An Explorations Of Societal Factors That May Influence A LGBTQ Person's Belief System
Friday 5th November 2021
Written by Mike Power- Addiction counsellor
Commonly, treatment puts an increased emphasis on growing up in a family system with the primary focus being the beliefs that an individual gradually forms are due to the dysfunction of a family system. This can be significantly helpful in understanding the developmental stages of a person's life which will often be influenced by growing up in an alcoholic family, when the parents get divorced, the death of one of the parents, and even domestic violence within the house; these factors play an integral role in effecting an individual's belief system. Similarly, family belief systems as well as societal effects coherently have an impact on a LGBT person's developmental beliefs. This is due to the reason that while a LGBT individual can have a loving and caring family background, one that accepts their sexuality and identity, when seen from the larger perspective with regards to the society the story differs. I will explore 5 major themes that correspond as significant factors for a LGBT group including religion, school, media, government, and family as well as the consequences each factor results in.
The catholic church states that every human being is openly invited to receive the gift of divine sonship, to become a child of God by grace. However, to receive this gift, we must control our instincts and reject actions stated as 'sins', including homosexual behaviour — that is, acts intended to arouse or stimulate a sexual response regarding a person of the same sex. The Catholic Church teaches that such acts are seen as violations of the divine and natural law.
Homosexual desires, however, are not in themselves sinful. People are subjected to a wide variety of sinful desires over which they have little control, but these do not become sinful until a person acts upon them, either by acting in a way that fulfils the desire or by encouraging the desire and deliberately engaging in fantasies about acting it out. Individuals tempted by homosexual desires, similar to individuals tempted by improper heterosexual desires, are not sinning until they act upon those desires in some manner.
For an LGBT person who has grown up in a house with firm catholic beliefs, the internalised belief focuses on the thought that "I'm a bad person and I will burn in hell for my sins". One of my clients, Stephan (the name has been changed to protect confidentiality), stated "I couldn't accept I was gay, I could not kiss a man but I would have sex with them. I felt so shameful afterwards that I would go and cry in church and ask for forgiveness. It took me 5 years before I could fully accept myself where at this point I then turned my back on the church". The question to ponder over is does that person ever really rid themselves of the shame that has been installed in them over and over and does this self-hatred and shame further contribute to drug addiction and mental health issues.
Islam for instance, Islamic scholars overwhelmingly teach that same-gender sex is a sin. Men having sex with each other should be punished, the Quran says, but it doesn't specify how. The death penalty instead comes from the Hadith, or accounts of the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. The accounts differ on the method of killing, and some accounts state lesser penalties than others in a few circumstances. It's a fact that LGBT people are still stoned to death in some countries, homosexual women are raped in an attempt make them straight. The trauma and shame can be horrific for some of our clients that have grown up in orthodox religious homes.
Media representation of Minority Groups, including homosexuals, have historically been underrepresented and stereotyped in television shows and films. Traditionally, homosexual characters have been shown in stereotypical, negative roles solely for the audience's humour. These stereotypes include characters lacking stable relationships, being preoccupied with their sexuality, and being laughable, one-dimensional figures. However, in recent times there has been an increase in positive homosexual representation. Let's also not forget the gay men that grew up in the late eighties watching the grim reaper ads for AIDS which evolved hate for gay individuals while gay individuals were simultaneously being taught that same-gender sex is dangerous and that they were wrong, This in turn creates belief that who I am is wrong which further advanced internalised homophobia and self-loathing, negatively affecting a person's mental health and leading to addiction due to the impulsive need to calm themselves through drugs and alcohol. When you have been taught to fear sex and made to believe that your sexuality is wrong, it would make sense when a person would direct themselves to drugs and alcohol for the purpose of numbing themselves or decrease the heightening fear.
