an acronym that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer. When we talk about gay, lesbian,
bisexual, transgender, and queer people, who are we
referring to? Who are these LGBTQ people? Where are these LGBTQ people? What do they
do? What do we need to know
research conducted by Alfred Kinsey from 1948 to 1953
indicated that 10% of the population is gay, lesbian,
bisexual, transgender, or queer. That figure has been
quoted for many years, but its accuracy has been
recently, in 2016, the
Gallup Poll reported that
the LGBTQ population is somewhere between 4.6% and 7%,
not 10% as previously estimated.
respondents to the Pew Research Center survey, in 2015,
identify themselves as bisexual. Gay men are 36% of the
sample, followed by lesbians (19%) and transgender
adults (5%). While these shares are consistent with
findings from other surveys of the LGBTQ population,
they should be treated with caution. There are many
challenges in estimating the size and composition of the
LGBTQ population, starting with the question of whether
to use a definition based solely on self-identification
(the approach taken in this report) or whether to also
include measures of sexual attraction and sexual
Other recent survey-based research reports have made
estimates in the 3.5% to 5% range. However, all such
estimates depend to some degree on the willingness of
LGBTQ individuals to disclose their sexual orientation
and gender identity, and research suggests that not
everyone in this population is ready or willing to do
bisexual, transgender, and queer people have existed in
every time period in history, in every culture, in every
segment of society, in every walk of life. They are
represented in every race, religion, and political
sexual orientation is not related to one’s social
standing, moral perspective, cultural setting,
ethnicity, or upbringing. And it does not seem to be
part of a trend or a phase someone is going through.
Although members of a sexual minority,
LGBTQ people are otherwise no different from anyone else. They have
regular jobs. They vote and pay taxes. They shop and buy
things. They attend school. They engage in recreation
and leisure activities. They have families. They raise
children. They attend their church, temple or mosque.
They care about political and social issues. They
contribute to the economy. They date. They fall in love.
They care about their relationships. They are your
classmates, co-workers, colleagues, neighbors, friends,
relatives. They are your mothers and fathers, brothers
and sisters, sons and daughters.
people are active in their communities. They serve in
important leadership roles. They are teachers,
engineers, doctors, lawyers, musicians, and artists. They have
made, and continue to make, great contributions in all
areas of society, including literature, the arts,
entertainment, athletics, religion, education, business,
finance, law, science, medicine, government, politics, and the
to a culture that includes Proust, Henry James,
Tchaikovsky, Cole Porter, Plato, Socrates, Aristotle,
Alexander the Great, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci,
Christopher Marlowe, Walt Whitman, Herman Melville,
Tennessee Williams, Bryon, EM Forster, Lorca, Auden,
Francis Bacon, James Baldwin, Harry Stack Sullivan, John
Maynard Keynes, Dag Hammarsskjold. These are not
wonderful and amazing things would be missing from our
world without the contributions of the LGBTQ community?
We would not have the great literary works of Oscar
Wilde, James Baldwin, Herman Melville (Moby Dick), Walt
Whitman (Leaves of Grass), Alice Walker (Color Purple),
Tennessee Williams (Streetcar Named Desire), Truman Capote, and
There would be no modern day computers without
mathematician Alan Turing. The space program would not
have Sally Ride. The field of neurological
research would not have Oliver Sacks. Coronoavirus
research who not have had a champion in Rachel Levine.
would be no America the Beautiful without
Katherine Lee Bates. We would not have the great musical
compositions of Stephen Sondheim,
Aaron Copland, and Cole Porter. There would be no
West Side Story without Leonard Bernstein.
There would be no Take the A Train without Billy
Strayhorn. There would be no Nutcracker Suite
without Tchaikovsky. There would be no
Brahms, Schubert, Stravinsky, Chopin, or
We would not have the Mona Lisa or The Last
Supper without Leonardo DiVinci. We would not have
Grant Wood's iconic American Gothic.
