Social Question

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

What is changing our minds regarding Homosexual rights?

Asked by Imadethisupwithnoforethought (14265 points ) August 30th, 2011

Nothing is perfect, I am aware people who happen to be homosexual have a lot of problems still.

They seem to have made significant gains within my lifetime, however, in attaining certain civil rights and to be gaining in cultural acceptance.

Why am I more accepting than my father or grandfather? What actions have moved the needle?

Is it because persons I know and respect have come out to me? Were their actions undertaken by activists to bring about a cultural change of mind?

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25 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

I think coming out is a big part of it. Also, like advertising, when people here something enough times it becomes “normal.” Cities continue to become more diverse around the country as people move around, and I think the more diverse, any diversity, the more tolerance. Religion is waning among some, while it is amped up among others, but my guess is that overall our numbers in America have declined when It comes to religiosity.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I think a large part of the reason homosexuality is becoming more acceptable stems directly from the civil rights movement of African Americans in the US in the 1950s and 60s. The gay men and women of that era took the example to heart and began their own campaign to receive equal recognition under the law in areas where it was lacking.

Here’s an abbreviated timeline of some of the advances in the march for equal rights for the LGBTQ community.

A lot must be said for the LGBTQ people who came before me. The ones who came out of the closet made it easier for me to do so. My journey has been a long and difficult one at times, but it’s been made easier by the brave people who fought for all types of civil liberty before me.

lillycoyote's avatar

I think it’s a lot of things. Real social change can be painfully slow and, I think require different battles, and different kinds of battles, on multiple fronts. You need to legislate, fight court battles, march in the street, dissent, speak out and we even need the screeching voices of in-your-face radicals sometimes, and maybe the hardest but most important battle front: you need to change people’s hearts and minds, change attitudes. Legislating equality and fairness alone is not enough, protests and radicals can alienate people, but are necessary in the process. You have to change hearts and minds and I think that’s where I certainly agree with @JLeslie that coming out has been a big part of it. Over the decades as more and more people have had the courage to identify to their families, friends, coworkers, employers more and publicly more people have come to learn, understand and accept that LGBTQ people are just that, people, not any different than you or I. Still a long ways to go though.

JLeslie's avatar

They also took it out of the DSM as a mental illness in the 70’s I think. Whoever they are.

lillycoyote's avatar

@JLeslie “They” are the American Psychiatric Association, I believe.

laureth's avatar

Back in the day, there was talk in the community about wishing all the gay folks could turn lavender for a day. That way you’d know that your cousin, the grocery store cashier, the local first grade teacher, and that nice man from your church were all gay. The Gay would become less scary for folks if they realized it’s normal, everyday people and not molesters in the park. Also, you would no longer be able to assume that everyone you knew was straight. Gay folks would have a face – and it’s harder to tell your little sister that she can’t marry her sweetie than it is to vote against a menacing shadow you can barely imagine as human. But even if instant-lavender technology were available, it would also be a safety issue: coming out was dangerous – it could get you bashed and killed. So taking the risk to let the world know that you’re gay and normal was out of the question for many.

But times change. Then there was the Internet. Very isolated gay folks could find community, even if their friends were thousands of miles away. And straight people were more exposed to the idea of gay people, too. And groups formed, like P-FLAG for parents and friends of lesbians and gays, and COLAGE for us kids of gay people, and suddenly it was like everyone knew a gay person. Or at least everyone had seen Ellen. And then everyone watched “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” The Gay had its fifteen minutes of coolness there, and then gay just became something that people were.

It’s still dangerous in some places, maybe more than you think. But the world is changing! Amen to that.

JLeslie's avatar

@lillycoyote Still, it is a “they” if you know what I mean.

Kardamom's avatar

It also helps when people that we already like “come out” in the media. I think there was a big shift in attitude when Ellen DeGeneres came out. Although they immediately cancelled her sitcom, most people like Ellen and can relate to her self-effacing gentle humor and traditional mid-western, middle America way about her. Women (and men) seem to love her on her talk show and most people are not disgusted by sweet ol’ Ellen.

