by Joe Siegel
According to Accelerating Acceptance, a recent study conducted by GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), understanding of LGBTQ Americans by mainstream society has grown dramatically over the past few years.
“The findings from this year’s Accelerating Acceptance study underscore critical cultural changes, including increased understanding from non-LGBTQ Americans about the multifaceted nature of the LGBTQ community. The study found that non-LGBTQ Americans are becoming increasingly aware that there are more than two genders, with many polled also understanding that transgender and nonbinary people will continue to be a more visible and familiar part of life,” the report states.
“However, with expanding visibility does come new challenges for acceptance. Many non-LGBTQ respondents polled identified that they find conversations about gender identity and the LGBTQ community complicated or confusing,” the report continues. “These results highlight clear opportunities for education and a redoubled commitment to advancing visibility and representation, particularly responsible and nuanced depictions of trans and nonbinary people, as well as the diversity of identities within the entire LGBTQ community.”
What impact, if any, has society’s evolving views of the LGBTQ community had on the way LGBTQ media reports on – and markets to – the community?
“From an editorial perspective, I think Dallas Voice has always tried to represent the diversity of our LGBTQ community as a whole, although I believe we can always do a better job,” said managing editor Tammye Nash.
“That has been a specific focus over the last several years as the community itself has become more focused on intersectionality and the need for all minority communities to stand together and support each other, and as the spotlight has begun to shine more intensely on the transgender community, which has been so hidden and under-represented for so long,” she added.
“I think because society at large is more aware of the diversity of our LGBTQ community, they see more ways to interact with that community. Sometimes people see the diversity as one more reason to suppress the community because our diversity is a threat to them — right-wing white politicians who see the empowerment of diverse communities as a threat to their power, for example,” said Nash. “But awareness of the diversity of the LGBTQ community, I think, does more to empower us because more people are able to see themselves in us; they are able to see faces that look like them and are able to relate our struggle to their own.”
Troy Masters, publisher and editor of the Los Angeles Blade, noted, “Trans and gender fluidity and pronoun-choices recognition is hugely important in Los Angeles’ community and politics and it has been for years. We are uncompromising about it and if GLAADs study reveals anything it shows that the community is strong and very grounded.”
A disturbing result from the study shows that LGBTQ people say they’ve experienced discrimination at higher levels in 2021 than last year, with six in 10 LGBTQ respondents reporting discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
“During a year when state legislatures across the U.S. introduced an unprecedented number of anti-LGBTQ bills, many targeting the trans community, the importance of passing the Equality Act has never been more critical. This landmark piece of legislation will secure federal protections for our community in areas of life where we have remained vulnerable for far too long,” the report noted.
“While it’s great news, the growth of non-LGBTQ acceptance of the LGBTQ community hasn’t changed our coverage of the community or marketing to the community,” said Jason Villemez, news editor for the Philadelphia Gay News. “We might run stories on those reports because they are news items, but it wouldn’t impact our overall coverage since our audience is and will always be the LGBTQ community itself.”