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Nowadays, the issue of equality attracts the attention of the general public and various scientists who conduct citizenship studies. Professionals tend to question the way sexual minorities are treated, emphasizing that the world starts to consider them as ordinary people. The governments of different countries support them, implementing special policies that provide the members of sexual minorities with new opportunities that used to be unapproachable not so long ago. For example, same-sex marriages are legalized in many places, and sex affirmation surgeries are allowed. Still, the analysis of the current state of society turned out to show that the picture presented in SMI and social media is more idealized while the real situation remains rather poor.
Shane Phelan is one of those people who discuss lesbian and gay politics, trying to reveal their position in the country. In her work, the author underlines that the U.S. is a country with a heterosexual regime, which presupposes biased approaches to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered individuals. She considers that such a regime prevents sexual minorities from being seen as citizens at all. Their representatives are often thought to be queers, those who are somewhere in the middle.
Phelan suggests calling them strangers, as offered by Zygmunt Bauman, emphasizing that these people occupy the position between friends and enemies (Phelan 4). The author wishes to prove that sexual minorities are not strangers to the general public even though they are often treated in this way. Personally, I totally agree with her and have nothing to do but to state that many gays and lesbians are still strangers in U.S. democracy rather than fully included citizens as they are not totally accepted by society and require more respect.
An adverse position of sexual strangers can be proved by the existence of sodomy laws. Of course, it cannot be denied that in the majority of the U.S. states, these laws were repealed, but in some of them, all sexual behaviors that are ‘against nature’ are claimed to be illegal. This is always applied to homosexuals and, in particular locations, to heterosexuals as well (“Sodomy Laws in the U.S.” para. 1). In this way, the law provides no opportunities for sexual strangers to live normal lives. While heterosexual individuals can adjust to such norms, gays and lesbians will always be considered to be criminals.
Sodomy laws, in this perspective, tend to affect people’s right to privacy as they presuppose disclosure of personal information related to sexual life. Under such pressure, sexual strangers are likely to hide their orientation and act as if they are just like the others. Queers believe that the privacy of their bedroom is critical, and it should not be discussed as a crime. Sodomy laws provide them with no opportunity for intercourse, and only their abolition can ensure individuals’ privacy rights. Thus, it can be seen that gays and lesbians are put in a worse condition than heterosexuals by the legislation of the U.S. states, which supports the belief that they are treated as sexual strangers who are not equal to the general public.
Gays in the Military and Sports
The position of gays in the military and sports altered with the course of time but remained rather sandy. Men who wanted to enter these spheres had to fit a particular image that was created by the society dominated by heterosexuals. They were expected to exhale masculinity by each work and gesture so that no gays were normally accepted. Of course, those who concealed their sexual orientation had an opportunity to become officers or football players, but in general, the situation was unfavorable for them. Not so long ago, homosexuals won some freedom and toleration due to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) movements.
They became supported by the government and encouraged to be fair. For example, the ban on openly gay service personnel in the military sphere was repealed, which provided homosexual members with the opportunity to tell who they are and still be enrolled and accepted by others (McVeigh and Harris para. 2). However, the practice shows that the government just made society tolerate gays and lesbians, which does not change the situation significantly. If people were reluctant to accept homosexuals and work with them, new legislation did not alter their minds (Bindel para. 9).
Now both strangers and citizens are to hide their true feelings and attitudes to create a vision of equality. Gays did not receive the respect they were looking for, respect that could make them feel a part of a huge family. The government made them tolerated so that the representatives of the general public continue to condemn them but do it secretly, which proves that homosexuals remain strangers in the current society. The same can be said about same-sex marriages. They are legalized in several states, and some gays and lesbians have an opportunity to be monogamic if they want, just like heterosexuals.
However, if they live in the places where sodomy laws exist or if they hold high positions that require the support of the general public (politicians, for example), they rarely do such steps. Many homosexuals create ‘normal’ families with people of the opposite sex just to look normal. Then, they often have same-sex life partners, those they really want to be with. In this way, they unwillingly refer to polyamory, which is also rejected by society. Thus, homosexuals have no other way but to remain strangers to society.
The mentioned above information proves that the changes in society lead to mainstreaming gay visibility in the U.S. Such tendencies are also seen in the global context. For example, homosexuals are treated decently in France, where same-sex marriages became common. Gay couples even have an opportunity to adopt a child, which emphasizes a significant change in their perception. However, the attempt to make homosexuals disclose themselves can be seen as secondary marginalization. Manalansan considered this issue along with racial discrimination and claimed that non-Western same-sex practices “are marginalized and cast as ‘premodern’ or unliberated” (486).
The author underlined that people remained not equal. This idea is also supported by Rushbrook, who stated that the districts for homosexual people were created where they could be openly gay and feel safe even though other locals might be harassed there (195). In this way, making others see who they are, strangers are allowed to marginalize them.
For a long time, people of homosexual orientation tried to hide their nature and act as ‘normal’ persons if they wanted to be accepted by society. They needed to suppress their will and desires because they were afraid of the consequences. These times passed by, but the general public remained rather detached due to the prejudices. Thus, people should reconsider their position and start recognizing strangers.