The fashion world would not have Giorgio Armani, Pierre
Cardin, Christian Dior, Perry Ellis, or Yves Saint
The world of
children's literature would be without
Hans Christian Andersen (Little
Mermaid, Ugly Duckling, Emperor's New Clothes, Snow
Queen) and Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things
Are). No Andy Warhol in the
world of art. No Rudolf Nuryev, Josephine
Baker, or Isadora Duncan in the world of dance.
The pop music world would not have icons
John, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, Michael Stipe,
Brandi Carlile, Melissa Etheridge, Boy George, Chely
Martin, Barry Manilow, or KD Lang. Bands like the
Green Day, B-52, Culture Club, and Indigo Girls would
not exist. There would be no Mary Lambert, Harry Styles,
Brendan Urie, Jason Mraz, Kim Petras, Sam Smith, Hayley
Kiyoko, or Troye Sivan.
you imagine a world without classic songs like
Goodbye Yellowbrick Road or Bohemian Rhapsody?
Television news media would not have
Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper, Suze Orman, Don Lemon,
Sam Champion, Robin Roberts, or Shepard Smith.
The entertainment world
would have no Rock Hudson, Ellen Degeneres, Lily Tomlin,
BD Wong, Jodie Foster, David Hyde Pierce, Portia DeRossi,
George Takei, Sean Hayes, Neil Patrick Harris, Wanda
Sykes, Meredith Baxter, Kelly McGillis, Jim Parsons,
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Gillian Anderson, Jim Nabors,
Raven Symone, Laverne Cox, Kristen Stewart, Jane Lynch,
or Kate McKinnon.
the film production couple of Merchant and Ivory, we
would not have the Academy Award winning films,
Howard's End, Room With a View, Remains of the Day,
and Call Me By Your Name.
The sports world would not have Martina
Navratilova, Greg Louganis, Billie Jean King, Jason
Collins, Michael Sam, Brian Boitano, Orlando Cruz, or
More Americans Understand LGBTQ People
More and more people are identifying as members of the
LGBTQ community. Increased visibility educates non-LGBTQ
people, but it also comes with a purported price,
according to GLAAD's annual Accelerating Acceptance
Study that came out in Nov 2021.
The report found that 43% of non-LGBTQ people think
gender is not exclusively male and female, up from 38%
in 2020. And 81% of non-LGBTQ people anticipate
nonbinary and transgender people will become as familiar
in everyday life as gay and lesbian people have.
"Our community continues to grow, and we're seeing some
growing acceptance of that," says Sarah Kate Ellis,
GLAAD CEO. "We are seeing that the concept of gender, in
terms of non-LGBTQ Americans, is evolving." A poll
earlier this year found that 5.6% of adults in the US
identify as LGBTQ – a record.
But people are not all the way there. Among non-LGBTQ
people, 45% admit they are confused by all the different
terms to describe people in the LGBTQ community. Ellis
says this requires education – the purpose of GLAAD's
work. "We know when people meet us and connect, or even
meet us through a television or now a phone screen, it
builds understanding which builds acceptance," Ellis
GLAAD's research also found that six in 10 people said
they faced discrimination based on their sexual
orientation and gender identity – an increase of 13%
from last year. "That does bring up sort of the
double-edged sword of visibility," Ellis says. "As our
community continues to grow and become more visible,
we're seeing greater acceptance in some areas, and then
we are seeing these growing challenges for acceptance in
others, which are then turning into discrimination and
Ellis says this comes on the heels of four years of the
anti-LGBTQ Trump administration and current mounting
anti-trans legislation. Such hostility plays out in real
life. "Anti-trans legislation are solutions to problems
that don't exist," Ellis says. "There's no problems to
solve that we need to be legislating against in the
And who's facing the consequences most harshly? Kids.
