There is plenty of bad news on the gay/lesbian front. Suicides, gay-bashing. Just a few months ago a gubernatorial candidate maintained that “homosexuality is not an equally valid option” but felt women having sex with horses was hot. Historically, men have been more homophobic than women. But why?
It’s common to think of gay men as woman-like. Some act feminine, feminine stereotypes abound, and gay men do often perform sexually like women.
The very idea that men might be like, or act like, women is pretty threatening to manly men. But even more so when manhood feels insecure.
Men acting anywhere in the realm of womanhood collapses the great divide between male and female. Seeming more the same, male dominance and status are at risk.
Further, if gays and lesbians couple together no one can be the male head of home. Another blockage to male dominance.
But in the last four years the level of homophobia among men has dropped drastically, according to a Gallup poll taken a few months ago. Today men are no more homophobic than women. What happened?
Importantly, women’s status has risen. If women and men are equal, then men acting like women isn’t the big threat it had once been.
But women and men haven’t achieved full equality yet. So what else is going on?
New York Times columnist, Charles Blow called a couple of experts to get insight into the change in men’s attitudes. He talked with sociologist, Michael Kimmel, who studies men, and Ritch Savin-Williams, Cornell’s Chair of Human Development and an expert on same-sex attraction.
Dr. Kimmel notes that, “Men have gotten increasingly comfortable with the relative equality of ‘the other.’ The dire predictions for diversity have not only not come true, they’ve been proved to be other way.”
Additionally, as gays and lesbians come out of the closet people come to see that they are like the rest of us: our fathers and mothers, our sisters and brothers, our friends and coworkers. Who knew they were real people?
Most interestingly, “virulent homophobes are increasingly being exposed for engaging in homosexuality,” as Blow put it. Evangelical Ted Haggard and George Rekers of the Family Research Council have both been outed. Not long ago, anti-gay megachurch pastor Eddie Long was accused of coercing young men into sex. Some are starting to see that spouting homophobia can be a front for the gay man inside. (Is homophobia acting to decrease claims of homophobia?)
Despite continued gay bashing, things are looking up.
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