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.
Next post: Formula to Normalize Homoxexuality
by: Melinda N. Gainer
For the past few days, I have watched my newsfeed flood (almost assaulted) with video, written stories, and pictures regarding the heinous murder of this baby-faced, seventeen year old, black male. I’ve read the banter among my Facebook friends and their friends, I’ve witnessed the support for rallies and have read numerous blogs all surrounding this injustice…I’ve said nothing. Not because this situation is not worth talking about, but because this situation is nothing new to Black America. While many are outraged about Trayvon’s death, I am outraged because of a much bigger picture.
Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., citizens of Florida, Roland Martin, college students, Facebook users, are forming rallies, signing petitions, and are writing blogs every single day, but where was everyone almost 18 years ago when a black man in the South was ambushed, chained to a truck and dragged to death, dismembering his limbs, by white supremacists? And now in the age of Facebook, where were the FB posts, last year, when 7 drunk white teenagers, went on a hunt to “find a nigger” in Brandon, Mississippi; they beat a 46 year old black father and ran overhim with a F-250 truck? Where were the FB posts, when Michael Vick went to jail for participating in a dogfight (his worth was compared to that of an animal whenhe was jailed)? Where were the FB posts, about 6 years ago, when Marcus Dixon was put in jail for having sex with his white “girlfriend” but her parents called it rape? Where ARE the FB posts, when black children are being kicked out of school for minor offenses such as using cellphones? Where are the FB posts, protesting these Southern Governors who are creating Bills to make voting extremely difficult for minorities, on the brink of a Presidential race to re-elect a Black man? Where are the FB posts, protesting the disrespect this country has had for Barack Obama, even by often omitting his title President? Where are FB posts when Rick Santorum makes statements during his GOP primary rallies that suggest the country needs to stop giving everything to blacks?
The issue I have with OUR people, is it takes Trayvon Martin for us to go bonkers, but all of the other underlying racism and hatred we seem to miss. I even read sophomoric posts that somewhat scrutinize the “Black President” for not doing more. Our president is under an immense level of stress and while he has wrongfully addressed other state issues in his federal capacity, this may not be something he needs to speak about just yet, but for the sake of this conversation, say he hasn’t said or done enough…nor have our Black congressmen, black governors, black mayors, black lawyers, black presidents of sororities and fraternities, black doctors, black professional athletes and entertainers, black teachers, black union leaders, black mothers, black fathers, black preachers said enough either.
We are such a reactive group of people. This is why our race will continue to be 30 steps behind. At one time, blacks were at least second-class citizens in America today we are being outpaced by every other race. Even this Hispanic Zimmerman has more rights as a partial immigrant than a black man. We are being outpaced not because all other races are any better but because of situations like this. We react in the wake of something…they plan decades down the road. If we were to band together and fight for justice, fight for equality, and fight to improve our brothers and sisters who are clearly making a mockery of every struggle our ancestors had, we would not be able to prevent senseless murders, but we would be able to ensure we are receiving more than adequate justice.
We think we have arrived and we are owed something by this government. We are content with being able to share filthy water fountains and social space with white people so much so that we forget about everything that still needs to be done for our race. Half of us are so radically black that we miss everything sitting in front of us and others of us are so radically blind thinking “some of my best friends are white” that we have missed the continuous struggle that has in essence gotten worse. Our people are too focused on being rappers, video vixens, and welfare recipients or highly religious, extremely militant, or obsessively upper middle class. We are failing because we are a reactive society. We just sit back and wait for something to happen to be outraged.
So, you black people who have suddenly become so black…and so outraged, open your eyes. This has happened, will happen and will continue to happen as long as we protest WHEN things happen instead of plan BEFORE they happen. In a few weeks, FB posts, pictures, and videos about this young man will fade away, you will not post about the work that needs to be done by our leaders or even those of us who sit quietly in our homes or at the Ritz Carlton having brunch on Sunday’s with our friends…you will be back to posting statements, pictures, and videos about your food, your natural hair process, your cars, Dancing with the Stars, your outfits and makeup, your Black Girl Run marathon shots, your vacations and maybe even your children getting dressed for Easter but you will not address the ongoing issues that are plaguing this race and our people. Get it together and stop reacting!
Melinda N. Gainer is a freelance event planner. She recently re-launched her
event-planning company Eventually Yours, after leaving her alma mater, Hampton University. Prior to this new opportunity, Melinda was the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admission and an Adjunct Professor in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications. Melinda is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and has served on the board for Girls, Incorporated of South Hampton Roads. In her spare time, she enjoys entertaining for friends, gardening, and writing. To reach Melinda, contact her at Melinda.email@example.com