Introduction rely on your own family is one of

Introduction

Many people who identify within the LGBTQ
community have a difficult time assimilating into society because not everyone
is accepting of those who do not fall under the gender binaries. Religion also
plays a huge role in predicting how peoples coming out experiences. Family
expectations of their children can also play a huge role as well, in how their
coming out experiences will be.

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LGBTQ people need to prepare for all
possible scenarios before coming out. To some, the experience can go amazingly well,
while with others it can be a disaster and may ruin their relationship and
family dynamics. Youth and adolescents struggle with developing a sense of self
because of the familial and social pressure. Many people within the LGBTQ
community, have a hard time coming out and being able to confidently identify
their sexual orientation which can be frightening. Some families will gladly
extend their arms and be supportive of their children no matter what. Other
families might be in a state of shock, denial and some are embarrassed of their
children if they identify as LGBTQ.  People
have a hard time accepting who they are and that tends to be hard for them to
come in accordance with because of societal and familial views. During the
stage of acceptance, many question if they are in fact LGBTQ before letting
anyone know that in fact they are. As Muzzonigro and Newman (1993) state, that stigmatization
affects lesbian and gay youth, gay suicide and how comfort being yourself can
affect their self esteem. Being discriminated outside of the home can be very
traumatic for many who identify as LGBTQ. It is even more terrifying to come out
to their family members due to the fear of being discriminated by them. Family
is where support should be found and not being able to rely on your own family
is one of the hardest situations to be for those in the LGBTQ community. The
purpose of this research is to find out how family members treat LGBTQ persons
after coming out. My hypothesis is that LGBTQ persons do experience
discrimination at home once they identify themselves as LGBTQ. This research is
important because it allows others to see experiences LGBTQ people go through.
There is a lot of work needed to be done in order for society to be a lot more
open and welcoming to those within the LGBTQ community.

Literature Review

Adolescence are the primal years when
someone is developing a sense of who they are. They are in search of
similarities with others, such as likes and dislikes. Adolescence is also one
of the hardest times of their lives due to the peer pressure. The peer pressure
may come from wanting to be perfect and fit in with everyone, in addition to
wanting to make their family proud of who they are becoming. Being able to disclose
their sexual identity is one of the hardest yet bravest things to do. Those who
identify as LGBTQ and willingly come out because they are ready to do so might
get criticized and that is one of the reasons why some decide not to do so. It
is much easier coming out to their peers but coming out to their family is a challenge.
Magrader and Waldner 1(1999) state, that adolescents decide to opt out from
coming out to their parents because of fear of being rejected by them. People
who identify as LGBTQ already deal with feeling alienated. They themselves know
they are different from heterosexuals and deal with the differences between
their family. Some would much rather try and conform to their parent’s expectations
of who they think they are than being rejected for who they really are.

Parental views on LGBTQ

People who do initially come out to their
family experience various mishaps mainly with their parents. Being rejected is
one of the many mishaps they encounter within their family. Along with that of
the LGBTQ, people may also deal with their parents being ashamed of them,
feeling guilt, and even being infuriated at the idea that their sexual
orientation is not what they expected it to be. The mental health field must
bear its share of responsibility for adverse parental reactions to the news that
a son or daughter is gay (LaSala 2000). In the 70’s people thought that
identifying as gay or lesbian was due to a mental illness and that caused
hysteria whenever some one would identify as gay or lesbian (LaSala 2000).
Although this myth has been debunked, some parents still believe that this in
fact is true. Another reason why parents are opposed to their children who
identify as LGBTQ is because some believe it to be sinful due to their
religious values. Barton (2010) states, that leaders in Christianity advocate
the end of homosexuality by any means. Having religious views and imposing them
on those who identify as homosexual can definitely affect them mentally and physically.
Due to it being immorally viewed by the bible and family members’ some LGBTQ
people second guess themselves. They begin to inquire who they are and some
even begin to conform to make their parents happy. This can also lead to a low
sense of self esteem because of how non-supportive their family members are.

