Vicious guides and pretty polls: a very gay media moment
Something about the intersection of pride season and the upcoming American presidential election has brought out a bevy of stories about gay life, social acceptance, and that age-old search for normalcy and difference. After Vice, the National Post, and Google, here’s my two cents…
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Pride season, which started last month with New York/Berlin and continued this month with Toronto/London, is always prime time for news (and olds) about how gays are doing in the world, and here at home. This very homosexual media season started with a Pride-worthy “Vice guide to being Gay” from A to Z, some of the wickeder parts of which include the sections on “O: Old Dudes”, “Stereotypes” and “Zzzzzzzzzzzz” i.e. “the whole super-serious, unbearably politically correct group of people” known as the gay community. Thank fagGod, Bruce LaBruce rips into the acidly tongue-in-cheek piece by pointing out that the article’s essentialism about gayness (that homosexuality is innate and and gays don’t get along with lesbians, amongst other ironic and less ironic assertions) “amounts to a failure of the imagination, and only serves to play into the new dire homonormativity.” LaBruce’s rejoinder is worth the read, but so are the hilarious “tags” in the VICE article.
Meanwhile, back in Canada (where Vice and Bruce are both originally from), the National Post appears to have done us a solid by releasing the results of a Forum Research poll that claimed to show some of the most accurate opinion survey data on LGBTs in Canada to date. In a social scientific step up from StatsCan, which has never been able to ascertain a reliable number, the double-checked telephone survey of 2,694 randomly selected Canadian adults revealed that 5.3% of adults identify as LGBT, and about 30% of LGBTs are legally married (say what? Going to any weddings this summer?).
Some fascinating tidbits that you would and wouldn’t suspect from the poll: Québeckers support same-sex marriage more than any other regional demographic (72% oui) but are not much more likely to actually get married. In that department, our Albertan cousins take the cake: the Wild Rose gays are more than twice as likely to be legally married, even though Albertans have the lowest approval rating for gay marriage in the country: 45% compared to the country-wide average of 66%. This lends credence to the widely held view of Alberta’s virulent religious and social conservatism, on the one hand, but also to my intuition that you get married to prove a point to your family. Are Alberta LGBTs more likely to get married because it’s considered a rad thing to do out there, or because marriage is a conservative value?
Another curve-ball in the stats that we’ll probably spend the summer unpacking: LGBT people make up a disproportionately large number of lower income Canadians (over 10% are in the poorest category). As a whole, people in the under $20K income bracket disapprove of same-sex marriage more than any other economic stratum, which was explained in the NP piece with the spurious claim by UBC’s Amin Ghaziani that people who do “construction or factory work” are less likely to come out and more likely to be lower-income. This seems like a strange assertion, since factory and construction jobs in Canada are paid far higher than jobs in say, customer service, retail, or the media, which are commonly assumed to have higher representation of LGBTs. (Idea for next cover shoot: gay construction workers in Alberta.)
Even though same-sex marriage has been legal in Canada since 2005, the looming fear that the Harper Conservatives might want to retract the hard-one middle-class nugget appears to be somewhat justified. Again, the solidly Alberta-based Conservatives come in last with the highest disapproval rating of any province, a scathing 54%. By contrast, the only groups that approve of same-sex marriage more than the average Québecker: NDP and Green party voters… and rich people! What does that say about who our allies are now?
And speaking of allies, arguably the most powerful company in the world, the company that probably made the browser you’re using and that houses your e-mail, that’s right, Google itself launched its “Legalize Love” campaign on Saturday (July 8). The tech giant plans to not merely “advance marriage rights” but moreso “to promote safer conditions for gay and lesbian people inside and outside the office in countries with anti-gay laws on the books.” This should be good news for the global efforts to decriminalize homosexuality, no matter what you think of same-sex marriage.