"It's creating confusion for so many people, which
creates an unaccepting environment, hands down, and puts
targets squarely on the backs of most of our youth in
our community, (especially) our trans youth," Ellis
GLAAD ran the Accelerating Acceptance study online in
January 2021 and included a national sample of 2,517 US
A lack of acceptance of the transgender community was on
full display Dave Chappelle's transphobic Netflix
special. It attempted to juxtapose the pace of civil
rights gained by LGBTQ people over those fought for by
the Black community. Chappelle repeatedly focused on
jokes that targeted the trans community, doubling down
on criticism that his sets punch down on the most
"What the Chappelle and Netflix response shows is that
we are still up against an entertainment industry that's
not equal for LGBTQ people of color, especially trans
people of color," Ellis says. For GLAAD's part, "we are
treating this as a moment of transformation and an
opportunity to work with this community, specifically,
the comedian community," she says.
Celebrities, of course, can make a huge difference for
LGBTQ young people. More than 80% of LGBTQ youth said
celebrities who are LGBTQ positively impact how they
feel about their queer identities, according to research
from The Trevor Project. More and more celebrities have
embraced their gender identities recently, too: Just
look at Sam Smith, Elliot Page, Demi Lovato and Emma
It also always helps to have affirming political
leadership. During the Trump administration, GLAAD saw
comfortability with queer people dip in its Accelerating
Acceptance reports. This year comfortability stabilized:
For example, 29% of non-LGBTQ people said they are or
would be "very" or "somewhat" uncomfortable hearing a
family member is LGBTQ, compared to 30% last year.
"That shows the power of the leadership and how
important that is," she says.
Month, Let's Make Resolutions to Support Our Community
Resolutions will extend our pride past June and make us
see how our queerness enhances our lives daily.
Pride Month is over. The rainbows in store windows and
on garish socks have been cleared. This year, like the
others before it, there was a robust debate about the
commercialization of Pride (whether it’s a parade or
march or both) in fact, each year these tensions are the
perfect kickoff to Pride. But I am interested in the
time after Pride; what happens when our designated month
is over. I am calling for the institution of Pride
resolutions. Each year at the end of June, we should all
make a pledge to our queerness, a pact with our
community, and over the next 12 months in good faith
intend to fulfill it. It may be challenging like all
those things we promise ourselves on New Year’s — How
many new gym memberships go unused by March? How many
cigarettes still lit? — but one way to reclaim Pride
from the commercialization and frivolity is to turn it
toward good for our community and for ourselves.
By making a Pride resolution, we will be expanding and
expending our pride beyond just the confines of June,
and we will see and feel how much our queerness enhances
our lives daily. Since it is the inauguration of
Pride resolutions, here are some examples to choose from
or to help spark your own.
I resolve to help fight every heinous anti-LGBTQ bill
everywhere (this year over 250 have been introduced in
I resolve to take the first step toward a 12-step
I resolve to read LGBTQ journalists so I get news about
us from us.
I resolve to shop at LGBTQ-owned and -operated
I resolve to socialize in LGBTQ spaces.
I resolve to turn from LGBTQ ally to LGBTQ advocate.
I resolve to make one friend outside my own identity.
I resolve to help start a GSA at my school.
I resolve to take care of myself and my partners.
I resolve to bring my queerness to bear on everything I
I resolve to start therapy and set aside the shame
others have placed upon me.
I resolve to be kind on hookup apps and not treat
everyone like they are expendable.
I resolve to not treat myself as expendable.
I resolve to learn LGBTQ history, not as homework, but
to understand the long line of extraordinary individuals
that I am among.
I resolve to read queer books, watch queer movies, and
expose myself to queer artists so I can see myself in
the entertainment I consume.
I resolve to ask for help.
I resolve to come out to at least one person if I’m
I resolve to join one LGBTQ service organization.
I resolve to work to get my local schools to teach LGBTQ
I resolve to work to get my local schools to teach
inclusive sex ed.
I resolve to ask people their pronouns.
I resolve to help more people to learn about PrEP.
I resolve to not let the government or drug companies
off the hook on finding a vaccine for HIV.
