Plans I had with friends to attend festivals and events for cancelled. Everything I had planned for the year was gone within 9 weeks. And to add on top of the downfall I also received an email from work letting me know I would not be getting any furlough pay during the pandemic. Everything I had been working hard for since the end of last year was gone in a flash. 

This difficult time has not been easy for anyone, some days you wake up and remind yourself it won’t be like this forever and just take each day as it comes. Then other days you just don’t want to leave your bed because what’s the point? It’s just going to be the same boring day again. 

How to keep yourself occupied in a crisis

Trying to keep yourself busy when you’re unable to go anywhere except to the shops and back has been a challenge in itself. But thankfully I managed to find a few things that would keep me occupied.

I am currently a report for Starry Constellation Magazine, writing show recaps and conduction interviews with TV stars and upcoming musicians. Even though it is a none paid reporting job, having something to work on for an hour or two out of my day really helped keep me grounded. 

A huge chunk of my lockdown has however been spent playing Nintendo’s Animal Crossing New Horizons, a game I have been waiting for 5 years for. The game is evolved around creating your own island with animal villagers while fishing and collection fossils and bugs. There is also no set timeline or rules in the game allowing players to explore and completely zone out of the real world. To some this would sound totally boring and wouldn’t understand how I’ve managed to spend over 300 hours on it in 9 weeks. But the truth is, this game has kept me, and many others around the world, from spiralling into a dark hole. The game would help provide me with daily tasks and something to work towards each day while not hearing the words ‘Coronavirus’ or ‘Lockdown’ for a couple of hours. 

Dr. Regine Galanti, author of Anxiety Relief for Teens, spoke in an article to Newsweekly said finding something you enjoy doing is really important to have during this time. He also pointed out that staying away from news or limiting news consumption is an important thing to do, so turning on a game like Animal Crossing is a great way to help reduced anxiety surrounding Covid-19. So even though it looks like I do nothing but play a virtual reality game with two dogs and a cat as villagers, it really is an escape from the world and allowing 

to be ‘normal’ for a couple of hours. link to article – https://www.newsweek.com/animal-crossing-new-horizons-great-your-mental-health-through-covid-19-professionals-say-1494525 

My lockdown has been spent with my mum, dad, sister of 18, my brothers of 17 and 8 who are also both autistic. Taking away from me I think it is important that we reflect on those with special needs during these tough times. Their daily routines and life as they know it has been stripped away from them with no warning and no explanation as to when this will all finally be over. Brooklyn, as any other normal teenager, has spent him time playing games and ignoring the global outbreak of this disease. However, Jack, the youngest, has struggled profoundly. Not understand why he can’t go to football training as he usually would on a weekend to see his friends and really missing school. Keeping him occupied and reducing his anxiety has been my goal really of this entire lockdown. 

Courtney has a special bond with her youngest brother Jack, 8

Which leads me onto something else that I have been playing to keep me going; Pokemon Go. As an avid Pokemon lover I decided to reinstall the game and make daily exercise walks of an hour more entertaining by completing in game challenges and catching as many Pokemon has humanly possible within an hour. The game developers Niantic also understood the struggles of not being allowed out of the house much and tweaked the game by allowing players to play from the comfort of their own homes without having to leave. Jack in particular gained from this game as it helped reduce his anxiety and merely forget about world walking around in ‘scary masks’ as he once described it and for a second feeling like the world was as he knew it once more. 

The impact of being secluded from socialisation

As someone who strives from social events, being restricted to my home and only being surrounded by my household has been extremely difficult for me. In a normal year I attend around 3 to 6 comic cons a year in London and around the country, as well as attending numerous amounts of concerts. Luckily in January I was able to go to London for the day to attend Winter Wonderland but unfortunately, I’ve not attending a single comic con, and as I have been attending them for over 8 years now, it was a huge shock to my mental health. Not having any count downs in my phone to seeing stars I admire from TV or the friends I have made from all across the world has been extremely difficult for me. But I also try to find a positive. 

Here’s to the future

Most nights I have been messaging friends or daydreaming about everything I want to do once this pandemic is over, and I think that’s the best thing anyone can do when you’re in this situation. Reminding yourself that this situation, in relation to your whole life, is only a small chunk of time and soon it will all be over, and we can go back to life as we knew it. If this pandemic has taught me anything it’s to not take anything for granted again and to always say yes. Sometimes my friends or family would ask me to go out for lunch or go on a night out with them and I’d always use the excuse of ‘I’m too tired’ or ‘I can’t be bothered’. But I won’t be using that anymore. Say yes to new adventures, even if you’re too tired, because life is too short to take for granted. Make memories with the ones you have around you and enjoy life to the fullest.

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