A few decades ago, beinghomosexual was resentful. Homosexuals were strictly judged and condemned for their sexual preferences and were presented as people with mental illness. In fact, though, homosexual people were not treated as mentally ill, rather than annoying parasites that societies had to ban in order to gain back the lost balance and morals. It was considered unethical to choose a partner of the same sex and have a common life together as a couple. Back in the 1940s and 1950s, gay bullying was worldwide, and homophobia was very serious in the US at that time (McCormack). It seems that societies did not want anything to do with the gay people then, and it would have been a pleasure to outcast them. Indicatively, historian David Johnson mentions that gay people shared the same characteristics with communistsand that both groups “ were perceived as hidden subcultures with their own meeting places, literature, cultural codes, and bonds of loyalty”(University of Chicago). Of coursethat notion automatically meant that gay people, as well as communists, recruited those disturbed and mentally ill and were co-working with one another, so to undermine the government and entice people with their immoral and godless actions and concepts (Johnson inUniversity of Chicago). One can understand the difficulties involved in being homosexual during those times.
Only a few years ago, the homosexuals were harassed with harmful words and even physical abuse/violence by those that considered gay people were abnormal beings that had no real value, dignity, and place in life. Lesbians and gay people were not allowed to serve and defend their country, in any kind of forces, while the Executive Order 10450, issued by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in 1953 was a catapult for homosexual people (National Archives). According to the Order, employees were investigated as to whether they pose a security risk. At first, the criteria were political, but the Order brought more estimations. In detail, “ Any criminal, infamous, dishonest, immoral, or notoriously disgraceful conduct, habitual use of intoxicants to excess, drug addiction, or sexual perversion.” (National Archives). With a closer look at Eisenhower’s Order, it becomes obvious that employers could fire or refuse to hire homosexuals if the first considered the latter immoral and disgraceful.
According to Ford (2013), discrimination against homosexuals was also expressed with excessive police brutality, which was more intense during the 1950s and 1960s. Police officers would participate in public humiliations and beatings of gay people, and when rapes and physical harm were done to homosexuals by civilians, the police would not do anything about it (Ford).
However, change has started in late 1973, when the American Psychiatric Association was forced to withdraw homosexuality from their mental illnesses’ list, by a movement of homosexual advocates that had begun to grow strong the last couple of years (Ford). This change, automatically altered the way gays and lesbians were seen. Judges did no longer award child custody only to the heterosexual parent over the homosexual one, and employers could no longer fire a homosexual employee (Ford). The 1970s was a significant period for homosexuals, where things had started to change. Anti-discrimination laws were passed in a few cities, and the first gay official, Harvey Milk, was elected, in 1977. Gay rights started to become more solid and with them, people would start accepting the fact that homosexuals are still humans that have a place in the communities they serve and belong to. In 1987, the largest civil right demonstrations in the history of the US occurred with hundreds of thousands of participants that reached the Supreme Court, asking for fair treatment of gays and lesbians and equality (Ford).
With legislators been forced to provide homosexuals with their rights, societies began to accept that gay people were part of them and could co-exist with them. In fact, societies have even accepted, even partially, same-sex marriages, which is a huge step, considering the past. Undoubtedly, the largest changes in opinion on a policy matter is the same-sex marriage. The new generation, called the Millenials, born from 1980 and onwards and are now adults up to 32 years of age, are in favour of same-sex marriages by 75 percent, and the same applies to the two thirds of the independents and Democrats (Pew Research). Also, 55 percent of the Protestants have started to support same-sex marriages, up from 36 percent a decade ago (Pew Research).
Statistics show that the more educated an individual is, the more in favour of homosexual rights is. It is reported that 76 percent of college graduates support gays and lesbians, as opposed to 58 percent of people that have never attended college (Pew Research).
A decade ago, 56 percent of the public population in the US would think that allowing homosexuals to marrylegally was undermining the traditional family. Now, 46 percent of people believe it, and 64 percent believes that homosexual parents are just as competent as heterosexual parents (Pew Research).
A decade ago, the public was more or less evenly divided in regards accepting homosexuality within societies (Pew Research), but today, more than 56 percent think homosexuality should be accepted, leaving behind the 36 percent of those that still believe homosexuality should be discouraged.
Surprisingly, the new generation is not the only generation that is in favour of same-sex marriages and homosexuality. It seems that older generations, meaning people that were born from 1928 to 1945, are also more supportive now towards same-sex marriages (Pew Research). Today, 31 percent of older generations support gay rights, in contrast to the 17 percent, in 2003.
Over time, people’s opinion has changed in regards homosexuals and their rights. This has occurred for a number of reasons. With the constant and intense fights and demonstrations, the homosexuals have managed to earn their place in society and come out of the closet. They are not afraid or embarrassed anymore to admit their sexual preferences and pursuit a happy life with their other homosexual half. Because they are openly expressing their beliefs, their family members and friends are more sympathetic towards their homosexuality. Societies can change from within. And family units are the first societal group of an individual, which can gradually reshape the community they are part of. After all, times change; the world changes, so should people.
Another reason why people’s mind has changed over timeis simply because usually people get more mature as they grow older. One would expect from a mature individual to think more spherically and free from barriers that limit their development. In order to develop as a person, it is necessary to accept other people as they are, as long as they do not pose a threat to others in any way.
Finally, people might have changed their minds because they truly believe everybody should be free to live a happy life with whomever they choose to be with. And, when it comes to people’s happiness, governments should not put obstacles and prohibitions.
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A lot has changed in many respects for the homosexuals. Although there is still a long way before homosexuals are fully accepted as part of society, significant improvements have been made. Anti-discrimination laws are passed that allow homosexuals to live a normal life, like any other heterosexual, and people’s minds are gradually changing. Those that were once conceived as undermining governments and having made pacts with disturbed and mentally illare now allowed to marry and have a common life with their same-sex partner, in many states of the US and the world over. It seems that as people get older, they see things differently and mature. They get into the core of things, which is to see the person behind labels and attributes applied on them; the essence of being a human being, which is something deeper than homosexuality or heterosexuality. Also, new generations appear more open-minded and do not weigh one’s value in regards their sexual preferences. It is a big change for the homosexuals that are now more liberated to live their lives out in the open, despite the oppositions of those (the numbers of which are reducing in time) that still hold on to their beliefs and morals, where homosexuals have no place. As the world evolves and moves forward, it is highly likely that so will people’s minds. Because, everybody has a place under the sun.
Ford, Mitt (2013). “ A Brief History of Homosexuality in America”. Grand Valley State University. Web. March, 18, 2014
McCormack, Mark(2013). “ The Declining Significance of Homophobia”. Oxford University Press. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-19-999094-8.
Pew Research (2013). “ Growing Support for Gay Marriage: Changed Minds and Changing DemographicsOverview”. Web. March 18, 2014
The U. S. National Archives and Records Administration (n. d). “ Executive Order 10450, Section 8(1)iv”. Web. March 18, 2014