Let’s take a survey: Are Americans (a) really bad at estimating, (b) really gullible, (c) both really gullible and really bad at estimating? After seeing the results of this Gallup survey, I think the answer is obvious:
U.S. adults, on average, estimate that 25% of Americans are gay or lesbian. More specifically, over half of Americans (52%) estimate that at least one in five Americans are gay or lesbian, including 35% who estimate that more than one in four are. Thirty percent put the figure at less than 15%.As the Gallup articles points out, demographer Gary Gates recently released a review of population-based surveys on the topic which found 1.7% of Americans identify as lesbian or gay and another 1.8% (mostly women) identify as bisexual. Yet, as economist Karl Smith notes, “most Americans believe that there are significantly more gays and lesbians than blacks (12.6%) or Hispanics (16.3%) and 35% of Americans believe there are as many or more gays than Catholics (~25%).” Why do Americans think there are so many gays in the U.S.? Maybe they are basing their estimations on what they see on television. At the launch of the 2010-2011 television season, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) examined the five broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox, and NBC) and found that 37 characters on 84 programs were homosexual. An additional 53 homosexual characters appeared on 30 scripted cable programs. That’s 90 characters on 114 shows.
Clearly the point is made: gays and lesbians show up more in the media than they do in real life and it has skewed the way we see gay and lesbian issues. I am not suggesting that our media put on a charade of what American society looks like by ignoring gays and lesbians. But I am suggesting that the media have already put on a charade and the deception is meant to influence the way Americans look at gays and lesbians. And it is working.
For my part, I enjoy the home improvement channels and programs. Strange though, more often than not the couple shopping for a new home or trying to figure out why their old one is not selling or looking for redesign of their existing spaces is a gay or lesbian couple. Now really -- DIY channels are filled with macho men who love digging up and tearing down things. Apparently they are more than balanced by the designers who seem to exhibit a higher ratio of gay or lesbian than the general population. Whatever the reason, the situation is that even on tool time television, gays and lesbians have a proportionally greater presence than in the general population.
I can still recall when blacks were largely ignored on network TV -- when Movin on Up brought the Jeffersons from the fringes into mainstream. Even then enough stereotypes colored the whole thing as to make it less than real. Now that was a civil rights issue and a worthy cause. Still, blacks are probably represented in less numbers or at least in less prominence than gays and lesbians -- even though the population of blacks in America is probably ten times the number of gays and lesbians.
The power of cheese. Remember that commercial. We would say today "The power of the media..." The media does not have to have an obvious agenda in order to exert great influence over American opinion and acceptance. Which is why we find ourselves as orthodox Christians outgunned in the public square...