Yearning for closeness and erotic feelings generally are found to belong to the domain of private sphere of each human. However, sexuality is the most challenged issue in modern politics and it is so deep rooted that it is almost impossible to discuss about the modern tolerant social equality comprising of all the ideological baggage, claims to human rights and personage freedoms and independence without tackling the concern of sexuality. One of the main reason which lead to this shift was the rise of identity politics after the World War II. Thus the rise of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) identity politics is a part of wider structural shift in opinionated association of modern democracies.
The main focus of this research paper is to make the readers aware of the issues related to the LGBT in Unites States of America. The same is done by taking an insight into the LGBT issues and the movements raised by those communities. The paper commences by giving an overview of the past followed by the problems mainly faced by them. The next level discusses about the “Queer Approaches”, which concentrates upon the conceptual side of this research paper, portraying the identity politics, market economies and sexual citizenships (Rimmerman, 2002).
History of the lesbian and gay movements in USA
Before the world war, the period of the 50’s and 60’s can be summarised as a period wherein the lesbian and gay communities were seen shouting the slogan “we are just like everyone else”, an era when homosexuality was deviance by everybody in all the fields of study be it legal, sociological or medical. The word used by them for their movement per se was homophile which discussed about the main goals and aims of the homosexuals in that era. The termed came into existence simply to downsize the sexual aspect of sexual identity, thereby attempting to eradicate the differences and put more emphasis upon the fact that they are equal to the heterosexual population. They fought by using various non-violent ways and accepting the social norms of gender, class and race. Thus this period was a noninterventionist assurance of oneness and acceptance by the society Earlier it was accepted only within closed doors but attempts were being made to make it public.
The other chapter which was talked about the most was the gay and lesbian politics which had started after 1969. The said liberation was the one which had come out on the streets by such slogans “Out of the closets and into the streets” or “Gay revolution now.” The main characteristic of this eras movement was ti come out to public and instead of shying away, fight for equality of homophiles in the society. The main examples in America were black power liberation, second wave feminism and antiwar movements. The strategies adopted by these underrated class was protests on the streets, interrupting in the conferences and meeting in the open air and intruding various public gatherings. The movement which emphasised homosexuality as a unifying and principal foundation of identity basis which a social movement can be formed , can be illustrated as tactical essentialism. However towards the end of the era of 70s, there was a revolutionary shift in the lesbian and gay politics from an unstructured and informal types to a more structured and formal political stance which saw the disappearance of the Gay Liberation Front and appearance of NGOs such as National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Thus the gay and lesbian movements enabled to bring essentialism of politics, intrusion into the social and the cultural status quo and stress upon bridging the differences (American Association of University women. 2011).
The focus on the lesbian and gay politics was also due to the social repercussion that came in the 80s with the appearance of HIV AIDS on one hand and the political supremacy of New Right conservatism which has won power in the USA. The first half of the 1980 concentrated upon the identification of gay as the main factor for social movement but the fact that the government was not responsive towards the HIV AIDS epidemic made it clear to the gay culture that pressurizing the government was not the ultimate solution to their problem. Thus in the latter half of the 80s, organizations such as the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) and Queer National were formed which mainly took drastic steps of socialism and shouted out loud that identity based politics was too stringent to match up with the multilevel issues such as that of HIV AIDS.
Further to this the rise of Christian fundamentalism in America helped to multiply the repercussion political affairs of horror, creating a moral panic. It portrays itself as protecting ancestral values from homosexuality which combats the individual human rights and singular awareness groups’ conversation that they saw lesbian and gay were pressing and imposing on the straight population. They emerged as a ferocious opponent of the LGBT movement in America.
LGBT not only points towards lesbians and gays but two other gender and sexual identity groups i.e. bisexual and trans too. The other two are treated as having same interest backgrounds and are also a part of the same universe. However the movement of these two were also not painless. The start of the bisexual movement can be viewed to the 1960s but the main advancement happened towards the 80s. The emergence of the bisexual movement is due to various factors such as the lesbian and gay movements gave very little weightage to the bisexual demands, they were looked upon with suspicion and resentment and were lamed to be as conspirators of the sexual liberalisation causes. Bisexuals often found themselves in a fix as if a bisexual man had a sex with a woman then the gay community would hate it and vice versa. The bisexual community had learnt many mesons from the failures of the various gay and lesbian movements and so they started their movement by speaking out loud about the various issues they were facing and they impressed upon the lesbian and gay movements to make them also a part of their activities in the form of marches, cultural events and such other activities. Therefore by the end of 90s the bisexual community also started to get some identification in this world.
