Social Work Paper - Understanding the Diverse Group of Adolescent Homosexual Male Minorities: The Challenges of Working With People of All Backgrounds

Consider the following introduction of one of the most famous documents ever created in the United States of America; The Declaration of Independence. "When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States." (The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, Government Archives)

The United States Declaration of Independence was a document written primarily by a man named Thomas Jefferson. The document was later adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain were now independent states, and thus no longer a part of the British Empire. The Declaration is a formal explanation of why Congress had voted on July 2nd to declare independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War.

I strongly felt the need to use this section of the document as my introduction to my diversity paper because of the underlining contexts in the words. I choose this whole section because I believed not just one part of it but all of it is relevant to the diverse group I choose to write about. Many human beings throughout the years since the document was written either have heard or know the second line in the document due to its strong message which causes it to become so popular in American and world history. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Throughout the years many scholars, professors, historians, politicians, civil rights activists and even the average person in society has critiqued and analyzed this sentence time and time again. I would like you to take the time to do so. Throughout this paper you will understand why this sentence is so significant and how it has such an impact on the diverse group I choose to research and interview.

After reading the description of what the diversity paper, was about a couple of different factors went into why I choose the diverse group that I did. The first task of the paper was to choose a group that either you don't know much about or have concerns about working with when you eventually become a social worker. The main objective of the paper was to describe the significant facts that would be important to consider in working in a professional relationship with the chosen group. As I stated before a couple of different factors went into my decisions to ultimately choose homosexual male minorities who are in their late adolescence to early young adulthood. This was not a conflict of having concerns about working with this diverse group but mainly because I did not know much about them. I did know from pre-research from the text that, "From adolescence to young adulthood, young people begin the process of sexual exploration - a search for their sexual identities." (Ashford, LeCroy, 463) As a result of this information I then narrowed my group to just gay, male, minorities, who are in their late adolescence to early young adulthood.

Another factor that persuaded me to choose this group was the fact that part of the papers requirements was to interview more than one member of the selected group. By choosing this group to write about I knew it would easier for me to find individuals to interview that fit the overall description of homosexual male minorities who are in their late adolescence to early young adulthood. With that in mind I got to figuring out who would be "best" to ask for permission to interview them and use their knowledge and answers in this paper.

Knowing a few individuals closely that fit in this group I had to narrow down to just a couple of people to ask to interview so I would not overwhelm myself. I wanted to choose individuals who I ultimately assumed would want to participate in the interview process as well as individuals who would give me quality information and take this assignment seriously. Though the scheduling process of getting the interviews completed effectively was a little challenging I am proud to say that both interviews I conducted turned out well and provided me with not only key information for this paper but also a better understanding of this diverse group.

A key fact I should state before going on is that not all “homosexuals” (gay or lesbian) are the same, just like not all “heterosexuals” are the same (male or female). This is not only evident from what the text explains, As feminist point out, women and men are not monolithic groups; they have significant within group diversity." (Ashford, LeCroy, 180) Even the interviewees stressed the same point. I learned a lot and have more compassion and awareness of the certain struggles, values, beliefs and experiences of this cultures group and sub-groups. Not only did these interviews help establish an understanding it also help reinforce certain information I had come across during my outside research process in finding crucial information to be better aware of all aspects of this groups/subgroups life.

I have now stated the reasons why I choose the diverse group of homosexual male minorities who are in their late adolescence to early young adulthood. I had the chance to choose any group out of the vast number of diverse and culturally different groups there are all over our Earth, but why did this group stick out to me as "important" compared to other groups? To answer that I basically analyzed in my pre-research and then during the process of interviews and getting more information through extra research what the main purpose of this group’s establishment has on the Social Work profession. I asked myself "why is this diverse group important to social workers?

In my pre-research I initially responded to this question by stating, "As a Social worker one has a professional obligation to empower service users to make independent decisions and life choices and to respect their individual lifestyle preferences. This commitment to anti-oppressive practice can be challenged when working with people of all backgrounds." This basically means in layman’s terms that a social worker must be able to provide a client with information to better help them with the difficulties they are experiencing or up against.

However to do this effectively a social worker cannot let their own views or biases get in the way of being able to effectively provide their clients with all the necessary resources they may need. With that said it is unethical for a social worker to let their views, morals and or biases, affect their judgment of a situation or client. It is not a social workers job to judge a client or situation and then only provided that client or those helping that client with only information that will persuade them to choose the way you want something taken care of due to your own biases, judgment and beliefs. Throughout this paper I will point out other significant ways that show why this group is important to social workers and what a social worker can do themselves too help this group.

Before learning about this diverse group one should be able to understand who or what this group actually is. One must understand how this group was formed, why this group was formed, and if there are any subgroups within the larger group? This is important to know so one will not make assumptions about this group. When seeing the words that describe this group: homosexual male minorities who are in their late adolescence to early young adulthood, what first assumptions or thoughts come into one's mind? It is evident to assume that for different people the description of this group can be categorized differently. In many instances human beings will judge a group base on assumptions or information they already knew. The text states, "Gender oppression is also closely linked with the other system of oppression involving gender: sexual orientation. Homophobia refers to the fear and hatred of sex with a same-sex partner. In our society, power and privilege are structured in terms of sexual orientation, and our system has institutionalized heterosexual forms of gender identity. In fact a heterosexual gender identity has been considered the yardstick for determining normality and has contributed to the isolation and oppression of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals." (Ashford, LeCroy, 180) This can lead to misunderstanding a group or even separation of views toward a group and their beliefs.

