A couple of week ago I wrote, “The war over gay rights in America and other modern nations has been largely won. Too many people have come out of the closet and will never go back in for the clock to be turned back.”
This trend towards acceptance has only accelerated since my column and may have reached a tipping point. New York Times columnist Charles Blow wrote about a new Gallup Poll that found, for the first time, the percentage of Americans who perceive “gay and lesbian relations” as morally acceptable has crossed the 50 percent mark. Also, for the first time, the percentage of men who hold that view is greater than the percentage of women who do.
Blow attributes these advancements to LGBT people coming out and the realization that it is primarily weirdoes and socially stunted hypocrites who are obsessed or threatened by homosexuality.
“Virulent homophobes are increasingly being exposed for engaging in homosexuality,” wrote Blow. “Many heterosexual men see this, and they don’t want to be associated with it. It’s like being antigay is becoming the old gay. Not cool.”
Blow is correct. Normal, healthy, functional heterosexuals do not become paranoid or fixated on homosexuals. It is primarily people with sexual hang-ups, extreme religious indoctrination or deep, dark secrets that are preoccupied and consumed by the sexual orientation of others.
Of course, this does not mean that all supporters of civil rights for LGBT people are comfortable with the idea of gay sex. The good news is they don’t have to be. While speaking across the nation I have found an easy way of diffusing this issue. I ask the crowd to look at people they assume are heterosexual in the audience. Then, I ask if they would want to see all of the people they stared at having sexual intercourse.
The answer is inevitably and resoundingly, “No”. Then, I simply make the point that there are many people, heterosexual and homosexual, they would not want to witness in bed. And, they never have to unless they elect to do so – making any objections in terms of the “ick” factor moot. As simple as this sounds, it works and audiences “get it.”
Adding momentum to the LGBT struggle for equality is a cute McDonald’s television commercial in France that dealt with a teenager who had not yet told his father he was gay. The message of the campaign is, “come as you are, just leave a little fatter.” Okay, I added the last part.
While such an ad is not likely to air in the United States anytime soon, it does not have to in order to have a positive impact. Thanks to the Internet and talk shows, millions of people will see the ad and associate the message with their beloved Golden Arches.
Speaking of the impact of social media, in Newsweek, Joshua Alston made the case that websites such as Facebook are accelerating the demise of the closet. He wrote about the, “painstaking labor that goes into being secretly gay in the age of information sharing.” His advice to a friend who was outed by a seemingly innocuous tweet: “if you want to be in the closet, you can’t be on Facebook and Twitter.”
Crucial to the sudden surge of success is the falling of ugly stereotypes, such as the old canard that LGBT people are a threat to children. This week, the research journal, Pediatrics, published a study by Nanette Gartrell, a professor of psychiatry at University of California, San Francisco and Henry Bos, a behavioral scientist at University of Amsterdam. The article discussed a landmark study that measured the long-term affects on children who were raised by lesbian parents.
“We simply expected to find no difference in psychological adjustment between adolescents reared in lesbian families and the normative sample of age-matched controls,” says Gartrell. “I was surprised to find that on some measures we found higher levels of [psychological] competency and lower levels of behavioral problems. It wasn’t something I anticipated.”
Finally, The Human Rights Campaign reports that Kaiser Permanente updated its Patients’ Bill of Rights to fully protect LGBT patients and their families from discrimination. These changes make Kaiser Permanente the first large health network to have a fully inclusive non-discrimination policy for LGBT people.
Sure, full legal equality may take two decades and the battle against bigotry will last forever. But, there is no denying that the LGBT movement is on the move like never before. The homophobes are finally the minority and appearing more secluded and deluded by the day. It’s not time to crack open a bottle of champagne, but feel free to treat yourself to a cold beer and appreciate the progress.
Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”