Chapter 9 Sexual Orientation
The following is a synopsis of a presentation entitled “ Sit In My Chair!!!”
provided by Garett Metcafe a teacher with the Durham Board of Education. It
has been provided with his consent. I have made some modifications and
additions also with his consent.
**Not all information about sexual orientation can be provided within the
constraints of a textbook chapter or a presentation. Additional information
can be found through a variety of resources, such as but not limited to, Pflag
Canada, Sherbourne Health Centre and 519 Church Street Community
Centre, Toronto. You can obtain academic and clinical information through
library journals related to sexuality and community databases such as the
Guelph-Wellington community database will enable you to access
information and services.
Terminology – Getting It Straight!
Heterosexual: *those who are attracted to some members of the opposite sex.
Homosexuals: *those who are attracted to some members of the same sex.
Bisexuals: *those who are attracted to some members of more than one sex
**all of these terms have to do with one’s Sexual Orientation
Gender versus Sexual Orientation
Gender: Has nothing to do with sexual orientation, but rather the gender to
which one identifies.
Transgendered: *a broad term to include all people who feel that the gender to
which they were born (or assigned at birth) does not fit them. This can include
people born female who identify as male, people born male who identify as
female and people who are gender neutral.
Transsexuals: *those who choose to medically transition to the gender that is
right for them either hormonally or surgically
Intersexed: Some individuals are born with both genetalia and often assigned a
gender from birth. We call these individuals intersexed. Transvestite: these individuals are not to be confused with gender based
individuals such as transgender, transexual or intersexed. Transvestites have to
do with sexualization. These individuals are sexually aroused by cross-dressing.
Heterosexism: *bias against non-heterosexuals based on a belief in the
superiority of heterosexuality.
Institutionalized Heterosexism: *the assumption of the superiority of
heterosexuality in the very structures of society. IE: laws, education system,
business practices, family…
The Many Forms of Homophobia
Homophobia: The fear or hatred of homosexuality. Whether conscious or
unconscious. Homophobia can take many different forms.
Mindset Homophobia: A feeling or conviction that homosexual persons are
abnormal or sick.
Heterosexist Homophobia: Bias against non-heterosexuals based on the belief
in the superiority of heterosexuality. The belief that everyone is heterosexual
and that it is the only acceptable way. This belief rests on the notion that the
majority sets the norm.
Institutional/Systemic Homophobia: the assumption of the superiority of
heterosexuality in the very structures of society. (laws, education system,
business practices, family…)
Speech-Based Homophobia: Use of vocabulary and expressions that can
span from exclusion, teasing to insults.
Behavioural Homophobia: Body language or attitude that shows discomfort,
insecurity or fear when in contact with homosexual persons.
Opportunistic Homophobia: Attitude of persons who are only interested in
homosexuals for monetary or personal gain and who refuse all association
with homosexual persons or organizations. This type of homophobia also
includes “patronizing” and over-zealous efforts to be accepting.
Dormant or Docile Homophobia: Silent, passive or submissive attitude in front
of homophobic speech or behaviour that begs for someone to intervene and
put an end to it.
Violent Homophobia: Extreme manifestations that lead to violence from verbal
aggression to hate crimes. Internalized Homophobia:
An often unconscious form of homophobia that is a result of education
and prevalent social values. Homosexual persons are not sheltered from this
form of homophobia which is directed at themselves.
This homophobia often prevents an individual from accepting their own
sexual orientation and/or hiding it from others. It leads to self-hatred,
destructive behaviours and sometimes suicide.
LGBTQ/Two-Spirited People: *abbreviation for lesbians, gay, bisexuals
transgendered and queer people. Two-Spirited is accepted in many North
American Native cultures.
Coming Out of the Closet: *to be “in the closet” means to hide one’s identity.
Many LGBT people are “out” in some situations and “closeted” in others. To
“come out” is to publicly declare one’s identity.
Coming out is a life-long process – in each new situation a person must
decide whether or not to come out.
A Coming Out Experience
This is a very brief synopsis:.
In his early years he felt different from other boys. His interests were different.
In high school he dated girls, has many sexual experiences and worked to
“prove” his heterosexuality. He married a woman and together they have two
Several years ago his wife confronted him with her sense that he was attracted to
men. This experience pushed him toward self acceptance. He and his family
(wife and children) participated in counselling to help them to adjust to this
change in their life experience. He experienced feelings of depression and
suicide. It took time for him to accept himself.
When he decided to accept himself and tell his family he experienced both
positive support and rejection. His mother blamed herself. She and her partner
did offer their acceptance and support and continue to do so. Other members of
the family were not accepting and he has not had any contact since he shared
this information. He has worked within the school system to ensure support is provided to LGBT