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Prejudice to Pride
Moving from Homophobia to Acceptance
Ann Marie Petrocelli
ISBN: 978-0-87101-428-3. 2012. Item #4283. 152 pages.
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Prejudice to Pride: Moving from Homophobia to Acceptance describes a journey, moving from ignorance and falsehoods about gay men and lesbians toward understanding and acceptance of the gay community. The book contains the knowledge and experiences of lesbian and gay people meant to educate people about who gay people are, in the hope that people will understand and support the gay community.

The book is divided into five sections and 16 chapters covering a range of issues, including the following:

  • Heterosexist parents' influence on their gay children's lives

  • How gay people remain closeted or come out

  • Coming out

  • The role of organized religious leaders in preventing equality for gay men and lesbians

  • The past labeling of homosexuality as a mental disorder and its effect on gay people's mental health

  • Damage caused by homophobia

  • Attitudes and beliefs and gay advocacy and equality

This interesting and informative book will serve as a valuable resource for students, educators, and practitioners.
About the Author

Section I: Heterosexism in the Family of Origin to Healthy Self-Care

Chapter 1: Gay Children, Teenagers, and Adults from Heterosexist Families

Chapter 2: Problems and Strengths of Gay Older Adults

Section II : Unknown to Known Population

Chapter 3: The "Out" and "Closeted" Gay Populations

Chapter 4: Coming Out Is Not a One-Shot Deal

Chapter 5: HIV and AIDS

Section III : Homophobia to Pure Loving

Chapter 6: The Seven Stages of Coming Out

Chapter 7: Prejudice to Pride

Chapter 8: Homophobic Religious Leaders and Members

Chapter 9: Church and Conservative Right-Wing Enmeshment

Section IV : Past to Present Views

Chapter 10: Heterosexism, Heterocentrism, Homophobia, and the DSM

Chapter 11: The Model of Change

Chapter 12: New Glossary of Terms

Chapter 13: Positive and Negative Energy Ripples

Section V: Discrimination to Advocacy

Chapter 14: Acknowledging the Harm that Discrimination Causes

Chapter 15: Gay Education 101

Chapter 16: Personal Stories of Gay Discrimination

Prejudice to Pride captures past to present attitudes about gay men and lesbians from the point of view of the heterosexual majority as well as from individual out and closeted gay men and lesbians. It describes a sojourn moving away from ignorance and false beliefs about gay men and lesbians toward increased understanding and support of the gay community. The prejudice-to-pride path specifically names the supporters of the gay and lesbian movement; explains what enables the gay movement to travel positively and consistently forward; defines and describes the fuel that sustains healthy movement; points out who and what deters from positive gay travel and how; and discusses the ways to remove and prevent barriers from impeding the progress of the gay movement.

While I was writing the book, thoughts arose that I had never before realized. I believe that constantly confronting discrimination from new angles decreases hate and increases support of the gay and lesbian community. The novel ideas contained in Prejudice to Pride do just that. They help reeducate heterosexist people and provide the momentum needed to continue to propel the gay movement forward.

The more people get together to develop and promote unique and varied perspectives on how to increase gay protection and decrease homophobia, the sooner gay men and lesbians will gain all of the rights that straight people have enjoyed for centuries. If the book helps others as it helped me, then it will have served its purpose by giving society the gift of increased knowledge about gay people and the attitude that gay people are beautiful people.

The reasons for writing Prejudice to Pride are threefold: personal, educational, and political. Personally, the knowledge and experience contained in this book represent 56 years of living as a lesbian in New York. The actual writing of this work helped crystallize my life to move to the future with a different perspective than if had I not written it. It enabled me to see my own past and present levels of internalized heterosexism and homophobia, which influenced me to find ways to continuously combat them and, in turn, increase my health and freedom.

What I hope more people will someday realize is that we are all equal and that we all must fight against the barriers that hold us back from equality. Looking back in history, gay people were revered, protected from harm, and valued. They shared in the equal rights of all. Patriarchal society then took away gay people’s equal rights, leaving gay men and lesbians in the unwanted position of battling a long history of oppression, discrimination, and prejudice. Personally, this book is my way of helping to regain gay rights through educating more people about the gay community. I hope to help society learn what gay men and lesbians really think and feel rather than to continue blindly believing the myths surrounding the microculture.

The second reason for writing Prejudice to Pride is to educate heterosexist people and gay advocates on the truth and myths about gay people to help gain the Constitutional rights of gay men and lesbians. The book serves to unify and raise the consciousness of all people by supporting gay rights as basic human rights. The truth of the matter is that Americans will only begin to experience true equality the day that gay men and lesbians gain full protection and equality under the law.