And then when we found out that some of the nifty people that we loved as children (or our parents appreciated back in the day) like Paul Lynde (Uncle Arthur from Bewitched) and Robert Reed (the beloved father on The Brady Bunch) and Rock Hudson, who was a big handsome movie star that everyone adored, turned out to be gay, a lot of us decided that being gay wasn’t as awful as we had once thought. Being gay kind of looked pretty normal, or at least the gayness itself didn’t seem to make otherwise likeable people suddenly seem hideous and scary.

Then it helped some more, when they started to feature really likeable gay characters on TV such as Sean Hayes who played Jack McFarland (aka Just Jack) on Will and Grace, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who plays Michael Pritchett on Modern Family, and Chris Colfer, who plays Curt Hummell on Glee. And it didn’t hurt that some straight actors took on gay roles and nobody freaked out or burst into flames (no pun intended), such as Eric McCormack who played Will Truman on Will and Grace, and Eric Stonestreet who plays Cameron Tucker on Modern family, and both Heath Ledger and Jack Gyllenhaal in the movie Brokeback Mountain.

There are still plenty of people who actually know and interact with gay people on a regular basic, but they simply don’t know it. Those people still tend to have very negative reactions toward gayness and gay issues and gay people because they simply have no idea or notion of what real gay people are like, which is often pretty much the same way that most straight people are (which runs the gamut from the good the bad and the ugly).

There are some people that will never let go of the gay fear and loathing. I was just looking at some postings on a website that is all about Fran Drescher’s new TV show, called Happily Divorced, in which Fran plays a woman who has recently found out that her husband of 18 years is gay. They get divorced, and still love each other deeply and they have to live in the same house (although hubby is now living in the den) due to economic reasons. It’s a really cute, funny show. Anyway, some of the people on the message boards have said things like, “I used to love Fran Drescher, but I won’t watch her new show, because it promotes the gay lifestyle, which I think is despicable and goes against God’s plans.” What these people don’t know is that Fran’s real life husband of 18 years, Peter Marc Jacobson, was the Producer of The Nanny for the entire run of the show, and he was gay the entire time, and he finally came out to Fran after that show went off the air, and they got divorced. So the new show is based upon their real lives. They remained friends, and now Peter Marc Jacobson is also producing this new show. But the irony is lost on a small minority of fans who “can’t believe that Fran would be part of anything like this!” I don’t think they know the history of how the show came about. But most of the message boards are lit up with praise for showing this loving, but divorced, half gay/half straight couple working it out and being happy.

augustlan's avatar

For me, personally, it’s likely geographic. My family comes from the bible belt, but I was born and raised just outside of DC. In the family hometown, I doubt they ever knew a gay person (or if they did, they weren’t aware of it). Crap, they hardly knew any black people, either! But my hometown was extremely diverse… all nationalities, religions, and sexual orientations were represented. Growing up, I heard my grandfather saying the “N” word and “faggot” in casual speech all the time, but I knew lots of black people and several gay people, too. They were my friends, you know? At some point, I realized that my grandfather was a bigoted fool, and called him on it.

This is all a very long way of echoing @JLeslie‘s point about diversity fostering acceptance, which, in turn, lets people be who they are without fear, which, in turn, lets heterosexual people get to know homosexual people as just people.

marinelife's avatar

I think people are freer of the prejudices of the past. I think more people are educated, which makes a difference.

Blackberry's avatar

In general, society is progressing. But what I noticed when I started paying attention was its similarity to the civil rights movement. Telling gays they can’t get married isn’t different from telling two different races they can’t get married.

Brian1946's avatar

@JLeslie @lillycoyote

Per Hawaii_Jake’s link:

“1973: American Psychiatric Association Defends Homosexuality
The early days of psychiatry were both blessed and haunted by the legacy of Sigmund Freud, who created the field as we know it today but sometimes had an unhealthy obsession with normalcy. One of the pathologies Freud identified was that of the “invert”—one who is sexually attracted to members of his or her own gender. For most of the twentieth century, the tradition of psychiatry more or less followed suit.

