#LGBTQIA

Why Labelling Sexual And Gender Minorities As “Dangerous” Is Dehumanising

ungender language, gender minorities
Demonising sexual and gender minorities: Sometime back I was scrolling through my YouTube feed when I came across a video with an interesting title that was recommended to me. It was a young gay YouTuber reacting to homophobic videos. It was an absolute joy to watch that young man dismantle all the homophobic arguments made against his existence with logic and superior knowledge. While I was amused at some of the ridiculous and outlandish claims made by homophobic speakers, I also noticed an eerie similarity between almost all the homophobic content. They all tried to demonise the LGBTQ+ community.

There was one particular black and white video released in the 50s or 60s that caught my attention. It was government released, and the main message it wanted to give its viewers was that gay people were dangerous. It featured a middle-aged man walking around the town and talking to young children. The rough-voiced narrator described the man with such disgust and resentment, it made my skin crawl. The character was portrayed as a savage animal in the jungle, trying to lure in and prey on unsuspecting innocents. Seeing such a narrative was disturbing to me, but I told myself that things have changed now. But have things really changed? Not really. While I acknowledge that there are far more LGBTQ+ allies now than ever, our developing country is still a hub of homophobia and transphobia.

Dehumanising and demonising gender and sexual minorities comes forward as a way to mindlessly hate them without having to question your values and arguments. When you label an entire community as dangerous, you take their humanity away from them. If they aren’t human enough or “normal” enough, you do not need to think about your hurtful actions or words. You can indulge in your blind, hateful beliefs as much as you want without feeling guilty or second-guessing yourself. After all, they deserve to be treated this way. That is why we find so many people unwilling to listen to reason or have a discussion when it comes to LGBTQ+ acceptance. They know that their beliefs do not stand up to logic or critical thinking, but they are so used to homophobia and transphobia that they have accepted it as the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

A reader of mine is a young college student and recently came out as lesbian. She is the daughter of a single mother who is supportive of trans people. But the moment my reader disclosed to her mother that she is a lesbian, her face dropped. She got worried that lesbian women were going to sexually harass her daughter. When this reader’s mother heard about lesbians, she did not think of them as women.

As being attracted to women is seen as a “male” thing, she gave lesbian women the same stereotypical characteristics that are attributed to men. Her fears came from a place of worry that stemmed from decades of objectification and sexual violence against women. The way she viewed men as predators and women as prey blinded her to the fact that lesbian women are women, and most importantly, humans.

This works similarly with gay men and straight men as well. Many straight men hate gay men for various reasons. One of them said that they are afraid to be treated like how they treat women. Many straight men are terrified of attracting the sexual attention of gay men. They falsely believe that all gay men are hypersexual perverts who will touch them without their consent and have no control over their impulses. This is the same sort of mindset that many women are brought up with.

This fear comes from rigid gender roles that most of us still seem to carry. It tells us that one-half of the population is the aggressor and that the other half is the victim. This widely accepted (and absurd) predator-prey dynamic is one of the main reasons why so many people dehumanise others, including the LGBTQ+ community.

Pallavi Barnwal is a certified sexuality coach and founder of a sex-positive platform Get Intimacy. She has been featured as a sexpert in publications such as Huffington Post, India Today, Vogue, The Hindu, Dainik Bhaskar, Indian Express, Times Of India, BBC, Deccan Chronicle, Femina and more. She specialises in helping people gain courage to talk openly about sex and relationships and equipping them with actionable tips and skills so they can start having more pleasure both inside and outside their bedroom. The views expressed are the author’s own.


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