Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

The Psychology of Diversity

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

The Psychology of Diversity

Article excerpt

What if being a lesbian or a gay man turned out to mean you are imbued with special powers, that you have the ability, over and above that of nongay human beings, to withstand hardship, to survive your enemies, to create great beauty, to hear others like you through the silence, to find others like you in the darkness, to invent new riddles with your life that puzzle the experts, who never catch up to you or on to you, who are never able to figure out where you came from or where you might be going?

The year is 2027. The planet is shrinking as everything is brought close-up by the global media, ordinary people travel the world, and the Internet puts the universe at our fingertips. Diverse images bounce off satellites around the world, prompting constant reorganization of how we should look, act, talk and relate in order to be OK.

Differences among people are no longer stigmatizing but appreciated and integrated. Demanding conformity to combat difference is rejected as retro thinking. Gay and lesbian people are accepted as just another variation of the human species, no longer scapegoated as a moral threat by a now-defunct religious-right movement.

Differences between men and women are not as pronounced as they were before. (That's been happening for some time.) Being a "real man" or a "real woman" as a major basis for validation in life has lost its rigidity so that the gender fluidity of gays is considered by many to be enviable.

Generations of students have attended college with openly gay people around them: As a result, the norm is that gay people belong in the family, the workplace, friendship circles, and in every other situation of daily life.

For gays, these changes mean the enemy within is more easily challenged. There's no need to hide sexual orientation, to be afraid of attack, or to cooperate with others' homophobia. In a deluded effort to gain their approval. The norm among gays is to be out of the closet. There's no longer an ethic, supported by many during the 20th century, that the closet must be protected. Outraged by outing, these people reinforced the reluctance of many to come out--"everyone should come out in his or her own time." Now the ethic is "the closet has no privilege; everyone should be out, taking responsibility for who he or she is. …

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