The marketing campaign looks like a success.
Gallup notes that Americans identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) eclipse 7 percent. That more than doubles the figure the polling organization reported a decade ago.
At this rate, gays will exceed 100 percent of the population sometime around 2060. Homophobia hopefully will dissipate thereafter. But one can never be too vigilant.
The sustained Madison Avenue–style barrage, a cross between Uncle Sam’s “I Want You” Great War declaration and Nike’s ubiquitous “Just Do It” slogan from the 1980s, sold homosexuality with “Yep, I’m Gay” magazine covers, obligatory LGBT characters on MTV reality programs, and Milk, Moonlight, Brokeback Mountain, and other films. Americans, particularly young Americans, bought it.
The pressure campaign’s underlying theme posited that sexuality, like race, constituted an immutable characteristic that defined criticism of the pursuits of consenting adults as bigoted and irrational. This persuaded — eventually.
Until victories in 2012, gay marriage appeared on the ballot thirty-two times and lost thirty-two times, including in California, Michigan, and Hawaii. A decade ago, Barack Obama still opposed gay marriage. Gallup found just a minority in 1977 supporting gays becoming doctors, clergy, and teachers, and the legalization of homosexual acts.
The lone response to that 1977 Gallup survey buttressed, if obliquely in the ever-changing percentages of people identifying as LGBTQ, by subsequent Gallup polls indicated that just 13 percent regarded homosexuality as “something a person is born with.”
“There is no ‘gay gene,’” Andrea Ganna, lead author of a massive study published in Science, summarized its conclusions to Nature. How to reconcile greater and greater percentages of gays since Gallup first asked about it with the shibboleth that sexual identity predates birth?
The recent Gallup poll shows dramatic fluctuations between age groups regarding LGBT populations. Less than 1 percent born before 1946 label themselves LGBT. More than 20 percent of Generation Z identify as LGBT. Twice as gay as Millennials, five times as gay as Gen X, eight times as gay as Baby Boomers, and twenty-six times as gay as Traditionalists, Gen Z stands as the gayest generation.
Jazz Jennings, perhaps the first celebrity Zoomer, identified as transgender at age five. While Christians do the born-again thing once, JoJo Siwa proved that one could come out of the closet repeatedly, and stay in the headlines, by ritualistically declaring herself “queer,” “gay,” and “pansexual.” Matt Bernstein, who wears long lashes and longer nails, achieves internet celebrity by spreading provocative memes, including “Reagan’s Grave Is a Gender Neutral Bathroom” and “Is Gen Z the Queerest Generation Ever, or Were You Just Never Paying Attention?”
This last point suggests that Zoomers merely embrace their sexuality to a greater degree than closet cases of the past. This seems impossible to prove, and, if possible to disprove, impossible to disprove to Matt Bernstein.
Let no man, woman, demiboy, ursula, otter, or two-spirit tell you that all identities find our age accommodating. “Super straight,” an orientation just recently appearing on the radar, describes men attracted only to women born with female genitalia. TikTok, YouTube, and Reddit removed material promoting the not-very-now proclivity. “A ‘sexuality’ based entirely on trans exclusion isn’t a preference,” an InsideHook subheadline explains, “it’s prejudice.” Good to know.
However one interprets the zeitgeist, greater numbers of up-front gays undeniably followed the mass-marketing onslaught.
The mutability of sexual identity in some invalidates an LGBT article of faith, not LGBT people themselves. Misconduct allegations against the band PWR BTTM’s lead singer Ben Hopkins from women, for instance, indicate variation not just between generations but within individuals. Following the civil rights movement, gay liberation naturally imitated. This appeared forced. One size, in templates as in trysts, does not fit all.
Acknowledging that environmental factors influence human behavior does not risk reinstituting sodomy laws. Rather than casting gays as extending the civil rights movement, a more honest depiction leans more heavily on a basic component of American liberty embraced by smokers, gun enthusiasts, and home-schoolers: live and let live.
Thomas Jefferson articulated this ethos as it pertained to God, but it also applies to gays.
“The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others,” he wrote in Notes on the State of Virginia. “But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
Welcome to the Right, alphabet people.
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