Our Lesbian Same-Sex Articles
We've Come a Long Way But Not Quite Far
I was watching a popular talk show the other
day when the host proclaimed that more and more gays and lesbians are feeling
freer and more accepted in this day and age of "Gay TV." According to the
host, the images of gay role models on TV has been softening the way that
the community at large views homosexuals and paving the way for a more accepting
I'm not sure what communities were studied for
this evaluation, but I'm quite sure that the man who yelled "Dyke" at the
top of his lungs at me from his open car window as I was biking in the park
last month has not been softened at all by positive gay TV characters. And
I really don't think that the young, MTV influenced male at the local pub
was making polite party conversation when he hackled my girlfriend and I
and asked who the top was. Ah, but if nothing else, they are learning the
terminology. That's something at least. I'm not sure how comforting it is,
but I'll take it.
Still, while I'm a bit skeptical how all of
this positive "Gay TV" has influenced the straight crowd, I have seen a profound
impact among the gay community. In fact, the numbers speak for themselves.
Did you know that as little as 10 years ago the average coming out age was
26? Today it is an unbelievable 16. Myself, I was 27, which must be the average
age for my area because people I went to school with are just now coming
forward with their sexuality.
But we're all a bit older and did not benefit from "Gay TV." Actually, our
generation watched as Ellen was forced to leave the airwaves because American
TV was not ready for an openly gay character. We also got to witness some
of the most graphic and violent hate crimes geared toward gays. So, who could
blame us for being a little hesitant?
Anyway, what "Gay TV" has done in my opinion
is change the way we feel about ourselves. By watching people just like us
on TV, we get the sense that we are not alone - even if we live in the
not-so-accepting bible belt. This sense has given us the courage to be open
about our relationships and stand defiant in the face of ignorance and adversity.
It is this attitude that I feel is beginning to soften the attitude that
some Americans have against gays. So, "Gay TV" aside, I think the credit
goes to every person who has the courage to live their lives openly and allow
others to see through them that gays are not second-class citizens.
Just how far this thaw toward gays will progress
remains to be seen. Honestly, I think it is over exaggerated in the press,
but I do agree that there has been some thaw, more in some communities than
others. Myself, I live in a state that views the horror of gay marriage as
something to be banned by the state's constitution. (It passed by more than
60%) And the recent gay marriage bill veto by California Governor Arnold
Schwarzeneggar proves that even that liberal state hasn't thawed quite enough
And I'm also reminded of a story that one of
my online chat buddies shared with me recently. She and her girlfriend live
in a state in the far west, and her girlfriend is a high-school educator
in the public school system. Anyway, her girlfriend has been dodging advances
from a male coworker, and I guess it's getting a little out of hand because
he shows up at sports games where both girls coach. When I asked her why
they didn't confront him and tell him that they were partners, she said that
they couldn't do that because it would jeopardize her girlfriend's job. And
we live in an accepting society?
Well, I guess I should be thankful that the
neighbors haven't keyed my car or spray-painted my house. And I guess I should
be thankful that my daughter was able to take down the boy who jumped her
at school because she had two mommies. Maybe he was tired from staying up
to watch The L-Word and just couldn't get that final punch in. And maybe
the neighbors put away their spray paint because "Gay TV" showed them the
error of their ways.
The point I'm trying to make here is that the
fight is far from over. Prejudice still exists and no amount of TV programming
is going to change the reality that we have to deal with everyday. Yes, we've
come a long way, but there's an even longer road ahead of us. Granted, TV
role models deserve praise for their courage to bring the topic of homosexuality
into every living room and make it a hot political topic, but the majority
of the credit I think goes to those who stand up everyday without a TV screen
to protect them from the ugliness.