Homophobia is generally defined as hostility towards or fear of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals (LGBTs). It has many faces, living in those who bully, taunt and commit violence against gays, in individuals who make gay jokes, and in parents who deny their children their love because they are gay.
It’s manifested by both intentional and unintentional actions committed by anyone, even the least likely – such as siblings, a best friend, neighbor or coworker.
The truth is, we can all be instruments of homophobia – whether we know it or not.
In our community, the bonds of family and friendships are the glue that binds us together. These values that we hold so dear as Hispanics also provide us with the motivation, the instinct and the courage to act toward each other with love instead of fear.
This challenge applies to both heterosexuals and homosexuals, and can be met by each person communicating from the heart, with respect and without judgment or hate.
We have the power to stamp out homophobia in the Hispanic community – that power rests in each one of us.
The Hispanic community takes pride in our respect for all people and our strong belief that everyone should be treated equally. We expect equal rights & treatment under the law and demand it of others.
This attitude is deeply rooted in our community and the immigrant experience that led so many of us or our families to come to the U.S. – to improve our lives and build more promising futures for our families.
The best way to express this heritage and show that each person deserves individual respect is treat others as you’d like them to treat you.
For many LGBTs, the “coming out” process includes a period of “acting out”. This may be characterized by expressing your newly found freedom through excessive behavior, like alcohol, drugs, sex or other types of recklessness.
“Acting out” puts added strain on relationships with family members still struggling to come to terms with your “coming out”, and what it means for you, for them and for the entire family. An abrupt change in behavior can create even greater distance between you and family members who thought they knew you so well.
Oftentimes, when someone “comes out” to their parents or family members, the family’s reaction is to “go into the closet”. This is a result of not having the knowledge, support and resources to discuss or process the information.
As an LGBT individual (and friend or family member), to gain understanding & acceptance from others requires your active participation.
* Remember that “Coming out” may be the end of one process for you, but it’s only the beginning of the process for your family
* Be patient with your family; Trust them; Communicate with them; They need your help and direction to reach the acceptance that you’ve reached.
Many Hispanic parents, grandparents and families are dealing with the gay or LGBT topic for the first time. It’s a completely unknown subject for them and they have no knowledge or positive experience to discuss, ask questions or learn about it. The unknown nature of this topic creates fear and develops an insular homophobia within one’s own mind and family.
However, this reaction is a complete contradiction to our beliefs.
Our families are rooted in the principles of mutual love and respect. We know the first priority for any parent is to protect and care for your kids, and a vital key to protecting your children is acceptance.
The first step to understanding and acceptance is open and respectful dialogue within our families. Know that you are not alone. Push yourself to communicate, ask questions and seek information. There are many wonderful organizations across the nation who are working to help promote acceptance and understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons and combat the profound social impact of anti-gay bias and prejudice. We encourage you to find out about resources and additional information available to you and your loved ones by visiting the following sites:
Alianza Dominicana HOPE Program
Bronx Community Pride Center
Family Acceptance Project
Hispanic AIDS Forum
GLBT National Help Center
International Day Against Homophobia
www.homophobiaday.org Las Buenas Amigas
Latino Commission on AIDS
LGBT Community Center
Long Island GLBT Community Center
Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
Teatro El Puente
Read more by HS News Staff →