Once I got in contact with my interviewees I professionally set up a time to meet with them (besides one case where it was not possible so that interviewee emailed me their answers to my interview questions). I explained to the interviewees, “first off I want to thank you for agreeing to be a part of this. I feel as college student going into the Social Work profession it is beneficial to understand all aspects of life. This diverse group is not necessarily new per se; however it is becoming more open and socially accepted. Which in turn leads one in this situation (student going into the social work profession) to know more.” I asked several different questions and had a good conversation and interview with each finding out a lot of different and useful information.

Each interviewee had pretty much the same questions asked to them and for a few of the simple questions the answers were pretty similar, however there were a lot of differences in other questions which were not as easy to provide a simple answer. For example a couple of simple questions I had asked were: what is homosexuality? What is the difference between "Sexual Preference" and "Sexual Orientation"? Do you know what a Social Worker does? If so explain a brief description of the job title “Social Worker.” <-- How did you come up with this description? If you do not (know what a Social Worker does) take an educated guess of what you think their job entitles. What was interesting with these few questions the answers were similar or at least getting to the same point. On the other hand when asked more abstract or “harder” more “controversial” or even personal questions answer differed. Both interviewees gave great insight and answers which probed me to want to learn more. Key responses that stood out to me were as follows:

“Q: what does it mean to be gay?
A: This is a very vague question. It's like asking me, what does it mean to be Asian, or what does it mean to be a man. Being gay, just like being Asian or being a man is so much an integral aspect of who I am, but it also is not all that I am. They all come with extra baggage that together makes up me”. (Interview 1)

Q: When does one (male) first know or realize that they are gay?
A: Depends on each person. Some people say they've known forever, some people say they didn't realize it until they were older (like people who get married and then realize they are gay).

Q: Have you fully “come out”? (If so explain the process/scenario you took or how this situation played out in your case)
A: Many people will say that coming out involves 3 stages. 1. Realization. 2. Acceptance. 3. Coming out. I would currently consider myself fully out, although there are people who say it is not possible to be fully out because every time you meet someone new, you have to worry about whether or not the gay aspect should be brought up.

Q: Why do gay people need "Gay Rights" Laws: Isn't that asking for special privileges?
A: Gay rights are not asking for special privileges. In fact, they are doing the exact opposite. They are asking for rights that all other people have, but gay people don't have. Marriage rights, the right to serve in the military openly, the right for hospital visitation of your partner, the right to adopt, etc. These are not special rights. Gay people simply cannot do many of these things today because they are gay.

Q: Should gay people be treated the same as heterosexuals? (Employment, parenting. education, laws, etc.)
A: YES!

Q: Did you choose to be gay?
A: Just as much as you chose to be straight

Q: Is homosexuality harder for males or females? Minorities or whites?
A: I think it is definitely harder for minorities. It reflects our society. Minorities (women included) already have a harder time than whites; the homosexuality aspect can potentially add another hardship for them. For me, the hardship growing up having same-sex attraction makes my child and teen hood very different than one of a heterosexual male. All gay men are the same in the same way that all straight men are the same. AKA we are all different!

Q: Is there any sort of hierarchy or progression of power in the gay community? If so, who in the gay community has the most power? Who has the least? And how is power divided?
A: I would say, just like the rest of society, the white man has the most power.

Q: How could a Social Worker better help those who are homosexual?
A: Understand that we are normal people with normal lives with the same goals and passions as everyone else who exist in the world” (Interview 1)

“People need to respect and realize that just because a person is attracted to the same gender, doesn’t mean that they are less human than others. There is not an exact age that one knows they are gay. At some point in one’s life they realize that they are attracted to the same sex. Being gay does not affect my family life, my future path, or my career path, at all. However I wanted to change schools because I felt that I would be judged more when people found out. It affected my wanting children because I’m not sure I am comfortable with raising a child in a gay marriage. I support it, but it is just not for me. Maybe someday I’ll change. Yes I do regret being gay. However being gay is not a choice, I was made gay and I will have to live with that. It has in the end made me a stronger person.Gay men do not "hate" the opposite sex, and gay women do not" hate" the opposite sex. I have a lot of friends that are girls, and I have a lot of friends that are guys. Hating or liking someone based on whether they are homosexual or not is pure ignorance. It follows the same lines as racism.”(Interview 2)

Though my research and interview I only got a grasp of how fascinating this diverse group is. There are so many layers or directions one can explore in regard to this diverse group and due to time and space for this paper I could not investigate all aspects. I tried to stick to what was most relevant in the eyes of what a social worker would be up against when working with this group of individuals. There were three significant points I learned when creating this paper. The first point was that gay men don’t choose to be “gay”. The second significant point was that even though this diverse group is consistently discriminated against, they don’t act out in retaliation but simply stick together and ask other human beings in our world to view them as any other human beings. We are all individuals, no one is quote on quote normal, and not matter what the risks are to change oppression and hatred one must fully fight everyday for their cause. The last thing that stood out to me is how many stereotypes there are from society not only about gay men but homosexuality in general it is our job as social workers to also work to change this and spread the true word of this diverse group and not the rumors, lies, or stereotypes the past in society has created for years. Human beings consciously or unconsciously judge a group or and individual positively or negatively everyday due to lack of knowledge and true understanding. The only way to be able to hinder these judgments is to effectively explain from that groups point of view what they truly stand for, explaining exactly who they are and why they were formed.

Once that knowledge is out the rest is up to you and I and others to take a side on whether to accept reject or neglect this certain group. I feel that the job of a social worker is not only to provide the necessary information and resources for our clients to be able succeed to their highest potential in life but to help change the obstacles that are in every individuals lives that hinder their ability to strive for a positive equal life.

It’s on us as social workers to be the change. We must practice what we preach and be a model for others and generations to come. We all have to live in this world together so why not make life better for not only ourselves but others and just try to all get along. As a result every individual no matter what race, gender, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity etc should be able to live the way that most famous line in The United States Declaration of Independence states, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.