How same-sex stereotypes can leave some LGBT people in the shade

  • A male-centric portrayal of gayness in popular culture can see the other sexual minorities relegated to the background
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 December, 2018, 8:01am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 December, 2018, 8:01am

I am writing in response to the letter from Jerome Yau, “Where has gay marriage caused societies to collapse? Hong Kong must stop the fearmongering” (November 26).

There are many reasons that same-sex marriage and equal rights for LGBT people may be viewed as disruptive forces in society. Popular media generally presents LGBT communities in an overly sexualised way, generating potentially negative stereotypes. TV programmes or films often present sexual scenes or dialogues that reinforce these stereotypes for comic or dramatic effect.

Such elements in popular culture seem to reinforce the stereotype that sexual minorities tend to engage in promiscuous behaviour and situates them in a position deviating from the “normal”.

This contributes to the LGBT communities being socially stigmatised and often rejected by the mainstream, and even deemed difficult to get along with or as posing a risk to public health, with labels such as being “sexually perverted” or being a possible HIV carrier adding to the stigma.

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Since sex is often at the centre of discussions about LGBT groups, the negative labels stick to these minority individuals, compounding difficulties for traditionally conservative societies like Hong Kong to encourage the general public to accept the idea of same-sex marriage or even “diverse family structures”.

Meanwhile, as they are frequently defined by their sexuality and constituted as sexually desiring and desirable, such objectification and misguided representations may lead the rest of society to perceive their relationships as built on impulse and short-lived.

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Again, inequality based on sexuality does not appear only between the sexual mainstream and the sexual minorities, it also occurs within the sexual minorities themselves. Many online TV programmes and films targeted at LGBT groups portray same-sex romance as between male lovers, and such an androcentric portrayal leaves other sexual minorities in the shade.

As male-centred gayness gains a sense of normality, the lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities tend to become subsumed and even rendered invisible under the generic gay label. Their personal interests, unique experiences and distinctive beliefs regarding their own wide range of identities and possibilities are hence relegated to the background.

Adrian Lam, Kornhill