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Applying the sociological imagination of homosexuality

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Applying the Sociological Imagination of Homosexuality
[Student’s Full Name]
[College’s Name]
[Date]
Introduction
C. W. Mills wrote in 1959 a book called “The Sociological Imagination” on which he intended to show the connections between the individuals and the larger forces of history (Conley, 2013). To Wright Mills, a person who possesses sociological imagination is capable of understanding the larger historical scene in terms of what it means to be that person. “The inner life and the external career of a variety of individuals” (Mills, 1959). By assessing the other’s life, the person willing to investigate on the other’s life, will be able to take into account how individuals live their experiences. To the creator of the theory, the investigators tend to become conscious of their social positions when investigating a social issue. To avoid that, sociological imagination enables the investigator to be in situ and get a truer account of the phenomenon they intend to research on. That way, “(…) The indifference of publics is transformed into involvement with public issues” (Mills, 1959:211). That way, it is possible to understand a person’s experience by locating oneself into a given period, or a particular community, or scenario.
In layman’s terms, sociological imagination refers to the capacity to shift from one perspective to another. In the change, the person is supposed to gain an adequate view of the totality of the phenomenon they intend to assess. In a strict sense, it is a process that needs the imagination to be possible.

Wait! Applying the sociological imagination of homosexuality paper is just an example!

Without imagination, this sociological approach to phenomena would be of the same of a technician, who is only interested in how something works, not in why, it works.
In this essay, we shall show how sociological concepts such as the sociological imagination can be applied to the study of how homosexuality presents in the society. We aim to gain a broader perspective on the subject and understand how basic sociological concepts can aid us in future research.
Personal Explanation
Homosexuality is becoming a norm in our society. Every day more, and more homosexual couples and individuals are finding their place in our community. This is of great importance in our lives, since understanding what it means to be “gay”; “lesbian”; bisexual, or homosexual is critical in order to gain in-depth knowledge of the lives of people who have spent their lives living differently than the heteronormative society (Dreyer,2007:3). In that way, since our society considers that being heterosexual is the norm; and the only accepted unions are those who attend to biological, or gender principles, understanding homosexuality can be regarded as the most sensitive thing to do. In this sense, to apply a concept that is strictly sociological, we would not want to address to a person per se, but to homosexuality as a whole.
However, our primary concern in this paper is to use the concepts lying the sociological imagination to understand a friend; his name is “Alexander”. He is a young man in his mid-20s. He is a college acquaintance we used to have. He described himself as “gay”, and was a flamboyant individual. With the passing of the time, we got to know each other, and he seemed to be a good person to hang out with. However, once he openly admitted he was gay, many of his friends left him alone. What struck us is how in American society, once an individual assumes that is homosexual is instantly placed into a role, and regarded as different, and even openly shunned by its peers. That is why we consider that understanding homosexuality is essential to prevent discrimination from occurring.
Sociological Imagination
Before we are born, we are in the process of forming a gendered identity. In the same way, gender establishes patterns of expectations for people (Conley, 2013:286). These gender patterns set up a series of a series of expectations that when failed, are a cause of discomfort for the society. We could argue that in the American society exists an issue concerning what genders mean, and how people ascribe to a selected genre. For instance, if society keeps considering biological differences as the main differences concerning gender, gender inequity is bound to exist. In a sociological perspective, gender is a block on which society stands, it organizes our everyday lives and provides institutions to cater to the society’s needs (Conley, 2013:289). Moreover, sociologically, gender is a social construction that shapes and organizes our lives despite we choose not to acknowledge it.
For instance, situations such as the hegemonic masculinity that permeates our society have made difficult to homosexual men to express their sexuality or antics openly. However, gender constructions have changed over the years and what was “masculine” in the past, is regarded as effeminate now. Greeks, for example, considered homosexuality to be part of the heteronormativity and was not frowned on. In the 18th century, men were cultured and mild-mannered, with a taste for fine arts; music and poetry. It is in the 20th century where “real men” are rude, rugged individuals that engage in physical activities; are religious; have a family; children, and a job to support the “American Lifestyle”
In this light, while homosexuality might be an important part of an individual’s identity, it is not the only thing determining his behavior. For instance, “Alexander” did not enjoy things that where “traditionally” gay such as gay pride parades, or even “gay bars”. Instead, he considered that although he was homosexual, he did not have to consider himself part of the “mainstream gay culture”. In our subject’s case, he did not think that he needed to proclaim his homosexuality and use it as a flag to gain immediate recognition from the society. In his case, despite not being effeminate he suffered from the stigma of being homosexual. It is important to note that the most significant concern on male homosexuality comes from the perception of homosexual men as effeminate, or womanly. This is not always the case, as effeminacy is mostly a social construct around the idea of being gay, rather than the reality or the norm. To American society, homosexuality is seen as a threat to masculinity and family values. The archetype of the “queen” is rare, even in “gay” circles, and this traditional idea of homosexuals as men who want to be women, prevented many men from openly admitting their homosexuality, and entering into the “gay” world (Escoffier, 1998:88). In “Alexander’s” case, being perceived as an effeminate man was a concern before “coming out of the closet”. He even had a girlfriend and tried to follow the heteronormative rules that society dictates. He found this difficult, as he has never been attracted to women. However, slowly he began to realize that the social construction around the idea of homosexuality was flawed. He never perceived himself as a “queen”, and although he can be flamboyant sometimes, that is not strictly related to his sexual orientation, but to his personality.
As we have said, heteronormativity, and gender construction are closely related to culture. For instance, homosexuality was a taboo in American media, and neither movies nor T.V. depicted homosexual behavior in a “real” light. Homosexuals were not regarded as people with their lives and agendas. Instead, their use was of comic relieves, used to make a funny remark. Nevertheless, society has been steadily changing. From the first interracial kiss in 1968 to the first homosexual men kiss in 2000 (Conley, 2003:101), many things have changed. We can only expect that men such as “Alexander” find their way as homosexual men in a country that supports and respects them.
Homosexuality is gaining acceptance each day, but to think of a full recognition would be asking too much. If we take racism as an example, acceptance of homosexuals and homosexuality will not be full. There will always be pockets of people who are not willing to accept things such as same-sex marriage, or same-sex couples adopting a baby. In the country. However, the trend is shifting, as according to the Pew Research Center, the views toward same-sex marriage are changing. “In 1996, 64 percent of Americans were opposed to gay and lesbian marriage. Moreover, by 2011, American views were divided, 45 percent in favor and 46 percent opposed”. (Conley, 2013:410). In the same research, a 58 percent of the questioned people considered that homosexuality should be accepted as a norm in the society (Conley, 2013:410). Although “Alexander” does not see marriage in his future, it is important for him to see that his union is going to be recognized and that his rights are the same as those of heterosexuals.
References
Conley, D. (2013). You may ask yourself: An introduction to thinking like a sociologist (3rd ed.). New York: W.W. Norton &.
Dreyer, Y. (2007). Hegemony and the internalisation of homophobia caused by heteronormativity. HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies. Retrieved June 8, 2015, from http://www.ajol.info/index.php/hts/article/viewFile/41183/8571
Escoffier, J. (1998). American homo community and perversity. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Mills, C. (1959). The sociological imagination. New York: Oxford University Press.

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