Next is the transgender and transsexual. Both the terms may seem to be same but there is a slight difference between the two. The latter one comprises of those individuals who think that they are emotionally, mentally and psychologically of the opposite sex as compared to what they are born. Thus they ultimately opt for an operation to convert themselves to the said gender which they feel for. Whereas in the case of transgender people, they also have the feeling of belong to another gender but do not opt for a surgical sex change operation. The first traces of movement of trans came very late in the late 19th century and the same took a more concrete shape in the 20th century with attempts on building up of transgender community. In the year 1952, Virginia Prince, a transgender woman established the first magazine by the name of Transvestia : The Journal of American Society for Equality in Dress. It helped to form a transgender peer network. Similar to bisexuals, transgender were also not made a part of various movements, but the exclusion of them led to formation of the queer activism wherein a very staunch prevalence of the FTM communities were visible across the United States. Thus ultimately all these four gender and sexual communities joined hands to take part into various queer activities to fight for their rights in the society (Brown 2006).
Queer approaches towards the conceptual side
The said section concentrates upon the conceptual side wherein the research is directed towards making the reader aware of certain selected and most common issues being faced by these LGBT people and how these movements helped to fight them. These are basically education, legal changes, same sex partnerships and marriages and health.
If a person is not educated about a particular subject , then he or she is sure to fear of. Thus one very successful ways of dealing is education. Education as a component of lesbian and gay community struggle was two dimensional which was mainly focussed towards homosexual community wherein people were made aware about having sex with safety and its advantages and psychological help as well and at the various cultural and social events such as festivals and film screening events. Education may also be portrayed as a general notion for the gay and lesbian politics and the politics is also viewed as a form of education wherein it concentrated not only on transmitting but also transforming and converting the present structure and institution in a manner which would give room to LGBT people as well. Another very influential manner to educate the society is by recalling the past and highlighting the positive representation of certain homosexual people like Leonardo Da Vinci and by doing so they are able to fight the heteronormativity of socio-political space with ease (Pew Research Centre. 2013).
LGBT have always concentrated upon the various social and cultural rights but with the advent of the gay rights approach, the concentration has shifted to the legal parlance as well. The second way to deal with the issue is to bring about a change in the laws and regulations of the society. Three main areas were focussed upon, decriminalisation of the homosexuality, imposing antidiscrimination laws and regulations and providing legality to the same sex partnerships. In the 20th century the main motto of the LGBT movement was to erase the penal charges for the same sex behaviours.
Thirdly, same sex partnerships and gay marriages were also a matter of concern for the LGBT groups in America and other parts of the world as well. Gay marriages require legal recognition as well as regulations for the homosexual relations and also focuses upon the discrimination that happens in the social regulations of homo and heterosexuality. Thus only legal recognition is not the end, social acceptance is also a must. Thus gay marriages is a way adopted for transforming the wider social relations of licence and acceptance within the customs. It is expected that once it gets legal acceptance, the issue of homophobia will be eradicated and so will discrimination too. Same Sex partnerships would imply autonomy in the optimistic sense to self realisation and fulfilment as well.
The health caregivers paid least attention to the issue of HIV and AIDS so much that the LGBT groups took an initiative to educate people about the diseases and even ensured distribution of free condoms so as to prevent occurrence of the said disease as well as spread of the same. The rise of the trans movement ensured that the health services provided in teh USA improvise. They emphasised on the fact that the government should make efforts to fund for their conversion and operations, the end of bureaucracy and depathologization of the medical dialogues around transsexuality and gender (Williams & Retter, 2003).
Thus on a concluding note it can be said that the main power to eradicate complete discrimination amongst the various individuals belonging to the LGBT community is mainly in the hands of the schools, legal system of the country as well as the society as a whole. The discrimination although has narrowed down to some extent in America yet various ways adopted need to be flourished in detail to ensure complete acceptance of the same. The research can be ended by emphasising upon sexual citizenship wherein it describes the ways and means in which the government is handling with issues of sexuality, gender, citizenship and national and ethnic identities are the main gray areas which needs more attention. Therefore efforts are still being made to ensure that the LGBT get the required amount of respect although the world has been able to give acceptance to the same to some extent but it still needs gearing up specially in a place like America where the population of LGBT is huge.
American Association of University women. (2011). Ensuring Civil Rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Americans, Retrieved from https://www.aauw.org/files/2013/02/position-on-LGBT-rights-112.pdf
Brown,W. (2006). Regulating aversion: Tolerance in the age of identity and empire. Princeton , NJ
Pew Research Centre. (2013). A Survey of LGBT Americans. Retrieved from https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/files/2013/06/SDT_LGBT-Americans_06-2013.pdf
Rimmerman, C. (2002). From identity to politics: The lesbian and gay movements in the United States. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Williams, W. L., & Retter, Y. (Eds.). (2003). Gay and lesbian rights in the United States: A documentary history. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.