The term community is recognised almost everywhere in the world and is used regularly within society, often referred to a group of people, (Redding, 2019). However, what defines a community is debatable. Today with the immense growth of technology and globalisation the definition of a community is even harder to define. The concept of the community came to light in the 19th century period and grew more and more due to industrialisation, (Popple, 2015). For this assignment I will be looking at the LGBT community, (LGBT is short for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) what defines that community compared to the Amish community and how this has evolved. I will also be looking at sociological theory such as social construction. Additionally, I will be looking at how historical social movements such as The Stonewall Riots and how this has helped form and establish the LGBT community.
What is meant by the term community?
Although there is no precise definition of community, it is noticeable that there has been an expansion of community which falls heavily on modernisation, e.g. the online community. There have been negative views of modern communities, where people often refer to the golden age, (Popple, 2015). We often hear people from an older generation refer to this as the good old days, when you could leave your door unlocked and things where much safer. However, it is argued that the good old days were particularly hard, especially amongst the working class. Popple, (2015) states that individuals have a lot more freedom and rights than previous generations, which in ways contradicts the views of some regarding the good old days. When people talk about being apart of a community it often brings to light feelings of positivity. Redding, (2019) suggests that community evokes a feeling of warmth and comfort, this perspective is backed up by Rose, (1991) who describes the community as a feel-good term. Therefore, although the definition of what a community is defined as differs there are evident similarities there and even though the definition is not concrete, the term is still widely used today by policymakers and the public. According to Bell and Newby, (1997), there are at least 98 definitions of the term community.
Members who make up a community are often referred to as citizens or the public, also although people may consider themselves belonging to one specific community, they can be a part of another community. There is never a limit to how many communities one person can be apart of, this could be down to reasons such as sexual identification and location etc, (Walkerdine and Studdert, 2019). For instance, a person who identifies themselves as lesbian may be a member of the LGBT community and could also belong to a geographical community, meaning the area in which they live. Weber, (as cited by Stone, 2010) claims that the potential for a community can be created anywhere where there is social interaction.
There are many claims that the central values of a community focus on the need to address social and economic injustice and inequality, these themes have been established over many years within the community work field, (Popple, 2015). Popple, (2015) states that these specific values can be influenced by several factors, for instance, religion, culture, politics and so-on. He adds that values are identified as influential, regarding an individuals behaviour and how an individual makes decisions in certain situations, (Popple, 2015). The issue with this is that communities can have different values which can cause conflict in terms of what is deemed right for some may be different for others.
Concerning the LGBT community Foucault, (1990) claims that hegemonic power in our everyday lives creates a huge pressure for heteronormative individuals to display their preferred sexuality. Repressive hypothesis is what Foucault, (1990) refers to when talking about the history of sexuality in the 18th century. When looking at the historical backdrop of sexuality, sex was only deemed acceptable between a married man and women and otherwise frowned upon. In many ways, this supports a Marxist theory, who suggests that sexual repression comes from a history of class struggle and oppression, in the interest of the bourgeoise, repressing sexual impulses because it was a rival to their work ethic, (Klotz, 2006). In other words, unless people where having sex for procreative reasons than it was arguably a waste of energy that could be used on manual labour instead. Therefore, sex was treated private and talking about sex was immoral, (Foucault, 1990). However, critics of this perspective should be explored further.
Regarding the historical backdrop of sexuality Foucault, (1990) claims that sex was only deemed acceptable between a married man and women and was otherwise thrown upon. This perspective is supported by Marxists theory since it is suggesting that sexual repression is a history of class struggle, in the interest of the bourgeois by repressing sexual impulses because it was recognised as a dangerous rival to their work ethic. In other words, unless people were having sex for procreative reasons then it was arguably a waste of energy that could be used on manual labour instead. Sex was treated as private and talking about sex was extremely immoral, (Foucault, 1990).
Historically homosexuality received a lot of negative responses and was noted as a mental illness also people who had same-sex relationships where termed homophiles. Homosexuality had a correlating link to religion and many communities saw gay relationships as an act against God, as a result of this hate crime against LGBT began to increase, which has lasted for many generations and is still apparent in todays society. The discrimination that the LGBT community faced was at one of its highest climaxes when It was against the law to be gay in most countries around the world, (Stonewall.org.uk, 2019). Paulo Freire, (1970) shares his ideology by stating that, the interests of the oppressors lie in changing the consciousness of the oppressed, but not the situation which oppresses them; for the more, the oppressed can be led to adapt to the situation the more easily they can be dominated. (Freire, 1970, p.55).
The oppression faced by LGBT individuals brought many people together, which in time formed the LGBT community and not many establishments accepted LGBT people in the 1950s, those that did were often bars. The sixties saw the increase of homophobic abuse in cities such as New York, many people who identified as LGBT went to gay bars which the police did not know about. (Stonewall, 2019). One of the key events that showed the people of the LGBT community coming together was that of the stonewall riots. The Stonewall inn was an underground club in New York that was run by the mafia, LGBT individuals use to come here because it was a place where they could go with there loved ones and express their sexual orientation freely, as it was illegal to do so otherwise. It catered for some of the most marginalised individuals such as drag queens and transsexuals as well as male prostitutes and homeless youths, (Stonewall, 2019).
On the 28th of June 1969, the local police raided the Stonewall inn concerning an alcohol licensing issue, this was not unusual as police raids on gay bars were pretty much routine in the 1950-60s (Stonewall, 2019). During the raid, the police force arrested and violently attacked gay people, the acts of violence were targeted because of their sexual orientation and identification. This caused a lot of tension between the police and the gay citizens of the village which resulted in several protests in which the village residents created organised activist groups to establish safe places for LGBT individuals to go without being criminalised, (Stonewall, 2010). This is a prime example of what Popple, 2015) calls micro-interventions towards macro movement, based on community action. The events that took place has had a significant impact on the gay rights movement, after days of protests attended by thousands, gay people were part of the community.
As a result, many different LGBT activists groups were formed, it is important to realise that the Stonewall riots were one of historys first major protests that focused on equal rights for the LGBT community and marked the beginning of the LGBT movement in Britain. The riots also became the start of the gay pride movements with many pride events taking place all over the world. (Stonewall, 2010). This provides evidence that communities can be formed based on oppression. After countless years of oppression, laws and legislation were put into place to protect the LGBT community. A prime example being the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and wider society.( .) This community has evolved, being well established and is the centre of many different pieces of legislation. The LGBT community has been viewed more positively after events such as Stonewall. This shows an understanding of how community work is value-driven and how vital it is for these values to be obvious when involved in community work, to help achieve the objectives and aims of the community. Redding, (2019) agrees by stating Association of members and common values are the defining criteria of the community, and they are the instruments of community-builders (Redding, 2019 pg.9).
Although the community have come far in terms of legislation and human rights, the inequalities and pressures that LGBT communities still suffer from are damaging and victimising. It is known that this group of people that relate through the discrimination faced are in many ways recognised as the most suffering individuals within a society. For instance, the Albert Kennedy Trust report found that LGBT young people are more likely to find themselves homeless comprising up to 24% of the youth homeless population. Also, LGBT homeless youths are more likely to have experienced familiar rejection, abuse and violence, (Kennedy, A. 2019).
The main reason behind the discrimination towards the LGBT community is related to old fashioned norms and values, which Marx, describes as a false consciousness, (Klotz, 2006). By promoting false ideologies to sustain power over the bourgeoisie, which leads to social exclusion. The LGBT community breaks down Marxs theory of a Nuclear family, and gender norms are being broken down, which hugely falls on the rise of feminism, and is something that society is not used to, (Jacobsen, 2019). Therefore, today Marxs theory is pretty much outdated regarding the typical household having a man and a woman living together as a family with children.
Stigma has also a negative impact on LGBT with a prime example being the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. Television stations sent out terrifying advertisements about AIDS to almost implement fear to nations around the globe. There was a subliminal correlation between the gay community and AIDS being made. Because of this fresh material for negative attitudes was being made and sadly is still in society today. With a fear around the LGBT community being formed, hate crimes began to increase which still take place. One in five LGBT people have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity in the last 12 months. (Stonewall, 2019). Society has tried to implement moral panic against a whole community which hasnt helped peoples negative attitudes against the LGBT community.
