Why it’s Okay to Be Gay

Have you noticed a turning tide lately? That the “gay” thing (unless you are a religious fundamentalist or just plain scared) is slowly but surely becoming less of a novelty and more of a social matter of course?

Sure, our legislation in the U.S. (and even more harshly elsewhere) doesn’t entirely reflect that, but it’s getting there.

One of the surest signs that equality is on the horizon is the sheer volume of celebrities who are finally going public: the most notable of late being hunky uber-journalist Anderson Cooper.

As popular culture starts raising the equality and tolerance bar, so will overall mainstream culture…eventually.

But why now? On a global scale I think acceptance of homosexuality has sociological and anthropological significance. Here are a few thoughts:

  1. The world is overpopulated and humans are increasingly becoming a drain on natural resources.  In theory, heterosexuality is a pre-condition for procreation.  If the 10% estimate of # of humans who are homosexual is true, then potentially this lag in procreation might benefit population control…making homosexuality and acceptance of it an adaptive behavior to the needs of our natural environment
  2. Gender roles in the developed world have shifted significantly and are slowly being eradicated.  This means that male/ female pairs are not a necessity for survival.  The nature of our subsistence (industrial moving to knowledge economy evolving to conceptual economy) means that both genders have pretty much equal access to the resources necessary for survival.  Males don’t need to go off and hunt while females stay back and maintain the living environment / be around to feed the children and protect them 24/7 from harsh environments.  We have all kinds of resources that make our subsistence a gender neutral activity.  So, mixed gender pairing is no longer a sociological requirement for survival.   It’s also a reason why you probably know more women in their mid-life who are suddenly coming out of the closet after having been married and / or having kids than you ever have.  Check your social circle…
  3. We have bigger fish to fry as a human populace.  In a world dealing with economic and environmental stress, war and power struggles, our social drive is to seek out commonalities with one another, not differences.  I think most people are waking up to this reality and finding ways to work together instead of divide on imaginary values lines.  People realize that we all inherently share a core set of values, including those centered around family as well as right and wrong.  Mother Theresa once said that the problem with family is that we “draw our circle too small”.  Gays and Lesbians tend to create familial tribes above and beyond their nuclear families and are often part of a “village” that raises children whether they are their own or not.  The desire to be a part of something bigger is universal and super-cedes your choice of life / sex partner.

There are probably a number of more nuanced anthropological and sociological reasons for the phenomenon of increasing equality for gays and lesbians.  And I hope that I get some more social scientists who will share their point of view as this blog goes on.

But this is just one narcissistic anthropologist’s point of view.

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