Personal Attitudes, Values and Beliefs About Sexual Orientation

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Personal aspects such as someone’s religion, beliefs, and personal attitude to sexual orientation can influence people’s ideas about sexual identity. For example, Michael is attracted to males, therefore is considered gay, but labels himself as heteroxeual because he is ashamed of being homosexual, and embarrassed of what people may think of him, possibly because he believes it is not accepted, which could be how he was brought up, or just what his peers or media has influenced him to think. He considers himself in most respects a typical New Zealand male – he enjoys (and is good at) different sports, spending time with friends and skateboarding. Michael is confused because the gay males he sees portrayed in the media are passionate about beauty, fashion and play themselves as more feminine. Because Michael is not like this, his sexual identity is influenced by attitudes and values relating to those of the ‘typical kiwi male’, so therefore he dates girls, rather than boys.

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Heterosexuality is considered “normal” and anyone who is not heterosexual is seen as “different”. Typically for males that are homosexual, they are portrayed as feminine like and “abnormal”, which makes it harder for gay men to come out to others, especially for people like Michael who are not like this and trying to figure out who they are. But it isn’t someone’s personal beliefs that influence them, it is also families, friends, teachers, and community leaders that all play a role in helping boys define what it means to be a man, which does not commonly include being attracted to the same sex. If Michael has grown up in a household/around family that is mainly heterosexual males and commonly sees images/videos of homosexual males in the media, it can become confusing when the narrow of images portrayed in the media does not match reality for young gay people, including himself.

A societal strategy that a community could become involved in, to encourage social justice in relation to this sexual identity issue is to inform students across schools what causes sexual orientation, and the knowledge that follows it. This would help students such as Michael, as he would be informed about the knowledge surrounding his sexuality and learn that not all gay males are alike, and learn that the stereotypes portrayed in media is not realistic. This would make Michael more comfortable in terms of his sexuality, as well as other students in terms of supporting those who are struggling with their sexual orientation. This would encourage social justice in this situation because students would be taught to treat others equally, and with the provided information potentially find those attracted the same sex less “abnormal”.

An interpersonal strategy people could use when communicating with or supporting each other that would contribute to this societal strategy is to share the information they have learnt with others so it spreads, and more and more people are informed. They could ask questions to those they know why are attracted to the same sex with an open mind to gain knowledge from someone who is experiencing trying to find out who they are.

An action an individual person could take responsibility for, in order to encourage social justice in relation to this sexual identity issue is to be willing to learn about the topic of sexuality. Someone wanting to learn about the subject with an open mind will then, in future, develop their knowledge base and improve themselves for the better. Gaining this knowledge will also liberate someone from ignorance, and allow them to have more understanding to those dealing with their sexuality. This will encourage social justice in this situation because someone with this knowledge will be able to spread awareness to others, and also because they understand it to their best ability they will be open to those who are dealing with their sexuality and can be someone who will help support people in this situation. This will benefit people, such as Michael, if he is able to speak to someone who understands to their best ability why he is struggling with being gay, and therefore find it easier to accept who he is with support from those with an open mind. This will therefore degrade the situation of people not understanding those who are attracted to the opposite and dispel stereotypes.

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