American perception, continuing struggles

BTL Staff
By | 2012-06-07T09:00:00-04:00 June 7th, 2012|Opinions|

Compiled by Howard Israel

S/he Said

“Such a misunderstanding of the basic demographics of sexual behavior and identity in America has potentially profound implications for the acceptance of the gay-rights agenda. On the one hand, people who overestimate the percent of gay Americans by a factor of 12 seem likely to also wildly overestimate the cultural impact of same-sex marriage. On the other hand, the extraordinary confusion over the percentage of gay people may reflect a triumph of the gay and lesbian movement’s decades-long fight against invisibility and the closet. In recent years, as homosexuality has become less stigmatized, pro-gay rights groups have come around to acknowledging that a smaller percent of people identify themselves as gay than some of the early gay rights rhetoric claimed.”
-Garance Franke-Ruta, in her article titled “Americans Have No Idea How Few Gay People There Are,” about a recent Gallup poll conducted May 5-8, 2011, that found that Americans perceive that is a large U.S. gay population, one far larger than is likely reality. http://www.theatlantic.com, May 31.
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“My first reaction to that, aside from a little chuckle, is that it’s actually a sign of the success of the movement for LGBT rights. We are a small minority, and we will never have full equality without the support of the majority, and a poll like that suggests the majority is extremely aware of their gay neighbors, coworkers, and friends.”
-Stuart Gaffney, spokesman for Marriage Equality USA, a national grassroots marriage equality organization, in an article titled “Americans Have No Idea How Few Gay People There Are,” about a recent Gallup poll conducted May 5-8, 2011, that found that Americans perceive there is a large U.S. gay population, one far larger than is likely reality. http://www.theatlantic.com, May 31.
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“The fight for LGBT Equality is not going to be won in the cities. It’s already mostly won there. It’s going to be won in small-town America, where people need to see gay people as human, normal and neighbors – not just some characters on television. It’s going to be won when the lady who runs the local Holiday Inn meets real-live lesbians and finds them to be just like any other guests. When the casual onlooker comes to the parade to see ‘freaks’ and walks away disappointed, when he sees families and friends laughing and cheering. When a bi kid is accepted and loved instead of encouraged to ‘get off the fence’. When locals see their gay neighbors in the light of day, paying our own way, as deserving of love, respect and commitment as anyone else. When drag shows and AIDS charity events are just as normal and accepted as karaoke, rodeo and the county fair. When our rural and small-town legislators, see us simply as citizens with the same rights as every other constituent. When kids don’t say ‘gay’ as an epithet of scorn and derision. When we are seen as part of a larger community. That’s when full equality will happen.”
-D. Gregory Smith, blogger, in his posting titled “Why You Should Attend A Rural Pride Event This Year,” http://dgsmith.org, May 31.
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“I think that hate violence against these communities has been going on for a very long time and the reports that we’re seeing may not even be a reflection on the true pervasiveness of the violence. I think we’re really just getting the tip of the iceberg. Only a little over half of the survivors reported their attacks to the police. This sheds some light on why it is so difficult to track true levels of hate crimes: many victims simply never report the crime. We feel that it’s not an actual increase in violence but that there are reasons this kind of violence is being recognized for what it is. One big reason is that now it’s more acceptable to talk about LGBT communities in general.”
-Chai Jindasurat, one of the authors of a new report titled “Hate Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-Affected Communities in the United States in 2011,” released by The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), http://www.avp.org, May 31. NCAVP collected data hate violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and HIV-affected (LGBTQH) people from 16 anti-violence programs in 16 states across the country, including Equality Michigan.
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About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 25th anniversary.