Tag Archives: social issues

Study Shows LGBT Women among Most at Risk for Poverty

A study conducted by The National LGBTQ Task Force, Movement Advance Project, and Center for American Progress, called Paying an Unfair Price: The Financial Penalty for LGBT Women in America, shows that LGBT women are presented with challenges that obstruct their economic well being in health coverage, jobs and getting legal recognition from their families. The study emphasizes the many obstacles that LGBT women in the US face, including exclusion from insurance coverage, wage differences and inflexible workplaces.

LGBT women (transgender in particular) risk employment discrimination
Sixteen percent of LGB individuals said they lost their job because of sexual orientation and 35 percent said they were harassed by their employers, as recently as 2008. Sixty-two percent of LGB people in the study said they heard jokes about lesbians and gays while at work. Out of the transgender women surveyed, 55 percent of them said they were turned down for employment due to their gender identity.

LGBT women are asked by healthcare providers to pay higher rates
They are twice as likely as non-LGBT women to not have a doctor who they visit on a consistent and regular basis. LGBT women with incomes at or below $47,000/yr tend not to have healthcare coverage. The fact that there are exclusions in care for transition-related issues, it’s incredibly expensive for needed services for trans women.

LGBT women are more likely not allowed to be legal parents of their children
They often lack protected family or medical leave at work, and face obstacles in obtaining safe, affordable health care for their families. This is due to the lack of marriage equality throughout the US.

Study Shows LGBT Women among Most at Risk for Poverty

LGBT women pay higher rent and longer rental applications
One study by H.U.D. showed that opposite-sex couples were favored over same-sex couples by 16 percent when they applied for the same rentals. Same-sex couples were given higher prices, longer application processes and less incentives about promotions.

LGBT women lack intimate partner violence protection
The study showed that bisexual women were less “out” in the workplace, which may cause them to stay in an abusive relationship because they fear being outed by their partner. It’s also possible that women who report domestic violence when they’re in same-sex relationships are not taken seriously because of gender stereotypes.

LGBT women/families may not be aware of their eligibility for government assistance
It’s challenging for same-sex couples to navigate state and federal benefit systems because of the legal jumble of relationship recognition for them.


Potentially Awkward Situations Some Lesbians Face

It’s not always easy to just be yourself. Some lesbians get much more comfortable and confident about awkward situations, but there are many to deal with. Here are some potentially uncomfortable situations lesbians tend to experience:

Questions about pregnancy at the doctor’s office

It’s very common to go to a doctor for any type of ailment and get asked the question, “Is there a possibility that you are pregnant?” Sometimes, even if you’ve seen this doctor numerous times…they never seem to remember. After a while the nurse has asked you so many questions when you feel the need to just tell them you’re a lesbian because they haven’t been able to connect the dots.

Potentially Awkward Situations Some Lesbians Face

Asking other women to hang out as friends

We live in a heteronormative society and, for the most part, people tend to assume everyone is heterosexual, unless it’s otherwise confirmed. However, being a lesbian can change this view. It’s possible you want to ask a heterosexual woman to go grab a bite to eat or go to a movie (just as friends), and you worry about her perception of you, whether she feels uncomfortable that you might be asking her out romantically, or if she even knows you’re a lesbian. It can feel really awkward… and never feels less so for some lesbians, no matter how many times they’ve been through it.

Everyday interactions in a heteronormative world

Living in a heteronormative society, lesbians experience prejudices in situations that others take for granted.  For example, you might want to check in to a hotel room with your girlfriend when the front desk clerk seems to insist that you want two beds in the room. Why would you possibly want to share one? It can feel awkward for some lesbians to have to assert themselves in this type of situation, to a complete stranger who seems to have no clue.

