Chapter 02: How Are Stereotypes Changed? – Excerpt 2

Chapter 02: How are Stereotypes Changed?

I’ve started writing a book about Changing the Face of Christianity. I’ll post excerpts here as I go in order to get your feedback before the book is published. 

Stereotypes CAN change over time. Stereotypes are impacted daily by people who reinforce the stereotype or who often unconsciously work to shape it in a different direction.

For example, you may have a view of homosexuals that looks like this:

  • Radical
  • Liberal
  • Flamboyant
  • Sensitive
  • Open minded
  • Effeminate
  • Well groomed/stylish

Where did such a view come from? Did you read it in a textbook? Did you take a class to learn about homosexuality? Of course not! You discerned it mostly through informal teaching.

I remember watching a show on cable television years ago called Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. A group of hip, stylish, effeminate, and yes-flamboyant homosexuals took heterosexual men and tried to whip them into stylish, “metrosexual” shape. They upgraded the man’s appearance through clothing and personal hygiene. They upgraded the man’s surroundings by doing a make-over to his home or bedroom.

Wikipedia says this about the show: “The show is premised on and plays with the stereotypes that gay men are superior in matters of fashion, style, personal grooming, interior design and culture.”

I didn’t read about this on Wikipedia before the show aired. It wasn’t a formal teaching or something I deliberately learned. In watching that show, I received the message that homosexual men are especially attentive to their outward appearance and have a heightened awareness of the connection between people and their surroundings.

And this isn’t my only touchpoint with the homosexual stereotype.

I’ve seen enough gay parades in the news to believe that homosexuals are radical and very flamboyant.

So, how are stereotypes changed? I believe they are changed one person at a time, through direct personal experience, when that experience is different than the stereotype you are familiar with.

In contrast, I’ve also met un-newsworthy homosexuals that teach me that much of what I think about homosexuals is wrong. They aren’t all cross-dressing nymphomaniacs. They can dress just as normally and uncoordinated as me and are everything but radical in their thoughts and behaviors. They aren’t all political activists with an agenda to destroy traditional views of marriage or the fabric that makes up society as we know it.

In other words, like most groups, homosexuals span a wide array of looks, attitudes, and behaviors. So, although what I’ve discerned through media and culture has taught me one thing, my view of homosexuals is heavily impacted by the people I’ve actually met and interacted with one on one.

Those personal experiences have changed my mental picture of homosexuals, and that picture keeps evolving with more and more interactions with them.  So, how are stereotypes changed? I believe they are changed one person at a time, through direct personal experience, when that experience is different than the stereotype you are familiar with.

More on this in our next book excerpt.

 […this chapter will be continued in the next post…]          

Please share any comments or constructive feedback below. Thanks. It’s VERY APPRECIATED!

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  1. Robert W. says

    Very well said and one of the reasons I’m out. It also works for Christians. My ex-wife has many pagan friends and has attended some of their events to socialize and participate in some (non religious) workshops. When invited to participate in some of their rituals, she declined but treated them with respect. She was told that she was different from other Christians because of that respect. She broke the stereotype of judgmentalism they were expecting and did not automatically condemn. It gave her an opportunity to testify and led to at least one convert while others listened with the same respect she showed them.

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