The Atlantic’s Garance Franke-Ruta observes that “Americans have no idea how few gay people there are“:
In 2002, a quarter of those surveyed guessed upwards of a quarter of Americans were gay or lesbian (or “homosexual,” the third option given). By 2011, that misperception had only grown, with more than a third of those surveyed now guessing that more than 25 percent of Americans are gay or lesbian. Women and young adults were most likely to provide high estimates, approximating that 30 percent of the population is gay. Overall, “U.S. adults, on average, estimate that 25 percent of Americans are gay or lesbian,” Gallup found. Only 4 percent of all those surveyed in 2011 and about 8 percent of those surveyed in 2002 correctly guessed that fewer than 5 percent of Americans identify as gay or lesbian.
How on Earth can the average American believe that one-quarter of the men and women he sees every day are gay? Does that make any possible sense? Are one-quarter of your relatives gay, or your co-workers or neighbors? Of course not (unless you live in certain precincts of San Francisco). Glenn Reynolds’s explanation, perhaps tongue in cheek, was that there are so many gays on television, and I think that must be at least part of the answer. A vastly disproportionate number of characters in TV sitcoms and dramas are homosexual. A second and closely related factor is that homosexuality features disproportionately as a theme in movies, books and so on. It is an extraordinary instance of culture eclipsing reality.
I’d add that the schools talk about it non-stop. At my kids’ tiny and pitifully non-diverse rural grade-school, by Second or Third Grade the class wags are minded to declare themselves gay just to make the dear old guidance counselor feel her work has not been in vain. My favorite example of “culture eclipsing reality” is the poignant tale I cited recently of the Gay-Straight Alliance at Pembroke Academy in New Hampshire:
The school-approved GSA began five years ago with an ambitious platform of exciting gay activities. “They had plans for group events, like bake sales and car washes, but they never came to pass,” explained Ms Yackanin, the social studies teacher who served as the GSA’s first advisor.
From a lack of gay bake sales and gay car washes, the GSA has now advanced to a lack of gays. “The students just stopped coming,” said Mrs McCrum, the new Spanish teacher who took over the GSA at the start of this school year. This is the homophobic reality of our education system: a school gay group that has everything it needs except gays. Mrs Yackanin is reported by the Pembroke Academy paper as “saying to heterosexuals that the GSA is a resource for the entire school community.” C’mon, you guys, what’s wrong with you? No penetrative sex with other boys is required, or even heavy petting. It’s all about getting together in the old school spirit and organizing a gay car wash.
Given the relentless but boring propagandizing of the culture, I would expect the Gallup trend to continue: By 2020, polls will show that Americans think 87 per cent of people are gay, and Pembroke Academy will have made participation in the gay bake sale compulsory.