For my research paper, I intended to find out how the percentage of open homosexuals in society has changed over time in America. I would also like to know whether certain states in America portray drastically different percentages of homosexuals in comparison to one another. In our ever changing, and seemingly ever developing nation, just how open and supportive has American society become in accepting homosexuality? How is this attitude affecting the acceptance of homosexuality in homosexuals themselves, and how does the percentage of open homosexuals compare to that of the past.
I would like to research this question because homosexuality has been a constant controversy. I believe that the suppression of homosexuality has been an issue throughout history, and I would like to know if the gradually growing support of homosexuality that is often portrayed in the media is accurately reflecting a change of values in American society. Throughout history, acts of violence and persecution against homosexuals have been consistent issues. I would like to know if, in modern society, these factors continue to overcome homosexuals in their ability to comfortably and outwardly be themselves.
When researching this topic, it was particularly important that I find an overall change in perspective in American society regarding homosexuality. Though researching the changing perspective was important in this process, I also strived to find concrete percentages and data that reflected the supposedly evolving perspective. It was difficult to find a recent census taken regarding this information, so as my search progressed, I found that the overall change in perspective became a more significant part of my research.
Through academic journals such as the Journal of the History of Sexuality and The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, I was able to gain a great amount of insight into the subject of homosexuality in American society. I found that over time, the perspective of homosexuality has generally reflected the values imposed upon American society through the media (2). Homosexuality was most controversial throughout the late forties and fifties, when society was submerged in the idea of “The American Dream”. This “American Dream” painted a very clear picture of what the pursuit of happiness in American society should consist of. It stressed the importance of gender roles and the perfect family; a husband and wife in suburbia with their children and home-cooked dinners every night. The wife was to tend to the home for a living and the husband was to work a nine to five job, (typically in an office of some sort) five days a week. Homosexuality during this time period was rarely heard of and regarded as shameful. In the media, homosexuality was barely acknowledged, but when it was, the idea was very firmly condemned and regarded as dangerous. This portrayal of homosexuality utilized fear as a method of persecution (3). Men, women, and children were told that homosexuals are dangerous and threatening (2). It was not until the sexual revolution during the sixties and seventies that homosexuality was given an identifiable presence in America. Through the works of Alfred Kinsley, the first man to acknowledge and survey homosexuals in society, the perspective of homosexuality began to gradually grow into the relative acceptance that is seen in certain societies in America today.
While the perspective of homosexuality in America has changed over time, the question still remains: has the amount of homosexuals in the population changed, and if so, why? It seems as though the amount of homosexuals in society has increased in places where homosexuals feel comfortable and are accepted (1). The difference in homosexual population between Kansas city and San Francisco, for example, is drastic. This then raises the question, are homosexuals more accepted in certain areas because they migrate there and create the comfortable environment themselves, or because the comfortable environment is already there in place. Would homosexuals become more accepted in certain areas overtime if they imposed their identities on certain societies rather than fleeing to ones that are more supportive and accepting.
The over all population of homosexuals in American society has consistently reflected the values stressed during specific eras. Although the acceptance of homosexuality in America has increased significantly in certain states, there is a drastic difference between the progresses of those areas and the intolerant stagnancy of others.
I believe, after going through the research process, that the amount of homosexuals in our population has never truly changed. Homosexuality has had a consistent presence throughout history despite our changing perspectives. It seems as though the homosexual population has never grown, but reflected the values of each specific time period. Like other minorities, homosexuality has been suppressed, but has never ceased to exist.
When researching homosexuality in America, I had a difficult time finding the concrete numbers and percentages of homosexual’s overtime. I found it was difficult to compare what little percentages I did find, and that there were no real informative fluctuations in them. While I struggled with my research, I found that at the heart of my research topic was not precise numbers and figures, but the over all change in perspective of homosexuality in America. I was not surprised by my findings, but they enabled me to further understand precisely what factors in society affect the homosexual population.
1. (Gates, Gary J., Ost, Jason (2004). Getting Us Where We Live. Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide. 19-21)
2. (Bennet, Lisa (2000). Fifty Years of Prejudice in the Media. Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide. 18-27)
3. (Loftin, Craig M. (2007). Unacceptable Mannerisms, Gender Anxieties, Homosexual Activism, and Swish in the United States 1945-1965. Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. 578-596)