I resolve to listen to and amplify the voices of our
I resolve to care for and about our long-term survivors.
I resolve not to minimize or diminish my queerness in
order to go along to get along.
I resolve to make LGBTQ issues central to how I choose a
I resolve to run for office.
I resolve to stop my company’s pinkwashing.
I resolve to raise my LGBTQ child to understand that
their queerness is their superpower.
I resolve to understand I am a stakeholder to everything
that happens to all LGBTQ people everywhere.
I resolve not to measure myself against images I see
I resolve to treat myself kindly.
I resolve to treat others kindly.
I resolve to enjoy sex.
I resolve to try to be intimate.
I resolve to risk my heart and love.
I resolve to allow myself to be loved.
Richie Jackson, Advocate Magazine, July 2021]
A National Public Opinion Survey: A Comprehensive New
Study from the Center for American Progress
this study finds that many LGBTQ people continue to face
discrimination in their personal lives, in the workplace
and the public sphere, and in their access to critical
health care. This experience of discrimination leads to
many adverse consequences for their financial, mental,
and physical well-being. Many LGBTQ people report
altering their lives to avoid this discrimination and
the trauma associated with unequal treatment. Younger
generations generally report higher levels of
discrimination and attendant problems than do older
generations, and problems associated with discrimination
are most pronounced among transgender individuals,
individuals of color, and disabled individuals. Anxiety
about the coronavirus adds another layer of concern in
this community, particularly among those respondents who
are the most exposed in terms of their health or
front-line employment status.
The remainder of this report will explore the results of
the study across major areas such as experiences of
overall discrimination, health care-specific
experiences, avoidance behaviors, and the effects of the
pandemic on LGBTQ Americans’ mental health. Major
findings from the survey include:
--More than 1 in 3 LGBTQ Americans faced discrimination
of some kind in the past year, including more than 3 in
5 transgender Americans.
--Discrimination adversely affects the mental and
economic well-being of many LGBTQ Americans, including 1
in 2 who report moderate or significant negative
--To avoid the experience of discrimination, more than
half of LGBTQ Americans report hiding a personal
relationship, and about one-fifth to one-third have
altered other aspects of their personal or work lives.
--Around 3 in 10 LGBTQ Americans faced difficulties last
year accessing necessary medical care due to cost
issues, including more than half of transgender
--15 percent of LGBTQ Americans report postponing or
avoiding medical treatment due to discrimination,
including nearly 3 in 10 transgender individuals.
--Transgender individuals faced unique obstacles to
accessing health care, including 1 in 3 who had to teach
their doctor about transgender individuals in order to
receive appropriate care.
--LGBTQ Americans have experienced significant mental
health issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
report is an overview of survey responses, covering
several major demographic differences within the LGBTQ
community. These findings provide crucial insights into
the experiences of LGBTQ people to inform policy
responses to the disparities highlighted and avenues for
future research. The Center for American Progress plans
to track these attitudes and experiences over time to
assist policymakers and leaders in their efforts to
ensure full participation and equality for all LGBTQ
people, both legally and in their daily lives.
[Source: Sharita Gruberg, Lindsay Mahowald, John Halpin,
Center for American Progress, October 2020]
history of the LGBTQ community is complex, because in
the past society did not perceive lesbian, gay,
bisexual, transgender, and queer people as a norm.
Despite the fact that according to the Declaration of
Independence, “all men are created equal,” the LGBTQ
community still has to struggle for true equality. Over
the years there have been various forms of LGBTQ
discrimination. It varies from an unfriendly attitude to
such serious problems as the refusal to employ LGBTQ
individuals. Clearly discrimination, and unfair and
oppressive treatment, has been, and in some cases, still
is, an ongoing and persistent problem for those who
belong to the LGBTQ community. However, the LGBTQ
acceptance process observed during the last few years
proves that the LGBTQ community will achieve real
equality in the near future.