10 Things Transgender Men Would like You to Know

Transgender persons exist in a subculture within a subculture, one that, in the mainstream, is not always well-accepted or even simply understood. To be a trans ally, to be considerate of the lives and social experience of trans individuals, might require that you reevaluate your relationship with the transgender individuals in your life. Trans men, specifically, have a distinct experience from trans women — here is what you should know:

You’re guilty by association.
You’ll have more questions asked about them than they will.  This is because people who are curious and confused will often feel more free to ask someone for information when they feel that the person shares a similar experience.  You should talk to your trans friend about what they’re comfortable with you sharing in these situations.  If the case is that they prefer not to be outed, tell them simply that it’s not your place to answer those questions.  If they’re open about their transition, try to find out how to answer or divert these questions.

“But you’ll always be _____ to me” is hurtful.
It’s one thing seeing a relative you haven’t since they were a small child, saying they’ll always be so-and-so to you, but different when relating with a transgender person.  Telling your friend that you still see them as someone other than who they are is hurtful.

Outing someone can be incredibly dangerous.
There is an overwhelming amount of ignorance/hatred toward trans people, despite some media and support.  Hundreds of transgender people are murdered yearly; there are no and/or failed protection laws in place.  Even if you think talking about your transgender friend in public is OK, the wrong person could overhear this and tell another friend, and that friend tells another–this could lead to some serious danger.

10 Things Transgender Men Would like You to Know

The dysphoria is not your fault.
You might feel like you’re responsible for their happiness, but sometimes their sadness comes from a place you’ll never be able to reach.  Trying to make your friend feel better by telling them you love their breasts, or you like them just the way they are, isn’t necessarily supportive.  It means you’ve created an image of who they are that doesn’t match up with reality.

It’s not the “T”.
It’s a huge moment in life to begin hormone replacement therapy.  Your friend might lash out afterwards and blame it on the testosterone.  They’re aware of the emotional changes that happen and realize their mood swings/imbalance are theirs to control.

Don’t walk on eggshells.
It’s easy to get hung up on words and just avoid conversations as a result.  You’re there for your friend and it shows that you care.  Many transgender people lose or don’t have a support system when they come out…the fact that you’re with them is meaningful.

Don’t date them despite their trans status.
Make sure you are interested in dating them for who they are, not despite their transgender status.  You’re not doing them any favors by being interested in them ‘even though’ they’re transgender.

Don’t talk behind their back.
Talk to them about it; learn their

Pronouns are mean a lot.
They have likely chosen a new name and have preferred gender pronouns.  Learn them.  Sure, you might mess up in the beginning, but it’ll be obvious when you genuinely care and are trying!

The Gay American Smoke Out

Tobacco use in the United States has declined in recent years, according to the CDC, in both adults and high school-age adolescents. Within the spectrum of the LGBTQ community, however, the use of cigarettes and other tobacco products remains prevalent, and incredibly damaging.

The statistics are jarring. According to The Gay Smoke Out, A 1999 house-hold based survey found that 48.5% of gay and bisexual men reported smoking. The national average for straight men is 28.6%. While that survey was taken 15 years ago, the numbers today reflect immensely disproportionate use of tobacco in the LGBTQ community.

The DC Center reports:

  • Members of the LGBT community smoke at a far greater rate than that of the general population, although estimates vary widely. In one 2004 California Study, lesbian women were 70% more likely to smoke than other women, and gay men were more than 50% more likely to smoke than other men. More recent research suggests this number may be even higher. The LGBT National Tobacco Control Network estimates that the LGBT community is 50% to 200% more likely than others to be addicted to tobacco.

  • LGBT adolescents also smoke at an alarming rate, in one national study 47 of females and 36.7 of males reporting same-sex attraction or behavior smoked. In comparison, only 29% of the rest of young people in the study smoked.

The Gay American Smoke OutThese statistics and numbers are as alarming as they are curious. They beg the question: why, in a community where health is valued so highly, does the number one avoidable cause of heart disease and a plethora of cancers run rampant?

