Do gay men have more “feminine” characteristics and do lesbians have more “masculine” characteristics than heterosexuals?
No. The belief that all gay men have characteristics perceived as feminine and that all lesbians have characteristics perceived as masculine is false and based on stereotypes and prejudice.
Studies have shown that it is impossible to determine one’s sexual orientation simply based on physical characteristics, behaviour or by the way people dress. Certainly, it happens to meet gay and lesbian people who do not conform to traditional norms associated with femininity or masculinity. That said, the reality is that gender expression varies from person to person, regardless of sexual orientation.
Why is it important for the team members at Gai Écoute to include the parents of teenagers who reach out to us?
Coming to terms with one’s sexuality or gender identity is a process that can take as much time for the person who is “coming out” as it can for their parents. Parents may experience a period of mourning for the person they imagined their children to be. This reaction is similar to the one felt by every parent who sees a child take a different path than they had expected, even unconsciously. Parents may experience a range of emotions including shock, sadness, anger and rage. In the vast majority of cases, however, parents ultimately come to terms with and accept their child’s sexuality and/or gender identity.
At Gai Écoute, our mandate includes offering information and services for members of the LGBTQ+ community including their parents, friends and family members. The process of “coming out” is a shared, multi-step process that takes time and we are available to listen and offer unconditional support.