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Being Different: Identity Struggles of LGBTQ Community

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When I was told to create a ethnographic study and explore a certain group of people from a distance I realized a great choice would be to observe the increasing gay community that brooklyn and my neighborhood is starting to have. I didn’t have much understanding of the LGBTQ community and I still don’t but through this assignment I definitely understand them better and i’m still learning. My best bet was to head over a to a bar for gay people, which Manhattan has handful of them. I didn’t want to go alone for the fear that I might disrupt the environment, so I bring some of my friends for the experience. When I spoke to the many different people at the bar they were very supportive of my research and helped me through all me questions.

Me and my friends named Jonathan Salazar and Oric Wellen went to the bar in Manhattan around 5th avenue. When we started to approach the bar you immediately notice the bright lights and the loud music that is completely different than the environment that i’m regularly used to. Once inside you immediately see every gay couple or singles walking happily around like any other bar you would normally go to. Typically, here at flatbush (my neighborhood) you rarely see any gay people or couple at least to my understanding, but once entering this new atmosphere we realized that they are more and just not in my community.

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When I arrived to the bar everyone seemed alright and the area/block was surprisingly clean, so clean that I wasn’t even sure that I was in New York anymore. There was almost no garbage lying around the streets. When walking in my friends and I started to think that the people there would think that we were gay as well so we seperated for a bit. I don’t really drink but we still got a table and ordered some food since we were going to be staying here for a while. My friends ordered some kinds of drinks that I have no clue of their names. At first glance the bar seemed perfectly normal and no different from other bars until I started to notice some slight differences. For example the bathroom had a gender neutral sign instead of a male and female sign. Since Im usually use to a bar that’s heavily dominated by african americans and hispanics this environment was very different and diverse.

Going back, being gay was considered a sickness and a crime leading to the oppression of gay men and women. Being openingly gay also meant risking your lives when your leaving to work, school or being at home. You would have cases where people would form mobs and crowds to catch gay people, hunt them down and kill them. Now we have people like Ellen, Degeneres, an openly gay women, who host the talk show called “Ellen”. She has been pushing the movement and supporting it since the start of here career. She even jokingly said ‘Do we have to know whos gay and who’s straight? Can’t we just love everybody and judge them by the car they drive”. She is trying to say how putting a title on everything means separating the love and care we could and should share with each other.

The first person I met to interview was the waiter/waitress. She actually approached me and said that we “shouldn’t worry” because “everyone can tell that you guys aren’t gay”. It was a little embarrassing being called out so I asked her how? She said that it was due to are “body language” and her “passed experience” with guys like us. She says that we were tense and the way we kept looking around gave it away. It was also because guys would come up here with a “couple of their boyfriends” in order to feel like they’re not part of the other crowd. After hearing all of this I asked Sheryl if I could ask her a couple of questions for my research paper which she replied “yeah why not, fuck it”. I asked Sheryl “Is being gay in today’s society difficult?”. To which her reply was “Hell Yeah! Of Course it is, but your suppose to shrug it off”. Dina continues and says how “it will never be easy but that doesn’t mean that the gay community will ever quit this fight”. Dina left due to more customers coming in but this left my friends and I thinking of we Dina had just said. My friend Oric tried to explain that Dina feels that even though through gay movements and achievements, people are still struggling to come out as gay but times has changed were people can be a bit more accepting.

Articles such as “Harrassment For The LGBTQ” found on Apa.org, explains how “psychological studies disprove the belief that homosexuality is related to a mental illness”. During the mid 1900’s, a significant amount of homosexual people researched by psychologists were usually inmates and psychiatric patients. During the 70’s a brilliant psychologist located at UCLA, started to breakdown this belief and find the real reason. This researcher was Evelyn Hooker. It began when a gay former student told her, isn’t it your “scientific duty to study men like me.” (cited in Burr, 1993). When Hooker decided to ask the head of the department that she wanted to study more of homosexual men and women, the head of the department replied that ‘There was no such person’ (Hooker, 450). The article describes her work to be fairly difficult and uneasy because the majority gay males she wanted to interview were scared of coming out to her and embarrassed to speak anymore. In their minds, Hooker leaking any of sexual orientation meant that their lives would have been ruined both socially and personally. They would also fear of never getting a job again.

In the late 1900’s people were terrified of the repercussions of coming out as gay man or women. Another source named BBC.com stated “The death of a gay student, tortured and tied to a prairie fence in Wyoming two decades ago, shocked America. As Matthew Shepard’s ashes are interred in the nation’s spiritual home, those who knew him reflect on his remarkable legacy. It was the dental brace. That’s how Judy and Dennis Shepard knew it was their son in the hospital bed. “Bandages and stitches all over his face,’ Judy continues and says, ‘bandages around his head where the final blow had crushed his brain stem”. This quote shows the horrific and scary scene that you could face if you come out to society as a gay man or women. This article shows how people will go to extreme lengths and throw away their morals in order to hurt and kill innocent lives because of the way they live their lives and because it goes against their beliefs.

Going back to the bar that me and my friends are in, we start to notice a couple making out in front of the bar just like you would see a man and women, this case we have women and women. There was also a group of people who were sitting in the two tables ahead of us who seemed no different than you and or anyone else. Then all of a sudden the people at the table, one of the guys, put his arm around a man who looked like a woman, at least to my knowledge of a women. It starts to get late and a lot of uber cars are beginning to park in front of the bar. I asked one of the workers why is everyone using uber, why not yellow cab or lyft. He says that uber is “LGBTQ freindly” and are known to be more open with them. I was a bit shocked but it was a true statement. Uber drivers tend to be more open to the gay community. If i was in that position I would have done the exact same thing. My friend Jonathan said “your going into a random person’s car you shouldn’t take any risks”.

In conclusion, I have realized that it’s not that easy being a fieldwork anthropologist but the journey was definitely an experience that I would recommend others to do. Throughout my research I have learned that the uprising of the gay community is being recognised as positive force within today’s society. They just wanted to be treated like everyone else and possible with no labels. “We are human beings and once everyone starts fucking realizing it maybe people will start being more peaceful”. This was a response from one of the staff workers at the bar name Jared. Jared has made a very strong statement but also a very true one. We are the same people through blood and bones and we are no different, so we should start treating others the same way and spread love and peace.

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