Yesterday I posted some videos from a story Anderson Cooper did about so-called “sissy boy” therapy, meant to train boys not to act in gender non-conformist ways and, thus, to keep them from being gay (I have now updated the original post with the final segment from the series). The videos provide a horrifying look into the damage that can be done when children are brutally punished and criticized for any signs that adults interpret as evidence of homosexuality.
This type of therapy is still available, and some of the researchers Cooper discusses continue to have lucrative careers assuring parents they have the key to preventing, or eliminating, gayness in their kids. But that said, it’s also clear the cultural attitudes about gays and lesbians have shifted greatly, both within the psychiatric community (the APA no longer defines homosexuality as a mental disorder and does not advocate therapies meant to “cure” gays and lesbians) and among the general public.
For instance, Peter N. sent in a link to a set of graphs by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life illustrating the major changes in attitudes toward gay marriage. Overall support for same-sex marriage has gone up significantly over the last few decades (with polls increasingly showing more people favoring it than opposing it and a few even showing a slim majority of respondents supporting same-sex marriage rights). Attitudes toward same-sex marriage vary widely by age; among those born since 1981, support is quite high:
Not surprisingly, support also varies by religious affiliation:
The Pew Forum also has graphs of differences by political affiliation, etc.
We can also see this change in some instances of corporate marketing that include gays and lesbians or discuss gay rights — something that would have been unthinkable for mainstream corporations to do openly until fairly recently for fear of public backlash. David F. sent in Google Chrome’s contribution to the “It Gets Better” series of videos:
Similarly, Megan B. was struck by this Sealy mattress ad, which, though not unambiguous, she thought would be interpreted by many viewers as implying support for same-sex couples:
Finally, Jacob G.sent in a segment from the ABC News “What Would You Do?” series, in which a waitress openly harasses a lesbian couple to see how other customers will react, and found that about half of onlookers actively intervened: