Preventing Heterosexism and Homophobia
- Publisher: SAGE Publications, Inc. |
- Publication Year: 1996 |
- Online Publication Date: December 20, 2013 |
- DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781483327655 |
- Print ISBN: 9780761900238 |
- Online ISBN: 9781483327655 |
- Series: Primary Prevention of Psychopathology |
- Print Purchase Options
- Subject: Gay & Lesbian Studies
Even in today's society, gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals experience multiple pressures and constraints related to their lifestyles, in addition to the stresses of everyday life. This dual tension can result in psychopathology among gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals. Preventing Heterosexism and Homophobia examines the gay and lesbian experience in light of their tension and points toward a future free of heterosexism. The stress of “coming out,” the uncertainty of parenting their children, and the difficulties facing ethnic minority lesbians and bisexuals cannot be adequately addressed without confronting the heterosexual bias in society. The contributors to this informative volume propose methods geared toward eliminating heterosexual bias in various settings–health care, therapy, communities, corporate America, and education. Ultimately, this book examines both the risks and joys ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
Part I: Institutions and Systems
- Chapter 1: Speaking of Oppression: Psychology, Politics, and the Language of Power
- Chapter 2: Combating Heterosexism in Educational Institutions: Structural Changes and Strategies
- Chapter 3: Preventing Heterosexism and Bias in Psychotherapy and Counseling
- Chapter 4: Lesbians and Gay Men of Color: The Legacy of Ethnosexual Mythologies in Heterosexism
- Chapter 5: Rejecting Therapy: Using Our Communities
Part II: Relationships and Development
- Chapter 6: Finding a Sexual Identity and Community: Therapeutic Implications and Cultural Assumptions in Scientific Models of Coming Out
- Chapter 7: Enhancing the Development of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youths
- Chapter 8: Lesbian and Gay Love Scripts
- Chapter 9: Immigrant and Refugee Lesbians
- Chapter 10: Contributions of Lesbian and Gay Parents and their Children to the Prevention of Heterosexism
Part III: Societal Structures and Social Change
- Chapter 11: Societal Reaction and Homosexuality: Culture, Acculturation, Life Events, and Social Supports as Mediators of Response to Homonegative Attitudes
- Chapter 12: The Prevention of Anti-Lesbian/Gay Hate Crimes through Social Change and Empowerment
- Chapter 13: Homo-Phobia, Homo-Ignorance, Homo-Hate: Heterosexism and AIDS
- Chapter 14: Individual Action and Political Strategies: Creating a Future Free of Heterosexism
Primary Prevention of Psychopathology[Page ii]
George W. Albee and Justin M. Joffe General Editors
VOLUMES IN THIS SERIES:
Prevention of Delinquent Behavior, 1987
John D. Burchard and Sara N. Burchard, Editors
Families in Transition, 1988
Lynne A. Bond and Barry M. Wagner, Editors
Primary Prevention and Promotion in the Schools, 1989
Lynne A. Bond and Bruce E. Compas, Editors
Primary Prevention of AIDS, 1989
Vickie M. Mays, George W. Albee, and Stanley F. Schneider, Editors
Improving Children's Lives, 1992
George W. Albee, Lynne A. Bond, and Toni V. Cook Monsey, Editors
The Present and Future of Prevention, 1992
Marc Kessler, Stephen E. Goldston, and Justin M. Joffe, Editors
Promoting Successful and Productive Aging, 1995
Lynne A. Bond, Stephen J. Cutler, and Armin Grams, Editors
Preventing Heterosexism and Homophobia, 1996
Esther D. Rothblum and Lynne A. Bond, Editors
Volumes I-IX are available from University Press of New England
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Copyright © 1996 by Sage Publications, Inc.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Main entry under title:
Preventing heterosexism and homophobia / editors, Esther D. Rothblum, Lynne A. Bond.
p. cm. — (Primary prevention of psychopathology; v. 17)
Based on the 17th Vermont Conference on the Primary Prevention of Psychopathology held in June 1995 at the University of Vermont.
Includes bibliographical references (p.) and index.
ISBN 0-7619-0022-5 (cloth: acid-free paper). — ISBN 0-7619-0023-3 (pbk.: acid-free paper)
1. Heterosexism—United States—Prevention—Congresses. 2. Homophobia—United States—Prevention—Congresses. 3. Gays—United States—Social conditions—Congresses. I. Rothblum, Esther D. II. Bond, Lynne A., 1949-. III. Vermont Conference on the Primary Prevention of Psychopathology (17th: 1995: University of Vermont) IV. Series.
RC454.P683 vol. 17
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
96 97 98 99 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
This book grew in large part from the 17th Vermont Conference on the Primary Prevention of Psychopathology (VCPPP) convened in June 1995. This conference and this volume are part of a series of historically annual and more recently biannual meetings and publications developed at the University of Vermont since 1975. Each has drawn together professionals and community leaders from many disciplines—psychology, medicine, social work, education, sociology, biology, among others—to focus upon models, research, and programs of practice for the promotion of competence and the prevention of psychological dysfunction.
In the context of our commitment to address the prevention of heterosexism, we discovered that it was unusually difficult to secure funding for the 1995 meetings—highlighting, no doubt, the continuing hesitancy of public and private organizations to deal with the problem of heterosexism in a serious manner. We are extremely grateful to the array of groups and individuals who extended themselves to support the conference and publication of Preventing Heterosexism and Homophobia. We give special acknowledgment to the board of the Vermont Conferences of the Primary Prevention of Psychopathology, housed in the Department of Psychology at the University of Vermont, who not only provided the majority of financial resources necessary to complete this project but also made a commitment to support this effort regardless of the ability to secure additional extramural funds. Their faith in and commitment to the importance of this work were critically important to us.
Very special thanks go to the Wayne Placek Award of the American Psychological Foundation and members of the Placek Award Committee for their very generous support of the conference. This pioneering trust was established to support individual research grants, seminars, conferences, and other activities to advance the goal of increasing the general public's understanding of lesbians and gay men. The extraordinary value of this unique source of support and inspiration became ever more apparent as we worked to assemble resources for the Vermont Conference.
Our sincere thanks are also extended to the Haymarket People's Fund for Popular Struggle, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, the Haworth Press, and a number of units within the University of Vermont, [Page viii]including the Department of Psychology, Women's Studies Program, President's Commission on the Status of Women, Women's Advisory Committee, Division of Student Affairs, Employee Assistance Program, Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity, Living and Learning Center, Office of the Provost, and Office of the President. Each of these groups made generous contributions of resources to this effort. In particular, we note the extraordinary assistance of the University of Vermont's Division of Continuing Education throughout the planning and hosting of the conference. Their professionalism and expertise contributed significantly to the final product.
We want to acknowledge with special attention the individuals who served on this year's conference planning committee with us: Anna Myers-Parrelli and Melissa Perry played central roles in both planning and coordinating this event; Jacqueline Weinstock served as the instructor for a remarkable course on “Prevention of Heterosexism and Homophobia” that accompanied the conference and involved a number of conference attendees; Larry Rudiger generously assisted with conference publicity; Gisele Lizewski was superb, as always, in guiding us through so many aspects of the conference and speaker arrangements and budget operations.
This book was completed while Esther was a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at Stanford University. We would like to thank the institute for its resources and support.
We are also grateful to Sage Publications, Inc., for their interest in and support of the Vermont Conference series and their continuing commitment over the past 9 years in helping us in the development and dissemination of scholarly work in Primary Prevention. We continue to be convinced that these efforts are now more important than ever.EstherD.RothblumLynneA.Bond
Introduction: Approaches to the Prevention of Heterosexism and Homophobia[Page ix]EstherD.RothblumLynneA.Bond
For almost 20 years, the Vermont Conference on Primary Prevention, Inc., has held an annual or biannual conference in June devoted to some aspect of the prevention of risk factors or pathology and the promotion of competence. The theme for the 1995 conference became The Prevention of Heterosexism and Homophobia.
As we began to plan for the conference and this volume, we quickly discovered that few people knew the meaning of the word heterosexism, which refers to discrimination based on sexual orientation. In fact, the American Psychological Association guidelines for language free from heterosexual bias (Committee on Lesbian and Gay Concerns, 1991) stated a preference for this term rather than homophobia, because the latter individualizes discrimination by its association with a fear or phobia. We found, however, that some people assumed that the prevention of heterosexism meant a desire for people not to be heterosexual. Thus, for clarity, we chose to include both terms in the title of this book, recognizing, however, that both the labels heterosexism and homophobia introduce semantic concerns. Related issues of language will be addressed in greater detail in this volume (see, in particular, Chapter 1).
In the past two decades, there has been an increasing research focus on issues in the lives of lesbians, gay men, and bisexual individuals, such as the coming out process, aging, relationships, social interaction, and parenting. There has been comparatively little research, however, on lesbian, gay, and bisexual mental health, and that which has been done has focused mainly on gay men.[Page x]
Both areas of research—understanding the lesbian, gay, and bisexual experience as well as lesbian, gay, and bisexual mental health issues—have indicated some domains in which lesbians, gay, and bisexual individuals are at increased risk for difficulties (e.g., substance abuse, anti-gay violence, teen suicide) as well as other areas in which they are at decreased risk for problems (based, for example, on more egalitarian relationships, shared child rearing, and strong peer supports that are less stratified by age or income). This book will examine both the risks and joys of being gay, lesbian, and bisexual, and how to prevent heterosexism and its effects on the lives of all people, including those of heterosexuals.
Prevention of heterosexism is particularly important for members of the mental health profession. Only recently have they begun to seriously contribute to its prevention; in contrast, through most of history, mental health professionals have contributed to the perpetuation of heterosexism as a pervasive problem. Recognition of this history is acknowledged, for example, by a donor who is seriously considering funding an endowed chair in gay and lesbian studies but who has stipulated that the chair be restricted to individuals outside the discipline of psychology because of the role of psychology in pathologizing homosexuality in the recent past (Linda Garnets, personal communication).
Meanwhile, the resolution of the American Psychological Association to deplore discrimination based on sexual orientation went further than those of other professional organizations by urging psychologists and other mental health professionals to “take the lead in removing the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with homosexual orientation” (Conger, 1975, p. 633). Consequently, mental health professionals now have the challenge to be leaders in removing the very stigma that they so clearly helped to establish against lesbians, gay men, and bisexual people.
This duality, the shadow of our past and the promise of the future, illustrates health and mental health issues for lesbians and gay men today.
In the current decade, there has been a major shift in public knowledge about lesbians and gay men. The media has written affirmatively about lesbian, gay, and bisexual issues. Consider, for example, Newsweek's June 21, 1993, cover story “Lesbians: Coming Out Strong; What Are the Limits of Tolerance?” that depicted two young, white lesbians embracing, as well as its July 17, 1995, cover story on “Bisexuality: Not gay. Not straight. A New Sexual Identity Emerges.” As of the end of 1995, eight states had enacted gay civil rights laws. Surveys have indicated that the number of people in the United States who report “knowing someone gay” has increased from less than 20% to more than 40% in the past 2 years. Increasingly, institutions such as schools, corporations, health care clinics, and even the military have been under pressure to decrease former heterosexist practices.[Page xi]
In view of the national trends to prioritize knowledge about lesbian, gay, and bisexual issues and the currently available research on these topics, this book focuses on the prevention of heterosexism and homophobia. It is organized into three sections: (I) Institutions and Systems; (II) Relationships and Development; and (III) Societal Structures and Social Change.I. Institutions and Systems
A variety of social, educational, political, and economic institutions and systems provide the context for our daily functioning. We have become more conscious of the dynamic transactional relationship between these systems and our individual and collective thinking, feeling, and behavior—each simultaneously shaping and yet responding to the other. In this way, each institution and system simultaneously reflects as well as contributes to the heterosexist nature of our environment and our assumptions. At the same time, these systems are potentially an extraordinarily powerful resource for resistance and for change—for preventing heterosexism and promoting full expression of human potential. A number of authors in this volume speak of the abuse and potential use of these resources.
We begin the volume with a consideration of language, which, perhaps more than any other system, permeates our lives throughout the life span of individuals and the history of our communities. When members of oppressed groups organize, they call into question the very terminology that has been used to categorize them in the first place. The society at large typically trivializes these efforts to change language (e.g., the efforts of the women's movement to refer to adult females as “women” rather than “girls” or to address women as “Ms.” rather than “Mrs.” or “Miss”). Meanwhile, the media focus and public outcry about issues of language underscore just how radical these changes are.
Celia Kitzinger has written extensively about the social construction of lesbianism and the language of politics and power in the emerging lesbian movement. In her opening chapter of this volume, “Speaking of Oppression: Psychology, Politics, and the Language of Power,” she describes how psychological language has gradually replaced political language. As a result, the values of psychology—the focus on the individual, victim blaming, liberalism, and pervasiveness of therapy as a solution for political problems—have infiltrated the gay and lesbian communities. She examines the political consequences of language in our communities and the power of language in contributing to heterosexism.
The power of our educational system is also widely recognized and, in fact, relied upon by industrialized nations that place such great responsibility [Page xii]in the hands of educational institutions and processes. In many nations around the world, there is a clearly articulated relationship between the priorities, values, and beliefs of communities and those of their educational systems, enacted through the active involvement and control by local and regional school boards and trustees. Thus, in her chapter, Connie Chan discusses strategies to identify and prevent heterosexism in educational settings. She describes ways of addressing heterosexism in the curriculum, in research and scholarship, in the socialization norms that exist in educational settings, in the availability of role models and mentors, in personnel policies, and in overt and covert discrimination against lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals. Her focus is on structural changes in educational institutions and ways to celebrate diversity of sexual orientation.