individual realizes that his/her sexual orientations are
different from those considered normal by society,
he/she may have some personal difficulty admitting such
a fact. Some people start questioning their sexuality
and some try to hide it so as not to be rejected by the
society. According to a survey conducted among adult
members of the LGBTQ community, almost 40% stated that
they were not accepted by their family or friends due to
their gender identity or sexual orientation. Such
situations cause serious self-acceptance and self-esteem
problems in the LGBTQ community, which can lead to
depression. According to the survey, only 56% of
individuals informed their mothers about their sexual
orientation and less than 40% were courageous enough to
tell this to their fathers. The fact that people with
non-traditional orientations and identities had to
struggle to inform their parents about their orientation
proves that LGBTQ members have to overcome more
obstacles in order to become open about their sexuality
in public. Consequently, the full equality of the LGBTQ
community remains under the question even today.
discrimination of LGBTQ people is a serious concern in
all areas of LGBTQ life. For those individuals who
consider themselves homosexual or still have to
understand and accept their non-traditional sexual
orientation, social discrimination, homophobia, and
other forms of heterosexism and oppression, is their
major fear. Although the societal situation has greatly
improved, openly LGBTQ people are still at risk, in
certain sectors, of receiving unfriendly stares or even
negative remarks regarding their sexual orientation.
Many traditionally-minded people feel uncomfortable
about the LGBTQ topic, so they choose not to accept
rather than to seek to understand. The American Civil
Liberties Union has made it clear that discrimination
based on gender identity or sexual orientation is
illegal. Such organizations as ACLU are focused on
raising awareness regarding this problem and they seek
to inform the public about how it can impact business,
employment, housing, social systems, and work
environments and many other daily life aspects. And the
harmful effects of LGBTQ discrimination are not limited
to the individual. This problem has considerable effects
on all of society.
survey was conducted among the LGBTQ members and almost
90% admitted that modern society has become more
accepting during the last few years. They are also
positive about the fact that the LGBTQ acceptance will
continue to increase over the years. Such results show
that LGBTQ equality is a real and achievable task.
Despite the fact that we can see some progress in the
acceptance of the LGBTQ community, it is still
considered to be slow and controversial. Gary J. Gates,
a researcher at the Williams Institute, says, that
stigmatization of the LGBTQ community will continue in
some form even as societal acceptance improves. But, the
more the LGBTQ community feels accepted, the more
individuals will become open about their sexual
Changes will Occur?
community still faces discrimination in some sectors on
a daily basis, which shows that equality has not yet
been fully achieved. However, there are many positive
signs for the LGBTQ community. The recent legalization
of same-sex marriage is an important milestone in LGBTQ
equality. The increase in LGBTQ visibility in the media
(including television, film, and music) has been a
positive step in normalizing the queer experience. LGBTQ
individuals in prominent positions in business and
politics have yielded positive role models. The latest
generation of young people seem to be more open-minded
than their parents about LGBTQ issues. And it appears,
with the growing acceptance of LGBTQ rights, that
controversy about LGBTQ equality will not even be an
issue in the future.
According to the 2015 Pew Research Center survey, an
overwhelming share of America’s lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender, and queer adults (92%) say society has
become more accepting of them in the past decade and an
equal number expect it to grow even more accepting in
the decade ahead. They attribute the changes to a
variety of factors, from people knowing and interacting
with someone who is LGBTQ, to advocacy on their behalf
by high-profile public figures, to LGBTQ adults raising
At the same time, however, a new nationally
representative survey of 1,197 LGBTQ adults offers
testimony to the many ways they feel they have been
stigmatized by society. About four-in-ten (39%) say that
at some point in their lives they were rejected by a
family member or close friend because of their sexual
orientation or gender identity. 30% say they have
been physically attacked or threatened. 29% say
they have been made to feel unwelcome in a place of
worship. And 21% say they have been treated
unfairly by an employer. About six-in-ten (58%) say
they’ve been the target of slurs or jokes.
