Gays in America and Gays in Russia
A while back I had a debate with an old friend of mine about a discussion on the percentage of gays that make up our population. I had told him that I had seen an article by the AMA that said that 9-10% of the population was gay. He said it was more like 3-4% During this debate, we went back and forth on the numbers, but my main point was that we would never get a clear number, since being gay in America wasn't still an accepted due to social and family pressures and so I was sure that many people would be apt to lie about their sexual preference on any survey.
For the last 20 years, organizations like NARTH , have been pressuring the AMA to change this 9-10% figure to 3-4%. You can find one such letter here . The AMA did eventually adjust their numbers based on a Gallup survey of 120,000 Americans. These results are based on responses to the question, "Do you, personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?" The results were that 3.4 said yes, 92.2 said no and 4.4 said don't know or refused. It's that last number I would like to take a look at. Straight people say they are straight, but by declining by either saying you don't know or you refused, indicates you have some doubts about your sexuality or you something to hide and don't want to lie. So suddenly that 3.4 becomes more like 7.8, which is a lot closer to the AMA's original number. Now add a few straights from that poll, who don't want to be outed and you get your 9% that the AMA claimed years ago.
I understand that many people will say that I am surmising here. But if we got real with ourselves, we know that there are loads of gays living on the "Down low", hence the term. All anyone has to do is look at Hollywood. In by gone years, there was many a closet gay man. Macho men like Rock Hudson, family guys like Dick York, Dick Sargent, the iconic Robert Reed of the "Brady Bunch", These men only came out at the end of their lives. Only more recently have men like "Star Trek's" George Takei and "Doogie Howser's" Neil Patrick Harris came out. None of these men seem the least bit gay. I remembered being shocked upon hearing it. They hid it so well, at the time. I am sure with organizations like NARTH, I know some are still hiding it, as I have friends who have yet to "come out".
Which brings me to an interesting event that happened this week in Hollywood. Very masculine, heart- throb, Wentworth Miller, who was well known for his performance as the fearless Michael Scofield, in the Fox's "Prison Break", casually came out to the world that he is a gay man, by taking a stand about Russia's criminalizationof homosexuality, by openly declining to attend an invitation in an letter to the St. Petersburg International Film Festival.
As a gay man, I must decline, Miller wrote in his letter . I am deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government. The situation is in no way acceptable, and I cannot in good conscience participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly.
One has to admire his no fanfair approach to both coming out and standing on hisprinciples. Still, it was surprising that he never stated his sexual preference before. It could have been that he just wanted his privacy or maybe he felt he couldn't get work as a leading man. But this is allsupposition. Two things can be drawn from this event. The first is that there is no way to tell how many gay and lesbians there are in our population, since there is still enough of a social taboo, that many still choose to keep it private. The other thing is, that no matter how far we need to go to get total acceptance for the homosexual community, Russia seems to have gone willingly backwards. Which leads me to wonder, how easy would it be for us to go backwards. I guess only time will tell.