In recent months my lesbian daughter has commented she felt this growing counterflow to acceptance. She’s commented several times that she was experiencing more coldness, more unsolicited comments about her clothes or appearance, slower service in stores, and open comments and questions (“Are you gay?”)
I was hoping wasn’t true, but it appears it is.
The Harris Poll produces longitudinal studies, those studies that research a topic through long periods of time to identify trends. Their recent research, “Accelerating Acceptance 2018”, reported that Americans are less accepting of LGBT people in 2017. For the first time, acceptance dropped to “very” or “somewhat” uncomfortable in a number of situations tracked through 4 years of surveys.
In every case, the level of discomfort increased in 2017 by at least 2-3%. Respondents were more uncomfortable having an LGBTQ family member, doctor, or child’s teacher. They were more uncomfortable seeing an LGBTQ co-workers wedding picture or a same-sex couple holding hands. They were more uncomfortable having LGBTQ members at their place of worship.
Discrimination reports by LGBTQ individuals were higher than any other metric measured such as race, age, disability, or religion. At 55%, reports of discrimination jumped 11% above 2017.
If you have an LGBTQ child, if you’re an ally or family member, if you’re a neighbor who cares or a personal friend, it’s more important than ever to show support. It’s more important than ever to speak up. It’s more important than ever to work to help your community become more supportive, not less.
One of the keys is to not be silent. It’s important to normalize the LGBTQ community, to help them be seen as more than a sexual preference. Can you speak well of a gay co-worker to friends, share coffee with an LGBTQ acquaintance, invite a neighbor for dinner or a walk? Every positive action helps. Consider candidate positions when you vote.
Talk with your friends about this change in public perception. Bring up the topic of LGBTQ inclusion in your book group, meeting or dinner conversation. If you hear negative comments, push back with “That’s hurtful” or “I disagree”, or, even better, offer a positive affirmation to counter the comment.
Help us work toward increasing acceptance again. For the safety of lives and families, please speak up.