Testing Bingo

If I had a pound for everytime someone said my job was easy, I’d be able to retire by the time I hit 30. This is meant to be light-hearted because these statements are funny, in retrospect. Let’s play a game of “Testing Bingo”… 1. “You’re just clicking buttons, even a monkey could do it” […]

Diversity – LGBT+ History Month

The theme for LGBT+ History Month for 2018 is “Geography: Mapping the World”. For this reason, I would like to keep with that theme in celebration of Australia’s recent vote of ‘Yes’ to same-sex marriage. Since LGBT+ History Month is about learning and celebration, I thought it would interesting to dive into origins, movements and history across the world.

Origin of ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’

tl;dr version – The term ‘gay’ has French origins, meaning ‘happy’ or ‘carefree’. In the 17th century, ‘carefree’ became associated with immorality and indulgence. This then evolved into referencing prostitutes or promiscuous men in the 19th century, so it was common to refer to a modern day ‘playboy’ as ‘gay’ because he had encounters with a lot of women. But in the 1920’s ‘gay’ was meant to have transformed to cover a male who slept with anyone, regardless of their gender identity.

In the 1950’s the term ‘gay’ was officially added to the dictionary in reference to a male who has relations with people of the same sex.

The origin of ‘lesbian’ being a term for women who have relations with people of the same sex is pretty simple. It is the home of a Greek writer, Sappho, who wrote a lot about the sexual relations of women. Her home was Lesbos in Greece, so apparently, it is in reference to this.

Sexuality Throughout History

It’s well known that Ancient Greek and Romans were accepting of homosexuality. But it was actually quite common for other Ancient cultures to see same-sex relationships as a-okay. There has been artwork from China, Egypt, India and Muslim majority countries depicting these relationships. But the interesting thing for me is that quite a few Ancient cultures had a ‘third gender’, as societal gender roles were much more prevalent. South Asian cultures have used the term ‘hijra’ to mean someone who is either intersex, transgender or a eunuch (used in a similar way to the modern term ‘non-binary’).

It has been thought that as religious doctrines grew in popularity and their teachings were interpreted, homosexuality became less acceptable. Under Christian leadership, The Roman Empire makes homosexuality punishable by death, in the 4th century… It kinda goes downhill from there, to be honest.

Interesting side note: Homosexuality has always been legal in Turkey (~98% is Muslim).

I’ve found this a thought-provoking read into “Religion and Homosexuality“: It discusses the history of religion and sexuality – it doesn’t include non-binary in the narrative though.

Looking back at the last 100 years

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Final Notes

On a more personal note, I feel really privileged to have been able to grow up surrounded by people who were willing to let me learn about the LGBT+ community from a young age. I’m really fortunate to be able to live in a country where I have a voice and the freedom to discuss topics like this. But unfortunately, there is still discrimination against the community as a whole. We all can contribute to changing the attitudes of the people in our lives, this includes ourselves. I really enjoyed doing research for this article and want to carry on making a difference, in my own little way.

Geography of homosexuality
Tiled imagery (4 images - from top left):
Depiction of Ardhanarishvara - Androgynous depiction of Shiva and his
Depiction of Abu Zayd and al-Harith - 13th Century story from The
Tales of al-Hariri
Depiction (cleaned up) of Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum’s tomb art - 
Burial tomb found in the 1960's
Nude youth plays for a banqueter ~400BC

Diversity – Beginners’ Guide to Gender

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source: itspronouncedmetrosexual.com

As it’s LGBT History Month, I thought I would play my part in helping people to understand a bit more. I get that gender/sex/attraction are sometimes difficult concepts to understand, especially when they’re new. So, here’s my explanation of the above diagram to help out with some of the newer terms for people.

What is Biological Sex?