Given the focus of this volume, mental health systems and institutions are of particular concern. Their role in defining and guiding expressions of health and well-being among those within and outside their formal structures is well established; and lesbians, gay men, and bisexual people are also consumers of all forms of mental health services. For example, Morgan (1992) found that 77.5% of the lesbians she surveyed had been in therapy, compared to 28.9% of the heterosexual women in her study.
Several authors in this volume address various dimensions relevant to the limitations and potential for psychotherapy and counseling to contribute to the prevention of heterosexism. Laura Brown presents an overview of strategies for the prevention of heterosexism in the training of mental health practitioners and in the practice of psychotherapy and counseling. She describes both the invisibility of information on sexual minority persons in the education and training of therapists and the heterosexist bias that still exists in the practice of psychotherapy. She advocates defining heterosexism as an ethical violation, to prevent individual therapists and training programs from ignoring more affirmative practice. She also proposes a model for anti-domination training to eliminate oppressive dominant biases.
Beverly Greene pays particular attention to assumptions and omissions that have distorted our understanding and treatment of lesbians and gay men of color. She argues, for example, that we must move beyond the legacy of ethnosexual mythologies in heterosexism if we are to restructure therapy in ways that will truly support all lesbians and gay men. Although, historically, most research samples of gay men, lesbians, and bisexual individuals consisted overwhelmingly of people of European descent, the past decade has resulted in an exponential increase in research, writing, and grassroots organizing that reflects the ethnic diversity of our communities. It is no longer possible to speak about lesbians, gay men, and bisexual individuals as ethnically homogeneous groups. The training and practice of mental health workers must reflect and respond to this diversity as well.[Page xiii]
In light of the intensity and variety of stressors that our heterosexist society presents to lesbians, gay men, and bisexual individuals, perhaps it is not surprising that two surveys of lesbians found that approximately three-quarters had been in therapy (Bradford, Ryan, & Rothblum, 1994; Morgan, 1992). Meanwhile, in her chapter, Rachel Perkins warns us of the dangers of the overutilization of therapy in our communities. She argues that psychological terminology has replaced political activism in the lesbian communities and that therapy privatizes and individualizes lesbians' lives, weakening their community. At the same time, she notes that there are few resources for lesbians undergoing serious long-term mental health problems. Perkins advocates that lesbian communities organize around sharing resources for long-term caregiving, rather than privatizing and psychologizing pain via individual therapy.II. Relationships and Development
Relationships provide a critical context for individual development and self-definition. Although the structure, intensity, and influence of various forms of relationships change over time and across the life course, they continue to provide a framework in which we explore, define, and express ourselves—our goals, our values, our potential, and our self-worth.
Most lesbians, gay men, and bisexual individuals develop in two somewhat distinct environments: the heterosexual macrostructure and the lesbian/gay/bisexual communities. Lukes and Land (1990) have described how members of minority groups become bicultural within the majority and minority cultures. They point out that lesbians and gay men differ from members of other minority groups in this process. Most minority groups first become acculturated within their own group and then later are socialized (by schools, the media, the church) within the dominant culture. Lesbians and gay men, however, are first socialized by the dominant culture and later identify with their minority culture.
Although it is true that heterosexual oppression affects everyone, living as a lesbian, gay man, or bisexual individual (whether closeted or out) presents unique challenges. In a society in which everyone is presumed to be heterosexual, the process of redefining the meaning and significance of certain relationships can not only require extraordinary questioning, determination, and strength but also introduce unusual stress, self-doubt, and feelings of isolation. Because the heterosexual macro-society is generally unsupportive of lesbians, gay men, and bisexual people, it becomes very important for lesbians, gay men, and bisexual individuals to have a supportive community. Many people vividly remember the feeling that they were [Page xiv]the only lesbian or gay man in their area and the profound isolation they experienced before they came into contact with the gay community (Albro & Tully, 1979). The stress and vulnerability of the coming out process may result in the protective factors of finding (ideally) a supportive community.
Paula Rust considers certain of these issues in her chapter titled “Finding a Sexual Identity and Community.” She critiques some of the more linear theories of coming out that fail to consider the possibility of changes in sexual identity over the life span or to conceptualize bisexuality as a mature option. She argues that the process of coming out is complex and can continue to change over time for many individuals. Rust offers strategies for recognizing and avoiding heterosexist, homophobic, and “biphobic” assumptions and behaviors that contribute tensions and difficulties to the ongoing process of identity development.
