How very ... interesting.
Americans' support for the moral acceptability of gay and lesbian relations crossed the symbolic 50% threshold in 2010. At the same time, the percentage calling these relations "morally wrong" dropped to 43%, the lowest in Gallup's decade-long trend
Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs survey, conducted each May, documents a gradual increase in public acceptance of gay relations since about 2006. However, the change is seen almost exclusively among men, and particularly men younger than 50.
Additionally, Gallup finds greater movement toward acceptance among independents and Democrats than among Republicans, and a big jump in acceptance among moderates. Liberals were already widely accepting of gay relations in 2006, and have remained that way, while conservatives' acceptance continues to run low.
Notably, there has been a 16-point jump in acceptance among Catholics, nearly three times the increase seen among Protestants. Acceptance among Americans with no religious identity has expanded as well.The same May 3-6 Gallup poll finds the slight majority of Americans still against legalizing gay marriage; however, at 53%, the extent of that opposition is down slightly this year.
Acceptance for the legality of gay and lesbian relations has varied over the past decade, but, at 58% today, it is near the highest Gallup has measured (60% in 2003)....
Gay? Whatever, Dude
By CHARLES M. BLOW
June 4, 2010 (nytimes.com)
Last week, while many of us were distracted by the oil belching forth from the gulf floor and the president’s ham-handed attempts to demonstrate that he was sufficiently engaged and enraged, Gallup released a stunning, and little noticed, report on Americans’ evolving views of homosexuality....
[...] There is no way to know for sure what’s driving such a radical change in men’s views on this issue because Gallup didn’t ask, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t speculate. To help me do so, I called Dr. Michael Kimmel, a professor of sociology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and the author or editor of more than 20 books on men and masculinity, and Professor Ritch Savin-Williams, the chairman of human development at Cornell University and the author of seven books, most of which deal with adolescent development and same-sex attraction.
Here are three theories:
1. The contact hypothesis. As more men openly acknowledge that they are gay, it becomes harder for men who are not gay to discriminate against them. And as that group of openly gay men becomes more varied — including athletes, celebrities and soldiers — many of the old, derisive stereotypes lose their purchase. To that point, a Gallup poll released last May found that people who said they personally knew someone who was gay or lesbian were more likely to be accepting of gay men and lesbians in general and more supportive of their issues.
2. Men may be becoming more egalitarian in general. As Dr. Kimmel put it: “Men have gotten increasingly comfortable with the presence of, and relative equality of, ‘the other,’ and we’re becoming more accustomed to it. And most men are finding that it has not been a disaster.” The expanding sense of acceptance likely began with the feminist and civil rights movements and is now being extended to the gay rights movement. Dr. Kimmel continued, “The dire predictions for diversity have not only not come true, but, in fact, they’ve been proved the other way.”
3. Virulent homophobes are increasingly being exposed for engaging in homosexuality. Think Ted Haggard, the once fervent antigay preacher and former leader of the National Association of Evangelicals, and his male prostitute. (This week, Haggard announced that he was starting a new “inclusive” church open to “gay, straight, bi, tall, short,” but no same-sex marriages. Not “God’s ideal.” Sorry.) Or George Rekers, the founding member of the Family Research Council, and his rent boy/luggage handler. Last week, the council claimed that repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” would lead to an explosion of “homosexual assaults” in which sleeping soldiers would be the victims of fondling and fellatio by gay predators. In fact, there is a growing body of research that supports the notion that homophobia in some men could be a reaction to their own homosexual impulses. 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...
See, I think it's that last one that matters ... but not necessarily the way Mr. Blow thinks. That said, what may actually be happening might, in its own way, be just as important.
I just have this feeling that what's happening isn't so much that the attitudes themselves are changing that fast, but that the attitudes about the attitudes are changing. What I mean is, not all that long ago, being seen as savagely antigay just wasn't that big a deal. In fact, it was considred, if not precisely a good thing, then as something normal and entirely expected. (And, usually, it was A Good Thing.) What I suspect is happening is that, yes, society at large is becoming less antigay. Not as fast as this study might indicate, though. But being seen as being savagely antigay is the sort of thing that is now no longer A Good Thing. Or at least, not as good a thing. It's a really odd social desirability bias showing up in the results -- and yes, I suspect that's the case even though it's an anonymous survey, they won't have their name attached to the results, and all that. People are more honest in these types of surveys ... but that doesn't mean that they're completely honest.
Then again, there is this:
Given that, way back in the day, Kinsey reported that something like over a quarter of all his respondent men had had sexual contact with a man to orgasm (25%-37%, depending on how the data is corrected), it may just be that self-reporting is coming more into alignment with reality.
Which, to be fair, is something in and of itself.Posted by iain at June 07, 2010 09:50 PM