For a lot of the LGBT population, school years can be horrifically traumatising. While this has changed a lot over the years and for the better aspect, school bullying continues to happen till date. A report by Stonewall Young People LGBT Charity states School Report 2017, a study of over 3,700 lesbian, gay, bi, and trans (LGBT) pupils across Britain demonstrated the continued impact of school-bullying. Thanks to the dedication of teachers, schools, and governments across Britain, more LGBT young people than ever are able to truly be themselves at school. While there is much to celebrate, this study shows how much there is left to do. Nearly half of LGBT young people are still bullied for their sexuality at school, and only one in five have learnt about safe sex in relation to same-sex relationships at school. LGBT young people continue to experience unacceptably high levels of poor mental health. Online, nearly all LGBT pupils are exposed to offensive content about LGBT people, and just one in three thinks that online companies will do something about it if reported. For trans pupils in particular, the findings are alarming: nearly two in three trans pupils are bullied for being LGBT at school, one in ten have received death threats, and more than two in five have tried to take their own lives. While a growing number of schools are supporting their trans pupils, too many are not equipped to do so. It is vital that this is remedied as a matter of urgency. At the same time, LGBT young people who are disabled, or who receive free school meals, are at heightened risk of being bullied and experiencing poor mental health. LGBT young people who are black, Asian and come from ethnic minorities are particularly unlikely to have someone at home they can talk to about being LGBT. On the other hand, bi and trans young people suffer from a persistent lack of role models at school. It is clear that much remains to be done until every young person in Britain can grow up freely and reach their full potential. But while the challenges that remain are significant, there are signs that indicate optimism. Thanks to government and cross-party support, compulsory relationships and sex education is set to become a reality in England's schools. This is a vital step towards ensuring that all young people are equipped to make informed decisions about their lives and relationships. It is crucial that updated RSE guidance explicitly includes LGBT young people, and is also supported by high-quality resources and training for teachers. As we look ahead, we must keep sight of our shared mission: to create a world where every young person can grow up happy, healthy, and supported to reach their full potential. While much has changed over the past decade, it is clear we cannot be complacent in the fight for equality. So, let's reflect on what's been achieved, establish what needs to be done, and work together to create a world where every young person can be themselves https://www.stonewall.org.uk/.
However, for many in the presence of currently offered treatment and support for LGBT individuals it is too little too late, with history being a witness of the legacy of many LGBT people experience that have experienced significant trauma which has led to full-blown PTSD symptoms and influenced continual addiction for many.
In western countries there have been significant improvements in legal laws for the protection of rights of LGBT individuals.. However, for many from the middle east or Asia the laws are very punitive for the LGBT population specially for those suffering from addiction. For example, countries like Singapore with increasingly strict drug laws as well as a country where homosexuality as a sexual identity is not recognised by the law. Often, clients will need to come to a private rehabilitation centre to seek treatment for their addiction since if they were to go to governmental institutes they would instead be sent to a drug treatment centre which basically acts as a jail. One client that came through the LGBT treatment was sexually assaulted while in a chemsex scenario, and was unfortunately unable to report since he himself would have ended up in jail for taking drugs.
For many of the more LGBT population that grew up in Britain in the 80s, they refused to accept the line of events with the start of Margret Thatcher coming to power and the clearance of Section 28 to be passed. This was when the AIDS epidemic came along and knocked everything in the country 20 years back, giving Thatcher the perfect excuse to jump on the back of this and come up with Section 28, a law that forbade the promotion of homosexuality. In essence, Section 28 was this simple act that just forbade the promotion of homosexuality, but the "promotion of homosexuality" was so vague that it could've been used against individuals in numerous ways.
Thatcher was conservative and she believed in what she called 'family values, having 2 kids, she termed homosexuality as immoral, actions that go against God's will; while she justified her bigotry with the help of these statements.
She was promoting family values, but the consequences of her actions were similar to what's happening today in Russia Various clients that show up for treatment with addiction are in their late 30-40's and have ultimately endured excessive fear, trauma, and stigma of society.
I have heard many of the individuals of L
GBT community share that their life at home was safe, loving, and nurturing; even if the outside world was not. On the parallel side, for some it was incredibly traumatic and shaming. One client that came in for treatment shared in the LGBT group that one day he was simply sitting and playing with his sister's doll while combing her hair, his father came in saw him picked him up and said, "so you want to be a little girl" and made him dress like a girl to shame the kid which later had devastating effect on his belief system focusing on the 'I am wrong for being who I am' thinking.
Coming out in to the gay community
It would be fair to say that developing as an LGBT person can be quite challenging on many levels due to the created belief of shame and internalised homophobia and for some, significant trauma. You would expect that when you finally take an active part in the LGBT community, you'd find acceptance for yourself and escape from the societal stigma and judgement, unfortunately this is not always the case. Often, we transfer the trauma, stigma, and shame that society throughout history that has transferred on to us. We come out in a community where there is pressure that you have the perfect job and the perfect body, dating apps that state no fems, no fats no blacks no Asians, and that can lead to a person becoming more isolated in the 'gay community' than they did in society growing up. For many, the need to drink alcohol and take drugs builds the connection to be able to fit in to what can feel like, for many, a cruel community. It is time for us as a community to be kind to each other with love and compassion.