Persistent discrimination against gay men and lesbians should signal a deep-seated problem in the core of everyone’s soul. It should serve as a wakeup call that civility will only advance when discrimination is erased. Until that time, America remains crippled by its ignorance and fear of the gay population. It cannot escape the fact that those who discriminate against others represent a projection on their part that lacks not only respect for others, but also self-respect.

This book contains the knowledge and experiences of gay men and lesbians meant to help people understand who gay men and women really are and who they are not. It serves to help dismiss the myths and replace them with genuine wisdom about gay people. It is meant to help everyone increase their love, civility, and advocacy for gay people, and for all people, so that more people will want to befriend gay people.

I am aware that there will be some who view Prejudice to Pride as blasphemous. To these people, I say that I am very grateful that you picked up this book to read. It reflects the beginning of your openness in gaining valid and reliable knowledge about gay men and lesbians. Hopefully, you will begin to realize that heterosexist and homophobic attitudes and feelings help fuel increased statistics of gay hate crimes. Until people genuinely possess the type of mentality and conscience that supports equality for gay people, societies everywhere need to be concerned about their safety and well-being because hatred and fear toward others often represent hatred and fear in oneself. Any society of people that denies equal rights and protection to the gay population will not progress as a civilized society until this problem is acknowledged and expunged.

The third reason for writing Prejudice to Pride is a political one. My lesbian life turned into a political lesbian life the day I realized that politics are partly responsible for my lack of equal rights and protection under the law. Politics are guilty of blurring the line between the separation of church and state by allowing laws to be guided by religious groups who hope to deny gay people’s rights. The true blasphemy lies in certain not-for-profit religious groups professing love for all and then excommunicating gay people on the basis of discrimination. The monies received by religious organizations are tax-free dollars, which are used to politically influence votes that serve to hurt gay people.

The political system is guilty of not recognizing that the U.S. Constitution is being ignored every day that gay rights are denied. It is guilty of blemishing the beauty of America being known as the land of the free. American politics project the image of a country of tolerance and inclusion for all, but in reality it falls short by recognizing only some of its people as free, equal, and protected under the law but not others. Civility pertains to all, not just some human beings. Therefore, civil rights are truly the rights of gay men and lesbians too.

Prejudice to Pride is divided into five sections and 16 chapters. Section I, Heterosexism in the Family of Origin to Healthy Self-Care, contains the first two chapters of the book. Chapter 1, "Gay Children, Teenagers, and Adults from Heterosexist Families" looks at the clinical aspects of how heterosexist parents negatively affect the lives of gay people as children, teenagers, and adults. It presents the factors involved in diminishing heterosexism as well. Chapter 2, "Problems and Strengths of Gay Older Adults" describes this population’s knowledge, experience, and life stories as being a valuable asset to increasing all people’s productivity, knowledge, and civility. The sad truth, however, tells quite a different story of deplorable circumstances experienced by gay older adults, often occurring during what are supposed to be the golden years, as a result of the chronic effects of discrimination and homophobia.

Section II, Unknown to Known Population, contains chapters 3 through 5. Chapter 3, "The 'Out' and 'Closeted' Gay Populations," discusses why and how gay people remain closeted or come out and the advantages and disadvantages of each lifestyle. Chapter 4, "Coming Out Is Not a One-Shot Deal," offers the idea that "coming out" is really an ongoing process rather than a single event in the life of gay men or lesbians. It portrays each coming-out experience as a stepping stone to helping gay people transition from being heterosexist, homophobic, and homocentric to being mentally healthier and advocates for gay people and for society at large. This chapter also looks at the cognitive processes involved in choosing whether or not to come out with each potential coming-out experience. Chapter 5, "HIV and AIDS," exposes the role that discrimination plays in continuing to label HIV and AIDS as solely a gay disease. Consequently, this stigmatization is listed as one of several dynamics thwarting the advancements toward finding a cure and preventing those with the disease from receiving the proper quality of care and dignity that every ill person deserves.

