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6 Harmful Misconceptions Malta’s LGBTIQ+ Community Still Faces On The Regular

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Stereotypes are no new phenomena.

For centuries, they’ve been used to group all individuals with some sort of common factor under one often unforgiving umbrella.

With these generalisations comes a host of misconceptions about a community – some of which can be both harmful and untrue.

So, with Pride Week in mind, Lovin Malta asked: what misconceptions about the LGBTIQ+ community still linger on to this day?

1. It’s a “choice” or a “phase”

Some people still believe that being or identifying as something other than the norm is an avoidable choice.

That it’s a choice and that our relationships are different to straight relationships,” one non-binary queer person in their late 20s told Lovin Malta. 

That people are able to choose their sexuality (or choose to be straight), when really one cannot control who they are attracted to,” a lesbian woman explained.

Especially for bisexual women, we always get told it’s a phase: another reason I won’t come out to my family cause I know their reaction,” said a bisexual woman in her late 20s.

That bisexuality is just a phase,” a young bisexual man promptly said.

There have been many studies disproving this idea that sexual orientation and gender identity is a choice.

And if one had to think about it – why would someone choose to be discriminated against, subject themselves to harassment and choose to be treated as sub-human as many LGBTIQ+ people have, especially in the past?

2. Gay men are flamboyant and lesbian women are manly

This is another common misconception used to brand gay men and lesbian women for years upon years, pressuring them to conform to actions and mannerisms that they don’t identify with.

Everyone is camp and we only want to party,” said a gay man in his late 20s as he described the misconception.

“Flamboyant, intrusive, over the top. If you’re not that, they seem to have a harder time accepting you are ‘actually’ gay. When I tell people I’m not straight I often get ‘yeah, you definitely look it.’ While my friend who’s also a lesbian, but has a more feminine style, is always asked ‘Wait, really?!” a young lesbian woman recounted.

“That lesbians are mostly the butch, masculine women,” a gay man explained.

“That we all like Britney Spears,” said a gay man in his 60s.

LGBTIQ+ people are all individually unique, being gay does not equate to being feminine, being lesbian does not equate to being feminine, and vice versa to both.

3. Everyone in the community is sex-obsessed and STD-ridden

Another common misconception pointed out throughout the survey is the idea that all queer people are ‘sex obsessed’.

“That we want to fuck everyone we come in contact with and that the people we have sex with might ‘catch’ gay,” said a lesbian woman.

“That we are only interested in sex, sex and more sex. Some are, some aren’t. Some straight male friends of mine – when at uni – used to sleep around… so it has nothing to do with sexual orientation,” a gay man in his 40s explained.

“That we are carriers of diseases, while heterosexual people have sex all the time like us, yet they are not labeled,” explained an older gay man.

“That gay men are sexually attracted towards all men and that we have STDs,” said a gay man in his 50s.

“That we spread sickness,” a bisexual man said

Such a stereotype once again negates from the fact that everyone within the community is individual, with different libidos, preferences and tolerances.

It also makes a whole group of people seem uneducated, unaware or unphased by sexual health – something extremely unfair and untrue.

4. They are predators and pedophiles

This particularly malicious misconception is often used to demonise LGBTIQ+ people and completely exclude them from society. It’s a harmful stereotype borne out of hatred and inaccuracy to justify discrimination.

“That we are predators,” said a bisexual man.

“Sexual predators, sexual beings only, sinners,” said a non-binary queer person.

“That being gay is basically the same as being pedophile, and that gay people will try to hook up with straight guys, or that anal sex is all gay people are about,” said a pansexual man in his 30s.

“That we are sexual predators who prey on children, it’s the most dangerous misconception, LGBT+ people are at a much higher risk of being victims of child sexual violence rather than perpetrators,” said a young non-binary person.

5. The community is just dying for attention from everyone around them 

Some people seem to think that being part of the community and fighting for equality is just a cry for attention or a weep for special treatment.

“That it’s a form of attention seeking, and that there’s no reason or need for Pride,” said one respondent.

“It’s done for attention, that everyone is accepted and there’s no need for more policies or Pride Month because we have ‘enough’ and there’s no day dedicated to ‘straight’ people,” said another.

6. The roles an individual takes need to be “traditional”

Another misconception was the idea that every relationship needs to have two people – one assuming a feminine role and the other, a masculine one.

“We often get faced with questions like, ‘who is the male/female in your relationship.?’ As if we have that… Heteronormative thinking at its best,” one participant explained.

“In relationships, some people think one person always has to be the man and another, the woman,” said another.

Ultimately, generalisation-borne misconceptions can be extremely negative to the social lives of a whole community.

As mentioned above, they’re usually used as a means to isolate, intimidate and justify the maltreatment and abuse that LGBTIQ+ people have been subject to.

Although Malta is a lot more accepting than it used to be, certain sexual orientations and gender identities are still stigmatised and looked at as a joke – this is at least partly due to the misconceptions that ridicule and simplify an identity of hundreds and thousands of unique individuals.

Instead of assuming someone’s whole personality based off of a singular aspect of a multi-faceted identity, we should normalise forming opinions on people according to how they act – not how they are told to.

Are there any other misconceptions of the LGBTIQ+ community that we’ve missed? Sound off in the comments below 

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Ana’s a university student who loves a heated debate, she’s very passionate about humanitarian issues and justice. In her free time you’ll probably catch her binge watching way too many TV shows or thinking about her next meal.

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