The Pink Triangle Experiment and Report
The pink triangle experiment involves wearing a symbol representing the rights of a sexually marginalized group in the society for seven days in order to analyze the effects of doing so and the community’s response and reaction towards the gay community (represented by the symbol). In history, the Pink Triangle was a symbol on the badge of Nazi Concentration camp prisoners. The badge was used to identify male prisoners who were imprisoned because of being homosexuals. The prisoners were expected to wear a downward pointing triangle on their uniform. The pink color was to distinguish a homosexual from the rest of the prisoners. The badge was originally meant to be a badge of shame but has become the symbol of pride used to advocate for gay rights in the society. There were other colored badges in the camp such as yellow for the Jews, blue for immigrants, green for criminals among others. The pink triangle was larger than the other colored triangles. The prisoners who wore the pink triangles were the most oppressed as they were subjected to unthinkable suffering and cruelty from both the prison guards and homophobia from other prisoners. Although the end of the war marked the liberation of the camps, many prisoners who wore pink badges were sent back to prison and tortured for being homosexuals. The gay community to this day continues to suffer in the face discrimination even though many organizations have come up to support the gay movement and advocate for the right of members of the gay community.
In modern day, various symbols represent various marginalized groups in the society. Modern day representation of sexually marginalized groups in the society is the LGBTQIA. LGBTQIA represents lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual individuals together with their allies. The lesbian and gay are individuals who are attracted to people of the same sex. Transgender refers to the individuals who alter their anatomical sex to become the opposite of the sex they were born. The intersex individual does not have distinct physical sexual characteristics and an asexual individual is attracted to neither of the sexes. Queer is an umbrella term used to refer to all the groups that identify with LGBTQIA. The pink triangle is the most prominent symbol representing the gay community today.
Stigma, homophobia and discrimination against the gay community are still prevalent in the society today. Stigma affects the psychological health and the welfare of the individuals in this group. Deprived mental health usually results in poor physical health of these individuals. Negative attitudes about homosexuality result in various effects. They include reducing the ability of men who have sex with other men (MSMs) to access quality healthcare, poor psychological health that may lead to substance abuse, suicide or reckless sexual behavior and limited social interaction due to fear of rejection. The effects are usually most severe on adolescent and young adults since they are faced with the risk of bullying and rejection by their families thus being at a higher risk of homelessness. Homosexuals are also victims of cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance refers to the psychological conflict resulting from disputable belief systems and practices by the society. Some people believe that members of the gay community have skewed beliefs on sexuality and that in order to be normal, they should have sexual relationships only with members of the opposite sex. An ascribed status is a status in the society that one is born with such as a being a girl or a boy. Many believe that homosexuality is an achieved status rather than an ascribed status. An achieved status is a position in society that one acquires during their lives. Homosexuals are of the opinion that their state is more of an ascribed status and that they were born the way they are. Homosexuals believe that their situation is innate and most claim to have realized they were different from a young age. It is difficult to determine whether homosexuality is an intrinsic attribute, as it has not been sufficiently proven despite homosexuals showing various differences when compared to their heterosexual counterparts.
Impression management on the part of homosexuals has been affected greatly by stigma in the society. Impression management involves packaging, editing and relaying information in order to control one’s image as seen by others. Impression management is used by people to influence others and it affects a person’s quality of life. Many people argue that making a good impression about oneself can boost a person’s self-esteem and develop positive attitudes and emotions. Homosexuals usually have to pretend that they are normal by creating a false impression of themselves in order to avoid discrimination. Various policies on information control have been established to reduce the stigma experienced by the gay community. This is essential as it will control open criticism of the gay community and prevent any conflict that may arise from free and uncontrolled information. Many terms have been coined to describe gay and lesbian individuals such as “faggot” or “lesbo” and they tend to be hurtful and offensive. Information control is necessary to control crimes against members of the gay community.
Wearing the pink triangle made it difficult to associate with a few people who are not in support of gay rights and movements. It was a rather compelling experience to have to face stigma from these individuals and experience preferential treatment from others. Various people were supportive such as a fellow customer at a clothing store who offered to pay my bill but a few others were rude and disrespectful. It was rather unsettling to wear the symbol as the reality of the situation became known with every experience. The most difficult part of the assignment was convincing friends and immediate family that the experiment was merely a part of the assignment. This is because most were fearful of the impending risks posed by people who oppose gay movement and gay right activism.
The project reflected the fear of homosexuals and the lack of adequate support from the society. It also reflects the standing of various groups in the society and the culture of different organizations. Many organizations are partial when recruiting and may deny a person a job opportunity because of their sexual orientation. Others may deny member of the gay community various services without offering plausible explanations. Cultural and societal attitudes towards homosexuality differ greatly. It has been considered a social norm in many cultures for procreative sex to be confined within a relationship between a man and woman. Many consider homosexuality a breach of social norms and a deviation from human culture. However, the society has become more permissive and many countries are legalizing same sex marriages and accepting homosexuality.
The assignment shed light on the issues of prejudice, discrimination and oppression of the marginalized groups in the society. Homosexual individuals fall under this group and are subjected to cruelty and harsh treatment especially in areas that do not condone it. Although the law in some areas does prohibit discrimination against the gay community, the threats are still imminent. Stigma may be present in the society but it can be reduced in magnitude. Discrimination can only be controlled through individual action and personal initiative to reduce the stigma that members of the gay community experience.