The survey finds that 12 is the median age at which
lesbian, gay and bisexual adults first felt they might
be something other than heterosexual or straight. For
those who say they now know for sure that they are
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer, that
realization came at a median age of 17. Among those who
have shared this information with a family member or
close friend, 20 is the median age at which they first
The survey finds that the LGBTQ population is
distinctive in many ways beyond sexual orientation.
Compared with the general public, Pew Research LGBTQ
survey respondents are more liberal, more Democratic,
less religious, less happy with their lives, and more
satisfied with the general direction of the country. On
average, they are younger than the general public. Their
family incomes are lower, which may be related to their
relative youth and the smaller size of their households.
They are also more likely to perceive discrimination not
just against themselves but also against other groups
with a legacy of discrimination.
The survey finds that 16% of LGBTQ adults (mostly
bisexuals with opposite-sex partners) are currently
married, compared with about half the adults in the
general public. Overall, a total of 60% of LGBTQ survey
respondents are either married or say they would like to
marry one day, compared with 76% of the general public.
The survey finds that lesbians are more likely than gay
men to be in a committed relationship (66% versus 40%).
Likewise, bisexual women are much more likely than
bisexual men to be in one of these relationships (68%
versus 40%). In addition women, whether lesbian or
bisexual, are significantly more likely than men to
either already have children or to say they want to have
children one day.
As LGBTQ adults become more accepted by society, the
survey finds different points of view about how fully
they should seek to become integrated into the broader
culture. About half of survey respondents (49%) say the
best way to achieve equality is to become a part of
mainstream culture and institutions such as marriage,
but an equal share say LGBTQ adults should be able to
achieve equality while still maintaining their own
distinct culture and way of life.
Overall, many LGBTQ adults say they have used their
economic power in support or opposition to certain
products or companies. About half (51%) say they have
not bought a product or service because the company that
provides it is not supportive of LGBTQ rights. A similar
share (49%) says they have specifically bought a product
or service because the company is supportive of LGBTQ
Some 52% have attended an LGBTQ pride event, and 40%
have attended a rally or march in support of LGBTQ
rights. About four-in-ten (39%) say they belong to an
LGBTQ organization and roughly three-in-ten (31%) have
donated money to politicians who support their rights.
In current usage, the
term “lifestyle” refers to the ensemble of choices that
an individual may make in employment, leisure
activities, dress, and self-presentation that serve to
link him or her with a larger group in society (hippies,
yuppies, goths, geeks, jocks, hipsters, leather). The
element of choice is central. Although an individual may
have been raised in one lifestyle, he or she may elect
to join another.
This usage contrasts with
the meaning of the term when first introduced in the
early part of the 20th century, denoting an
individual's basic character or “way of life,” as formed
in childhood, after which it cannot be changed.
There are problems
associated with the definition of the word “lifestyle.”
Lifestyle is currently a journalistic rather than a
social science term. For this reason its definition and
boundaries are not always easy to determine. In theory
everyone has a lifestyle, but in practice the word
attaches to those who have departed from mainstream
Adding to the difficulty
is the recognition that lifestyles may overlap. A
motorcyclist may participate both in the leather gay
subculture and the biker subculture. A gay musician may
be simultaneously involved in a variety of subcultures
that can be separately defined by types of leisure,
entertainment, fashion, art, and religious expression.
Finally, on closer inspection what appears to be one
lifestyle, may break up into a bundle of related
phenomena. Although the gay lifestyle may be discussed
in a unitary fashion, one should bear in mind that it
has many subcomponents, so that the lifestyle of a
lesbian businesswoman is very different from that of a
lesbian S&M adept. Neglect of these very real
differences has sometimes hobbled the effectiveness of
gay and lesbian activist organizations, which tend to
assume a greater social homogeneity than actually
The affirmation of a
lifestyle is oftentimes a reflection of social class and
socioeconomic status. Sometimes it is based on the type
of leisure activities a specified group engages in.
