Yet another survey offering a definitive answer to the question, “How many people are gay?” It’s by the Williams Institute of the University of California Los Angeles Law School.
The religious right is cheering, yelling that the majority must stop being ‘pushed around by such a tiny minority’, because the study says only 1.7 percent of the US population is gay.
In fact, it found “approximately 9 million LGBT Americans” or about 4 percent: plus around 11 percent who have same-sex urges and around 8 percent who have acted on them at least occasionally. Most of the 8 percent were evangelical Christians.
OK, I made that last one up. The report actually says 3.8 percent identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender: 1.8 percent exclusively lesbian, 1.7 percent exclusively gay, and 0.3 percent transgender.
In that word ‘identify’ lies the problem. Lots of men who have sex with men don’t identify as gay, because they aren’t into ‘gay culture’ — cruise bars, saunas, sex-on-premises venues, beats, zipless fucks. Or because they’re closeted.
Or because they don’t fit any of the labels, from the gym-obsessed ‘boy’ with sunbed tan and manscaped pubes to his polar-bear opposite, and all the categories between.
All this labelling has a depressingly teenage quality. It’s part of growing up to choose a tribe and try to shoehorn yourself into the stereotype and the uniform. But neither are ever a perfect fit, and as you outgrow them, you tenderly put them away in the attic.
But if you’re ‘gay’, you’re expected to wear your increasingly ill-fitting teenage gang drag for the rest of your life. Try telling your fellow gays you now think Princess Di was a silly and rather vicious airhead or you don’t see what the fuss is about over Kylie, and watch them turn.
Add that you think they should grow up and out of beats, saunas and the like by the time they’re 35, drop the ridiculous ‘sexual outlaw’ pose, and work at settling down and developing some mature relationships, and they’ll parade you in the town square, rip off your epaulettes and break your sword in half.
Meanwhile, instead of honouring and cherishing our tribal elders, we ignore, dismiss and mock them**. We rubbish their accumulated wisdom, condemning our so-called ‘community’ to forget the lessons of our own history, forcing each new generation to start again at the beginning.
We take the legacies they in their wisdom left to provide some dignity in old age for their successors and fritter them away on the selfish career aggrandisement of mediocrities, with their excessive salaries and fancy offices, leaving only a litter of ‘initiatives’ and ‘reports’ behind.
Just like the bunch of thoughtless teenage hoons we seem hellbent on remaining.
(**Disclosure: the writer is an elder himself and overdue for cherishing. He can be heard every Friday noon on JOY 94.9 and online at http://bit.ly/V0MlM)