This past week I strolled down the University walkway enjoying the beautiful weather that has recently bestowed itself upon Murray.
It was early afternoon and the walkway was choked with students walking to class while others rushed to various dining venues for a quick lunch. As I navigated my way through this flood of moving bodies my eyes were drawn to the brightly lit and colorfully worded information tent of Murray State’s Alliance group. Attached to the tent was a sign titled “Live Homosexual Acts.”
Intrigued by such an outward statement I meandered toward the tent to see just what was meant by such a suggestive title. Despite my preliminary thinking the “display” turned out to be a clever example of homosexual misconceptions and generalizations. The “acts” in question were just homosexual students engaging in everyday activities such as studying, eating lunch and doing laundry.
Having learned a valuable lesson in first-hand judgments I returned across the walkway and sat on a bench to kill some time before class. While sitting there I couldn’t help notice the look of contempt and verbal annoyance many students projected while passing the Alliance tent. Some of these students I knew to be open-minded individuals, yet when faced with a blunt message such as “Live Homosexual Acts,” many walked past without investigating and had the same look as the others. That’s when the notion hit me. While the message Alliance was trying to send was correct and justified, could the nature of its delivery be non-conducive and possibly counterproductive to today’s perception of homosexuality? More broadly. Does the strategy of radically loud and proud homosexual activism hold relevance in today’s society? Probably not.
The radical loud and proud model of activism has been the staple of homosexual activism ever since the New York Stonewall Riot of 1969 (the first homosexual riots in response to discrimination) and the unfortunate assassination of openly gay San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978.
The environment in which openly gay individuals lived in during this time was a hostile one. While this model worked wonders for LGBT activism and paved the way for LGBT equal rights in this country, we no longer live in such an openly hostile environment. A growing majority of people (especially youth) accept homosexuality.
In fact a recent study published by the University of Chicago shows this trend. In 1973, 70 percent of people felt same-sex relations are “always wrong,” By 2000 that number dropped to 54 percent and by 2010 was down to 43.5 percent.
Support for allowing gays and lesbians to teach at colleges or universities rose from 48 percent in 1973 to 84 percent in 2010 and approval for having a library keep a book that favors homosexuality rose from 54 percent in 1973 to 78 percent in 2010.
It is clear that we no longer live in the environment that helped shape and galvanize the loud and proud mode of activism in the 1970s. We now live in a time where homosexuality is increasingly accepted.
There is still a great need for a LBGT activist movement to improve on the understanding of homosexuality. But it is imperative the mode in which its message is transmitted be more moderate and all-encompassing.
I fear there runs a risk of alienating potential supporters and members of the moderate gay community if a more even-grounded model is not found and used. I fear for long-term vitality and sustainability of the LGBT movement if more moderate communication cannot be utilized.
Many causes have started the way the LBGT movement has, from civil rights to women’s suffrage. But both these movements became lasting civic institutions because they switched from radicals and became a more moderate entity. Society is no longer radically against the LGBT movement. I believe the time has come for the LGBT community to follow this trend.