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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Sexuality in the Hispanic Culture Term Paper


Cultural Overview

Hispanic Americans (also known as Latinos) are individuals of Puerto Rican, Cuban, Mexico, South or Central America, or other Spanish cultures regardless of their race (Foster, 1999). Despite, the differences in terms of nationalities, LGBT Hispanics have many values in common as reflected in their spirituality, altruism, and family values. Regardless of the diversity in their socioeconomic and cultural systems, their contribution to the society is remarkable.

Lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender sexuality is tough in the Hispanic community. There is a clear definition and rigidity of female and male roles guided by strong cultural taboos. Men are the breadwinners of the family, a duty that requires men to play the father figure role in the family (Eisenberg, 1999; Green Heritage News, 2010, November 26).

Women on the other hand have to be submissive and play a subordinate role in the family (Green Heritage News, 2010, November 26). Hispanics therefore has to conform to the societal standards making it difficult for those who would have to play reversed roles given their sexuality. This conformity standard thus makes it difficult for homosexuals to expose their sexuality in spite of their fight for respect in the society and an end to stereotypes.

In simple terms, Hispanic community rejects LGBT. Traditional Catholicism in Spain, as was practiced and still is, only permits marital procreative and chastity sexual behavior (Eisenberg, 1999). Catholic teachings thus regard all forms of LGBT sexual behavior sinful, a stain in the church. This rejection of homosexual and bisexual behavior is, however, dangerous as it only aggravate health problems in the society (Corrales and Pecheny, 2010).

For instance, while there has been a rising trend in the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among Hispanic men who have sexual relationships with more than one partner, including homosexuals and bisexuals, infections among LGBT remains unreported. The case is the same even for lesbians.

Eisenberg (1999) asserts this in his historical overview of homosexuality in Spain, which dedicates twenty pages to lesbian writing in Spain. In his writing, he expresses the fear that female homosexuality has been underexplored owing to the rigidity of cultural and religious values.

Attitudes and Preconceived Ideas

Jorge Sanchez, a researcher with the family Acceptance Project, said cultural issues make homosexuality a difficult topic among Hispanic families and communities (San Francisco State University, 2009). Family issues are kept secret; a practice, which Hispanics believe protects the harmony of family.

The prevailing cultural values and norms makes it even difficult to discuss sensitive issues of sexuality within the family or at the community level. Given the negative views arising from cultural perception, it is hard to deal with homosexuality topic in Spain. Hispanic Americans still live under the macho-patriarchal mentality, which is strong in Hispanic culture (Foster, 1999).

During the first one and a half decade after the return to democracy, LGBT issues in Latin America remained in the closet (Corrales and Pecheny, 2010). Hispanics only discussed topics of homosexuality and bisexuality in very small circles. Unquestionably, autocratic rule was not generally gay friendly.

In Brazil and Argentina some tiny, but visible, “homosexual liberation groups” emerged in the 1970s and took a beating from authoritarian (Corrales and Pecheny, 2010). In Cuba, LGBT citizens placed themselves in labor camps in the 1960s (Corrales and Pecheny, 2010).

However, since the 1990s Hispanics has experienced a significant “coming out” that included protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation. In 2003, Rio de Janero state legislation banned sexual orientation (Corrales and Pecheny, 2010).

Counseling Approaches and Challenges

In treating Hispanic clients, the family is the cornerstone. The family, which may be one’s relatives or just host to an immigrant, constitutes the support network (Sue and Sue, 2007). New immigrants even find it devastating since they have to cope with the stress resulting from separation from their families and loved ones while at the same time they have to learn a new language, cultural values and behavior (Sue and Sue, 2007).

Even though homosexuality exists in Hispanic community, the behavior is only acknowledged privately (Eisenberg, 1999). Furthermore, issues of homosexuality remain in the closet owing to the rigidity of Hispanic culture. Driven by this, Hispanics may prefer being members of the mainstream culture to self-identification as lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender culture (Eisenberg, 1999).

In the mainstream culture, a person who engages in sexual act with a member of the same sex is labeled gay or lesbian depending on his or her gender identity (Sue and Sue, 2007). However, in Hispanic culture some men who play the dominant role during the sexual intercourse refuse to accept the gay label (Foster, 1999). Providers should consider this distinction especially when treating Hispanic clients.

Hispanic culture demands high respect for family ties and values, individual trust, group needs and objectives, some of which are rooted in traditional values relating to Catholic faith. Religion plays a central role in the lives of most Hispanics especially Hispanic Americans who hold high respect for religious values.

