The LGBT community has its own culture. The culture manifests itself differently depending on variables such as location, age, and ethnic makeup, but LGBT culture is unique. Brad Sears of The Williams Institute remarked that the LGBT community spends most of its time (necessarily) showing the american public that we are all human and that we all deserve equal rights. However, because of our struggle for rights, we tend to overlook that LGBT culture is unique and should be celebrated as such.
LGBT culture, in many ways, is a response to heterosexual/gender conforming culture, which is what everyone in our society is measured against. For example, when a female is described as a tomboy, she is being compared to a female who is gender conforming. When we refer to someone who is straight, we don't say the word straight when describing them. In contrast, when someone is gay, we use the word gay to describe them.
In response to a culture that expects social conformity, and has rules about how males and females should behave, LGBT culture prides itself on the uniqueness of its individuals. The creativity and artistic talent of the LGBT community is immense. For those who were judged by the mainstream culture, LGBT culture is a welcome and safe haven. Many LGBT individuals describe their entrance into the culture as deeply therapeutic because they could finally feel free to 'be themselves' or 'let their guard down'.
There is a societal joke that 'gay's have all of the fun'. While this is not necessarily true in many respects, a culture that accepts and encourages individuals to be themselves fosters creativity, growth, and a sense of well being.
A male who naturally expresses aspects of femininity may be extremely relieved to wear feminine attire, or not monitor the pitch of his voice or his physical presence. Further, if a person was expected to guard against their natural way of being throughout their lives, the relief of being able to express themselves may feel overwhelming. This is akin to someone who has not been permitted to show sadness, to finally feel it is ok to cry.
But I'm a Cheerleader is a great first movie for someone who wants to learn more about gay culture's response to social conformity. The protagonist is a female high school cheerleader who appears gender conforming and has a boyfriend. She is surprised to discover her parents worry that she is a lesbian, as she had never considered her sexuality before. Her parents intervene and force her to go to 'straight camp', which takes gender conformity and heterosexuality to a whole new level! This movie is educational, funny, and a perfect conversation starter.
As we move forward in our struggle for human rights, celebrating the unique and vibrant culture that is LGBT is crucial. The LGBT community encompasses all ethnicities, religions, and socio-economic backgrounds. Treasuring our culture not only helps us transform the wounds of oppression, it reveals a larger template for peace amidst individual diversity, which is sorely needed in our world. The LGBT community's health and happiness is directly related to the health and happiness of our larger world.