I have simplified the section on sex, mainly to relate to what you may have learned in biology at school. It is a lot more complex than described below – but this is a beginners’ guide, I don’t want to throw in-depth science at people. To summarise, sex is typically related to 4 main areas that make up you in the physical sense:

  • Chromosomes
    • People with XX chromosomes generally develop as female
    • People with XY chromosomes generally develop as male
    • Intersex people most commonly have XXY chromosomes. But there are 16 different forms of sex variation
  • Hormones – This can have an impact on the sexual organs. Hormones can present in a person with any of the above chromosomes, so a female can have typically male levels of testosterone.
    • Hormones also play into the amount of body hair a person may have, their vocal pitch, body shape etc. These all contribute to what science has categorised as more common male/female characteristics.
  • Primary sexual organ – This is typically referred to as your genitalia.
  • Secondary sexual organ – This is typically referring to breasts. i.e. Females are thought to only develop due to puberty, but many males also experience this.


What is Attracted To?

This is someone’s attraction. There are two ways in which someone can be attracted to another person:

  • Sexual Attraction or Physical Attraction – This is typically an ‘I like what I see’ approach to attraction
  • Romantic Attraction or Emotional Attraction – This is a more in-depth process in which a person may not be physically attracted to anyone, but may want to engage in a romantic relationship with someone else.

One of the studies that took steps towards defining attraction was a sexologist named Alfred Kinsey. He ranked sexuality on a scale from 0 (exclusively heterosexual) – 6 (exclusively homosexual). This was considered ground-breaking but was done when sex and gender were considered to be the same.

The concept of attraction being on a spectrum is still used (see Genderbread Person) except at one end of the two scales we have nobody, in which lack of attraction is factored in – this is known as asexuality. The image demonstrates this well, as there are a few examples of how attraction works:

  • Someone could be bisexual, but due to there being two scales they may be more attracted to someone of their own gender than someone of the opposite. This may not be the same scale regarding sexual and romantic attraction i.e. A female may be more sexually attracted to a male, but more romantically attracted to another female. So, the two attraction scales would not match.
  • An exclusively straight male would have the point for Attracted to Males at zero and Attracted to Females at the complete opposite end, this applies to both romantic and sexual attraction.
  • A person who identifies as asexual, may not want to engage in any sexual activity with a partner. They may want to date and build a relationship founded on mutual feelings of romance and attachment.



What is Gender?

Gender is the associated characteristics of femininity and masculinity. It is an overarching term that is used to describe a person’s gender identity and expression and is often erroneously linked to biological sex (this is due to the way in which we use the English language, not due to scientific method).

Gender is related to the role in which a person is expected to take in society, typically based on their sex at birth. But, a person’s gender doesn’t always align with expected norms from predetermined roles. Breaking this down, there are two main ways in which a person’s gender is identified – to/by the individual.

The vast majority of people will have an element of male and female traits that they align with; more often than not they will still identify as a man or woman. Approx. 3% of the UK population falls under the umbrella of non-binary (that’s just under 2 million people). Non-binary is the range of gender identities that don’t conform to the more traditional roles that people think of when talking about gender.


What is Gender Identity?

This is what your mental state aligns with. How feminine or masculine a person feels would fall into this area. How much you do or don’t associate with these roles is on a scale, a person who doesn’t feel like they are either masculine or feminine would be Genderless. It’s important to note that this doesn’t depend on their sex, it is how they feel they fit into societal roles.

A few other examples could be:

  • A transgender female would associate much more heavily with woman-ness (on the scale in the image) and associate much less with man-ness. This would ultimately make their Gender Identity a Woman.
  • A non-binary male would likely not associate much with being male or female. But may be on the spectrum and closer to the left end of the image used.


What is Gender Expression?

Gender expression is the way in which a person presents their gender outwardly. This presentation is primarily the way in which a person dresses and acts, often people will take their interests and body language into account when expressing their gender. Gender expression is based on societies norms of what expected behaviour is.

Expression is much harder to explain and define as this varies from region to region in the UK as well as what is considered fashionable. A few examples based on the spectrum in the image could include (stereotypes incoming, apologies):

  • A tomboy woman might be more comfortable wearing a t-shirt and jeans. She may also be interested in sports or science, as these are considered to be more masculine in role.
  • A non-binary male might enjoy playing rugby, but at the same time enjoy going out to socialise wearing make-up and paint their nails.