Last updated on April 26, 2016
By Sara Keen, Editor-in-Chief & Mackenizie Border, Layout Manager
The three most commonly known letters in the acronym LGBTQIA, LGB, stand for lesbian, gay and bisexual.
Essentially, they cover the two genders for homosexuality, lesbian and gay, as well as bisexuality.
Homosexuality means that a person is attracted to those of the same gender as themselves.
A man would be attracted to a man – gay – or a woman would be attracted to a woman – lesbian.
On the other hand, bisexuality is when a person can be attracted to both genders, male or female.
The LGBTQIA community was formed for a similar reason to any other community. It provides a safe place for those involved.
Homosexuals and bisexuals are able to be around similar people.
“It’s usually possible to be less guarded and more relaxed because there’s a greater level of acceptance and less risk of hostility,” said Nancy Blomgren, Associate Professor of English.
“Members of the LGBT community are more likely to live in unstable and abusive dwellings, have long-term unemployment, commit suicide, become homeless, and are victims of hate crimes,” said Amanda Steele, a Vol State student.
As with many minorities fighting for their rights, the LGB community still faces outside discrimination.
It is still legal in most states to fire, evict, and refuse service to LGBT people.
With the discrimination faced, there is also a considerable amount of hate speech and discriminatory actions coming from political campaign and legislature.
“[It] is doing tremendous harm to a lot of young people who hear this barrage of hate every day,” said Blomgren.
There is also an unfortunate amount of discrimination within the community.
“In the gay and lesbian movements there have been multiple times where bisexuals and other multisexual orientations have been pushed to the backburner even while the movement was pushing for inclusiveness,” said Jamie Fuston, Instructor of Sociology.
“We say we don’t want to label ourselves, but I’ve seen where we label each other, and it’s actually discrimination more toward bisexuals where someone says ‘You just don’t know what you want.’ I’ve seen even LGBT say this, and it’s quite upsetting,” said Blake Coker, SGA Activities Chair.
The same argument tends to come from outside the community, whether it is, “you don’t know what you want,” or “you just want to sleep with everyone.”
The dominant reason for this is because it is a multisexual orientation and is not categorized as easily for many.
“For both L and G identities, they are what are called monosexual orientation, meaning there is an enduring pattern of romantic, emotional, and/or sexual attraction to those of one particular sex,” said Fuston.
“With bisexuals, pansexuals, polysexuals, gynesexuals, androsexuals, skoliosexuals, etc., you get into multisexual orientations instead.
“In our society, we often like our mutually exclusive boxes and categories. We like you to be this or that and gray areas become uncomfortable for us,” said Fuston.
The LGB part of the community has simultaneously advanced and barely changed at all in education over the years.
The advancements made include the development of clubs such as Vol State’s own Spectrum, which would not have been considered okay 50 years ago.
There is also safe space training in education to help LGB students, and some assumptions, such as everyone in the community having HIV/AIDS, are no more.
On the other hand, “sexual orientation is the second highest reason cited for bullying in schools, second only to physical appearance,” said Fuston.
This means that there is still work to be done on the attitudes toward sexuality and how people react to those in the community.
Many people in the community express a fear of “coming out.”
Whether this fear stems from the lack of societal acceptance or familial reactions, it is typically warranted.
“Many people [in the community] lose part or all of their family members by being a different sexual orientation or gender than expected,” said Fuston.
Even before coming out, some will struggle with their own sexuality, whether it is because they want to fit in, feel normal, or have trouble accepting themselves.
“I wanted myself to believe there was a chance I would end up being with a girl, and in the back of my head I knew I was lying to myself.
“I knew I was never going to end up being with a woman,” said Coker.
There are places and people that can be reached for help.
There are usually safe spaces on campuses, for example, and sometimes guidance counselors that are capable of helping.
Something that has been used to help those struggling is the Kinsey scale and test.
The test analyzes the answers submitted and gives the participant a place on a numerical scale, from zero to six.
Zero means that the participant is exclusively heterosexual, while six is exclusively the other extreme.
Bisexuals typically fall around three, though not typically perfectly, and asexuals, which will be discussed in later article, will be given the score of “X.”
Blomgren offered final advice for those struggling with their sexuality.
“Don’t hang out with people who want you to be just like they are. Those people can’t help you, and they’re not interesting, either.
“Instead, surround yourself with those who want you to be happy and healthy, and will let you figure out your own life on your own timeline.
“Listen to your heart. Trust yourself,” said Blomgren.