Sunday, November 28, 2004

Queer? Cheer up.

Josie Appleton says that homophobia worries are disproportionately large:

The head of the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce, Matt Foreman, called Bush the most anti-gay president in modern history. But it seems to be historical amnesia, not homophobia, that is the issue here.

Is Bush really worse than Dwight D Eisenhower, who in the 1950s cracked down on the incipient gay subculture that was emerging in postwar American cities? Gays and lesbians were barred from all federal jobs, with many state government and private corporations following suit; and they were the targets of an FBI surveillance programme. Homosexual behaviour was a criminal offence, and until the late 1960s police forces would regularly raid gay clubs and cart off their occupants.

Gays have never had it so good. Thirty-five per cent of the American public support civil unions for gay couples, including the president himself. It was gay marriage that the states rejected, not the legality of gay sex - and the marriage question wouldn't even have been up for debate a few years ago. At the same time that Bush was elected, Dallas County, Texas voted in a lesbian sheriff, hardly a sign of growing southern intolerance. And one of those worrying about a new backlash was 'Jonathan Katz, professor of gay history at Yale University', a title that speaks volumes about the status of gay issues.

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