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Gay history, in hyper-drive

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Richard Socarides in the LA Times:

Several reasons account for the success. The gay community tends to be more affluent, and the ability to give generously to candidates has translated into significant political clout, from the local level to the White House. Its leaders are well-versed in the machinations of government and the means of power, knowledge hard-won through years spent dragging politicians into the fight against the AIDS epidemic.

But experts and advocates agree on one explanation above all others: Familiarity.

"People came to understand we existed," Jones said. "They worked with us. They knew us. They had [gay] family members. That demystified it and made it harder for them to hate us in an abstract way."

That was an avenue obviously unavailable to African Americans. "It isn't as if white people suddenly come to discover they have African American children or relatives," said Kenneth Sherrill, a professor at Hunter College in New York and a longtime gay activist.
Well, some white people did, like Strom Thurmond. Didn't seem to create any late-life epiphanies for him. But he's the exception that doesn't define the rule.

I hadn't really thought about it the way it's framed in this article, but a lot of us felt that it was a weakness that we were born into straight families - it immediately removed us from membership in any like community. Meaning, African-American are usually born into African-American families, Latino kids into Latino families, while gay kids are far less often born into gay families. And while it takes away any immediate sense of membership in a gay "community," if we come out (and all goes well) we immediately create allies in the straight community, our family.

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