The answer is open to conjecture, but a solid sociological theory reads as such:

Smoking usually begins in the adolescent years, around the time when teens become sexually aware. The act of smoking can be used as a crutch to ease anxiety regarding the various stresses associated with hiding their sexuality.

Because most major tobacco companies add various agents to their product to make it even more addictive, the habits from youth carry over into adulthood.

Members of the LGBTQ community have resources available to them, just like members of the heterosexual community at large. If you are trying to quit smoking, please visit www.smokefree.gov, www.gaysmokeout.net, www.lung.org, or simply google all of the tips, tricks, and free quit lines available in your area.

Housing the Elderly LGBT Community

It’s uncommon knowledge, but housing is a much more serious issue for the LGBT community than it is for the mainstream population. In a nationwide survey released by Philadelphia’s Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity department, the figures show that heterosexual couples were favored over same-sex couples when in property deals 16% of the time.

Fair housing and Equal Opportunity in Philadelphia has received 150 allegations relating to sexual-orientation based housing discrimination just since last year. The statistics show this problem isn’t restricted to the city of Philadelphia where housing is difficult to find but a thriving threat in all metropolitan areas—the issue is one purely of discrimination, and it impacts the elderly in the LGBT community in a particularly harmful way in that the aging LGBT population faces more of a roadblock when it comes to housing agreements. Seniors are usually single and without as many benefits as younger generation LGBT people and heterosexual counterparts, which can impact the level of trust that renters have in them.

Younger heterosexual couples looking for housing may have children or plan to have them, and it is not surprising if this sways management to favor a heterosexual couple over a same sex couple that does not have children of their own or does not fit the management’s concept of being “in need” of housing.

Housing the Elderly LGBT CommunityThe elderly in the LGBT community, however, that are not competing with new families for housing find they are snubbed in housing decisions, and the psychosocial impact of the discrimination that comes after a successful housing deal has been made can be have a similar tone.

The previous generation of LGBT individuals missed out for the most part on marriage and parenting, new neighbors can respond inappropriately to singles, and it’s worse when they aren’t tolerant of the real reasons behind solitude. Plenty of studies have been done on housing issues in minority groups, and the evidence shows that groups which face housing discrimination have poorer general health. The older LGBT community and LGBT individuals that are racial or ethnic minorities fall under “double discrimination” categories, and these individuals do have a heightened risk of developing severe depression, poorer general health, and even a reduced lifespan in comparison to individuals that fall under just one discrimination category.

In the past thirty years, minorities that fit single discrimination categories have seen small (less than 5%) improvements in the rates of homelessness and unemployment resulting from discrimination, but the statistics for adult LGBT individuals are not available. We do know that LGBT folks that fall under double discrimination categories have not seen any improvements in homelessness or unemployment since the 1980’s, however.

Watching Sexually Risky Porn May Be a Health Risk

A new report warns about the dangers of watching Internet porn featuring risky sexual behavior among men who have sex with men, according to the report published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, “Sexually Explicit Media on the Internet: A Content Analysis of Sexual Behaviors, Risk, and Media Characteristics in Gay Male Adult Videos.

The study points out that a substantial proportion of Internet porn is targeted to and viewed by men who have sex with men.  It also refers to researchers who have suggested that the rise of Internet porn appears to coincide with decreases in safer sex practices and increases in HIV/STD acquisition among men who have sex with men.

HIV with MSM:  Why Is It Increasing and What Can We Do?The authors of the report decided to analyze gay porn found on the Internet out of concern that high risk sexual behaviors found in this content could influence men who have sex with men. They wanted to learn which sexual behaviors were the most prevalent and how it influenced the behavior of viewers.

A research team selected, viewed and analyzed a total of 302 Internet videos representing a total of 40.75 hours of video.  The most common behaviors involved masturbation, oral sex and kissing.  However, high-risk sexual behaviors were also prevalent. For instance, one-third of the Internet gay porn viewed featured unprotected anal intercourse and nearly all oral sex was unprotected.

