Homophobia: A thing of the past?

Twin brothers Austin and Aaron Rhodes’ coming out video.

“The same boring response that I get from “Hi, I’m a Virgo” I would like “Hi, I’m gay” to illicit the same kind of response” (Alecia Moore, 2010).

Recently, twin brothers Austin and Aaron Rhodes have “come out” of the closet. These two twin brothers are YouTube personalities that have made a big impact on social media since the release of their video titled ‘Twins Come out to Dad’. Interestingly, this video was uploaded on the 14th January 2015, and has gathered over 13 million views so far. In many cases the video has received positive feedback, grossing over 110,000 likes, with a mass support of the twins themselves and their father’s response.

Nevertheless, despite this mass positivity, there is also an array of hatred coming forward. There are currently over 11,000 dislikes on the video, with many comments discussing how the brothers are going against many religious scriptures. One example of this is presented in the picture below. Other comments included: “You know you failed as a family when both your sons are gay”, and a further comment stating that “It is wrong… God clearly says in the Bible that he created a ‘woman’, Eve, as the ‘wife’ of Adam, and that sexual relations are ‘only to be the privilege for a man and his wife”. Interestingly, these comments have gathered around 100 likes in total.

This article is not to be prejudiced against religious groups. In fact, there were many comments that mentioned how, despite their beliefs, they would never show discrimination against homosexuals. One comment, shown below, makes this point very clear. A further comment stated that “heterosexuals of this planet do not ever have to face the fear of telling someone their sexuality. Their sexuality is in no need of an announcement because it is recognised as the alpha in the sexuality context”.

In order to investigate how the LGBTQ+ community have reacted to this continued prejudice, two interviews were carried out. These interviews were conducted with Lettie Broom (18) and Sophie Wright (19). Lettie discussed how she has not experienced a “direct attack for my orientation”, but has had some “unwanted comments”. She particularly has had comments relating to her appearance, such as “is that why you cut your hair short?”. Sophie advised that she has had many jokes probed at her for her sexual orientation, as a bisexual. Some people have identified her as “greedy” or even “attention-seeking”.

What was interesting is that they both identified that stigma is still apparent within the UK. Particularly, they identified that certain groups are more prejudiced, or even discriminatory, due to their sexual orientation. Sophie went further as identifying that “I feel awkward sometimes bringing up my romantic life. I lied today to someone I know who is openly gay, and insinuated I was gay rather than bisexual”. The reason was due to the fear of prejudice relating to, as previously stated, being seen as “greedy”. Interestingly, Lettie advised that she was terrified due to her realisation. She began to change her “vision of [herself]” and for her future. She believed this may have been due to the “heteronormative ideals” that are within society. The idea that we should be in a “heterosexual marriage, [with] 2.2 kids, your own home, and a Volvo estate”. Further to this, it became clear that her own religious practices made it difficult for her experiences, but she managed to overcome some of the issues by identifying that the “basis of the gospel is love, and that extends to all people”.

Although there was a primary focus during the interview to talk about stigma outside the LGBTQ+ community, I did wish to investigate whether there was stigma inside. Both identified that this was the case, particularly the relation to minority orientations within the LGBTQ+ community such as asexuality, pansexuality or even genderqueer. Another one identified was transsexuality. Lettie believed that the “LGBTQ community is… often guilty of marginalising and excluding ‘trans’ people”. Interestingly, though Lettie identifies as a lesbian, she believed that people who identify as bisexual also face stigma inside the LGBTQ community. She argued that they are often seen as “not really gay or kind of straight… [even though] none of these things are true”.

When asked whether sexuality was a choice, strong views became apparent. Sophie went so far as to say “I know some people have struggled with their perceived identities… [but] I wanted to fully embrace every part of me”, especially since she argues that “who you’re attracted to is a proven biological phenomenon”. Lettie related to the idea that, if it were a choice, why would you choose it? She considered her constant struggle with her sexual identity: “battling with myself, with my own preconceptions, with society, with my friends… with my family… with my religion… it’s been tough”. She does not believe that, if it were a choice, anyone would choose to go through that hardship.

The final discussion point was on the factor of “coming out”. As in the Rhodes Bros video, it is obvious that this is a difficult experience for many within the LGBTQ+ community. So, I wanted to know whether, due to the vast changes that have happened over the past decade, whether “coming out” was a thing of the past. Interestingly, both Sophie and Lettie identified that it wasn’t. Lettie even stated that it is not just one event, it is something that “I still have to face… almost every day”. A similar point was raised by Sophie. She stated that “It would be nice if people stopped assuming I was straight… It’s the assumption of heterosexuality that I feel it necessary to constantly defend my identity”.

Clearly, these views are from two individuals. So, can we generalise? Nonetheless, seeing how their views converge on this issue, the fact that stigma exists, and the fact they struggle with their sexualities on a day-to-day basis – what does that tell us? It tells me that we still have a long way to go before we begin to ignore sexuality. It also tells me that we need to stop assuming, we need to start thinking and, most of all, we need to realise that homosexuality, transsexuality, asexuality, pansexuality (and all the rest) are not diseases, or illnesses, or the ‘devil’, they are just one part of a whole person. Do not pre-emptively judge someone because they identify as a different sexual orientation.

I leave you with a quote from Alecia Moore, otherwise known by her stage name, P!nk:

“I would like in the world, the same boring response that I get from “Hi, I’m a Virgo” I would like “Hi, I’m gay” to illicit the same kind of response. Or, yeah, okay great, nice to meet you. I don’t want there to be a gay marriage, I just want there to be happy marriage, and lasting marriage and healthy marriage.” (P!nk, 2010).

LGBTQ+ Helplines:

SupportLine Telephone Helpline: 01708 765200

Educational Action Challenging Homophobia: 0808 100 0143

Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement: 020 7739 1249

The Rhodes Bros:

The Rhodes Bros Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheRhodesBros

The Rhodes Bros Coming Out Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3K0CJ8usPU

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