But in 1973, members of the American Psychiatric Association began to realize that homophobia was the real social problem. They announced that they would be removing homosexuality from the next printing of the DSM-II, and spoke out in favor of antidiscrimination laws that would protect lesbian and gay Americans.”

mrrich724's avatar

I’d imagine the media has something to do with it. If you were gay back in the day, you probably felt alot more isolated and wanted to hide “it.” But now that everyone knows so much more about so many more, people are realizing it isn’t as rare as once thought, and that plays a huge impact with how people view it. Less rare = more ‘normal’ and more ‘normal’ gets more support.

chewhorse's avatar

I think it’s the eventual notion that others don’t have the right nor the authority to determine who should be accepted and who should not. In short, people should not put upon themselves the responsibilities that a person does or is. Religion was the major barrier in refusing to accept homosexuality within society then a new order came about whereas a majoriety ruled that no one has the right to decide the fate of others (right or wrong) and eventually religion had to concede simply because of the lack of followers. Back in the days, the people feared hell fire so much that they obeyed many rediculas laws..

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

I think when heterosexual people started to realize that a gay person could be their mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter, uncle, aunt, or another beloved close relative or friend, and come from all walks of life, it made them acknowledge that homosexuality is not a disease or something wrong or bad. It made us straight people think “we need not fear them, or fear what they do will harm us.” Accordingly, it allowed us to be more accepting, and more open to laws protecting gay rights.

ETpro's avatar

I think everyone has opened a part of it. But there has been a clear march from brutal autocracy toward democracy, and from incredible brutality and selfishness of the ruling autocrat or warlord toward respect for human rights and human dignity of all mankind. This drive has had its fits and starts, but over all of history from cave man to modernity, the march has ben inexorable. Here in this country it took a bloody war to end slavery. Women had to fight for equality with men, and still have a ways to go in that struggle. But they now vote, and can work and even run Fortune 500 corporations. Blacks and Latinos had to strugle for their rightful place among us, as did even the white immigrant blocks that came to the US in each succeeding wave of European immigration.

There are still those deeply opposed to one or more of these leaps forward. Some oppose them all. But they are on the wrong side of history. The trend is far to powerful and long lived to be stoped by any self-serving bigotry trying to promote its own above all others as inherently superior humans.

JLeslie's avatar

@Brian1946 Well, then, I guess we should give “them” some credit. :).

bags's avatar

Gay people finally stopped hiding as a community and began to come out. Stonewall was a major turning point in the queer community. The ensuing riots were the beginning our what we know today as the ‘Gay Rights Movement’. With people coming out more and more, more and more families had to accept a loved one’s sexuality, it came home to roost, as it were. And when something has a face, especially a face you care about, it’s not as threatening, or scary, or evil…....

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] This is our Question of the Day!

Blackberry's avatar

Yay! Go gay people! Lol. After the gays get all of their rights, who should we work on next?!

augustlan's avatar

@Blackberry Well, we still have a way to go to reach true equality for black people and women, and there’s always immigrants! GO TEAM.

bags's avatar

@Blackberry I can appreciate the situation with African Americans and Hispanics…..but there are some Native Americans could use a bit of help, too…..

Blackberry's avatar

@bags Totally agree.

Gabby101's avatar

Yes, I think coming out helped. I remember the first openly gay person I met and how he invited me to a party at his house (I was 18 at the time). I was really scared – I thought the party would be full of guys wearing leather, etc., etc. Once I got there and saw how not weird everyone was, I realized that those stereotypes were wrong and I could replace them with reality. Before that, I had no other reference. Guess it’s different now because there is positive portrayal on tv and in movies.

Ron_C's avatar

I am in favor of more freedom and fewer restrictions. What homosexuals do does not affect men and see no reason to restrict them. When ordinances restrict homosexuals, they likely also infringe on my freedoms; therefore I am against those restrictions.

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