Gays Running Fastest Civil-Rights Movement Because We’re So Friendly And Lovable

The gay-rights movement is often compared to other minorities’ civil-rights battles, from the emancipation and enfranchisement of African-Americans to the immigration struggles of Latinos.

But, as the L.A. Times notes today, gay rights are moving surprisingly fast, especially when it comes to public polling.

The Times puts it well: “If, as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, the arc of the moral universe is long but bends toward justice, then it’s arguably moving faster and bending quicker in the direction of gay rights than any civil rights movement before.”

For instance, in 1958, 94% of Americans were opposed to interracial marriage. In 1967, when the landmark Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia declared interracial marriage legal, 73% still opposed. It took until the late 80’s to turn the tides from more in opposition to more in support on that issue.

Compare that to gay rights—in 1996, when Gallup first asked whether gay couples should be allowed to wed, 68% of Americans were opposed. Nowadays the number hovers around 50%.

The rapidity of change isn’t insane, but it is notable. And why could it be? The Times thinks it’s “familiarity,” above all else.

The gay community tends to be more affluent, and the ability to give generously to candidates has translated into significant political clout, from the local level to the White House. Its leaders are well-versed in the machinations of government and the means of power, knowledge hard-won through years spent dragging politicians into the fight against the AIDS epidemic.

But experts and advocates agree on one explanation above all others: Familiarity.

But how did people get to know us LGBTs? We had to introduce ourselves at some point: whether it was saying hi on Christopher Street or coming out of the closet to our loved ones in the Deep South.

And the thing about the gay community, and it’s one of my favorite aspects of gay life, is that we’re so damned friendly! And pretty freaking lovable, too. I mean, who doesn’t love a little rainbow in their life?

It’s so coincidence we came to be called gay. It means happy! Which we are. And we’re happy to meet y’all. Now just let us get married, kay?

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  • MJ

    “Friendly?” “Lovable?”


  • Olive Austin

    @MJ – Uranus.

  • 1equalityUSA

    Legally, a precedence was previously set by those who fought for equality before us. If the internet existed and many had access to computers, their movement may have happened more rapidly as well. Currently, if a politician says something outrageous about killing gays, it’s put out onto the net, petitions are signed, and commenters rail into them. I appreciate the fight for civil rights that took place in the past. The hatred was raw and violent and with no way to temper it before the confrontations happened. This community spoke when it wasn’t safe to speak. It will be viewed in the same light as Eleanor Roosevelt’s night ride through bigotry, resolved in the notion that freedom is worth risking one’s life. Who better to offer a hand out of poverty than one who has tasted it? Who better to offer a hand out of discrimination than one who experienced it? Oppressed communities need to band together in order to overcome discrimination. Human nature has us feel nothing, as long as the ground beneath stays solid. Eroding the safety of freedom, erodes the ground beneath all, including the religious minded.

    Unconditional love is impossible to sell, it needs to be lived. That is the only way its trueness may be measured. The Church ought to know this. It’s scary that they don’t and it makes the Church, the leaders of the Church, appear less true. People underestimate the damage that inequality does. It takes years, generations, to overcome being thought of as, “lesser than.” Being different is more of a lesson for those who encounter us, rather than the other way. Remember what Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

    “Anyone who knows history, particularly the history of Europe, will, I think, recognize that the domination of education or of government by any one particular religious faith is never a happy arrangement for the people” (Eleanor Roosevelt)

    It’s easy to love one of your own. If you merely love those who love you, what quality of credit and thanks is that to you? For even the very sinners love their lovers—those who love them. (Luke, can’t remember the verse number)

  • Kristopher

    All those people who came before us is probably the reason.

    Also, unlike other minority movements (except women) gays aren’t cloistered in one community. We’re everywhere. Back when african americans were fighting for civil rights it was unlikely to discover that you had an african american family member. So I do believe that familiarity has a lot to do with our rapid progress.

    It does make me feel for the social movements of the past though. I can’t imagine it being any slower.

  • PTBoat

    Rapid? There were calls for gay rights in the nineteenth century and Germans were at the front of that movement and continued, in this country, right through the twentieth century. While Stonewall is the moment when gay men and women decided that we were no longer remain silent, as a group, the movement is well over a century in its progress.

  • 1equalityUSA

    PTBoat, so true. The use of the internet sped things up a bit.

  • timncguy

    If we are moving so fast then why did the courts make inter-racial marriage legal when there was still 73% disapproval and we don’t have marriage equality yet at 50%??? And, we don’t have job protections or housing protections either.

    Public opinion may be moving fast, but legal equality is lagging seriously behind.

  • rk

    We are far from equality. As for familiarity how many (1) gay identified roles or characters are there in mainstream movies or television – none, yet alone on big blockbuser movies or otherwise? Bravo does not cut it (2) How many nonstereotyped gay male characters are there in mainstream movies or television – none. How many athletes are open, yet alone accepted? The list goes on and on….in every profession to everyday life.

    I just don’t see it!

  • PTBoat

    RK, 43 years ago, it was illegal for men to dance together in bars. Until 2004, many states had laws on the books that made homosexual activity a criminal offense.

  • PTBoat

    Oh, RK, have you not seen Glee or Modern Family?

  • RK

    @ PT Boat – I said nonstereotyped gay men. GLEE and Modern Family have safe effeminite stereotyped gay men. So, they don’t count as far as I am concerned. Thank goodness for Happy Endings and some shows on Cable that at least have a more realistic diverse and masculine portrayl of gay men as in real life.

  • the other Greg

    @MJ: See your Official Gay Rule Book, the one you were issued when you came out. Gay people are expected to be bitchy and sarcastic at all times to other gay people. (Except, maybe, their bfs or gfs – ignore that rule at your peril.) We must friendly and lovable to straight people.

    It’s all in the rule book. I think it was originally edited in 1978 by Larry Kramer.

    @rk: “Modern Family” may not be your cup of tea – I’m not thrilled with it either – but it refutes at least part 1 of your thesis. Yes those two are stereotypes, but it’s one of the highest-rated shows, and on an old-time broadcast network.

  • SteveC

    I think the ‘rapidity’ of the LGBT equality movement over the past 15 years is primarily as a result of the internet.

    LGBT kids, even in isolated rural areas, can access LGBT resources and support at the click of a button. As a result they are coming out earlier.

    20 years ago if some politician / religious figure / public figure makes a homophobic remark, it can be picked up instantly online and the LGBT community can respond with great speed, and in enormous numbers.

  • mark snyder

    The NYT assertion that “the gay community tends to be more affluent” is a false stereotype that has been disproven by census and other surveys/data – see Williams Institute.

  • Belize

    So to summarize everything that this says…

    JayKay is NOT gay.

    Wow. That explains a lot.

  • FM

    Seriously? Did the brain dead Queerty writer stop to actually think about the “statistics” he used to “prove” his theory? From 1958 to 1967 (9 years), the opposition to interracial marriage changed by 21%, or 2.3% per year. From 1996 to 2012 (16 years), the opposition to gay marriage changed by 18%, or 1.1% per year.

    To clarify, for the “journalists” out there… 1.1%/year is SLOWER!

  • gggggb

    I don’t think we’re running the fastest civil rights movement as much as we’re among the last group of people to be taken seriously, and it was predicated on a large amount of previous social change.

  • Danny

    Um… the GLBTA community has been organizing and working towards acceptance since the mid-1800’s. It has been 160 years of work to get to this point – and the stuff we’ve had to do to get to this point has been astounding and amazing. People need to really learn history.

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