The researchers believe their study provides important information for HIV prevention efforts. In addition, they suggest more efforts are needed to encourage Internet sites that distribute sexually explicit content to put limits on the sexual risk behaviors whether it’s produced professionally or whether it’s an amateur video. The researchers advise these Internet sites to include safe sex messaging to consumers or use warning screens for videos featuring high-risk behaviors.

The Online Sexual Education of LGBT Youth

Today’s youth gravitate toward the Internet to find information and what they find can alter their sexual development — this especially has a powerful effect among LGBT youth. Many of them come out online and explore their sexual attraction through this medium.

According to the study “Sexual Health Information Seeking Online: A Mixed-Methods Study Among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Young People,” LGBT youth face challenges with the development of their sexual health when compared to their peers. They often lack the sexual health information they need because many school-based sex education programs seldom discuss LGBT health concerns and issues. Some parents still grapple with their child’s sexual identity, and that’s if they even know their child’s sexuality. The lack of awareness or unwillingness to discuss their child’s sexuality makes it difficult to aid their child’s sexual development. LGBT youth may turn to their peers for information, but they may face peer victimization. The limited availability of sexual partners also plays a role because it interferes their availability to properly explore romantic relationships in an appropriate context.

Gathering information online about sexual health has its pros and cons for the LGBT youth. For instance, the information may conflict, the quality may be poor and they may feel overwhelmed. However, they can find information when they need it, they have privacy, and it can lead them to offline resources.

Talk About It: Gay Men That Discuss HIV Less Likely to Develop It!

Researchers in the study decided to examine the positive and negative aspects of Internet use for sexual health information among LGBT young people. Ethnically diverse participants ranging between 16 and 24 years old completed interviews that asked how, where, and when they used the Internet for social, romantic, sexual, and informational purposes and whether the information helped or harmed their sexual health.

The researchers learned many of the participants were motivated by a fear of becoming infected with sexually transmitted infections and HIV. Some who avoided accessing sexual health information online were worried about stigma, or they didn’t think the information was relevant to them.

The researchers believe that their results suggests the Internet is having a largely positive effect on LGBT youth, and the Internet provides unmet opportunities for online interventions that improve the youth’s sexual health development.

The LGBT Incidence of Poverty

 The LGBT Incidence of PovertyStatistics published on the LGBT community by the Williams Institute of Law show that a disparate proportion of low income households are headed by same-sex couples, and lesbian and African American same-sex couples face the greatest economic disadvantages; 7.6% of lesbian couples versus 5.7% of heterosexual married couples live below the poverty line.

A whopping 1/3 of lesbian couples without high school diplomas live in poverty versus the 18.8% reported for differently sexed couples and 20.1% for gay males. African American same-sexed couples were more than two times more likely to live in poverty than heterosexual couples in general.

The reasons for the disparities are fairly obvious from the figures—the risk of poverty and unemployment is higher in rural areas where there is less awareness and sensitivity to LGBT rights. Lesbian couples in rural communities are roughly twice as likely to be unemployed than lesbians living in urban areas.

We may have a lot of beautiful ideals in the USA, but we don’t respect them. As history has always had it, the level of compassion that we as a society demand for women and African Americans is much slighter than what we are willing to give to other groups. Although there are other battles that can certainly be fought in the name of LGBT equality, emphasis needs to be on the minorities within the community that face the greatest and the most deleterious struggles.



Neil Patrick Harris’s Wedding Helps Mainstream Gay Marriage

Neil Patrick Harris's Wedding Helps Mainstream Gay MarriageOn Saturday, September 6th Neil Patrick Harris (of How I Met Your Mother among other works) was happily wed to his partner of 10 years, David Burtka. The two expressed they proposed to each other over half a decade ago, and have been waiting for New York to legalize before committing to their nuptials. They are also the fathers of fraternal twins, who also took part in the festivities in Italy.

