Sample Cultural Studies Paper on Micro-Aggression


The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) individuals have become more visible, particularly in the western societies; subsequently, attitudes regarding sexual as well as romantic minorities have become hot topics in the society. The LGBT+ community faces unique prejudice because of its history. For instance, during the 1970s, homosexuality was considered a mental disorder. While over time the public has become more knowledgeable about the LGBT+, there remain questions of whether the modern society has become truly accepting as well as tolerant towards the unconventional sexual orientations due to the persistent micro-aggression towards the mentioned group.

Today, the inclusivity and acceptance of the non-conventional genders by society has increased significantly. For example, a growing number of television shows as well as advertisements among other media feature sexual and romantic minorities. Consequently, many celebrities as well as public figures and even regular people that come out as members of the LGBT+. As indicated by Katz-Wise and Hyde (2015), the Millennial generation has grown to be self-identifiable as gay or lesbians at a younger age, engage in same-sex relationships as well as sexual acts early in life, and recounted engaging in expressively fewer heterosexual contacts than their older counterparts (Nosti, 2010). Indeed, society’s move towards accepting the LGBT has encouraged them to stop hiding their sexuality.

While the LGBT are not as discriminated as they were before, they have not been completely accepted.  Essentially, acceptance varies within in-group as well as out-group members. For example, non-LGBT+ individuals consider the 21st-century society considerate as well as socially acceptable to sexual minorities because violent discrimination is on the decline. Over the recent past, there have been attempts to reduce the pathologizing of LGBT experiences at the societal level. For example, anti-discriminatory state as well as federal legislation have been introduced to protect the rights of LGBT individuals. Additionally, the American Psychiatric Association lesbian, gay, and bisexual, no longer identify as a psychological disorder thus such individuals representing different sexual orientations are not viewed as abnormal (Diamond, 2003). As indicated by Robinson, (2014) there continues to be advocacy for LGBT rights, particularly through the fight for same-sex marriage rights. Nevertheless, in most nations, including the majorly liberal ones such as the United States, LGBT unions such as marriage are illegal or the law does not recognize them (Shelton and Delgado-Romero, 2018). Therefore, the LGBT believe that the society has largely not accepted them.

Rather than active discrimination, prejudice against the LGBT has evolved into micro-aggression. Micro-aggressions are considered as brief, commonplace interactions that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to particular persons of a minority group. As stated by Woodford, Howell, Silverschanz, and Yu (2012), Micro-aggressions are exemplified by heterosexual people through different means such as the stereotyping of LGBT people as being the “comedic relief” and in extreme cases asking transgender people intrusive questions regarding their genitalia. The disapproval of LGBT experience is a sign of disrespect and criticism and harms an individual’s mental health. Additionally, Micro-aggressions may involve verbal comments, behaviors, and gestures such as staring or glaring that may seem harmless but, in their true sense they can converse themes such as sexual objectification, the acknowledgement of intelligence, as well as an conjecture of abnormality (Christman, 2012). For example, Sue et al. (2007) cites the case of two men holding hands in public being considered “abnormal” or “weird”. Other times, when around the LGBT, straight people act like they accept them, but when not in the company of the mentioned group, heterosexuals express their discomfort with the group. Micro-aggressions are dehumanizing and they make the LGBT more of objects than human beings.

Types of Micro-Aggressions against the LGBT

The use of heterosexist as well as transphobic terminology is the most common form of micro-aggression that is directed towards the LGBT community. As explained by Woodford, Howell, Silverschanz, and Yu (2012), the use of derogatory heterosexist language toward LGBT individuals such as the use of words like “faggot” or “dyke,” has been identified as the most pejorative pronounce used against LGBT. Moreover, phrases like “That’s so gay!” or “No homo” have been used to express sexual prejudice.

The endorsement of heteronormative behaviors is also a micro-aggression issue that the LGBT community faces. Sue (2010) states that it is common for a heterosexual person to feel uncomfortable with a person of different sexual orientation in public. Subsequently, this may lead to micro-aggression. For example, often, parents force their children to dress according to their birth sex in public and not their preferred orientation because they do not want them and their children to be judged by the public.

Despite the plethora of information about the LGBT that is in the public domain, there exists some assumption, many of which are false, of the LGBT experience. According to Sue (2010), the public incorrectly believes that gay men are interested in fashion and all lesbian act or look “butch.” Such assumptions are offensive as the targets may think that their actions are not noticed or harmful.

The Impact of Micro-Aggressions

Micro-aggressions seem somewhat innocent; consequently, they are routinely left out of discrimination reports. Micro-aggressions are perpetual experiences that can cause considerable damage to the victims (Woodford, Howell, Silverschanz, and Yu, 2012). The study by Shelton and Delgado-Romero, (2018) reveals that micro-are a major cause of lower self-esteem, anger and frustration, lower feelings of personal well-being and value, shorter life expectancies, and some cases physical health problems (Nadal et al., 2011; Sue, 2010). Hearing the phrase “That’s so gay!” is associated with feelings of isolation and helplessness created by systemic discrimination may be categorized as trauma (Woodford, Howell, Silverschanz & Yu, 2012). As such, the absence of active discrimination against the LGBT does not imply that these individuals no longer face significant challenges.


The many studies or literature have explored micro-aggressions against the LGBT community because if it’s high prevalence and negative effects on the victims. While on the surface it seems that the mentioned population is largely accepted, the opposite is true since instead of being accepted, these individuals are discriminated passively or subtly. Institution’s such as governments perpetuate subtle discrimination against the LGBT through restrictive laws, such as outlawing same-sex marriage. Although micro-aggressive behaviors could be inspired by non-discriminatory beliefs because that are not always intentional or conscious, they may be a sign of true feelings of hostility. With this in mind, when the LGBT+ minority community rates such behavior as being highly biased, their sentiments may be correct. Additionally, when majority group members behaves as if such conduct is normal and less discriminatory, they are unknowingly seem insensitivity.



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Diamond, L.M. (2003). What does sexual orientation orient? A biobehavioral model distinguishing romantic love and sexual desire. Psychological Review, 110(1), 173-192.

Katz-Wise, S.L., & Hyde, J.S. (2015). Victimization experiences of lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals: A meta-analysis. Journal of Sex Research, 49(2-3), 142-167.

Nadal, K.L., Issa, M-A., Leon, J., Meterko, V., Wideman, M., & Wong, Y. (2011). Sexual orientation microaggressions: “Death by a thousand cuts” for lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth. Journal of LGBT Youth, 8, 234-259

Nosti, K.T. (2010). Experienes of gay women across generations: Have times really changed? (Doctoral dissertation). PCOM Psychology Dissertations (Paper 247).

Robinson, J.L. (2014). Sexual orientation microaggressions and posttraumatic stress symptoms (Doctoral dissertation, Texas Women’s University).

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Sue, D.W. (2010). Microaggressions in everyday life: Race, gender, and sexual orientation. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons

Sue, D.W., Capodilupo, C.M., Torino, G.C., Bucceri, J.M., Holder, A.M.B., Nadal, K.L., et al. (2007). Racial microaggressions in everyday life: Implications for clinical practice. American Psychologist, 62, 136-143.

Woodford, M.R., Howell, M.L., Silverschanz, P., & Yu, L. (2012). “That’s so gay!” Examining the covariates of hearing this expression among gay, lesbian, and bisexual college students. Journal of American College Health, 60(6), 429-434