What attitudes and ideologies help you understand the problems homosexuals face?

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kateanswers eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Unfortunately, I cannot answer this question from your perspective, but I can share with you my thoughts on understanding the experiences of others. It can be difficult to imagine a life lived in any way but our own, and when we talk about sexuality, this can be a source of conflict or misunderstanding. I have found that when engaging in discussions about or trying to understand the experiences of others, even when they differ from my own lived experience, relativism and empathy go a long way.

Relativism is the idea that there is no one "right" way to be or do things, and we must consider people's experiences in their own context. When it comes to the experiences of homosexual people and others in the LGBTQ+ community, it is important not to try to evaluate their experiences, thoughts, and feelings in the context of what it means to live life as a heterosexual person. Relativism can help us understand sexuality and its implications across space and throughout time-- did the Ancient Greeks think of homosexuality the same way a present-day American does? Relativism can be useful to understand others in our own cultures, too. For example, when we talk about what is desirable in a partner or relationship. Even if you personally are not attracted to the same gender or have certain relationship goals, it is important to understand that these determinants may be of value to others relative to their own experience.

Empathy is vital in coming to understand the experiences of others. Even if you cannot relate directly to the experiences of LGBTQ+ people, having the capacity to imagine yourself in similar situations will aid you in understanding. In trying to understand the oppression of LGBTQ+ individuals, imagine if your lived experience was one of oppression. If you are heterosexual, imagine what life would be like if you were judged for your sexuality, at risk for violence, or not allowed to marry someone you loved? 

When confronting any new or different experiences, it's important to be open-minded and willing to listen to what others have to say. Empathy and relativism can work hand-in-hand to help you put yourself in the place of others and understand why these experiences are important to those who live through them.