I’ve lived in Northern California and other large cities with a high concentration of LGBs. My husband and I were often embraced as part of the local community because of our shared interests in art, music, food, and wine. My husband was a professional musician in his younger years and played in local bars and restaurants four or five nights a week. We frequently built friendly relationships with LGBs. When couples experienced conflict within their relationship, my better half would receive a phone call or a visitor and was presented with all of the details. He offered support, guidance, perspective and a shoulder to cry on. I offered food, wine, a quiet environment and soothing background music.
Since LGBs are frequently estranged from their families, they create their own supportive environments at two levels. The first is the smaller, more intimate familial environment consisting of supportive biological family members and friends who share similar interests and lifestyles. The second environment is that of a broader community where political rallying and other social activities occur. Both environments are relatively fluid in their membership in that as relationships build, so do the familial circles. In some cases, “family” may consist of former and current lovers. These environments provide support and confirmation of identity, interests and lifestyles.
Lesbians and Gays differ in how these environments operate. Gays form relationships in which sexual contact is paramount. They may have multiple partners but connect with one in particular. For gay men, sexual expression and freedom from harassment are a primary motive for gathering. Lesbians, however, form relationships in which sexual contact is secondary to that of building strong relationships with other females. Consequently, their relationships are longer lasting than that of gay men. Political expression is also a primary concern within the lesbian community. As a result, they’re more visible at political rallies and push legislation forth more often than gay men.
Interestingly, it is theorized that bisexuals do not require a distinct community or environment in that they connect comfortably within both the LGB and heterosexual community.
Nereida M. Littrell, Ph.D.
Bohan, J.S. (1996). Psychology and sexual orientation: Coming to terms. New York, NY: Rouledge.