Myths & Realities of LGBT*TQIA+ communities

Couple enjoying autumn in the park

This article is intended as an introduction to LGBT*TQIA+ communities.

The acronym LGBT*TQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* (transgender, transsexual, trans-identified), two-spirit, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual) is generally used by the Positive Space Campaign. A plus sign (+) is added to the end in respect to the infinite variety of identities outside of, or not represented by, this acronym.

Myth: Same sex attraction is unnatural.

Reality: For some people it is natural to have sexual attractions and relations with members of one’s own gender. To act on feelings of attraction is natural. Not to act on these feelings would force people to hide who they are and cause them great pain. This myth also comes from the belief that sexual relationships are formed for the procreation of children only. However, many heterosexuals do not have children and many LGBT*TQIA+ people do.

Myth: We know what causes homosexuality and bisexuality.

Reality: It is not known what causes either heterosexuality or homosexuality. Some believe that they are predetermined genetically and research seems to indicate that sexual orientation is determined either before birth or very early in life. Others maintain that all humans are predisposed to all variations of sexual and affectional behaviours and they learn a preference or orientation. It is not the cause that is important, but that people are treated with dignity and respect regardless of their sexual orientation.

Myth: Only lesbians, gays, and bisexuals are attracted to people of their own sex.

Reality: Most adults have deep feelings, attractions and/or fantasies about both sexes. Over time, studies have consistently confirmed that both homosexual and heterosexual people have had a variety of sexual experiences with same gender and opposite gender people.

Myth: LGBT*TQIA+s are promiscuous or somehow more sexual than non-LGBT*TQIA+s.

Reality: This stereotype is propagated by the fact that those individuals who are promiscuous are the most visible. As more and more gays and lesbians “come-out,” the promiscuous stereotype diminishes. LGBT*TQIA+ people are just as capable of stable, monogamous, committed relationships as anyone else.

Myth: People choose to be homosexual.

Reality: Most people feel that they did not choose to be LGBQ. Rather they were aware of having same-sex feelings at an early age or else these feelings evolved in their adolescence or adult years. Most people who are LGBQ were raised by heterosexual parents and live in a predominantly heterosexual society. Importantly, homosexuality is not learned. If it were, the percentage of LGBQ people in the population would be far greater. It is impossible to “make someone homosexual.” Homosexual or heterosexual experiences as an adolescent do not determine a person’s sexual orientation later in life. 

Myth: LGBT*TQIA+ people do not value family. 

Reality: Less than one third of all Canadian families are traditional “nuclear families.” There are many diverse family structures. Within the LGBT*TQIA+ communities there is recognition and nurturing of alternate family structures. Those who have been rejected by their family of origin often try to re-establish these relationships and maintain their right to raise children or adopt their partner’s children.

Myth: LGBT*TQIA+ people can be identified by certain mannerisms, clothing, or physical characteristics. 

Reality: LGBT*TQIA+ people come in as many different shapes, sizes, and colours as do heterosexuals.

Myth: Most LGBT*TQIA+ people could be cured by psychotherapy.

Reality: Psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health professionals agree that homosexuality or being trans* is not an illness, mental disorder, or emotional problem.

Myth: Bisexuals can never be happy in a monogamous relationship.

Reality: Being bisexual doesn’t make you any more likely to cheat than being straight or gay does. Just as in other sexual relationships, being partnered with one person doesn’t suddenly negate your attraction to other people.

Myth: Transgender people are confused.

RealityJust because a person is different, doesn’t mean they don’t know who they are. It does make sense that a person who identifies as a woman might be uncomfortable in her male body, and vice versa. And some transgender people are uncomfortable and want to alter their bodies. Others choose to live with their bodies as they are. Neither choice means that these people are confused.

Myth: Transgender people are gay.

Reality: Gender identity and sexual orientation are two completely separate characteristics. One is what gender we see ourselves as being. The other is what gender(s) we are physically and romantically attracted to.

Myth: Non-Binary Equals Intersex.

Reality: These are two different things. Being non-binary is about having a gender identity that doesn’t fit neatly into “man” or “woman.” Some people identify as gender queer and/or two-spirited, while others go by gender fluid, androgynous, or gender neutral. On the other hand, being intersex is about being born with a physical sex that isn’t classified as typically male or female.

Myth: I don’t know anyone who isn’t heterosexual.

Reality: With as many as 10% of people of the population being LGBQ, we all know people who are not straight.

Myth: LGBT*TQIA+ people are predominantly young, white, and non-religious.

Reality: History shows that LGBT*TQIA+ people are found at all ages in all cultures, ethnic groups and religions. Sometimes an LGBT*TQIA+ person may feel they have to choose between their ethnic culture and their sexual orientation, for allegiance and identification, if they seem incompatible. It is important to note some religions are very supportive and even celebrate human diversity. For more information on how you stand up for change, find your community, or access resources and support, please visit Student Services’ resources on sexual orientation and gender identity.