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Running head: Cultural immersion a 1

Cultural Immersion Assignment 1

Jeremy D. Williams
Georgia State University

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This paper seeks to understand some of the specific problems that individuals who identify as
gay African American males may face in society. This will be done by asking the individual who
is interviewed to answer questions specific to this community and for the Interviewer to try and
completely immerse themselves in the community to try and gain a better understanding of not
only the unique challenges this group faces, but also the sources of strength that have been
created and developed by members of this group to help alleviate some of the problems they may
face. The hope is that after having completed this paper the interviewer will have a better
understating of the group as a whole and what qualities will be necessary to advocate and
communicate with members from this group in the future.

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Cultural Immersion Assignment 1
Before the impression
There was quite a bit of apprehension going into the immersion. Even with a relatively
high score in the post test scores when it comes to the knowledge concerning the LGBT
population, it was very nerve racking preparing to meet Kyle who agreed to the interview only
under the conditions that the interview take place after taking part in the Atlanta Gay Pride
Parade and experiencing first-hand what the culture is about. Kyle was very feminine in his
personality so the natural assumption to those who have little or no interaction with this
particular vulnerable group was that he was the bottom or the girl in the relationship as so many
people eloquently put it. Going in there were many preconceived notions about this community
like recklessness in behavior and actions. There was also the notion that all the individuals who
identify as gay lesbian or bisexual would be obviously so. Meaning that upon inspection it would
be obvious if a person was gay or not. These misconceptions and many others that werent
apparent in the beginning were challenged and often shattered.
The Immersion1
The immersion was an overall very successful and eye opening experience as a potential Social
Worker. While enjoying the beautiful yet rainy day, the questions that ultimately needed
answering were asked. The very first thing that was challenged was the size of the population
which according to Lum (2011) guesstimates put this population at about 10 -15%, taking
account for those who may choose to stay hidden from official census data. At the Parade there
were easily seven thousand or more people who represented all different races, genders, body
sizes, sexual orientations and ethnicities which shattered the perception that only people who
were apart of the LGBT community would participate. As the event went on and all the sights

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smells and noises of the event were soaked in, only then did the complexity and simplicity of this
vulnerable population start to truly shine through. Simply put these individuals want only what
the rest of Americans want. To love and live life to its fullest with no regrets about the past.
The Interview
The interview with Kyle went surprisingly well considering the personal nature of many
of the questions. The interview took place at Kyles home while he cooked dinner for his family
he was asked the questions. The first question asked concerned the coming out process and how
his family in particular responded to this news. Kyle described his coming out experience as
different from how he imagined. Growing up in a very religious family where his father was a
pastor he feared that he would be homeless when he came out, but it turns out that wasnt the
case at all. Before coming out he described his relationship with his family as very nice and
loving and cheerful. Immediately after coming out however he described his family as closed off
to him and distant. Not until 1970 did the American Psychiatric Association remove
homosexuality as a mental disorder from the third edition of its diagnostic manual of mental
disorders. According to Lum (2011) although it was no longer considered a mental illness at this
time lesbians and gays were still perceived to be sinners in the eyes of many mainstream
religious organizations. When asked about his position in the homosexual community he
responded that he is a bottom and when asked to define that word in terms of his community he
said the bottom was the one who was penetrated during anal sex. When the topic of stereotypes
and the challenges he faced as a gay man he was very vocal and passionate. Several stereotypes
apparently exists about bottoms and these stereotypes were closely linked to the traditional
female gender role. According to the stereotypes bottoms cook and clean and take care of the
children, they are not masculine, they are all experts in fashion and dont participate in

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stereotypical guy things like sports and video games. This is alarming because women are a
marginalized population, so to then basically use womanhood as a way to brand someone as
something speaks on how low we as a society see women. One very insightful part of the
interview occurred when the question concerning what his recommendations were to potential
Social Workers to learn more about his community. He suggested exactly what he had made a
condition for the interview, he suggested experiencing the community firsthand, he suggested
going to events sponsored by or attended by group members or maybe even just sitting down and
actually getting to know individuals from the community and hearing there opinion.
Reflection on Interview
When looking back on the interview and attending the parade its clear that Kyles level
of comfort definitely increased. When Kyle was first approached about my assignment one day
after class he was very apprehensive and nervous and this could have something to do with the
location where he was approached. He was far less tense and smiled more while attending the
parade and while at home. This could be due to him being able to be his self-more openly while
surrounded by people who were either a part of the community or allies. During the interview
however it was noticed that whenever a particularly sensitive question was asked he would avoid
direct eye contact and fidget. But when more general questions were asked he was very cheerful
and quick to respond with an answer.

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Lum, D. (2011). Culturally competent practice: A framework for understanding diverse groups
and justice issues (4th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.