Normalizing Homosexuality (pt 3)
Examining the Drastic Changes in Public Opinion—The 2000s
When Rosie O’Donnell came out in 2002 and became a spokesman for gay rights, public opinion shifted again. More people felt liberated by the caliber of celebrities coming out and the people started coming out of closets everywhere. The philosophical discussion around homosexuality also shifted. Do gay people have rights? Should they be allowed to marry? Should they be allowed to adopt children? Is homosexuality the civil rights issue of the new millennium? Interestingly, can you see how such questions subtly imply the acceptability of homosexuality generally, but the specifics within the “lifestyle” are up for debate?
We can’t forget JL King’s book, On the Downlow in 2004. “Down low” was no longer associated with the R. Kelly 1996 hit song talking about a secret (heterosexual) affair, but became a new term used to describe the anomaly of “straight” Black men who secretly had sex with other men, but didn’t classify themselves as gay. Society considered him as an authority because he was a Black man living the secret life he wrote about. As a consequence, the level of suspicion rose among different sects of the Black community against Black men.
Perhaps as a response the heightened suspicions, during this time period phrases like “pause” and “no homo” became very popular. “No homo” was used to preface a statement that may sound or be interpreted as homosexual, but is not. “No homo” is like a disclaimer people used so they would not be mis-taken as homosexual based on their comment. Soon after “no homo” came on the scene, “pause” was erected…no homo. LOL! If a man said something to another man that sounded homosexual in nature, the man hearing the message would have to say, “pause” to encourage the speaking man to think about what he said and say it another way to remove the homosexual suggestion. They not only showed a concerted effort of people attempting to distance themselves from being associated with homosexual before making a statement, it also indicated how homosexuality colored and influenced the mentalities of the masses. Language and definitions changed. Symbols changed. The general sense of humor changed. Popular culture changed. Advertisements changed. Everything, in a real sense, has been affected by homosexuality.
In 2006, I distinctly remember controversy surrounding the book, King and King by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland. An elementary school teacher read the book to her class in Lexington, MA when talking about weddings. There was an uproar around the fact that parents were not notified and that children were being influenced to accept homosexuality as normal. But parents would not be able to stop the other forms of media as it injected ideas of homosexuality to an impressionable generation of children.
From the middle of the first decade in the 21st century, to now, so much has happened. I don’t know everything, but here is a short list of things that I remember. Feel free to comment and add what you remember and I have left out.
In 2004 Governor (New Jersey) James McGreevey resigns over gay affair.
In 2006, pastor and spokesman against homosexuality, Ted Haggard, is involved in a mega-scandal where he is accused of sexual relationships with a male prostitute.
In 2007, at the MTV Video Music Awards, Brittney Spears and Madonna. Also in 2007, John Amaechi made history as being the first (former) NBA player to be an admitted homosexual.
In 2008, Wanda Sykes came out of the closet (rather loudly) at a rally in Las Vagas protesting Proposition 8. Katy Perry, A preacher’s kid, became an overnight sensation with her hit “I Kissed A Girl.” Clay Aiken came out later in the year.
In 2010, there was a lot of talk about My Princess Boy—a book inspired by real events about a 4-year-old Black boy who enjoys dressing up like a princess (to see more books similar to this, click here)
In 2012, GLADD demands that CNN fire Roland Martin over controversial tweet that “encouraged violence against gay men.”
In May, President Barak Obama made headlines when he openly affirmed his support for same sex marriages and more recently Josh Dixon trying to make gay history by becoming the first out male gymnast on the US men’s Olympic gymnastic team, and the coming out of Anderson Cooper and Frank Ocean.
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