It is of high importance to notice that the LGBT community experiences a significant level of stress due to various social factors. Numerous aspects contribute to the overall negative current state of the population. The following examples are appropriate: the continuous exposure to discrimination, marginalized status in some places of residence along aggression and bias-motivated crimes against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people (Davies, Francis, & Greer, 2017).
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Additionally, it is also argued that LGBT people’s social life is considerably affected by the rapid development of technologies, which sometimes have outcomes, with adverse consequences present as well. Moreover, the continuous decreasing of monogamy’s value in contemporary relationships is also applicable to the LGBT community. Therefore, it is evident that there is a considerably broad range of issues that are to be investigated to understand the condition of this community in contemporary America. Thus, this paper aims to investigate such stress factors as bias-motivated aggression, oppression, bullying, victimization, mental and physical health as well as monogamy agreements and the influence of technologies on the life of the LGBT community.
How Exposure to Discrimination Influences Mental Health
First of all, the influence of discrimination on an individual’s mental health outcomes should be discussed. Many researchers indicate that the problem of declining psychological health among gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people is highly prevalent in contemporary society (Bostwick, Boyd, Hughes, West, & McCabe, 2014). Anxiety and depression should be mentioned among the most widespread mental health disparities within the LGBT community (Bostwick et al., 2014).
It is evident that being exposed to interpersonal and institutional discrimination has considerably adverse outcomes for the psychological well-being of a person. Thus, to study the LGBT community’s problem, the minority stress model developed by Meyer is used by the majority of the researchers in modern social studies. According to this model, it is argued that the problems of minorities could be better understood in the context of various interdependent factors (Bostwick et al., 2014).
Discrimination and stereotyping are manifestations of historically rooted socio-cultural concepts. Not only homophobia and biased attitude toward LGBT people is present in modern society, but racism and sexism are also significant aspects of the United States’ cultural archetypes. However, as it is stated by Bostwick et al. (2014), the discrimination against the LGBT community is causing a considerably higher risk of developing mental health disparities. According to the results of the research by Bostwick et al. (2014), it should be stated that the combination of gender, race, and sexual orientation discrimination increases the likelihood of developing anxiety and depression. Therefore, it is apparent that the state of the LGBT community in contemporary society is associated with an immensely high level of stress.
Monogamy as a Factor for Improving Individual and Relationship Quality
In the context of the issues that are discussed in the previous section, it is of high importance to observe the potential of monogamy agreements in gay couples for the improvement of their mental health and relationship quality. Primarily, one can argue that monogamy is outliving itself in the 21st century since there is no considerable need for maintaining stable relationships to be sustainable in society. The opportunities, which are caused by the continuously developing social and technological advancements, make it possible for individuals to be successful and self-sufficient.
Nevertheless, the study by Whitton, Weitbrecht, and Kuryluk (2015) focuses on the influence of monogamy agreement on the personal outcomes of gay people. The authors, investigating three primary types of relationship agreements (namely, monogamy, unrestricted nonmonogamy, and restricted nonmonogamy), study a geographically diverse sample of 219 American men in same-sex relationships (Whitton et al., 2015).
Their research indicates that there are no significant differences in mental health outcomes for different types of agreements employed. Also, the authors state that the adoption of non-monogamy behavioral patterns increases the quality of alternatives to existing bonds with another man. However, the researchers’ primary conclusion is the following: non-monogamous agreements create a threat to the long-term stability of relationships due to decreasing commitment (Whitton et al., 2015). Thus, it should be stated that monogamy among gay couples continues to be a valuable behavioral pattern, which has considerable benefits.
How Region and Social Identities Influence the Exposure to Discrimination
Considering that the previous section dwells upon the factor that positively influences the well-being of gay people, it is essential to discuss another influencing aspect that is often overlooked by the researchers and common people. The study by Swank, Fahs, and Frost (2013) indicates that there is a considerable gap in the scholarly literature about the influence of the place of residence on the exposure to heterosexism and discrimination.
The authors argue that various areas of habitation have different expectations about gender norms and sexuality expression. These assumptions and stereotypes are shared by the majority of different communities. As it is observed by Swank et al. (2013), people in rural areas tend to a significantly higher level of heterosexism than the habitats of urban areas. It could be suggested that the reason for the development of such tendencies comprises a lower average level of education and cultural diversity.