Life tasks can be especially difficult for lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents who rarely have full access to the lesbian and gay communities, which are typically more adult-oriented (Kourany, 1987). Lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents may not have access to resources, may be dependent on their school systems or parents for information about lesbian and gay issues, and may be punished or not taken seriously for their sexual orientation.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found suicide to be the leading cause of death among lesbian, gay male, bisexual, and transsexual adolescents (Outright Vermont, 1992). Suicides by members of these groups may compose up to 30% of all completed suicides annually. The isolation of lesbian and gay youths also results in running away from home (or being thrown out of the home) and thus homelessness.
Anthony D'Augelli's chapter focuses on enhancing the development of gay, lesbian, and bisexual youths. As he indicates, there have been significant changes in the experiences of youths in the past decades, so that for some it is possible to come out into contemporary queer culture. At the same time, gay, lesbian, and bisexual youths in the 1990s are still coming out into isolation and invisibility, negative family reactions, and victimization. In addressing these issues, D'Augelli points to the critical and multifaceted strategies that schools, in particular, can pursue in order to support adolescents' transition into adulthood and into healthy gay, lesbian, and bisexual identities.
As individuals become part of a lesbian/gay/bisexual community, they seek to redefine their lives, which were once interpreted in the context of heterosexual norms. Suzanna Rose's chapter focuses on lesbian and gay male sexual relationships in light of the scripts, or pattern of actions, that we use to organize our thinking and actions. In particular, she describes the cultural scripts available for women and for men in the dominant culture, and how [Page xv]these scripts are modified in popular culture aimed at lesbians and gay men, respectively.
Oliva Espín has theorized the ways in which women's sexuality has served a symbolic function for the value systems of immigrant/refugee families. The majority of immigrants and refugees all over the world are women (Cole, Espín, & Rothblum, 1992). Yet there has been little focus on the experiences of female immigrants and refugees, and none on those who are lesbians. Espín's chapter in this volume focuses on immigrant and refugee lesbians. It describes how identity formation as a lesbian differs for women who migrate at early versus later ages and how this affects lesbians' sexual identity, sexual behavior, and the language of sexuality.
The role of parent introduces a complex web of satisfactions and stressors. The presence of young children in the home, in particular, can serve as a major risk factor for stress among heterosexual women who tend to do most of the child rearing in families (e.g., see Rothblum, 1983). Lesbians are less likely than heterosexual women to have children, and lesbians with children are likely to share child care responsibilities more fully with their partners (Peplau, Cochran, Rook, & Padesky, 1978). Thus, from several perspectives, mothering may be less of a risk factor for health and mental health problems among lesbians. On the other hand, lesbians and gay men who do rear children may be at increased risk for such factors as custody battles over competency to rear children, heterosexist/homophobic remarks made to the children, and stressors to children involved in coming out (Hall, 1981). The 1980s appeared to be the start of the lesbian baby boom and the 1990s may well be the start of the gay men's baby boom; thus, the characteristics and dynamics of this parenting factor may well change with these demographic transformations.
In her chapter, Charlotte Patterson considers the increasingly public presence of lesbian parents and points to the contributions of these parents and their children to the prevention of heterosexism. Her own longitudinal research has followed lesbian mothers and their children by birth or adoption. Not only do her results indicate positive adjustment of both the mothers and the children but the social contacts of the mothers and children have also made the larger communities aware of the normative existence of lesbian mothers and their children.III. Societal Structures and Social Change
Around the world, social and political systems and their institutions are structured in ways that not only perpetuate but also presume heterosexist [Page xvi]perspectives and practices. We cannot expect to become free of heterosexism without extraordinary transformations in the structure of our societies.
Michael Ross has examined the ways in which society structures norms regarding sexual orientation. In his chapter, he discusses how heterosexism affects the attitudes and behavior of gay men. Psychologists have measured stress by developing a life events scale; the more life events someone has experienced during a given year (e.g., the death of a family member, a wedding) the more stress they have experienced and the more vulnerable they are to illness and distress. In the context of our social structure and societal reactions, Ross has adapted the life events scale for gay men and examined the effects of gay life events, social supports, and acculturation into the gay communities.
When gay men and lesbians begin to disclose their sexual orientation, they are opening up their lives to public scrutiny and associated negative repercussions, for example, from the workplace, the legal system, and their family of origin (e.g., Gartrell, 1981). Half the sample of lesbians in the National Lesbian Health Care Survey (Bradford et al., 1994) had experienced verbal attacks for being lesbian and 6% had been physically attacked for being lesbian. A survey conducted by a Vermont gay and lesbian newspaper (Out in the Mountains, 1987) found that 80% of the respondents had experienced some form of harassment or violence and that 96% had concealed their sexual orientation to avoid intimidation, harassment, or violence. Eighty-nine percent of the sample knew people who were victims of anti-gay violence, 79% feared for their own safety, and 76% expected to be threatened or assaulted at some future point.