When LGBTQ people do obtain the expected
support for their family, they begin to question who they are. Even if they
experience the slightest form of discrimination, that can emotionally and
psychologically distress them. Micro-aggressions are one form of verbal and
non-verbal insults someone can make towards those who identify as LGBTQ. Even
if those who say a micro-aggression without realizing that it targets LGBTQ
people, it can cause a lot of harm to them.  As Saewyc,
Konishi, Rose and Homma (2014) explain, projective comments pertaining to those
who identify as homosexuals, is an example of micro-aggressions which leads to
poor mental health and physical health. Some people become unconscious when
saying a micro-aggression because of how commonly it is being used. Family
members also become used to utilizing certain phrases that are heterosexist or homophobic
to describe something and not realize the harm it is causing those who identify
as LGBTQ.  Family members may be aware of
what they are saying, but might not have any idea of how negatively it is
impacting on those who are LGBTQ. When many people use this type of terminology
on a day to day basis, it may somehow give others permission to use those terms
daily.

Methods

            In
this exploratory research, the population I sampled were people who have
already identified themselves as LGBTQ and are out to their family. The
population that was accessible to my study were very few and are those who are
openly out with their family from the ages of 18 and over. I was able to study
four participants who were 50% percent female and 50% male. Two identified
being lesbian and the other two identified as gay. In this purposive study the
participants I observed and interviewed were selected based on the
characteristics of my research question.

            I observed two other participants
for my field notes because I wanted to see if my observations would be
different from the findings I would gather when conducting my interview. My
observations were done on a rainy day which made it much harder for me to fully
explore my topic. However, from my observations I was able to find that the
participants I observed did not seem to have any sign of distress due to
discrimination from their family members. Although their parents were not
around in one of my observations the family dynamics between the participant I observed
and his siblings seemed to be great. His siblings would come to him for any
little problem they had and needed help sorting it out. They seemed to heavily
rely on his support and I saw no signs of discrimination from his siblings towards
him.

In
order to gather my data collection, I utilized a series of about 20 sample
questions that consisted of a semi- structured interview. Before I handed out
my sample questions I first needed to obtain each participants consent. I read
to them what my research was about and also asked for their consent to be
interviewed. I also asked for their consent if I can audio record them while I begin
the interview in regards to my sample questions. I stated that if they would
not want any of their information disclosed then I would give them a pseudonym so
that they can remain anonymous. I also let them know that the only people who
would be utilizing this data would be my colleagues, my professor and I. I also
stated that as soon as my findings are collected I would delete the audio
recordings shortly after. All of this information is stated on the 20 sample
questions that I handed out along with my email in case the participants have
any questions.       As I interviewed each
participant I notice some difference between participant C and D. Leo (participant
C) was a lot more comfortable and open with who he was. He did not hesitate in
giving me in depth responses. There was a time where I myself found it
difficult to ask him the following question. However, I really appreciated his
honesty and openness with me. When I interviewed the Saturn (participant D) things
were going smoothly, but the responses were much shorter and concise. There was
a point during the interview where she had to take a moment to gather herself because
she began to get teary eyed. She took long pauses before answering the question
and once she was able to get herself together she was able to proceed with the
interview.

Analysis

            Some interesting observations that I
made while conducting my field notes was that, for both participants A and B, neither
of their parents were home. For participant A, she was home alone for about an
hour and a half. I noticed that a young man walked into the house and greeted
participant A and me. He then immediately just walked inside the room and never
came back out. Throughout the time I was there I did not notice any signs of
discrimination. There was no human interaction between participant A and others
because the house was basically empty.

            For participant B, I noticed that he
was very family oriented. There were no signs of him being discriminated by any
of his family members. His mom and his dad briefly stepped out into the living
room and exchanged a couple of words with him. I noticed that both of his
parents rely on him a lot more than any of their children. It probably has to
do with the fact the he’s the oldest of all his siblings. He and his dad seem
to have a good relationship as well as with his mom. The communication between
them was great and they treated each other with respect.  Another finding was that all of his siblings
also relied on him for anything that needed assistance with.

            In both of my field notes I concluded
that neither participant A or B were experiencing any kind of discrimination from
their family members.  Although, participant
A was alone at home for the time I was there, everything seemed to be good at
home. I had two other participants for the second part of my research. I
conducted a 20 sample question interview in which I asked very personal
questions about their life after identifying as LGBTQ to their family.  I can definitely see the differences between
participants A and B versus C and D. Participants C and D dealt with a lot after
coming out and they both are still fighting each day to prove to their families
that they are still the same people they have always been. They experienced a
lot of discrimination they really were not so much prepared for. Discrimination
from their whole family, and because of their coming out their family dynamics
changed.

