A Closer Look at LGBT Stereotypes

 -  10/11/12

Bias and discrimination are not always intentional. People may be under the influence of ingrained stereotypes that play out in how they treat LGBT employees.

Public perceptions of sexual orientation are changing. There is considerable evidence of this shift in entertainment, sports and politics. For instance, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet portray a monogamous gay couple on the television show “Modern Family.” Chris Colfer and Darren Criss are “out” on “Glee,” as are Sara Ramirez and Jessica Capshaw on “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Professional basketball players Sheryl Swoopes and John Amaechi are among many well-known, self-identified gay and lesbian athletes. Dozens of politicians and public figures such as Houston Mayor Annise Parker and newsman Anderson Cooper are outwardly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

The Evolving LGBT Landscape
The LGBT platform has radically changed since Eric McCormack and Sean Hayes created a stir by playing gay friends in “Will and Grace,” and Ellen DeGeneres came out on her own show. The same stereotypes that used to be — and still are in many cases — the subject of snarky side comments and locker room humor are now portrayed openly in every corner of society.

At the same time breakthroughs are happening with regard to LGBT acceptance, the public and political discourse about sexual orientation is getting more contentious. On May 9 President Obama became the first sitting president to state his support for civil marriage for gays and lesbians.

In March, Maryland became the eighth state, in addition to the District of Columbia, to legalize equal marriage rights. The ultimate decision looms from the United States Supreme Court in the challenge presented to California’s Proposition 8 presented in Perry v. Brown. On the other hand, more than 30 states have had referendums where the same rights were denied by popular vote.

The 2012 presidential primary campaign has been rife with candidates asserting that gay rights represent the decline of Western civilization. Earlier this year Curtis Knapp, a pastor from Kansas, said that President Obama had gone too far, and it’s now time for the federal government to systematically kill gay men and lesbian women.

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