The transition of our world is happening before our very eyes… amongst the most talked about topics is the appointing and politics of President Barack Obama, the crashing economy and the issue of Ms. California and her views on homosexuality. Though the president and the economy have been unpredictable to some, homosexuality has always been a controversial subject. This alternative lifestyle does not fit into our social ideals, “the American Dream”. Established throughout the late forties and fifties, this “Dream” painted a very clear picture of what the pursuit of happiness in American society should be, stressing the importance of gender roles and the perfect family. Homosexuality was rarely heard of during this time and was considered shameful. Men, women, and children were told that “homosexuals are dangerous”.
It was not long ago that homosexuality was considered a mental illness, and a sufficient reason to fire a federal employee from their job. It was not until 1975 that there was a public statement made that homosexuality was not a mental disorder. Since that time, this once taboo topic has become a familiar lifestyle and many activist groups have taken a stand for their cause that has captured the attention of the media.
Spending an average of nine hours a day using some time of media, it is no surprise that through the support of the media; same-sex relationships have become more widely accepted. The effect that media influence has on society is not a new phenomenon; the media has been a concern of social influence since its beginning. It has the ability to dramatically shape the lives of viewer by setting a standard and relying on our perception of “what should be”. It is no longer uncommon to see a television or movie role being cast with a homosexual character. This common exposure to a once criminal act of sexual deviance has altered the minds of Americans and created acceptance by reducing the fear of the unknown.
The grandfather of technological innovation, the media is responsible for social change, the standard of life and the decline of more traditional forms of direction, such as church, school, and family. Though all of these factors remain important, the media can be harmfully influential; many times the viewer does not even realize that they are being persuaded. The media is used as an instrument to influence people into certain beliefs and understandings, a funnel to social conformity, by the way of subtle hints and mild persuasion. In examining the possibilities of media influence, Jane Root wrote, “It has a role in defining what we think of as a natural, it helps to map out who we think we are”. This is what the media has done with homosexuality, they have made it seem natural, increasingly common and therefore acceptable.
The effect that the media has on children has been a topic of debate for some time. A child’s mind can be so easily altered that with the vast media accessibility, children are likely to be learning more from television and internet than they are from school! This author believes this is the very reason why we are seeing a declaration of homosexuality at an earlier age than ever before. Youth are going to experiment with a variety of things, and now that same-sex relationships are not condemned and accepted as natural, this idea is more widely accepted amongst youth. The question then would be, what is it teaching them? Television is where children are finding their gender identity, learning about the common use of illegal drugs, seeing premarital sex, and being exposed to violent crimes. Children only know what they are taught, and through the media they are learning about sex, drugs, violence, and homosexuality at a far younger age than any other generation.
In America everyone has the right to decide their sexual preference, and everyone deserves to be accepted despite their choice. Acceptance of the person does not require the condoning of their actions. Though my personal beliefs and Christian background leave little tolerance for the gay lifestyle I desire to see each person as an individual and have made a decision not to dismiss anyone based on only one fact of their life.