rldbookslogoAmericans Believe One In Five Is Gay Poll Shows
by Beth Shapiro
365Gay.com Newscenter in New York
Posted: October 9, 2002
12:04 a.m.

(New York)  A new Gallup Poll shows that Americans believe 20 percent of the general population is gay or lesbian. 

The polling organization asked Americans for their own estimate of the percentage of American men and women who are gay or lesbian. The average responses were that 21% of men are gay and 22% of women are lesbians.

The commentary to the right is by Ronald L. Donaghe. For a complete list of his works go to his Official Web Site.

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Now this is interesting. You can see the whole story and  other related Gallup Poll results at 365Gay. For some time, the religious right, which has a vested interest in downplaying the importance of gay people in our society claims that gays and lesbians make up less than  2% of the general population. And even more important to their claim is that being homosexual is a chosen "lifestyle."

In the same article, another Gallup Poll recently conducted says that 18% of respondents labeled themselves as gay or lesbian.

What is going on here? I don't believe that the actual percentage of gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals, and transgendered individuals in society has increased (no matter what that percentage might really be), but that Americans' perceptions in general have shifted as gay issues have become increasingly more prevalent in the public consciousness. And I'll just bet that members of the religious right are not pleased. What this shift of perception means to me is that we glbt people are winning the PR battle...somehow, even though I doubt that most glbt persons are aware of consciously being engaged in such a battle.

But I know I am. By being "out" at home among my family members (brothers, sisters, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins) and out at work, and of course out in my writing and on the internet, I have been consciously attempting to be an example of a gay man. And every time we as a group or individually decide to participate in "coming out day" or to simply be "out" we are adding to the PR effort.

Of course there is a growing (seemingly) backlash as the desperate despisers of glbt persons become alarmed that we are everywhere--or as the Save Our Children Campaign of the late 1970s bemoaned: "It used to be the love that dared not speak its name. Now it's the love that won't shut up!"

Which is fine with me. I can't help but feel happy that Americans' perceptions are shifting in favor of thinking perhaps that gays are everywhere. And as the second poll indicated that more of us are willing to identify ourselves as gay or lesbian. What effects will this shift in thinking have in the coming years? I would hope that eventually, some form of marriage will be made legal for glbt persons, that companies will offer insurance benefits to the same-sex partners of their employees, that schools will make increasingly more room for student glbt organizations, that the Boy Scouts and other such organizations will drop their fruitless (no pun intended) anti-gay policies, that churches will accept glbt members, that the entertainment industry will embrace the notion that glbt persons be more fully represented.

In the meantime, gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals, and transgendered persons should continue their uphill battle for visibility. Hey... I just had a thought. Maybe this is a kind of gay agenda after all.

Ronald L. Donaghe

Feel free to disseminate this opinion piece freely, but please give credit, as I have done by mentioning the source of the 365gay article, above.

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