Recently I wrote to a western friend and requested her to write about her life as a lesbian. (To respect her wishes I will not divulge her name and other details). The intention of publishing her viewpoint is to highlight the extreme prejudice these women face day in and day out with no respite. Some are spat on, others slapped in public and many evicted from their homes by self-righteous landlords and neighbours. Curiously a lot of the violence comes from women who object to lesbianism, not men.
This is her reply.
I am fine with your honest and legitimate request, no worries, but I have to politely decline your offer. One of the reasons is that one’s sexuality is a private affair. There is an issue of inequality in communication when LGBT-members have to ‘out’ themselves in public discourse as individuals, in the media, while the hetero-normal majority is watching for entertainment and novelty. Information travels far these days.
My personal experiences of even mildly discussing homosexuality in public are bad, and the numerous attacks by sexist men and many men on my person over the years, especially persons from Arab background (including women) that I have come across, have led to the conclusion that I rather critique patriarch ideology and advocate equal rights on common academic and theoretical ground. For personal protection, safety and comfort I keep my personal life to myself.
Below a short non-published note I wrote on related topics.
Same Gender Marriage – The Frustrations of Belonging to a Minority
Same gender marriage (in the following: SGM), also known as ‘same-sex-marriage’ or simply ‘gay marriage’ refers to the public social union between members of the same biological sex or gender identity. Laws legalizing SGM have been enabled for a small number of countries (starting with the Netherlands in 2001), establishing it as a relatively new global issue (BBC, 2013). Anthropological evidence suggests that SGM has been around since Ancient Greek and Roman society and across cultures (Lahey & Alderson, 2004, p.16). Highly controversial in public debate is the associated right of gay couples to adopt children. Since global acceptance of SGM is tied to societal recognition of LGBT communities, world-wide implementation faces significant opposition (UN, 2011).
(a) My Personal Level of Anger
My spontaneous reaction on the topic is raising the question why, as a lesbian woman, I should be denied the fairly basic right to marry my partner which the hetero-normal majority of society takes for granted. It is difficult not to take this matter personally since the opposition to SGM implies judgment about ontological worthiness and the denial of self-determination (Weinman, 2011). Besides spiritual symbolism, legal equality (Merin, 2002) is the parallel goal of non-discrimination. Underlying is the proposition that
(b) Social Level of Avoidance Behavior
My defensive reaction to homo-negativity and in order to avoid discrimination is mostly expressed in avoidance behavior. My strategy is to not engage with conservative groups that appear fundamentalist religious, support authoritarian right-wing politics, celebrate hyper masculinity or openly oppose minority rights, all predictors for homophobia (Nagoshi et al., 2008). Reactively I despise groups that engage vocally and proactively against SGM such as recently demonstrated in France (Sayare, 2013), not even mentioning the abysmal and saddening situation in Russia. In Germany provisions to improve adoption rights in SGM advance steadily under public support (Ignazi, 2013), encouraged by a wider non-religious understanding of marriage and partnership.
(c) Insecurities surrounding Gay Parenting
Even within LGBT communities gay parenting constitutes a fairly new topic (Taylor, 2009). Most research published on ‘rainbow families’ (Hanssen, 2012) and case-studies in mainstream media have not appeared until recent years. Many gay couples have avoided the topic as the costs of civic acceptance appear too high and not everybody is ready to e.g., address schooling problems and dealing with homophobic bias against gay families (Pennington & Knight, 2011). Societal discouragement and lack of social support reinforce tendencies to not adopt children. However, Lynne Maxwell notes that “Significantly, same-sex couples raising adopted children are older, more educated, and have more economic resources than other adoptive parents.” (Maxwell, 2008). Regarding children’s outcomes the American Psychological Association (APA) published an official statement in 2005 noting that “Not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents.”
Ultra-right-wing fanatics opposing SGM such as in the USA (TFP, 2012) can probably only be found in countries of the Middle-East and predominantly among the less educated. SGM raises many questions for society, e.g., has a vocal conservative majority the right to dictate how minorities should live and structure their private lives? Should societies support their gay Christian and gay Muslim brothers and sisters instead of discriminating against them? Are non-religious unions just as valid as religious ones? Can we accept that in the age of globalization culture implies a plethora of life-forms and not just a single, ideologically advocated social schemata?
I would like to hear a single rational argument as to why not.
BBC. (2013, April 23). Gay marriage around the world. Retrieved from
Hanssen, J. K. (2012). ‘My Rainbow Family’-Discomfort and the Heteronormative Logics.
Young, 20(3), 237-256. doi:10.1177/110330881202000302
Ignatzi, C. (2013, February 20). Germany strengthens gay adoption rights. Retrieved from
Lahey, K. A., & Alderson, K. (2004). Same-sex marriage [electronic book] : the personal and the political / Kathleen A. Lahey and Kevin Alderson. Toronto : Insomniac Press, 2004.Maxwell, L. (2008). Collection Development “Gay Parenting”: Building Rainbow Families. Library Journal, 133(6), 54-57.
Maxwell, L. (2008). Collection Development “Gay Parenting”: Building Rainbow Families. Library Journal, 133(6), 54-57.
Merin, Y. (2002). Equality for same-sex couples [electronic book] the legal recognition of gay partnerships in Europe and the United States / Yuval Merin. Chicago : University of ChicagoPress, c2002.
Nagoshi, J., Adams, K., Terrell, H., Hill, E., Brzuzy, S., & Nagoshi, C. (2008). Gender Differences in Correlates of Homophobia and Transphobia. Sex Roles, 59(7/8), 521-531.
Pennington, J., & Knight, T. (2011). Through the lens of hetero-normative assumptions: rethinking attitudes towards gay parenting. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 13(1), 59-72.
Sayare, S. (2013, May 23). Amid much tumult, france approves ‘marriage for all’. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/24/world/europe/france-approves-same-sexmarriage.html?_r=0
Taylor, Y. (2009). Lesbian and gay parenting [electronic book] : securing social and educational capital / Yvette Taylor. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
TFP – Student Action American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property. (2012). 10 Reasons Why Homosexual “Marriage” is Harmful and Must be Opposed
United Nations. (2011, Nov 17). Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Retrieved from
Weinman, M. (2011). Living well and sexual self-determination: Expanding human rights
discourse about sex and sexuality. Law, Culture & The Humanities, 7(1), 101-120.