I haven’t really gotten the chance to edit yet, I just read it over a little bit. Let me know what needs clarified/expanded on, etc. Thanks! oh, also if you have any creative titles/clever clinchers, suggestions would be greatly appreciated. gracias:)
29 October 2012
Homosexuality. Gay Rights. Same-Sex marriage. Years ago, these terms were taboo, or even unheard of. Homosexuality was not discussed, and most people simply ignored its existence. Homosexuality was also once a part of the DMSV of Psychology, an important manual in the field that explains and recognizes mental illness. Over time, things have changed. Today in America, homosexuality can be found in many different places, as well it is a heavily debated issue in politics. A gradual paradigm shift has taken place that has led homosexuality from being a completely unacceptable, taboo idea to something that has become an important issue and very much a part of today’s society. Over time, homosexuality has become more prevalent in society, which has led to more acceptance of homosexuality among Americans.
There are many contributing factors to why this paradigm shift has taken place. Throughout the last few decades, there have been specific events and people that have contributed, as well as gradual movements and important time periods. The beginning of the movement for homosexuality began in the late 1960s and 1970s,a time period known as the “Sexual Revolution (“Gay Liberation”). The 1990s are considered the “Gay Rights Movement,” relative to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s (“Homosexuality”). However, this shift is still not complete, and goes on in today’s society through the issue of same-sex marriage, and equal treatment of homosexuality. Also, there are still Americans who oppose homosexuality. Americans are gaining a more-accepting view of homosexuality, however the shift has not completely finished.
Many events have led to the increasing prevalence of homosexuality in America today. The catalyst for gay rights was the Stonewall Riots on June 28th, 1969. The Stonewall Inn was a bar predominantly filled with gays of all ages and lifestyles. There were occasionally lesbians, but very few heterosexuals visited the bar. Police raids on gay bars had been becoming more and more frequent during this time, as police forces did not expect much opposition from homosexual men. Police entered the bar and ordered all customers to line up and present identifications. All drag queens were arrested (cross-dressing was illegal), and a handful of others were taken into custody as well. It is unclear as to who started with the first blow, but a riot struck out between the crowd and customers of the bar and the police. The riot soon became violent and dangerous, but when the Tactical Patrol Force arrived armed in riot gear, the crowd quickly dispersed. When word spread about the riots the next day, members of the LGBT community flocked to the village Saturday evening, and harsher, larger, more violent protests that lasted until 4 a.m. early Sunday morning took place. Soon after the Stonewall Riots, LGBT groups were formed all over the country (Wasserman). The Stonewall Riots act as the catalyst for gay liberation movements, as they were the first real opposition to gay prejudice.
The first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots was celebrated with the first-ever Gay Rights March. Since the first march in 1970, gay pride parades and gay rights marches have become increasingly prevalent in the United States (“Gay Liberation”). Marches are filled with all members of the LGBT community, no matter age, gender, sexual orientation, or lifestyle. The increasing amount of parades and marches allows Americans to witness homosexuality, and the strength and numbers it possesses. In 1979, to mark the 10th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, more than 100,000 marched in New York City, and 250,000 in San Francisco, and the marches have only increased in size (Wasserman). The “Gay Rights Era” of the 1990s has seen even more movements for LGBT rights. More and more organizations are being created all over the country, especially among gay youth. Throughout the United States, youth have been coming out at a younger age (Cahill). This creates a necessity for youth movements and organizations among the gay community. Many schools have Gay-Straight Alliances, as well as organizations and clubs for homosexuals. Unfortunately, many gay youth are targeted in their schools by bullies, teasing, etc, and in a 2001 poll, nearly 70 percent of LGBT youth reported that they felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation (Cahill). This had led to depression, and in extreme cases even suicide. Many movements and programs have been sponsored to support gays in schools and to fight back against the bullying they face. Many schools and states have adopted anti-discrimination policies and laws. Also, schools are now making an effort to educate students about homosexuality, and in a recent survey, nearly 80 percent of LGBT youth said that the representation of LGBT topics were either somewhat positive or very positive in their schools (Cahill). Homosexuality and LBGT movements have become increasingly prevalent in the United States, especially among and involving youth.