Jeanine Cogan's chapter focuses on the prevention of anti-lesbian and anti-gay hate crimes through empowerment and social change. She describes the heterosexist context of hate crimes and their effects on daily life and well-being. She focuses much of her chapter on approaches for conceptualizing and implementing prevention strategies on individual and societal levels to eliminate heterosexism and the anti-gay and anti-lesbian violence that it engenders.
Profound social change has been exhibited in evolving sexual practices since the early 1970s, both shaping and reflecting striking changes in household structure and composition. For example, the number of households headed by a married heterosexual couple decreased dramatically from 71% in 1970 to 55% in 1993, in large part reflecting an increase in households composed of single or nonrelated individuals (from 19% to 29% during the same period; Rawlings, 1994). Just as this social restructuring was gaining momentum, AIDS catapulted into our lives, introducing pressures upon sexual practices with unprecedented power and implications. Meanwhile, the interface of this virus with heterosexism could hardly have been imagined 20 years ago.[Page xvii]
In her chapter, “Homo-Phobia, Homo-Ignorance, Homo-Hate: Heterosexism and AIDS,” Lynda Ames describes the enormous impact heterosexism has had on how a disease, AIDS, “has been socially understood, scientifically researched, and medically treated.” Ames describes how fear, ignorance, and hate have contributed to society's understanding and misunderstanding of gay men and gay male sexuality. Of course, heterosexism has also contributed to the erroneous assumption that lesbians are at high risk for AIDS and at the same time created virtual invisibility for lesbians who do have HIV/AIDS.
This book ends with a chapter by Joy Livingston, who presents a vision of a future free from heterosexism. She emphasizes that heterosexism is so interdependent with other systems of oppression, including sexism, racism, and classism, that a future free from heterosexism may well be imagined as a Utopia free of the ills of the world. Meanwhile, Livingston provides some very concrete achievable strategies for battling heterosexism in our current social structure. Focusing on actions on an immediate and individual level as well as more broad-scale political action, she provides a path for accomplishing both short-term and longer-term social change.
It is clear that if we hope to move beyond a heterosexist society, we must pursue a number of strategies for rethinking and restructuring societal assumptions and practices. The authors in this volume point to diverse approaches and with varied levels of optimism about their potential. Although our long history provides reason for doubting the likelihood that we will see rapid advances in combating heterosexism and homophobia, the more recent attention and action on these fronts suggest that continued progress is at least possible. It is clear that for the health and well-being of lesbians, gay men, bisexual individuals, and heterosexual individuals too, we must continue to develop and implement effective prevention and promotion strategies.
Building upon the work of the authors in this volume, and drawing from the broader scholarship and practice, we highlight a few additional related themes that we feel will offer direction for the future:
- Teaching and Training. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual issues can neither be delegated to writing or lecturing on pathology nor be confined to the context of sexual behavior. Rather, these issues must be discussed throughout the curriculum of social and developmental psychology, the psychology of diverse ethnic populations, social work, aging, obstetrics, public health, and family practice medicine, to mention just a few.
- Research. A recent APA task force has provided guidelines for conducting nonheterosexist research (Herek, Kimmel, Amaro, & Melton, 1991). The report indicates that research should neither ignore the existence of lesbians, gay men, and bisexual individuals nor stigmatize or stereotype these populations. Further, we would urge researchers to reward [Page xviii]and encourage others to conduct research on lesbian, gay male, and bisexual issues instead of expressing caution that it might adversely affect their careers.
- Practice. The APA Task Force on Bias in Psychotherapy (Garnets, Hancock, Cochran, Goodchilds, & Peplau, 1991) also identified a number of examples of lesbian-, gay-, and bisexual-affirmative practice. These included not only sensitivity in assessment and intervention but also recognition of issues facing lesbians, gay men, and bisexual people in identity development, relationship formation and maintenance, and the importance of practitioner education and expertise.
- Protective Factors. Factors that protect lesbians, gay men, and bisexual individuals from health and mental health risks should be recognized and serve as models for affirming the lesbian and gay communities. These factors should be cited in the training of health and mental health professionals rather than raised only in the context of a focus on lesbians and gay men under the rubric of pathology or sexual activity.
- Risk Factors. There is little research on mental health problems that affect lesbians and gay men other than substance use and suicide, and there is practically no mental health research on bisexual people. This is a broad area for development and involves issues related to practice, research, and prevention.
