Double Standards Surrounding Same-Sex Relationships Disproportionately Harm Young Males

In the more recent years, being openly LGBT+ and displaying one’s queerness has had a tremendous culture shift; I believe this partly due to the fact that those with massive platforms, such as artists, musicians, actors, and social media influencers, have shed light on the matter. Whether they themselves are LBGT+, speaking on behalf of those who don’t have a voice, or just an ally giving their unconditional love and support.

Along with that, many television shows and movies have also begun to include LGBT+ characters in their productions such as Disney Channel’s Andi Mack, Love, Simon, and Netflix’s One Day At A Time, which is a breath of fresh air from the heteronormativity that the entertainment industry constantly portrays.

With all this new representation of these minority groups in the media, it begs the question of how it affects our LGBT+ youth – who have grown up in this new generation of being constantly surrounded by technology and entertainment.

In the Human Rights Campaign’s 2012 report, Growing Up LGBT in America, their survey of more than 10,000 LGBT-identified youth ages 13-17 found that 27 percent identified as gay, 19 percent identified as lesbian, and 38 percent identified as bisexual. The other 16 percent included those who identified as pansexual, queer, straight, or other.

Now while more of these youth identified as gay than lesbian, I feel that there is a heavy double-standard in society as a whole, and as I have also personally witnessed in school, over same-sex relationships – where female-female relationships are far more accepted and tolerated as opposed to male-male relationships.

“…female-female relationships are far more accepted and tolerated as opposed to male-male relationships.” ”

“Lesbian” relationships are normalized while “gay’ relationships are vexatious. That obviously tends to make some couples not want to openly display their relationship as it makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

“I would not feel safe or comfortable being openly intimate with another guy at school” said senior Alejandro Torres, who asked that his name be changed for privacy reasons, “because of the types of reactions, stares, and comments that I would receive.”

“I would not feel comfortable,” said James Coen, another senior who asked that his name be changed for privacy reasons, “just based on the fact that society judges things they don’t understand. I don’t think I am on that level of self-confidence, either way it would also depend on how my partner felt.”

But of course not every gay person/couple feels this way. There is a spectrum on how open these couples want to be about their relationships.

“I feel completely safe on being openly intimate with my boyfriend,” said senior Miguel Balan. “I have been but we choose not to be so overly intimate for the reason that we just don’t want to make people uncomfortable or feel the need to lash at us for being openly intimate, so we prefer to avoid those situations that we may get into.”

“I would feel safe kissing or holding another boys hand at our school only because we don’t have a huge homophobic problem but I wouldn’t feel comfortable because we really don’t see that happening,” said senior Richard Ruvalcaba. “It’s usually straight couples making out all around our school which seems normal.” 

Now I believe this harrowing double-standard is the result of the over-sexualization of lesbian relationships through pornography. Men have turned these relationships into something of a personal fantasy, objectifying women and degrading them into sex objects. That’s what I believe the root of this double-standard is from.6

“I feel like since you don’t really hear a lesbian being bullied as often as a gay guy you would see in society that lesbians are more likely to be accepted than gay guys” said Balan, “and also I feel like it has to do with how people were educated…I feel like it has to do more with ignorance towards gays than lesbians.”

“I believe that there are double standards because of sexism,” said Torres, “so because men have always been dominant and find two women together sexy or hot they make the rest of society believe it is okay. However a man with another man is not okay because a straight man, which is the normal, looks down upon it so they make the rest of society believe this concept as well.

“When two girls are dating, that is considered hot by a lot of guys, but when two guys are dating it is seen as gay because men are seen as masculine. Even though I’m gay, when I see a gay couple I stare only to ask the questions they ask. Who is the female and who is the man in the relationship. I think people find it weird for someone not to be masculine.” said Ruvalcaba.

“Men have carried the dominant role. Some straight men are uncomfortable with the thought of being with another man because society puts so much pressure on masculinity. But does being attracted to a guy make you less masculine?” said Coen.

Homophobia, stigma, and discrimination is malignant to gay men in general but is it especially detrimental to young gay men as they are more prone to experiencing violence, particularly when they are compared with other students in their schools. Violence can include behaviors such as bullying, teasing, harassment, physical assault, and suicide-related behaviors.

I believe that the school needs to make a stand and put in an effort to combat the prejudice and biogtry that our gay youth experience. To not do so would be a disservice to these students, and the school cannot claim to be for all students if they turn a blind eye to any students.