Along with these important events and movements, certain people have greatly impacted the shift of prevalence of homosexuality, and therefore the views of citizens, in America. One such man, Harvey Milk, had a big impact on the LGBT community. Harvey Milk was openly gay for most of his life, and was the first openly-gay elected political official (Cloud). He was elected as a city supervisor in California in 1977. While in office, he supported gay rights and anti-discrimination laws. He became a role model for gays not only in the community, but all over the country. Gays, especially in politics, no longer had to be invisible. Milk represented a changing world and more opportunities for homosexuals. In 1978, only 11 months after he was elected to office, Milk was assassinated. His assassination, while a tragedy, was almost as important in the LGBT community as his election (Cloud). His assassination awakened the gay community, and gave them a martyr to rally behind. Harvey Milk the first openly gay public official and a catalyst for gays all over the country to come forward. He acted as a role model, and proved that homosexuals can achieve equality.
One of the first well-known celebrities to admit to being gay was Elton John. In an interview in 1976, Elton John publicly admitted that he was bisexual. This was a big surprise to the American public, and met with much resistance. Elton John fell into a depression for which he turned to alcohol and cocaine. In the early 1990s, John cleaned himself up and publicly acknowledged his homosexuality fully. He then turned to helping others and supporting AIDS research. John’s journey with homosexuality can parallel the paradigm shift that has taken place over the last few decades. In the 1970s, when the shift had just begun, John had the courage to admit halfway to his homosexuality, and claim that he was bisexual. As the LBGT movements became stronger and gay rights became more prevalent in society by the 1990s, John was able to admit fully to his homosexuality. Also, when he first admitted to bisexuality, he was deeply criticized by fans and media, and fell into depression and harmful coping methods. The second time around, he was offered more support and able to use his sexual orientation to help others (“Elton John”). Elton John’s homosexuality provides a good representation and explanation of the paradigm shift that has taken place over the last few decades.
This paradigm shift of the prevalence of homosexuality in America has led to an increasingly accepting view by the American people. According to surveys of American citizens on their views of homosexuality, more Americans support homosexuality. In 1978, before the Stonewall Riots, gay rights movements, or Elton John or Harvey Milk, most people were opposed to homosexuality. A poll done that year by Times/CNN reports that 53 percent of Americans thought homosexual relations were morally unacceptable and only 41 percent found them permissible. However, as time went on, and through the “Sexual Revolution” and “Gay Rights Era,” American’s perceptions and views of homosexuality changed. 20 years later, in 1998, the survey was done again, and this time reported that 64 percent of those questioned believed that homosexual relations were acceptable, while 48 percent thought them morally wrong (“Homosexuality”). Gallup reports that the acceptance of homosexuality seems to increase every year, and that it has reached its highest point in the last year (Saad). In general, Americans are becoming increasingly accepting and supportive of homosexuality and the gay community.
This increasingly tolerant attitude of Americans towards homosexuality has also spilled over into the political circle. Gay marriage is a much-debated issue today. This debate would not have come about had it not been for an accepting view. Because more and more Americans accept gays, more are willing to support gay-marriage. Gallup reports that the percentage of Americans against same-sex marriage is still 53 percent, but the amount of opposition decreases as time goes on (Saad). As of May 2012, 8 states have legalized gay marriage. The legalization began in Massachussets in 2004, where there was a slight pause until Connecticut legalized same-sex marriage in 2008. Since then, the legal acceptance and has grown exponentially, to the point where three different states legalized same-sex marriage in 2012. More Americans, as shown by the increasing number of states where same-sex marriage is legal, are supportive of it (ProCon.org). The decreasing opposition/increasing support for same-sex marriage are direct results of the prevalence of gays in society and America’s changing views on homosexuality.
Starting with the Stonewall Riots and leading up to the same-sex marriage debate today, prevalence of homosexuality in America has greatly increased. This has led to Americans being more accepting of homosexuality, and to many American’s belief that people should be equal regardless of sexual orientation. The shift to full acceptance of homosexuality and equality between homosexual and heterosexual is still occurring, as gay marriage is an important issue being discussed in today’s society. However, the shift shows a trend of increasing prevalence of homosexuality, and therefore American a more accepting, tolerable attitude of Americans toward the LGBT community.