- Diversity. In the 1970s, the lesbian and gay communities were pictured as predominantly young, European American, middle class, and able-bodied. The past decade has resulted in an exponential increase in research, writing, and grassroots organizing that reflect the diversity of our communities. This diversity must be reflected in all dimensions of the work we do, whether it concerns theory, research, training, or practice.
We have come to realize that there is no simple or unitary goal that we are working toward in the prevention of heterosexism. Instead, our interlocking pathways will form a tightly knit and unique landscape, reflecting the diversity of our experiences. To paraphrase Charles Silverstein (1987, p. 6), may the “love that dare not speak its name” never shut up.References[Page xx]1979). A study of lesbian lifestyles in the homosexual micro-culture and the heterosexual macro-culture. Journal of Homosexuality, 4, 331–344. http://dx.doi.org/10.1300/J082v04n04_02, & (1994). The National Lesbian Mental Health Care Survey: Implications for mental health. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62, 228–242. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.62.2.228, , & ([Page xix]Cole, E., Espín, O.M., & Rothblum, E.D. (Eds.). (1992). Shattered societies, shattered lives: Refugee women and their mental health. New York: Haworth.Committee on Lesbian and Gay Concerns. (1991). Avoiding heterosexual bias in language. American Psychologist, 46, 973–974. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.46.9.9731975). Proceedings of the American Psychological Association, Inc., for the year 1987: Minutes of the annual meeting of the Council of Representatives. American Psychologist, 30, 620–651. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/h0078455(1991). Issues in psychotherapy with lesbians and gay men. American Psychologist, 46, 964–972. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.46.9.964, , , , & (1981). The lesbian as a “single” woman. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 35, 502–509.(1981). Lesbian families: Cultural and clinical issues. In E.Howell & M.Bayes (Eds.), Women and mental health (pp. 373–384). New York: Basic Books.(1991). Avoiding heterosexist bias in psychological research. American Psychologist, 46, 957–963. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.46.9.957, , , & (1987). Suicide among homosexual adolescents. Journal of Homosexuality, 13, 111–117. http://dx.doi.org/10.1300/J082v13n04_07(1990). Biculturality and homosexuality. Social Work, 35, 155–161., & (1992). Caucasian lesbians’ use of psychotherapy. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 16, 127–130. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/h0029636(Out in the Mountains. (1987, June). VLGR discrimination and violence results, p. 7.Outright Vermont. (1992, February 20). [Unpublished resource letter] Burlington, VT.1978). Loving women: Attachment and autonomy in lesbian relationships. Journal of Social Issues, 34, 2–27. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.1978.tb02611.x, , , & (1994). Household and family characteristics: March 1993. U.S. Bureau of the Census. Current Population Reports, P20–477. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.(1983). Sex-role stereotypes and depression in women. In V.Franks & E.D.Rothblum (Eds.), The stereotyping of women: Its effects on mental health (pp. 83–111). New York: Springer.(Silverstein, C. (Ed.). (1991). Gays, lesbians, and their therapists. New York: Norton.
About the Contributors[Page 279]
Lynda J. Ames, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York, Plattsburgh. She has conducted research on the responses of gay men to the AIDS crisis for the New York State Department of Health, AIDS Institute. She also conducts research on gender equity in pay-setting systems and has written a book on the empowerment of women in poverty (forthcoming).
Lynne A. Bond, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at the University of Vermont. Her research, publications, and teaching have focused on strategies for optimizing human development, with emphasis on social and cognitive development of women and children, gender development, and primary prevention approaches. She is president of the Vermont Conferences on the Primary Prevention of Psychopathology, Inc., and has edited seven volumes in its publication series.
Laura S. Brown, Ph.D., is a clinical forensic psychologist in private practice and Clinical Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington. She has published and taught extensively on the topics of feminist therapy, theory, ethics, and practice, and on psychotherapy with lesbians. In 1995, she received an award for distinguished professional contributions from the American Psychological Association.
Connie S. Chan, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Human Services at the College of Public and Community Service at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where she is also co-director of the Institute for Asian American Studies, an institute that conducts research, policy, and curriculum development on Asian American issues. Her research and publications focus upon the intersection of gender, culture, and sexuality issues in Asian American women.
Jeanine C. Cogan, Ph.D., is conducting postdoctoral research at the University of California, Davis on the mental health consequences of anti-gay/anti-lesbian hate crimes. Most of her professional work has focused on experiences of marginalized and stigmatized groups. Her interests are diverse [Page 280]and include the consequences of the social construction of beauty, the experiences of women with a chronic mental illness, the interdependence of feminism and sexual identity, AIDS-related stigma as an obstacle to prevention strategies, and cross-cultural research.
