So what are the cross cultural challenges for homosexuals?
1. The first challenge for a homosexual regarding culture is that fact that he or she may well be coming from a heterosexual family. There are certain aspects of heterosexual culture that are alien to homosexual society. For example, their association with other individuals, child rearing, travel spots and forming cross gender relationships. How do you overcome this?
There is word in the English language called heteronormativity. It means that society assigns pre-set and complementary roles to the two genders. While this is less prevalent today than 30,40 or 50 years ago, there is latent belief in this concept. This further complicates homosexual relationships.
Because the concept of heteronormativity assumes that you need two genders to complete a meaningful lifestyle. So you see, this concept, if left unchallenged, strikes at the very root of two gay men or two lesbian women to have a “normal” relationship a society can understand and accept.
So to answer the question posed above.
A homosexual must assert – with reasonable argument – that the concept of heteronormativity is outdated. Further, that he/she is prepared to and even looking forward to an alternative lifestyle where physical features have nothing to do with roles and positions. A man for example can be both a “mother” and a “father”. A homosexual must drive the thinking towards a family unit being comprised of two “persons”. One person can be the primary nurturer, the other can be the primary bread-winner and the family unit is thus complete.
2. Second, even in this day and age, there are parts of society that consider homosexual relationship culturally unhealthy and therefore unacceptable. Our society is largely comprised of heterosexuals. While politicians and companies are pitching in to help the homosexual cause, it is your neighbor, your family and your friends that need to be swayed. Politicians, at least some of them appear to be pandering to gay and lesbian community just for votes and campaign money. Companies are doing it partly as a defensive measure. So how do you deal with this type of social bias where your gay or lesbian lifestyle is considered off-mainstream?
A homosexual has two choices when dealing with this type of cultural challenge. Explore the cause of it. Is the driving reason for the revocation of gay lifestyle religion, custom, personal belief or something else? Is the other person willing to sit down and acknowledge an alternative lifestyle? I know many individuals who have strong beliefs that do not understand or accept gay lifestyles or cultures, yet they have an open mind and have at least accepted the fact that alternative lifestyles are here to stay and flourish. Remember, homosexuality is just one of the cultural practices that have faced derision and even sanctions. Others relative to inter-racial or inter-cultural issues that come to mind –admittedly not as vehemently discussed as homosexuality–are religion, cuisine, marriage and certain social practices such as having opposite-gender friendships and dating.
3. Third, children brought up in homosexual homes face their own ghosts. In this, they need their parents’ support and advocacy. They must first understand that they are growing up in an alternative lifestyle home. They must accept it. It may require the limit of your patience.
In summary, homosexuals still face many cultural challenges and roadblocks. Good news is that the acceptance level is dramatically increasing. I hope the above strategies will help homosexuals accelerate the pace of acceptance and break down barriers and biases within their own circle of friends, associates and relatives.