LGBT

This page is dedicated to information about LGBT-related issues, including the contact details of support organisations for LGBT people around the world. If you would like to read my own blog posts about LGBT stuff, please check out the LGBT category of posts to the right of the Home page. To find out which LGBT-related blogs I am following, take a look at the Blogroll tab.

What does LGBT stand for?

LGBT is an initialism that was created in the 1990s to refer to “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender” people. Sometimes the letters “Q” and “I” are added to represent people who identify their sexual state as “questioning” or “intersex” respectively.

Why are there so many sexual orientations?

Scientists believe that biological factors, like genetics and the early uterine environment, are the most probable cause for sexual orientations. As such, the expert consensus is that sexual orientation is not a choice. The real question is: Does it really matter?

LGBT in society

I am proud to live in the first country to draft a constitution outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation. South Africa was also the first country in Africa, and the fifth country in the world, to legalise same-sex marriage. On the streets, however, many LGBT people in South Africa face oppressive social stigma and horrific homophobic violence. Lesbian women in particular are targeted by corrective rape.

Many LGBT people live in fear not just of homophobic elements of society, but also in fear of judgment from ourselves and our loved ones. The current international attention to gay marriage and equality is allowing LGBT people to live in freedom from these fears. Hopefully one day “coming out” will no longer be necessary, as the next generations will grow up learning tolerance and respect for all.

Should I come out, even if I might not be accepted?

You cannot choose your sexuality, but only you can choose how to live your life. Some gay people may choose never to come out if their family is very conservative; they would rather preserve the position they hold in their community.

I live by the maxim that nobody is gay until they say they are. Coming to terms with one’s own sexuality is first an internal process that may take years for some people. Forcing someone out of the closet before they are ready can do more harm than good. Denial, acknowledgement and then acceptance of your own sexuality are all common attitudes to go through before you feel ready to declare yourself publicly. In an ideal future there will be no need to “come to terms” with your sexuality, indeed sexual orientation will not have to be discussed at all and everyone will be guaranteed acceptance. Let love be our aim.

Support for LGBT people

These are just a few of the social and support groups available to LGBT people and their loved ones. As a South African citizen and resident myself, I have focused on LGBT organisations in South Africa. The Wikipedia pages I have linked to here provide comprehensive lists of LGBT organisations on each continent.

Wikipedia list of LGBT rights organisations all over the world Wikipedia list of LGBT-related organisations all over the world

The It Gets Better Project aims to encourage LGBT youth globally that it gets better and to stimulate the changes in law and society needed to make it better for them. It has done fantastic work and is supported by many public figures, including Barack Obama, Ellen DeGeneres and Hillary Clinton, musicians like Adam Lambert and Kesha, companies like Google and Facebook, LGBT people all over the world, and actors like Neil Patrick Harris, Jane Lynch and Chris Colfer to name a few. These celebrities have all created online videos documenting their own stories and offering encouragement to young people. Some of these videos can be seen on the project’s website or on YouTube.

The South African Commission on Gender Equality (CGE)
Website: www.cge.org.za
Email: cgeinfo@cge.org.za Telephone numbers for provincial offices of the Commission on Gender Equality around South Africa

OUT LGBT well-being (South Africa)
Website: www.out.org.za
Email: neld@out.org.za
Telephone: +27 21 430 3272

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians And Gays (PFLAG) South Africa
Website: pflagsouthafrica.org
Email: pflagsa.family@gmail.com