Adopting a lifestyle proclaims one's value system and
one's personal self-definition to the world at large.
Hence the term "alternative lifestyle," which connotes
that its bearer dissents from the conventional wisdom of
society's mainstream. In this sense a lifestyle may be a
new form of heresy, one expressed in conduct rather than
formal belief system.
A lifestyle includes
modes of behavior, speech, dress, thought, and social
attitudes that define a segment of the population and
serve as a model for those who seek acceptance by the
peer group. At the same time it may have an individual
aspect that serves to distinguish the subject from
others of his or her social class and ethnic group. This
phenomenon is seen, for example, in some types of
What is the “gay
lifestyle?” Attainment of increased leisure and of
greater discretionary income undoubtedly furthered the
emergence of the contemporary gay lifestyle. The earlier
part of this century witnessed a clandestine homosexual
subculture in the big cities of the Western world, but
it was the gay liberation movement of the late 1960s
that created a self-conscious public with its own media
and its own social identity. The rejection of
heterosexuality with all that it implied (including
participation in activities traditionally defined as
appropriate for male-female couples) was matched by the
growth of a new set of values and standards shared by
the emerging gay world of metropolitan America. A
characteristic style of dress, patronage of particular
bars, bathhouses, and resorts, subscription to the gay
mass media, and participation in community events of a
more or less political content were the criteria of a
gay lifestyle. At the same time a lifestyle could also
be symbolic behavior aimed at attracting sexual partners
of one's preference.
The hallmarks of the gay
lifestyle of the 1970s were: living as a single adult,
or in a casual union with a partner of the same sex that
could be terminated at will; freedom from the
obligations of conventional heterosexual marriage;
fashions of dress and coiffure that marked the subject
as part of the gay subculture; a level of discretionary
income considerably above the norm for a heterosexual
couple; acceptance of sexual experimentation and
promiscuity if not as the norm, at least as behavior to
be accepted in others without criticism; and periodic
attendance at demonstrations, rallies, meetings, and
similar events that brought together diverse strata of
the gay community on specific occasions such as the
annual Gay Pride Day marches in major cities.
The gay subculture
perpetuated the tradition that had originated in the
bohemias of the 19th century, as well as the
"alternative lifestyles" that came into vogue with the
radical wave of the Vietnam War era.
Only with the threat of
AIDS in the 1980s did a monogamous homosexual lifestyle
gain in popularity and achieve for a certain part of the
gay community the status of a norm. Also, as
conservative values displaced the liberal or even
radical ones of the late 1960s, the forces shaping
Western social attitudes began to affect the behavior of
the denizens of the gay subculture. But the
consciousness of being part of a minority (one whose
conduct differs significantly from that of the
heterosexual majority), whose sexual activity is still
strongly tabooed in the eyes of many, and whose values
deviate markedly from the traditional norm, continues to
shape the lifestyle of the homosexual.
To be sure, the
homosexual lifestyle is not monolithic, and shows
contrasts between coupled and single individuals,
between urban and rural individuals, and between leather
adepts and those who prefer "vanilla sex." As the
foregoing discussion has indicated, the relative
importance of these "sub-lifestyles" in the mix has
shifted over time, and further changes may be expected.
The choice of a lifestyle
is one of the freedoms that modern society accords to
its members. Premodern societies often prescribed the
behavior of an individual on the basis of social class,
family position, and age so rigorously as nearly to
obliterate the personality of the subject. The
atomization of society, the emancipation of the adult
from the tutelage of the extended family, and the
constant drive of the global economic system to find
markets for new objects of consumption. All these have
contributed to the emergence of variegated lifestyles as
behavioral options for the citizen of the contemporary
world. The gay lifestyle owes its viability in turn to
the freeing of sexual morality from the narrow limits of
previous centuries, and to the emergence from
clandestinity of an "alternative culture" that could
openly disdain many of the norms of the still intolerant
Johansson, Encyclopedia of Homosexuality]