Today LGBT communities are apparent all over the world, the communitys distinctive commonalities, such as sexual orientation and gender identity is the core of their ideological belonging to the LGBT community. However, you do not necessarily have to be LGBT to be a part of the community, it is evident that with the awareness of LGBT on the rise, many heterosexual people support and engage with the LGBT community. The individual in question does not have to even interact with anyone that is LGBT but may still campaign for social justice that represents all that suffer from inequalities such as class, race, gender, age, sexual preference and so-on, (Poynter and Tubbs, 2005). Also, Same-sex marriage that was previously illegal is now legal The Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013, was passed on 17 July 2013, and the first marriages of same-sex couples took place on Saturday 29 March 2014. (Assets.publishing.service.gov.uk, 2019) This means same-sex couples and lawfully allowed to get married. Also, the incorporation of same-sex relationships and transgender individuals has now been seen on the television and in British soap storylines which shows the supporting of the LGBT community and promotes equalities, (Vir, et al.,2019). However, (Vir, et al., (2019) Suggests that more could be done to represent marginalized groups such as LGBT.
According to Poynter and Tubbs, (2005, p.3) heterosexual people are often asked to be advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) college students. Also, it is recognised that educational policies, especially in Universities, have been introducing heterosexual allies to make University culture more excepting. The public identification of heterosexual allies through an LGBT SAFE SPACE ally programme can help to alleviate previously held misconceptions, encourage affirming group identification, and encourage others to participate hence creating a more accepting space. (Poynter and Tubbs, (2005, p.3). Gay rights are now implemented in polices within the workplace also, it is suggested that the National Union Students was one of the first organisations to implement gay rights in their policies, (Liverpool.ac.uk, 2019). Therefore, this is another example of how community work is a vital activity that can help individuals and achieve change.
Concerning communities, what defines the LGBT community does not define other communities such as for the Amish community. The Amish community are a Christian group which arguably originated in the late 17th century between followers of Jakob Ammann, his beliefs are mirrored by the community and the communitys everyday lives are customised to an unwritten set of rules on how to behave called the Ordnung, (Wetmore, 2007). The Ordnung is meant to convey the traditions of the community and is believed to promote community for the Amish as well as distinguish themselves from outsiders, for instance, specific clothing and facial hair designs, (Wetmore, 2007). In comparison to the LGBT community, LGBT individuals do not have specific regulations regarding clothing etc but they do have a rainbow coloured flag to promote equality their community values.
When it comes to homosexuality in many ways the Amish community agrees with the traditional view of homosexuality being an act against god. Therefore, LGBT individuals are not accepted as a part of that community. However, individuals could still identify themselves as LGBT but would not dare express their sexuality freely within the Amish community and would have to keep it hidden from the rest of the Amish community as it is seen as forbidden because of their traditional values. This shows that some communities have certain values and rules that you must follow to be apart of the community, traditional values are at the heart of the Amish community which is not the case for the LGBT community, who have fought against traditional values and legislation for decades. The Amish community however different to the LGBT community are still defined as a community.
Modern technology means that people can belong to communities all over the world even if they have never had any face to face interaction with the members. Also, with the LGBT community, individuals that may not feel confident enough to show their true identities may be the reason as to why they prefer to access LGBT forums on the web, this enables the community to be more inclusive, private and accessible. Confidentiality support groups and access to information on sexual health is vital for the LGBT community, especially if their sexuality is hidden and they are unable to access information otherwise. The LGBT community are a global community, unlike the Amish community who are in specific areas of the USA, (Paul Dana, 2007). The Amish community do not take likely to social change and are resistant to using external power resources, to be a part of the Amish community would be a lot harder as it is a lot harder to reach than the LGBT community and is less inclusive because of the traditional values and rules such as the Orgnung, (Wetmore, 2007). Also, the Amish community try to avoid contact with individuals that do not hold the same traditions with the hope of maintaining their values, (Paul Dana, 2007). According to Hostetler, (1993 as cited by Paul Dana, 2007), some aspects of being Amish have remained unchanged for three centuries.
Online Community work and support is extremely important for the LGBT community, campaigning for social justice and equality is at the core of the communitys aim and has been its focus, from the start. Whereas the Amish community do not use modern technology such as the web and social media due to their dislike of modern technology. Therefore, the LBT community is a lot more inclusive and they do not have a set of rules to follow like the Amish community, however, they still hold certain values which are mainly to do with human rights and equalities.