Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Middle class values are swayed by middle class gay rights

Jan Brewer, conservative governor of red state Arizona, has vetoed an anti-gay bill that would have permitted discrimination against gays on religious grounds.  Good for her.  But, more to the point, good for the middle class of America.

Once the gay movement became a movement of people trying to get married to people they loved, the mainstream of the country started to be persuaded to let go and let them do it.

In the '70s, the gay movement exploded in anger and focused on gay sexuality in very overt and blatant ways as a declaration to the world that they were free to express themselves sexually, and as an expression to themselves that their sexual attractions were not shameful.  There was a lot of defying of the sanctions of the mainstream.  It was a kind of adolescent rebellion.

But, it didn't necessarily help their cause to have the primary images of gay sexuality to be erotic parading of gay men in overtly sexual images focused on leather, bondage, s&m, etc. - outliers of promiscuous behavior - crystalized in bath houses and San Francisco exotic erotic parades.  It was not unexpected that the mainstream middle class would be repulsed and dismayed. 

But, in the last few years, the images and reality of the gay rights movement have moved and matured.  Today's images are of middle aged and elderly gay couples tearfully joyful at being able to be married after years or decades of stable relationships.  The consciences of the middle class was and is being moved to accept people who are wanting nothing more than to live normal lives married to those they love.  It is a very different sales pitch than prideful promiscuity of thirty years ago. 

There is a long way to go, still, for gay rights, but the arc is clearly in the direction of acceptance.  The elderly and the South are behind, but when Jan Brewer bows to tolerance, the rest are fighting a losing war.