Homophobia's slow decline
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Almost seven in 10 Americans know someone who is gay or lesbian and say they would not be troubled if their elementary school-age child had a gay teacher. Six in 10 say they are sympathetic to gays, displaying an inclination to view same-sex issues through a prism of societal accommodation rather than moral condemnation.
On questions ranging from job discrimination to adoption to whether homosexuality is morally wrong, responses indicate that as gays and lesbians have become more open, heterosexuals have become more open toward them.
From the day I found out many long years ago I've had the freedom to be open about my sexuality. The chief benefit of being out of the closet is keeping one's own self-respect. Without wanting to sound full of myself back in the days when it was harder I always hoped that I could help some of my fellow queer men become more open and self-accepting (one of the reason I've always used my real name on the web).
As more and more gay men have felt safe to live true to themselves they've made being queer less scary to straight people. I lived through the early days of American public school integration. That demythologized black people for lots of white youngsters. Abstract fears were replaced with concrete normality. Nothing did more to diminish racism.
We owe a debt to the TV producers who've made a point of, if only for an episode, made a point of featuring gays men and women as normal, often vulnerable people. However trivial Will & Grace is the show has probably done a little good.
We slowly receded from the weird images suggested by myth and ignorance and become the people next door.