If you haven’t heard, Gallup just released a survey that has rocked the US. It has proved once and for all something that we have always known: everyone is gay.
Ok, you got me. That’s not really what they said, but that’s what some media coverage is making it sound like. The sensationalized titles like NBC’s Americans are identifying as LGBTQ more than ever, poll finds isn’t necessarily incorrect, but it is misleading.
Let’s first look at the numbers. According to Gallup, the amount of people who identify as LGBTQ+ has increased by 60% from 2012 to 2020, which sounds like a big number! But this information is relative; in 2012, 3.5% of Americans self-identify as LGBTQ+ which has increased to 5.6% in 2020. This increase is pretty linear. It’s not necessarily an exponential growth in gay people.
However, the stark difference is between age groups. Almost 16% of Americans 18-23 identified as LGBTQ+, but only 2% of Americans who are 56 and older. That is pretty staggering. That’s 1 in 6 versus 1 in 50. Many people are speculating as to where this increase in coming-outs can be attributed. The correct answer is that our culture is more accepting as a whole; according to the same study by Gallup, in 2020, 67% of people reported that gay marriage should be allowed while only 53% agreed with gay marriage in 2012.
The Americans who are 56 and older grew up in a time where not only was gay marriage illegal but being gay was classified as a mental disorder. Homosexuality wasn’t removed from the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders until December 15, 1973. The youngest person in that age group was 10 years old, which is plenty old enough to leave long-lasting impressions about how queer people are treated in the US.
On the other hand, people are asserting that it is “trendy” to come out. As if there aren’t still closeted people who are unable to come out due to familial and societal circumstances. Let’s pretend for a second that it’s true.
So. Fucking. What?
I will never understand how someone could have such a God complex as to think that they are allowed to police other people’s lives. You know what was actually a trend? Low-rise jeans. And I have not seen a single piece of legislation trying to be passed against that heinous garment. Not to mention, queer people have always existed. Ancient civilizations feature queer people in their art and stories. It was persecuted for centuries, and now we are finally getting the chance to express our true selves without fear of being attacked.
So while homophobia may never be fully eradicated, queer people are at the very least getting more protection from the government. On February 21, 2021, Congress passed the Equality Act, which protects LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service. Should this pass in the Senate and become law, this coupled with the younger generation’s increased self-expression shows a promising future for queer Americans everywhere.