Anthony R. D'Augelli, Ph.D., is Professor of Human Development at the Pennsylvania State University. A community/clinical psychologist, his extensive research and writing focus on helping processes in community settings. Most recently, he has studied lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths. Along with Charlotte J. Patterson, he is the coeditor of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Identities Over the Lifespan: Psychological Perspectives.
Oliva M. Espín, Ph.D., is Professor of Women's Studies at San Diego State University and part-time core faculty member at the California School of Professional Psychology. She has published on psychotherapy with Latinas, immigrant and refugee women, women's sexuality, and other topics. She has recently coedited Refugee Women and Their Mental Health: Shattered Societies, Shattered Lives. Her book, Power, Culture, and Tradition: The Lives of Immigrant Latina Healers, is forthcoming. She is past president of the Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian and Gay Issues.
Beverly Greene, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at St. John's University and a clinical psychologist in private practice in New York City. In addition, she is coeditor of Women of Color: Integrating Ethnic and Gender Identities in Psychotherapy. She is coeditor of the American Psychological Association Division 44 series of annual publications, Psychological Perspectives on Lesbian and Gay Issues. She is also a contributor to professional books and journals and the recipient of national awards for professional contributions.
Celia Kitzinger, Ph.D., is Director of Women's Studies at Loughborough University, United Kingdom. In addition to numerous articles on lesbian and feminist issues, she authored The Social Construction of Lesbianism, which won a Distinguished Publication Award from the Association for Women in Psychology. She is coauthor (with Rachel Perkins) of Changing Our Minds: Lesbian Feminism and Psychology, and with Sue Wilkinson is coeditor of Heterosexuality: A “Feminism & Psychology” Reader.
Joy A. Livingston, Ph.D., is a consultant, providing needs assessment and evaluation research, project management, and group facilitation to a variety of human service organizations on such issues as HIV/AIDS, children's mental health, women's economic status, and disability rights. As a lesbian feminist activist, she has worked on a number of issues, including implementation [Page 281]of the University of Vermont's nondiscrimination policy regarding health care benefits for lesbian and gay employees.
Charlotte J. Patterson, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia. Her Bay Area Families Study is an ongoing examination of psychosocial development among children who were born to or adopted by lesbian mothers. She coedited (with Anthony R. D'Augelli) the book titled Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Identities Over the Lifespan: Psychological Perspectives. She was guest editor for the January 1995 special issue of Developmental Psychology, devoted to research on sexual orientation and human development.
Rachel E. Perkins, Ph.D., is Clinical Director of Services for people with serious ongoing mental health problems, with Pathfinder NHS Trust, London. She was formerly a lecturer in clinical psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry, University of London. She has written widely on topics relating to serious long-term mental health problems, with a specific focus on women and lesbians with such difficulties. With Celia Kitzinger, she wrote Changing Our Minds: Lesbian Feminism and Psychology.
Suzanna Rose, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Her research focuses primarily on how gender, sexual orientation, and race affect romantic relationships, sexuality, and friendship. She founded the St. Louis Lesbian and Gay Research Project and is Director of the St. Louis Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project, which provides help for survivors of hate crimes.
Michael W. Ross, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.H.P.E.D., is Professor of Public Health in the Center for Health Promotion Research and Development at the University of Texas at Houston. He is the author of numerous scientific papers, book chapters, and books on STDs, HIV, sexuality, psychology, drug use and minorities, and HIV/AIDS-related burnout. He served as head of the AIDS Program for the South Australian Health Commission and later was director of the National Center in HIV Social Research Unit at the University of New South Wales.
Esther D. Rothblum, Ph.D., is Professor of Pyschology at the University of Vermont. Her research and writing have focused on lesbian mental health and other mental health issues of particular relevance to women. Her journal and book publications include the edited volumes Loving Boldly: Issues Facing Lesbians, and Boston Marriages: Romantic But Asexual Relationships Among Contemporary Lesbians. Since 1984, she has been coeditor [Page 282]of the journal Women and Therapy, and she is editor of the new Journal of Lesbian Studies.
Paula C. Rust, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Sociology at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, where she teaches lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender studies. Her research focuses on the formation of sexual identities, communities, and politics, and on the internal politics of sexual and gender minority communities. She is the author of the book Bisexuality and the Challenge to Lesbian Politics: Sex, Loyalty, and Revolution, and a 1993 article in Gender & Society challenging linear developmental models of sexual identity formation. She is studying the process by which bisexual people construct bisexual identities and use these identities as the foundation for bisexual communities and politics.