Patrick recently tweeted the news on Twitter writing, “Guess what? David Burtka and I got married over the weekend. In Italy. Yup, we put the ‘n’ and ‘d’ in ‘husband.”

Big names like Sir Elton John even showed up to perform and support. Talk show host Kelly Ripa of Live! With Kelly And Michael on Monday also attended, and spoke of the event, “It was a beautiful family affair in Perugia, Italy. They rented a castle — or I think they rented it. I hope we didn’t break into a castle and just stayed there. There were fireworks. The food was amazing. There were magic tricks, because, you know Neil is way into magic. Their wedding vows were so beautiful.”

Neil Patrick Harris's Wedding Helps Mainstream Gay MarriageIgnoring the ceremony, attendee’s and location in Italy, this is still huge news. Right now there are only 19 states that have legalized Gay Marriage and advocates are pushing for this number to grow. With recent reports from the CDC showing the gay population to be much less then previously believed, many fighting for LGBT equality felt this would hurt  their chances towards equal rights; that they would hold less validity because their community isn’t as big, thus needing less attention. Neil Patrick Harris has a big name in the media, however, starring in movies like The Smurfs and making cameo everywhere from Sesame Street to Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. He is a positive figure for same-sex marriage advocates to stand behind.

To be fair, their monogamy is also a contradiction to the character Harris plays on How I Met Your Mother, Barney, who is a womanizing player. The denial of their equal wedding rights would seem like a cruel joke when you consider A-listers Brittany Spears and Kim Kardashian have married and divorced people they were involved with for less than a few months.

This wedding is not only a success for modern America, but also love overall. These two have been together for years and are the total opposite of the sexually risky stereotype gay men have been painted to be.

Ending the Silence and Beating HIV

Ending the Silence and Beating HIVSince 2002, the Journal of the American Medical Association reports the rate of HIV infection in men who have sex with men ages 24 and younger has increased 132. While there are more treatment options available than ever before, there still is no cure and prevention should take top priority. Many older gay men credit this rise of contraction to a lack of fear, something they faced head on during the height of the initial outbreak in the 80’s. Experts seem to argue otherwise, saying social consciousness and stigma are the root of the modern HIV epidemic.

AIDS activist and blogger Peter Staley points fingers at the social issues with infection. He has observed that many people are so afraid of testing positive, that they do not want to get tested. This not only increases the possibility of an undetected spread, but also adds weight to the shame contraction carries. Nobody wants to be the catalyst. “All of the negative guys are walking around thinking they don’t know any positive guys. The silence feeds the stigma which feeds more silence,” Staley said.

Other issues concern the technological advances society has made towards dating. With all of the websites available to meet people, it is very easy to meet new people and be sexually active. This extends far beyond the gay community, although they are at a hire risk of infection. While many of these sites ask users to display their STI status, there is nothing to guarantee they will truthfully display such information. Furthermore, many express on their profiles refusal to date anyone with HIV, giving those who have it less reason to speak up. Dr. Christian Ramers, assistant director for research and special populations at Family Health Centers of San Diego, notes “It’s kind of like an ignorance is bliss; they don’t really want to know. More than half of new infections are caused by people who are unaware of their status.”

The answers everyone seem to be discussing are to raise awareness, reform the cultural practices that spread HIV and lift the societal negativity from getting tested. Ramers feels MSM communities need to practice condom use more aggressively. The CDC revealed that those who used condoms 100% of the time were 70% less likely to catch HIV in 2013. Sadly, only 1 in every 16 men report using them with every sexual encounter. It is difficult to encourage them because most associate condoms with preventing pregnancy, not just STDs.

We live in a different time medically when compared to the first outbreak. Keep in mind, it is very possible to survive and lead a normal life for people who have HIV. With innovations like PrEP, which not only suppresses the disease but staves off infections, there are many way to ensure it is not an issue. The real reforms need to be made within gay culture. This gay-on-gay shaming that scares people away from  testing is the killer that needs to be stopped.