The Connexions Annual:
Introduction to Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals chapter
Sexuality is not something that our society handles
well. We produce and reproduce sexual images by the untold millions,
we talk about sex incessantly but as a society we are profoundly
uncomfortable with this primal force.
We have a long history of trying to repress or tame sexuality, of
trying to keep it channelled, under control. Consequently, we also have a long history of punishing sexual ‘deviance’
— behaviour that differs from the prescribed norms — although we have an equally long history of
‘deviating’ anyway, and often of quietly tolerating officially forbidden behaviour as long as it wasn’t ‘flaunted’.
Homosexuality was long felt to be particularly threatening by official
society, meeting with reactions that were frequently hysterical,
vicious, and violent. Homosexuality was simultaneously seen to be
completely against human nature, and yet so attractive that a single
‘queer’ teacher could corrupt a whole school. The very existence
of homosexuals was seen as an affront, a threat.
For a long time, gay men and lesbian women felt compelled and were
compelled to keep their orientation quiet, ‘in the closet’, prisoners
of economic and social pressure, repressive laws, and frequently
personal agonies of doubt and guilt.
In the last two decades this has changed, as a powerful movement
for lesbian and gay liberation emerged to assert that their sexual orientation was every bit as ‘normal’ as heterosexuality.
Though much remains to be done, this movement has been a powerful
force is changing society’s attitudes and in sweeping away legal and other barriers denying equality to gays
Many of the groups in this chapter are focused on continuing the
long struggle for lesbian and gay rights under the law, and within
institutions like the churches. Others are concerned with providing
support and services to gays and lesbians, or to particular groups
within the community.
Beyond their particular emphasis, gay and lesbian organizations
are also by their nature dealing with the issue of empowerment,
giving an identity, strength, and a sense of collectivity to a section
of society that was long oppressed and silent. For lesbians, this
quest for identify and empowerment has often meant forming their
own organizations after finding themselves limited in male–dominated
For lesbians, this process has also meant confronting their oppression
as women, and claiming their place in the broader women’s movement. For some, it has meant the development
of a lesbian ‘separatist’ identity. For others, who enjoy erotic literature or S&M, it has meant a further struggle
to claim a space for themselves within the movement.
The movement has helped to test and extend our sexual limits. The
space for diversity which it has created has also benefitted bisexuals, who now feel freer to pursue their orientation
without guilt or censure.
Together with the women’s movement, the lesbian and gay movement
has helped to make the wider society understand that personal issues,
sexual issues, are also political issues. Gays and lesbians have
shown that while on one level — rights, employment, etc. — sexual
orientation doesn’t matter, on another level, sexual politics are
profoundly important. They do matter, and no movement for change
can ignore them.
Aussi disponible en français: L'Annuel
Connexions: Introduction aux chapitre des Lesbiennes, Homosexuels,
También disponible en español: El
Anuario de Conexiones: Introducción al Capítulo de
Lesbianas, Gays, Bisexuales
Other Overview Articles from the Connexions Annual:
to the Connexions Annual
to the Arts, Media, Culture section of the Connexions Annual
to the Community, Urban, Housing section of the Connexions Annual
to the Development, International section of the Connexions Annual
to the Economy, Poverty, Work section of the Connexions Annual
to the Education, Children section of the Connexions Annual
to the Environment, Land Use, Rural section of the Connexions Annual
to the Health section of the Connexions Annual
to the Human Rights, Civil Liberties section of the Connexions Annual
to the Lesbians, Gays section of the Connexions Annual
to the Native Peoples section of the Connexions Annual
to the Peace section of the Connexions Annual
to the Women section of the Connexions Annual
and Reading List from the Connexions Annual
Other Resources and Links:
Online: Selected Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Links