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A defining characteristic of human beings is that they are social creatures. As such, relationships play a crucial role in the lives of all individuals. In most cases, people with some similarities group together and form an entity known as a community. By definition, a community is a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
Every person has a strong need to belong to a community. We all desire to be accepted by the people around us. As a human being, I desire a relationship with people who have attitudes, interests, and goals similar to my own. I have found this relationship in the LGBTQ community, which I am a member of.
LGBTQ as a Community
The LGBTQ is a community since it bares some of the defining characteristic of a community. Brown and Hannis (2012) document that a community possesses attributes that easily distinguish it from the rest of the society.
The distinguishing attribute of LGBTQ people is that they have non-heterosexual sexual orientations. Another community characteristic of members of the LGBTQ is that they share in a belief, which is that people should not be discriminated against because of their sexual preferences. In addition to this, the LGBTQ is a community since it is made up of a relatively small segment of the society.
Challenges in the Community
There are a number of challenges to being a part of the LGBTQ community. To begin with, this community still exists in an environment where discrimination based on sexual orientation persists. While the society is today more accepting of LGBTQ lifestyles than in the past decades, there is still significant contempt and negative pressure for LGBTQ members. Fetner, et al. (2012) reveal that once a person is involved in the LGBTQ community, he/she becomes easy to identify by the rest of the society.
This can provoke a backlash and make visible some of the hostilities to LGBTQs that remain hidden so long as the LGBTQ people are not identifiable. Being a member of the community therefore exposes me to being targeted by intolerant people who have strong anti-gay sentiments. If I was not a member of the society, I might have been able to go undetected by such people and therefore avoid discrimination.
Within the community, there is a lot of dispute and infighting. At times it feels like the LGBTQ is made up of five separate communities that have been bundled together but do not share goals or interests. People in the LGBTQ are likely to gravitate to the individuals who most closely share their identity and experiences (Nash, 2011). Lesbians therefore form a sub-community within the LGBTQ and so do gays, bisexuals, transgender and queers.
In addition to this, there is a tendency of the gay and lesbian members to isolate the transgender from their social life (Nash, 2011). This is based on the perception that transgender is not a matter of sexual orientation and as such, the issues affecting this group are different from those of the lesbian, gay and bisexual peoples’. This affects the overall cohesion of the group making it harder to tackle the important issue of obtaining justice in the society.
Benefits of the Community
In spite of the challenges experienced by the LGBTQ, this community imparts a sense of positive identity and belonging to its members. Fetner, Elafros and Bortolin (2012) confirm that the LGBTQ community is a form of social support for individuals who are likely to feel isolated in the wider society because of their sexuality.
While in this society, I feel empowered by being surrounded by people who share my values and attitudes. In addition to this, I am able to gain knowledge and skills from more experienced people in the community. The LGBTQ is a place for sharing experiences and learning from other members who have faced challenges that I am going through in life. By listening to other members, I am able to obtain important life lessons that I can apply in my life.
The LGBTQ community creates a space that is free of the prejudices and discriminative attitudes that are commonplace in the greater society. In this space, I am able to express myself without fear of being judged. Being in a place where I am understood and accepted is emotionally beneficial.
Without the safe environment provided by the community, LGBTQ individuals are at greater risk of a host of social problems including depression, suicide, and drug use (Fetner, et al., 2012). The LGBTQ plays a positive role by creating a safe environment for its members.
Membership to the LGBTQ community is optional and a person has to make an individual choice to join the community. A lot of people who are eligible for membership to the community due to their sexual orientation have not joined since they fear the stigma attached to being an LGBTQ.
My decision to be a member of the LGBTQ was based on my belief that there should be more advocates for the issues that the group currently faces. By being a member of the community, I can make a positive contribution and therefore play a part in bringing about complete equality for the group.
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Being a member of the LGBTQ community provides me with the opportunity to access a number of facilities specially created for my community. On of these facilities is the 519, which is a community center that plays a major role in my community. This 519 was created to serve the LGBTQ community in the Toronto area. It offers space for my community to interact and form greater ties. There are a lot of activities that can be engaged in at this space including promoting awareness of LGBTQ issues.
The Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto (MCC) is a Toronto based church that is welcoming to the LGBTQ community. While the church also has a heterosexual membership, it openly affirms the LGBTQ people and advocates for sexual equality in spite of a person’s orientation (MCC, 2014).
While I am a Muslim, I regularly volunteer at the MCC church. I feel that this church plays a major role for member of my community. It provides spiritual nourishment to a community that is otherwise ostracized by the mainstream churches. For this reason, I feel that it is my duty to contribute to the church by providing my services through volunteering.
Belonging in a community is important for the healthy social functional of an individual. Through this paper, I have discussed my membership to the LGBTQ community. For me, being a member of the LGBTQ is not only a positive experience but a beneficial one. This community provides me with a sense of belonging and acceptance that cannot be obtained in the larger society.
Brown, J. D., & Hannis, D. (2012). Community Development in Canada. (2nd ed.). Toronto: Pearson Canada.
Fetner, T., Elafros, A., & Bortolin, S. (2012). Safe Spaces: Gay-Straight Alliances in High Schools. Canadian Review of Sociology, 49(2), 188-207.
MCC (2014). The Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto: Mission Statement. Web.
Nash, C. J. (2011). Trans experiences in lesbian and queer space. Canadian Geographer, 55(2), 192-207.