Therefore, the individuals from the LGBT community are perceived as deviating from the standards of sexuality expression. Accordingly, these people are sometimes treated as marginals or even outcasts by society. Overall, it is evident that gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people in rural areas are exposed to more discrimination, and thus they are more oppressed.
Hate Crimes Against the LGBT Community and Suicidal Tendencies
The information, which is provided in the previous sections, indicates that sexual minorities in the United States are exposed to a considerably high level of stress, and in rural areas, the exposure to discrimination increases immensely. Thus, it is suggested that such exposure to stressful factors, including aggression, deprivation, and mistreatment, can cause people to commit suicide due to the increased level of psychological stress. Duncan and Hatzenbuehler (2014) conducted research, in which they investigated a population-based sample of sexual minority adolescents in Boston. The primary objective, which is identified by the authors, is to understand the correlation between the suicide rates among Boston youths and neighborhood circumstances with the higher prevalence of hate crimes against the LGBT community.
It is essential to understand that adolescents are considerably more sensitive to the oppression of their peers. Therefore, it is logical to assume that exposure to more hate crimes would have a direct impact on the development of suicidal tendencies. The results of the study by Duncan and Hatzenbuehler (2014) confirm this suggestion. Thus, it is possible to introduce the aspect of neighborhood-level hate crimes as a distinct area of interest for this paper.
Hate Crimes in the Context of Neighborhood
Stress Factors and Discrimination against African-American Gay Men
As the previous section identified the necessity for the investigation of the LGBT community’s problems in the context of the neighborhood environment, it is appropriate to dwell upon the discussion of the stress factors and discrimination against African-American gay men. It is apparent from the previously retrieved information that the combination of race and sexual orientation discrimination considerably increases the likelihood of the development of mental illnesses. However, it could be suggested that psychological outcomes might be even worse if a gay person is diagnosed with HIV. According to the study by Dale et al. (2016), male-male sex is one of the principal routes of HIV transmission, and African-American men represent the majority of new HIV diagnoses.
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In addition to race and sexuality aspects, African-American gay men are exposed to poverty and other neighborhood-level stress factors. This combination of multiple risk determinants is successfully explained and elaborated by the feminist theory of intersectionality. According to this theory, the set of co-occurring social identities (for example, gender, race, social privileges, etc.) directly influences the level of exposure to discrimination. Therefore, HIV-positive African-American gay people, living in socially disadvantaged neighborhoods, are experiencing an immensely greater level of oppression from society.
The Interdependence between Experiencing Discrimination and Illicit Drug Use
Another problem, which is evidently present in the context of adverse neighborhood circumstances, is the abuse of illicit drugs. One can hardly doubt that illicit drugs are widely used to relieve stress by numerous people since they often do not have other options for stress relief. The research by Duncan, Hatzenbuehler, and Johnson (2014) focuses on the investigation of the correlation between residing in neighborhoods with higher levels of hate crimes and discrimination against the LGBT community and illicit drug use by sexual minorities.
The study dwells on the “population-based survey of public school youth in Boston, Massachusetts” (Duncan et al., 2014, p. 65). The sample is relatively large, comprising a total of 1292 students. The information about hate crimes is obtained from the Boston Police Department. The authors indicate that illicit drug use among adolescents is strongly connected to the higher index of the LGBT crime rate (Duncan et al., 2014).
Thus, it is apparent that exposure to discrimination and sexuality-based aggression contributes significantly to the development of destructive behavioral patterns among youths. It could be concluded that the hypothesis about drug abuse as a form of coping with negative emotions and perceived stigma is proved by this research. The following section will elaborate on the issues related to different forms of bias-motivated aggression toward sexual minorities.
Minority Stress Factors and Bias-Motivated Aggression
Stress-Induced Health Outcomes for Sexual Minorities
It is possible to start the investigation of minority stress’s influence on the physical health of sexual minorities. The adverse impact on the mental health of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people is covered profoundly in this paper; however, the physical aspect is also an important factor. Employing the information from the study by Frost, Lehavot, and Meyer (2015), it could be suggested that the prejudice, stigma, and oppression from the society on sexual minority individuals imposes a greater risk of developing health disparities.
