What Is Gay Advocacy?

Summary: The gay advocacy movement has gained enormous ground in the last forty years, creating a culturally positive outlook toward homosexuals and their lifestyles. Central to this outlook is the view that homosexuality is an unalterable part of a person’s identity, and therefore deserves not just tolerance, but celebration.

Historically, homosexual men and women have been subjected to persecution and mistreatment. Society considered them to be ill, churches called them “evil,” and psychologists referred to them as “perverts.” In the late 1960s, homosexuals became organized around the goal of ending this mistreatment. This was the birth of the modern worldwide gay rights movement.

This movement has been highly effective in shifting public opinion toward acceptance of homosexuality. It can be assumed that the media have played a substantial role in this by their extensive and favorable portrayals of gays and lesbians. A recent Gallup poll found that 65% of young Americans today believe homosexual relations are morally acceptable. Gallup’s shows a steady and continual increase over many years in the acceptance of homosexual relations. Similar trends were found by this research for support of gay marriage. Many countries now permit marriage of same-sex couples.

Certain basic beliefs held by the public about homosexuality have become very skewed over the past several decades. Another Gallup poll found that young Americans ages 18 to 29 believe, on average, that 30% of the population is gay or lesbian. The real statistic is 3.4%. When asked about the causes of homosexuality, 40% of Americans said they believe it is an inborn trait. This is despite the fact that science has produced no reliable evidence to suggest homosexuality is inborn. (For more on this see What Causes Male Homosexuality?)

Currently, a large number of the world’s major medical and psychological organizations discourage or even prohibit therapies aimed at helping those with unwanted same-sex attraction to shift their sexuality. In May 2012, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) released a position statement calling therapies aimed at helping individuals diminish their homosexual feelings “a serious threat to the health and well-being—even the lives—of affected people.” They recommended that those who offer help for unwanted same-sex attraction “should be denounced and subject to adequate sanctions” and they called for “civil vigilance to…. help to identify and report people and institutions involved in the administration of ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion therapies.’”

As a whole, gay advocacy groups are well funded. According to a recent report by Funders for LGBTQ Issues, foundation giving for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) issues totaled $123 million in 2011. This was a 27% increase from 2010. Another report by the same organization reveals that total giving to LGBTQ organizations and projects from 1970 through 2011 totaled more than $894 million. By the end of 2012, LGBTQ causes will have spent well over one billion dollars.