Trust

            After interviewing participant C, I
noticed one theme that stood out for me the most and that was trust. She grew
up in a religious household that also believed in the hegemonic ideals. Her
mother was a stay at home mom while her dad was the breadwinner. Her dad was
the one who set the rules. Her and her dad were extremely close but after she
came out, things changed. Her dad taught her to keep things to herself and not
speak about her sexual orientation. She kept who she was away from her family.
She said,

“Well, okay well as a child I’m around
people that are pretty much built to care for me and I’m talking about family
members. I’m a kid, you’re my family, you’re supposed to look out for me. And
for my own family to hurt me … on top of me having these secrets of me being
gay and stuffs. It’s like okay, well you guys fucked me over. Now who else do I
have? You know, you guys are my family. You guys are the ones that after
everyone, after the world is attacking me, I have home.  But in this case it was the opposite because
home was the war zone.”

This
almost brought me to tears because it was so heart felt. To know that she could
not turn to the people she needed the most support from is heart breaking. I
find it fascinating how prideful some family members are. Rather than to look
passed certain situations they would rather not because of their reputation.

Self love

            Although
participant C has had a difficult time being able to express herself to her
family and others, she also spoke about self love. She touched based on being comfortable
with who she was and being unapologetically her because it is who she is. She mentioned
that her family may not be up to par with her identifying as a lesbian,
however, it is a big part of who she is.

            “I loved myself. Well I love myself!
for who I am what I like. It makes me different.            Never not once did I wish that I was different.”

That
is also powerful because she is a mother and to go through all the changes
within her family after coming she had to remain strong. Strong not only for
herself but for her son as well. Having self love is the first step of acceptance.

Hidden

            Many
people who identify as LGBTQ do not make it obvious to their family that they
are homosexual. For many, they have to keep that part of who they are hidden.
This was what participant D had to do for about seven years of his life. While I
interviewed him, he mentioned that he was afraid of letting his parents know
about his sexual orientation. He also grew up in a household where his mom was
a stay at home mom and his father was the bread winner. He mentioned that once
he willingly came out to his parents he felt a lot better with who he was as a
person.

“I felt like a huge relief off my
shoulder. I didn’t have to you know keep faking “oh I have a girlfriend; oh I have
a girlfriend” because when I would bring my ex at the time sometimes I’ll bring
my friends over.”

Having
to pretend to like someone else just to conform into the ideals his parents had
of him must have been difficult.

Discrimination

            LGBTQ people experience multitudes
of discrimination from people as well as family members. Discrimination can
cause trauma on people both physically and emotionally. People begin to believe
what people say about them. However, the experience was different for
participant D. He did get discriminated a lot by both his family members as well
as random strangers.

“With my second boyfriend I got
discriminated all the time because he was a little bit more open. So we would
be holding hands all the time. We would kiss on the streets and we got called
fags a lot of times. We got punked by some cholos because we were gay. There
was this lady who was going to stab me at a bus stop because I was gay. There
was an older lady that also called me a “fucking faggot” because I was gay.”

Participant
D mentioned that although he has been discriminated many times it does not
bother him.

Conclusion

In this study, LGBTQ persons who were
openly out to their family members are treated differently and received higher
levels of discrimination. This suggests that my hypothesis was correct. The
studies I was able to conduct from the interviews, suggested that when both
participants came out to their families, their family dynamics changed. For
both interviewee’s their relationship with their father’s changed drastically.
As previously mentioned, one of my interviewee’s father disowned him and wanted
to know anything or ever hear anything about his sexual orientation while
living under his roof. These results affirm the results from the scholarly
articles I found to help support my findings.

            My results were different within my
field notes, in that there was little to no conflict between the interviewees
and their family members. It is possible that if I had much more time making
observations, then perhaps my findings would have been different or much more
in depth.  At the same time, having two
different studies allowed me to compare the two and examine the differences.

            Many societal changes had led LGBTQ
to be more free with themselves. Ultimately, these changes could possibly have improved
their lives physically and emotionally. I have witnessed a positive change
within our society in how they perceive and treat LGBTQ people however, not
everyone is on board. In order for LGBTQ people to strive they need support,
support from their friends and especially their family members. Everyone can be
an advocate for LGBTQ people who get treated differently by their family, they
just need to be knowledgeable in the subject. There are many strategies we can
take as a society to provide a safer community and a greater support system for
LGBTQ people. Public schools can begin by implementing programs about what is
LGBTQ and allowing families to join could be beneficial. We can also provide
pamphlets with LGBTQ hotline numbers for parents who are seeking further help
in order to understand child. Non profit organizations that focus on the LGBTQ
community could also implement free family therapy so that it allows family members
to process feelings regarding their child’s sexual orientation.