Showing posts with label Millennials. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Millennials. Show all posts

March 14, 2017

Acceptance Means More Than Love for the LGBT Millennial

After reading Max Wallis’s recent pieces on ‘millennial sexuality’ and three-way relationships, you’d be forgiven for thinking our generation can fuck who we want, when we want, kiss on the street, tell our neighbours and friends and colleagues without fear. It must be true – it even happens on TV too.
For sure, the current position of society and culture for LGBT youth is a dream world compared to even twenty years ago. But the question that kept coming back to me was whether this dream world is actually just that, a world that’s the exclusive preserve of the privileged?
With the rapid digitalisation of our world, we have unprecedented ways to connect with like-minded people that were not possible before. Whether this is through an app or going to a gay club that won’t lead in arrest, it’s certainly given the impression that our generation is laden with sexual excess and societal acceptance. Since the Sexual Offences Act was passed in 1967, in the UK we no longer face being imprisoned, or worse, just for being gay. The millennial generation is in a position that was not afforded to our elders, some of whom resorted to a secret language to communicate with each other, were imprisoned, chemically castrated or forced to hide who they are.
There’s no denying that we millennials are blessed with being able to access films, television, and other mass media that portrays a range of sexualities, gender identities and relationships that deviate from the heterosexual norm. These different depictions are essential to combat stereotypes, portraying peoples from across the gender and sexuality spectrums, and normalising so-called non-traditional relationships. Whether it is TransparentYou Me Her, or Cucumber, you don’t have to look too far for LGBT+ representation and non-monogamous portrayals, albeit white, middle-class versions. Thank you to then Moonlight, which has recently shown the continued reality of life for many gay people who are not white or middle-upper class.
On the surface, society is more liberal in thought and action. We enjoy greater freedoms and fewer barriers to be publicly open about who we are. But let’s dig a little deeper with some stats.
In 2016, Galop reports that 4 in 5 LGBT people had experienced hate crime, and that there was 147% increase in hate crimes against LGBT people in the three months after the Brexit vote. Stonewall reports that a quarter of LGB people alter their behavior to hide their sexuality, and a quarter hide their sexual orientation at work.
Legally, the picture isn’t rosy for LGBT people everywhere. There is no federal legislation in the USA that provides explicit protections for LGBT workers, and in the UK trans people continue to be subject to legal structures that do not allow them to be themselves. In 2017, Donald Trump revoked protections put in places to allow trans students to use a bathroom of their choice. 40% of LGBT people live in countries where anything but straight-up heterosexuality is illegal. Back to the UK: even though Sexual Offences Act passed in 1967, Section 28 was only repealed in 2003, and the government has just this year pardoned men who were slapped with criminal records just for loving other men. Pardoned. A word that conjures forgiveness rather than a declaration that the law was wrong.
Not everyone, then, gets to live the exciting, open life that Max describes living as part of a ‘throuple’. In many places being open about one’s sexuality still results in prejudice, discrimination or abuse. There are still people who will never tell their friends, family or colleagues. Kids across the world grow up being told their sexuality is ‘against nature’, ‘a choice’, or ‘sinful’. Intersections of class, race, and religion can make life more complicated.
There are many people, even in the US and UK, who still do not have the liberty to live freely. Wentworth Miller aptly described the “survival mode” that many LGBT people inhabit. Being “normal” is a matter of survival, “being who they are” is simply not an option let alone deciding whether they “switch” sexualities at a whim.
The dynamics of adding a third person to a relationship, while fun to write about, revelling in the sexy glamorousness of it all, is sadly not a reality for the average person. We need more realistic representations of what LGBT people away from white and rich safe spaces, away from the dandy-inspired lives of the beautiful.
These are not the prerequisites to be out, happy and accepted. Not at all. However, what is important is to not glamorise or show one version of events and so minimising the daily discrimination, prejudice and struggle many LGBT folks still face, even those of us who belong to the apparent free and easy millennial generation. Those of us lucky enough to just be who we want to be cannot be impervious to the violence and discrimination against people just like us, affected by laws, politics and people that sit outside of our bubble.
From marriage equality to greater representation in film and TV, to the Equality Act 2010, I don’t want to deny that we are making progress. But, there are still many battles to fight. We should never forget how previous generations were treated and regarded, and the fight they undertook to get us to the place we are now. What is essential is that we are not lulled into a false sense of security by what we see or read, or how the millennial generation is portrayed. We have it tough for a whole host of reasons. A life of free love is still not the standard, nor should it be how our generation is viewed.
In a world where other people or governments do not see us as equal, we cannot afford to paint our generation as one obsessed with social media, hook-ups, or basking in the apparent glow of complete equality and tolerance. We must continue to fight, to protect and support each other. There are still bigger fish to fry.
Words by Michael Elijah

April 25, 2014

Millennials Undermining Themselves by Not Voting

Much has been made of the vaunted "youth vote" in the Obama era, of the surge in voters younger than 30 who've turned out -- many for the first time, all defying expectations -- in numbers crucial to influencing the last two presidential elections. But even during the 2012 election, younger voters in fact cast significantly fewer ballots than we might expect, given their share of the voting-eligible population.
During the last presidential election, voters aged 18-29 made up 21.2 percent of the population of voting-age citizens in the United States. But they made up just 15.4 percent of all people who actually voted. The gap between these two numbers has varied over the years, but the pattern has remained consistent for at least a generation: Younger voters are invariably underrepresented at the polls even in presidential election years.
This also means that older voters -- particularly those aged 45 and over -- are consistently overrepresented. The graph below, from a new Census analysis of data in the Current Population Survey Voting and Registration Supplements, captures this pattern over the last five presidential elections:
Census Bureau
U.S. Census Bureau
That graph shows, for instance, that in 2012 younger people voted at a rate that was 5.8 percentage points lower than their share of the voting-eligible population. That's a narrower gap than in 1996 and 2000. Voters 45 to 64, meanwhile, accounted in the last election for a share of the voting population that was 3.5 points higher than their share of the potential voting pool.
Why does this persistent pattern matter, beyond the implications in turnout models heading into the next general election? Younger and older Americans have divergent views on a number of public policy questions, from gay marriage to legalized marijuana to immigration. And, particularly on social issues -- where older voters tend to be more conservative -- policy could shift more slowly than public opinion data would suggest if the demographic driving attitude change in America doesn't turn out to vote at rates in line with its full potential influence.
Consider views on an issue in the news this week, affirmative action. This data comes from a 2010 Pew Research Center report on the "pro-government, socially liberal generation" of so-called millennials:
Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center 
Here is a similarly gaping split in response to whether people agree with the statement "I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage":
More specifically, this is the generational gap on gay marriage:
And on legalizing marijuana:
The gap is narrower but still notable on creating legal status for undocumented immigrants:
To the extent that younger would-be voters have very different views than their parents and grandparents on these questions, they’re currently not translating those views in the voting booth as loudly as they could.

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