Hispanic Catholic values consider topics of homosexuality and bisexuality sinful thus discouraging open discussion of related issues. Latino clients value the recognition of challenges arising from cultural issues when dealing with sensitive issues like drug abuse. Providers should recognize individual stress arising from family, spiritual and emotional challenges (Sue and Sue, 2007).

The same approach should be used when addressing Issues related to LGBT. Most clients are likely to hide information regarding their private life including sexual behavior, addiction and illness. Besides, most families value strong gender roles making it difficult for LBGT Hispanics to speak about their problems in public.

For instance, machismo, which is the strong sense masculinity, can make it difficult for gay Hispanics to seek treatment since this is likely to expose their sexuality and make them subjects of stereotypes in the community. Machismo is just one of the many ways stereotypes have affected the rights of women and the minority like gay people in Hispanic community.

Other traditional values ascribed to men and women equally make life difficult for lesbians and gay Hispanics. For instance, Hispanic culture views assumption of the opposite gender role as a taboo. Lesbians and gay Hispanics may thus find it difficult to expose their sexual roles. Furthermore, Hispanic culture places men at the centre of the family (Eisenberg, 1999).

It would be thus difficult for Hispanic men to accept themselves as members of LGBT culture. If only families would be empowered to accept such critical issues as homosexuality, then it would be easy to deal with problems arising from LGBT behavior. Family heads always play the important role of guidance and counseling.

It is, therefore, important to empower the family to be able to discuss issues arising from homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender openly. Most Hispanic Americans base their leaning on the context as opposed to the process. It is worth noting that the way one presents information greatly influences how the learner receives it. Avoid mentioning direct names when giving examples to minimize chances of embarrassment when discussing sensitive issues of sexuality.

The best healing method should draw some teachings from religious beliefs. People always hold high reverence for religious beliefs. Counselors should use spirituality as a background to influence decisions regarding behavior change processes. However, cultural and religious values of procreation, machismo, and family name continuity may be a barrier towards the disclosure of one’ sexuality.

Conclusion

Hispanic culture is deep rooted in Catholicism and family values. There is a clear distinction of gender roles and any behavior that goes against is a taboo. Hispanics use stereotypes to insult LGBT Hispanics. It is thus difficult to address the subject of LGBT, which many regard as sinful and “un-Spanish”. Knowing one’s culture is a testament to discovering and learning other’s culture when counseling.

It is important, as a counselor, to understand Hispanic culture including their rituals and relationships. The counseling atmosphere must be comfortable to LGBT and I am sure I will create a gay-friendly environment for clients. I also believe that in my counseling profession, this newly gained knowledge about LGBT issues among Hispanic Americans will be very useful during the counseling assessment process.

References

Corrales, J. & Pecheny, M. (2010).The politics of sexuality in Latin America: A reader on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Eisenberg, D (1999). Introduction. In D. W. Foster (Ed.), “La Escondida Senda”: Homosexuality in Spanish History and Culture (pp. 1-21). Westport, CT: Greenwood.

Foster, D. W. (1999). Spanish writers on gay and lesbian themes: A bio-critical sourcebook. Westport CT: Greenwood Press.

Green Heritage News (2010, 26 November). Overt sexuality homophobia present problems in Hispanic community. Green Heritage News. Web.

San Francisco State University (2009). “Welcome Home”: Family Acceptance Project published by San Francisco State University, San Francisco.

Sue, D. W. & Sue, D. (2007).Counseling the cultural Diverse: Theory and practice, 5th Edition. United States: John Wiley and Sons.

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IvyPanda. (2019, December 15). Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Sexuality in the Hispanic Culture. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-lgbt-sexuality-in-the-hispanic-culture-term-paper/

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"Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Sexuality in the Hispanic Culture." IvyPanda, 15 Dec. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-lgbt-sexuality-in-the-hispanic-culture-term-paper/.

1. IvyPanda. "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Sexuality in the Hispanic Culture." December 15, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-lgbt-sexuality-in-the-hispanic-culture-term-paper/.


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IvyPanda. "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Sexuality in the Hispanic Culture." December 15, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-lgbt-sexuality-in-the-hispanic-culture-term-paper/.

References

IvyPanda. 2019. "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Sexuality in the Hispanic Culture." December 15, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-lgbt-sexuality-in-the-hispanic-culture-term-paper/.

References

IvyPanda. (2019) 'Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Sexuality in the Hispanic Culture'. 15 December.

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