Only three decades ago, public displays of affection between two people of the same sex was considered taboo and could end in the alienation of the people involved. Today however, homosexuality and even those just being affectionate towards one another is generally accepted. There are still people who believe whole heartedly that homosexuality is wrong, whether it be for religious reasons or from their upbringing. But generally, most people are starting to accept homosexuality as a reality. This is most obvious in Hollywood and in pop-culture. In recent years pop-culture has not only accepted homosexuality, but in some ways it has embraced it. Homosexuality on TV is no longer the lone gay guy on “Survivor”, but rather shows dedicated to portraying gay personas on center stage like “Will and Grace” or “The L Word”. Our generation in general sees homosexuality as a common attribute of today’s culture; which is strikingly contrastable to TV couples 50 years ago like Lucy and Ricky, who slept in separate beds on “I love Lucy”. Some however, do not see homosexuality being represented on television fairly and view it as a step in the wrong direction. “Television makes gayness very consumable to people. We see gays as individuals unto themselves who have really good jokes to tell us,” said Praia Kapoor, a Portland State University communications professor in an interview conducted by The Oregonian. “Gay-culture in television and movies will make it more acceptable, although it could form stereotypes,” Kapoor said. “If television portrayed gay families with the same values as heterosexual couples instead of solely presenting gay people as hip, young, funny and dramatic, then gay marriage would not be such a scandalous thing.” Others see gay-culture on television and movie screens as a positive thing. It exposes people to a lifestyle they may have never seen before. They can then make a conscience decision to learn and accept that homosexuals are normal people. The Gallop Poll, which is a polling agency that has been tracking homosexual acceptance for 30 years, found some striking results: • Public acceptance of gays in the military grew from 51 percent in 1977 to 80 percent in 2003. . • Approval of gays as elementary school teachers grew from 27 percent in 1977 to 61 percent over the same period. • A 1999 poll showed that 59 percent would vote for a well-qualified presidential candidate who was homosexual, which is up from 26 percent in 1978. Many elements can be held accountable for the growing acceptance of homosexuality, including pop-culture, but Karlyn Bowman said after compiling the poll results, “There’s been an enormous increase in tolerance – that’s the bottom line.”
Homosexuality on Campus
Pop-culture and the media is not the only place raising awareness about homosexuality. There are several groups and programs on WCU’s campus working together to bring support and unity as well as education to students who may not know anything about gay and lesbian issues. One program provided on campus, called Safe Zone, is designed to improve visibility and support for homosexual students at WCU and to employees as well. The Safe Zone program utilizes a symbol that can be displayed on an advisor’s or student’s dorm room door. The symbol lets people know that the person on the other side of the door has been trained through the Safe Zone program. Those who are trained through the Safe Zone program are committed to increasing their knowledge and sensitivity of issues in the homosexual community. The symbol allows the campus community to identify program members and know that they can speak freely with those individuals about issues regarding sexuality. The group BGLAD (Bisexuals, Gays, Lesbians, and Allies for Diversity) also provides outreach, support, information and sources for students and faculty staff. Their main goal is to educate the WCU community on the issues of homophobia and heterosexism in all forms and to provide a social outlet for its members, friends, and allies. BGLAD holds events regularly to allow members of the group to support one another and to provide an outlet to the campus community to get issues out in the open and just have fun. Unfortunately, the group has had some negative responses from the WCU community lately. “Socially inappropriate activists, Homo-fascists, and Propagandists; these are all things BGLAD has been referred to this very semester by people who misunderstand its cause,” said Christopher Hamilton. “BGLAD is here to help educate the Western community, so that it creates a University atmosphere where students don’t have to hide who they are.” On March 29, BGLAD is sponsoring a religious discussion panel. The panel will have representatives from different denominations participating to talk about homosexuality. Also, BGLAD will host a drag show on April 10. Everyone is welcome to attend. For more information contact BGLAD at: x2618 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Their office is located in the UC Room 324.