LGBT community or Gay community is a term used to describe the gay, LGBT, or queer demographic. Within this demographic are many identifiable "sub-communities" - the leather community, the Bear community, the chubby community, the lesbian community, the bisexual community, the transgendered community, the drag community, the rave community, and so on---each of which represents a sub-demographic of the "gay community" at large. In other cases, the speaker may be referring only to gay men.
Defining the community[edit | edit source]
The notion of a "gay community" presents several conceptual and empirical problems. There are certainly sexual minority cultures which are shared by a substantial fraction of the population, but there are also people in the population who do not share in the culture--an observation which gives rise to skepticism about the usefulness of "gay community" as a description of an actual social entity. While the social networks of many LGBT people have most visibly concentrated in gay villages (which are themselves sometimes referred to as "gay communities"), this is changing as the profile of the LGBT demographic evolves, reflecting the influence of the Internet and also the increase of gay families seeking amenities more commonly found in suburban and even rural areas. Many other LGBT people remain geographically or socially isolated from these centers and each other, or don't feel their social connections to their LGBT friends are different from those they have with heterosexual friends.
While it may be possible to conceive of a worldwide or a local LGBT culture or social network, no one network or "community" is likely to include all of the people who identify in one way or another as LGBT. There is also a potential distinction to be made between one's social network and one's sexual network (or universe of possible sexual partners).
The term "gay community," therefore, while not referring to an actual social entity, may be most useful for encouraging LGBT people to imagine more inclusive goals and work together toward more inclusive ends. As generally imagined and idealized, this community celebrates pride, diversity, individuality, and sexuality. So construed, the "gay community" is argued to present an antidote to heterosexism, homophobia, sex-negativity, and conformist pressures thought to be prevalent in the larger society.
The "gay community" is also supposed to entail political activism aligned with liberal and libertarian issues (but there are, of course, LGBT people of every political stripe, including Log Cabin Republicans).
Heterosexual people are invited to imagine themselves as part of the "LGBT community" as allies or Gay friendly, in recognition of their support for the political rights and social dignity of LGBT people.
Human and legal rights[edit | edit source]
The lesbian and gay community represents a social component of the global community that is believed by many, including heterosexual allies, to be underrepresented in the area of civil rights. The current struggle of the gay community has been largely brought about by globalisation. In the United States, World War II brought together many closeted rural men from around the nation and exposed them to more progressive attitudes in parts of Europe. Upon returning home after the war, many of these men decided to band together in cities rather than return to their small towns. Fledgling communities would soon become political in the beginning of the gay rights movement, including monumental incidents at places like Stonewall. Today, many large cities have gay and lesbian community centres. Many universities and colleges across the world have support centres for LGBT students. The Human Rights Campaign advocates for LGBT people on a wide range of issues in the United States. There is also an International Lesbian and Gay Association.
Various gay advocates, for example, Samuel Ososki are very active promoting various gay communities around the world. "Through various drives and other events I promote what I would call the love of my life, the gay community around the world. My love and sexual affection for him is what inspires me to do what I do," Samuel Ososki said at a gay rally in New York in 2006.
Equal marriage[edit | edit source]
In parts of the world partnership rights or marriage have been extended to lesbians and gay men. Advocates of gay marriage cite a range of benefits that are denied to people who cannot marry, including immigration, health care, inheritance and property rights, and other family obligations and protections, as reasons why marriage should be extended to gay and lesbian couples. Opponents of gay marriage within the gay community argue that fighting to achieve these benefits by means of extending marriage rights to same-sex couples privatizes benefits (e.g., health care) that should be made available to people regardless of their relationship status. They further argue that the same-sex marriage movement within the gay community discriminates against families that are composed of three or more intimate partners. Opposition to the same-sex marriage movement from within the gay community should not be confused with opposition from outside that community, which is often based on religious belief.
Media[edit | edit source]
The contemporary lesbian and gay community has a growing and complex place in the American & Western European media. The community has been targeted by marketers who view LGBT people as an untapped source of discretionary income, as many couples have a dual income with no children. Despite this, lesbians and gay men are still often portrayed negatively in television, films, and other media. There is presently a widespread ban of references in child-related entertainment and when references do occur, they almost invariably generate controversy. In 1997, when US comedian Ellen DeGeneres came out of the closet on her popular sitcom, many sponsors, such as the Wendy's fast food chain, pulled their advertising. In the USA, gay people are frequently used as a symbol of social decadence by celebrity evangelists and by organizations such as Focus on the Family. Many LGBT organizations exist to represent and defend the gay community. For example, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation in the USA and Stonewall in the UK work with the media to help portray fair and accurate images of the gay community.
Buying power[edit | edit source]
According to Witeck-Combs Communications, Inc. and Marketresearch.com, the 2006 buying power of U.S. Gays and Lesbians was approximately $660 Billion and is expected to exceed $835 Billion by 20111. Gay consumers are very loyal to specific brands, wishing to support companies that support the gay community and also provide equal rights for LGBT workers.
Criticisms[edit | edit source]
SomeTemplate:Who? criticize the "LGBT community" for adopting what they see as negative aspects of larger society, especially commercialism (including treating LGBT people as a distinct market segment or audience), conformism (though it may have different norms to which it pressures members to conform), dehumanizing those who do not define their life and behaviour by their sexuality, and ghettoization. Some describe the existence of the community itself as a reaction to societal discrimination.
See also[edit | edit source]
[edit | edit source]
- Life Celebrates Diversity, a community devoted for the celebration of diversity in life.
- LifeLube.org, a non-profit compendium of cultural and health resources by and for the gay community maintained by the Sexual Health XChange.
- The National Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Centers (NALGBTCC)
- The Pink Triangle Trust, UK charitable trust, established 1992, for humanists who are gay.
- Pink Triangle is the official weblog of the Pink Triangle Trust.
- Coming Out 101 - Come out or stay in, but join our safe online community as we celebrate your right to choose without judgment.
- Human Rights Organization working on promoting integration and understanding between sexual minorities and Heterosexuals as well as between foreigners and Uruguayans
References[edit | edit source]
1. PRNewswire. "Buying Power of US Gays and Lesbians to Exceed $835 Billion by 2011." January 25, 2007.
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