Section III, Homophobia to Pure Loving, contains chapters 6 through 9. Chapter 6, "The Seven Stages of Coming Out," focuses on discrimination and oppression and how they can be viewed and experienced similarly and differently by gay and other minority groups. The chapter also maps out the inspirational path that one woman traveled, cognitively, emotionally, and behaviorally from prejudice to pride. Chapter 7, "Prejudice to Pride," discusses the dual meaning of the title of the book – that is, the individual travel of gay men and lesbians from mental illness to good mental health and the history of the gay and lesbian community travel from prejudice to pride. Chapter 8, "Homophobic Religious Leaders and Members," demonstrates the role organized religious leaders can play in preventing equality for gay men and lesbians. It advocates for the increased presence of religious groups that genuinely reflect love and embrace all people. Chapter 9, "Church and Conservative Right-Wing Enmeshment," deals with the type of chronic entanglement that has helped sustain gay oppression and prevented gay people from obtaining the legal right to marry, along with the more than 1,400 rights that marriage affords.

Section IV, Past to Present Views, contains chapters 10 through 13. Chapter 10, "Heterosexism, Heterocentrism, Homophobia, and the DSM," proposes that social and cultural influences played a huge role in causing gay men and lesbians to experience symptoms of mental illness by labeling homosexuality as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1952. Chapter 11, "The Model of Change," describes a new form of self-counseling. It offers a step-by-step approach to replacing unhealthy habits, originating from a homophobic upbringing, with newly acquired healthy ways of living. Chapter 12’s "New Glossary of Terms" reflects society’s current level of gay understanding and continues to help move the gay community in a positive direction. Chapter 13, "Positive and Negative Energy Ripples," defines these two new terms and gives examples of their effects on the cognitions, emotional well-being, and coping skills of those emitting and receiving them.

Section V, Discrimination to Advocacy, contains chapters 14 through 16. Chapter 14, "Acknowledging the Harm that Discrimination Causes," serves as a wake-up call for people to realize the long-lasting damage caused by discrimination and homophobia. This chapter lists 21 ways to continue to develop new attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, and understanding that will increase gay advocacy, protection, and equality. Chapter 15, "Gay Education 101," discusses the many ways that gay people are denied equality, support, and protection because of the lack of gay education and support. It specifically names those groups that are not educated about the gay and lesbian community and need to be. The chapter also lists several ways to educate people on gay and lesbian issues and why this issue is so important. Chapter 16, "Personal Stories of Gay Discrimination," contains stories of gay experiences of discrimination to verify the urgent need for the inclusion of gay men and lesbians in the laws that already protect heterosexuals.

Prejudice to Pride represents one lesbian’s voice that would not be held down any longer. After all, silence in such matters only fosters hate, suppression, and discrimination. Speaking out on gay advocacy is something that all openly gay people need to acknowledge and invest in mentally, emotionally, behaviorally, spiritually, and monetarily.

The time has come for all openly gay people to realize the connection between speaking out and gaining rights and remaining silent and losing rights. At the same time, it is important to recognize that once gay people are no longer closeted, they are at a greater risk of being victims of hate crimes. It is my hope that this book will serve as a catalyst for all people to think more about gay rights and how to protect gay men and lesbians. The advancement of gay rights will create new and different ways to cope with discrimination; educate others to see the light about who gay people really are and are not; influence all people to want to get to know and befriend more gay men and lesbians; help decrease prejudice and violence; help closeted gay people to come out and increase the visibility and numbers of the population; help protect gay men and lesbians; and increase everyone’s civility, dignity, advocacy, safety, and pride.
Ann Marie Petrocelli, LMSW, is a Brooklyn, New York, born-lesbian and an MSW graduate from New York University. She is the program director of a 168-bed supportive housing residence for adults with severe and persistent mental illness. Recently, Ms. Petrocelli moderated a workshop titled "The Unique Challenges and Benefits of Serving LGBTQ Tenants in Supportive Housing" as part of the 11th Annual New York State Supportive Housing Conference held in New York City. She has also facilitated numerous groups consisting of transsexual members at the LGBT Center located in Greenwich Village, New York.
Ann Marie Petrocelli's Prejudice to Pride is a labor of a love that boldly speaks its name. It accessibly blends the personal, practical, and political, to create a new paradigm to overcome the social disease of gayophobia. At a time of acceptance of LBGTQ individuals we also face public and private bigotry heightened by the (anti) religious and political rhetoric of fundamentalist conservatives. Prejudice to Pride shines a light guiding social workers and therapists to promote acceptance, inclusion, and ultimately progressive change. Ms. Petrocelli has the conviction that the process of recovery is an equal task for the participant and practitioner. It concisely contextualizes historical and cultural prejudices inhibiting service and offers prescriptive changes with its new definitions of terms and case studies. This book is an essential study for the social worker, counselor, clinical psychologist, educator, and psychiatrist to improve their cultural competency.

Jeffrey Seward, LCSW-R