Sexuality Project: Sex Education and the Body, Q. 6

This is an installment of the Religious Fundamentalism and Sexuality Project. You can read the full list of questions here and the posting plan hereThe first six participants whose stories I’ll be posting are Melissa and Haley, Lina and V, Latebloomer and Katy-Anne.

Sex Education and the Body

6. When and how did you first hear about LGBTQ identities? How old were you, and how much did you understand? How did the messages you heard make you feel?

Melissa and Haley

Melissa:

I must have been around 12 when I first heard of “homosexuals”. (Other than the references I must have heard in the bible reading we did.) I read an article in WORLD magazine in which the author was decrying the idea of “Homosexual Marriage”. I asked my mom what Homosexual meant, and she told me that it was when 2 men decided to try and be together like a man and a woman should be together, but that it was wrong, and god wanted only men and women to be together and get married. I didn’t ask more then. I can’t remember when it dawned on me that the same idea could apply to women too. I absolutely never saw any gay or lesbian couples, or any media regarding them other than the religious propoganda against LGBTQ people. I remember feeling afraid of them, in my early teens I thought that “homosexuals” were all men, that there were not very many of them, that they could not have children of their own or form families,  that they were disease ridden and sex-obsessed, had probably been sexually abused as children, and that they tried to get close to children so they could sexually abuse them. I do not have any distinct memories of discussions with my parents about all of that (although I am sure that they happened) but I did enough reading of the christian materials all over our house to learn the party line easily.

Haley:

I first heard about LGBT identities by hearing about my dad’s gay cousins. They were universally looked down on for their lifestyle. I was quite young when I heard about gay people, but they were “scary” and had “lots of diseases”.

Lina and V

Lina:

As with sex, I can’t recall a specific introduction to LGBTQ ideas. I really wish I could. My first impressions are definitely “ew” and “unnatural” and “sinful” – though that was all for gay men; I had no category for lesbians. Trans people, I unfortunately believed, were going against what God had clearly ordained about their bodies. I literally had no inkling that I would end up a lesbian, so I had no problem internalizing the usual lines about LGBTQ people.

V:

I was probably in late elementary school, and a commercial for Ellen came on the TV.  My mom immediately made some snide comment and remarked about how those types of people disgust her.  I’m not quite sure when I put the pieces together that same-sex people could be in a relationship, but I knew from that start that it was an abomination that did not bring glory to God.

Latebloomer:

I grew up in California, and at some point during elementary school my parents took us sightseeing in San Francisco.  From that trip, I somehow got the idea that I needed to stay away from the homeless people in SF because they were probably gay and HIV positive.  At the time, I didn’t even know what sex was, and my parents avoiding using words like “sex”, so my parents explained it as “two men or two women who do bad things together.”  Naturally, I was terrified and curious, but it was a long time before I got any more information than that.

Katy-Anne:

I had a lesbian aunt, but I didn’t find out she was a lesbian until after I left home, which made me mad. It made me mad because I felt like my parents should have just told us, even saying that while they don’t agree with it, that’s who she was. I didn’t understand a lot but I knew that, at the time, I liked girls. But I was taught that LGBTQ people were very wicked and an abomination to God and that they were a threat to society. However, I never really understood why it seemed like such a terrible sin, and secretly I had LGBTQ people as friends and was extra confused because they didn’t seem like wicked, evil perverts to me.

The messages about LGBTQ people made me even more insecure and I knew I would never be able to talk to my family about being attracted to girls.

  • http://findingsnooze.blogspot.com Lina

    @Latebloomer- Oh god, I’d be terrified! “They do bad things together” – I’d be expecting the homeless to jump out in pairs and stab tourists or something!

  • Anonymous

    ““two men or two women who do bad things together.” – Yeah, I would have been worse than terrified, I’d have been unable to sleep with any other person of my same sex; no sleepovers, no ”let’s study together”, …. It’s sick, sick and sad that you were taught so in this century.

  • http://gravatar.com/sillyluis sillyluis

    ““two men or two women who do bad things together.” – Yeah, I would have been worse than terrified, I’d have been unable to sleep with any other person of my same sex; no sleepovers, no ”let’s study together”, …. It’s sick, sick and sad that you were taught so in this century.


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