The authors conducted research, using two methods: “a subjective self-appraisal method and a method whereby two independent judges externally rated event narratives using standardized criteria” (Frost et al., 2015, p. 1). The results of the study are not consistent to the maximum extent; however, it should be stated that exposure to minority stress has an evident impact on the development of such disparities as cancer, flu, and hypertension (Frost et al., 2015). Overall, it is apparent that sexual minority individuals are experiencing great levels of aggression, which often takes a physical form, and thus the risk of additional health problems is prevalent in the LGBT community.
Bias-Motivated Bullying of Sexual Minorities
Further, it is essential to discuss such social phenomenon as bullying in the context of bias-motivated oppression. As Newman and Fantus (2015) notice, homophobic bullying, being one of the most prevalent forms of biased behavior among adolescents, is a source of various health disparities, which is also evident from previous sections. The authors argue that there are three principal levels, on which this type of bias-motivated aggression manifests itself: individual, microsystem, and exosystem.
One of the principal assumptions, upon which Newman and Fantus (2015) develop their research, is that religious morality should be considered as a prevalent factor for emerging bias-motivated behaviors. This suggestion could be doubted since many confessions are currently promoting the idea of equality of sexual orientation. However, it is also evident that the religious rhetoric is still considerably homophobic. Additionally, adolescents tend to have less caution about the tolerant attitude toward different lifestyles and practices. With that being said, it could be concluded that in the school environment same-sex attractions and behaviors provoke bullying as a form of bias-motivated aggression.
How Technologies Facilitated the Development of Sexual Violence
Since the topic of bullying is mentioned, it is of immense importance to discuss a more particular form of this homophobic behavior, which is cyber-bullying. On the grander scale, it is possible to observe that the rapid development of technologies in recent decades provides various opportunities to fostering such behaviors. One can hardly doubt that new technologies have a direct positive influence on various spheres of our everyday lives. Nevertheless, it is also apparent that any technology is a mere tool, which could be used by individuals to accomplish a considerably wide range of tasks. Thus, it is appropriate to observe that many people would use these opportunities with malicious intentions.
As Henry and Powell (2015) assume, the development of technologies facilitated the means of expressing sexual violence. This assumption could hardly be denied because the authors offer various examples of how people use means of the Internet and social media to promote their bias-motivated aggression (Henry & Powell, 2015).
Cyber-bullying is one of the forms of such aggression, and it is suggested that in recent years cyber-bullying has proved to be an even more harsh and destructive practice than bullying in real life. The reason is that adolescents spend a considerable amount of their time online, and thus it is significantly easier to oppress sexual minority youth through the social media platform. Additionally, the information on the Internet is easily accessible, and thus a victim of cyber-bullying or harassment could be exposed to aggression from an immense amount of people.
Sexual Orientation as a Risk Factor for Victimization among Men
The question of the victimization of gays in contemporary society is also very important to dwelling upon. As it is pointed out in the research by Sloan, Berke, and Zeichner (2015), the majority of males who express their gender and sexuality differently are at significant risk of becoming victims of bias-motivated aggression. The authors observe that men in the United States constitute the “majority of both perpetrators and victims of hate crime offenses (Sloan et al., 2015, p. 140). Another interesting aspect that is pointed out by the researchers is that the aggression toward gay people is not determined by the reaction on the sexual orientation alone (Sloan et al., 2015).
The authors suggest that men express homophobic behaviors because they want to “preserve the exclusive masculine identity and in-group status by punishing those men who step outside rigidly constructed gender boundaries” (Sloan et al., 2015, p. 140). Therefore, it should be stated that the hypothesis about the biased attitude toward the LGBT community as a part of a larger cultural code is proved. Straight people strive to save the existing distribution of social roles, and thus they react negatively to the expression of different sexual behaviors.
In conclusion, it should be stated that this paper provides considerably wide research on the topic of gender and sexuality in contemporary society. The study has covered various issues, including the influence of monogamy on the sustainability of relationships and individual well-being along with the impact of modern technologies on the advancement of sexual violence. Additionally, the issues of mental health disparities and illicit drug use are profoundly discussed, giving insights on the correlation between exposure to discrimination, neighborhood environment, and individual health outcomes. Overall, one can argue that the topic is considerably wide, and further research is needed to discuss particular social issues related to gender and sexuality in more detail.
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