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Assimilation is the social process that occurs when a minority culture becomes part of a majority culture. Assimilation happens when a minority group becomes part of wider society without fundamentally changing the dominant culture. The growing acceptance of LGBTQIA individuals by mainstream society is one example of assimilation.
Assimilation should not be confused with accommodation, where the majority culture fundamentally changes to fit in with the minority group.
LGBTQIA individuals were long regarded as a subculture separate from mainstream society. However, a greater focus on LGBT civil rights has helped this group assimilate. Today members of the LGBTQIA are welcomed into mainstream nightspots and heterosexual people choose to frequent “gay bars.”
Members of the LGBTQIA community live and work alongside heterosexual people. Films with LGBTQIA themes such as “Brokeback Mountain,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” and “Call Me By Your Name” were recognized at the Academy Awards alongside other mainstream movies.
The passing of marriage equality laws in many countries is further proof of the assimilation of homosexual members of several nations, regardless of their sexual orientation or choice of partner. However, many churches, religious officials, and business owners routinely deny their services to same-sex and transgender couples.
Assimilation is largely seen as positive for minority communities, including the LGBTQIA community, because it leads to wider acceptance and rights. However, critics note that some marginalized and vulnerable members of minority communities cannot take advantage of the benefits of assimilation. For example, homeless gay and lesbian people do not have the financial means to marry. As members middle- and upper-class members of the community assimilate, they are less likely to campaign for issues that affect marginalized members of their community, like access to housing and health care.
Others note that through assimilation, minority groups lose their own markers and thus their identities. These critics feel this loss of culture is detrimental to the community. However, it’s important to note that while the majority culture does not fundamentally change, it changes in subtle ways through the influence of assimilated minority groups.