There’re homophobic laws in some countries (Russia, Uganda, etc.) based on the idea of “homosexuality propaganda”. The idea is not knew: Britain’s section 28, American’s “Save our children” movement, etc.
It’s easy to call it bullshit and say people should do whatever they want to do if they do not harm others. But it seems not very convincing at least for some homophobes as there is no strong evidence there’s no “harm” here. By “harm” I mean increasing a chance that your child becomes gay. What’s your take on this?
There’s something to it in that people who are exposed to gay people in media are going to be more likely to recognize their own gayness, especially if they’re only just bi enough that they could live their lives not really needing to “repress” any feelings.
In other words, presenting the idea of gayness as a concept is going to make more people reflect on and recognize their own sexuality. Just like the concept of transness is going to cause people to inspect their gender identities.
This doesn’t create new gay people, but it causes more people to be aware of themselves and not just brush their feelings off as something “not real”.
Take, say, that game where kids stand in a circle and toss a knife into the air and see who loses by running away first; or, I don’t know, setting a small fire and seeing how long you can go before putting it out. Whatever: something stupid that could cause harm, which means you don’t want to glamorize it because kids might mimic it and harm might result – stuff like ‘knife wounds’ or ‘dying in a fire’.
But here, the argument is that publicizing homosexuality leads to changing the odds of someone becoming gay – which, as was pointed out, seems dubious; I’m still entirely straight despite knowing that some people aren’t – but the missing step is the one where that’d be a harm; because the only harm mentioned is, apparently, the risk that such a person will then change the odds of other people becoming gay. And there’s no harm in that, aside from how they’ll – change the odds of yet other people being gay? But there’s no harm in that, except for…
Well, you get the idea. I get the harm in tossing knives around, and so I get the harm in encouraging others to do it; but if there’s no harm other than encouraging others to do it, then it’s no harm at all.
Because there’s no evidence that exposure to “homosexual content” is any more likely to “turn” them homosexual. Religious parents who keep their kids from learning anything about homosexuality are just as likely to have gay kids as secular parents or even gay parents. There’s nothing that can “turn” a straight kid gay or a gay kid straight. That’s just how they are and content they’re exposed to has nothing to do with it.
If by “your take” you mean “how would you explain to someone who has such beliefs that they don’t make sense”, it’s by personalizing something which has actually already been said: it’s neither contagious nor a choice.
Someone I know personally: blahblah the gay blahblah scary blahblah turn our children gay.
Me: not really, it doesn’t, can’t work that way. I mean, think about it. Did you one day wake up and say “gee, I’m going to like [description of their spouse or type]”? You didn’t, did you? You didn’t go and say “I’m going to like [example: short dudes who work in a hardware store]”, you just went and fell in love with one. Gay people, the same. Nobody would wake up one morning and say “gee, I’m going to make my life real difficult by choosing to like an absolute minority of the population, extra bonus for living in a country where that actually happens to be illegal.” Knowing that some people are gay isn’t going to make it desirable, being gay is still much more complicated than being straight.
Most of the people I know happen to have paired up with people who weren’t the ideal for their opposite gender. They didn’t choose to fall in love with a cute drunkard, they didn’t choose to fall in love against their type, nor did they choose their type in the first place… and they know that they fell in love because they did, not because of whatever the magazines were selling at the time. If people had to fall in love with what the magazines say, countries around the Mediterranean basin would have become depopulated midway through the 20th century due to a shortage of blonde people. We somehow keep making darkhaired babies, imagine that.
At that, gays got hit with the biggest propaganda campaign ever, right? They grew up being told it was a crime and a sin; everywhere they went, they saw straight couples in real life when they weren’t watching straight couples on the movie screen; be it the model in an ad, or the protagonist in a novel, or the characters in a play, or the stars of a television show, one message got delivered by entertainment and the government and your parents and the rest of the public: no, a penis goes there.
Gay children are born to straight parents, obviously. It’s not homosexuals who are producing them. If the influence of entire societal approbation, and the 100%, day and night, influence of a fully heterosexual homelife are not enough to keep a person from coming out gay, then why would the reverse be true?
Gayness is not influenced by movies, magazines, or societal acceptance. It’s not making more people gay, it’s making a society where gay people are comfortable enough to be openly who they are.
Every society, since the beginning of time, no matter how backward or draconian, the anti gay sentiment and laws, still has gay citizens.
Thinking outside influence affects people’s sexuality is like thinking outside social influences can make you tall, or short! It’s a ridiculous concept.
The only way exposing a child to (positive) homosexual content at a early age is going to influence him/her is by making the child more accepting of gay people being just regular people rather than hating and fearing them. Which means that instead of a certain percentage of gay people repressing their true feelings in an attempt to fit in or escape prosecution those gay people will be openly gay, and that’s the only “increase” in gay people that would exist - they’re not increasing, they’re no longer in hiding. Of course, homophobes will see that as “turning someone gay” when in reality that person was gay all along.
Since a lot of religious people reject the idea that sexuality is anything but a choice, choosing to be out is equal to choosing to be gay. Choosing to be a closeted gay person in a sham marriage where you are probably miserable, and so is your spouse, but your religion does not permit divorce, is actually “choosing heterosexuality” to these people. If you are living as a straight person, then you are one. There’s no concept of ontological, or existential gayness. You are not gay if you are not having gay sex. If you choose to be celibate, you are also choosing to be straight, in these people’s minds. I’ve had this crazy conversation.*
These people function under an entirely different paradigm, and so for them, anything that encourages (in the true sense of the word, “gives courage”) people to live out and happy about it, is, in fact, “making” them gay.
*I met a Roman Catholic priest once who was open about the fact that he was gay, but also about the fact that as an ordained priest, he took his celibacy vow seriously. He still was an advocate for the church being more accepting of gay people. I mentioned this to some people I knew, and it just didn’t compute with them that someone could be gay and celibate. If he wasn’t having sex, he wasn’t having gay sex, and was therefore, not gay.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to recognize whether this person became homosexual under different circumstances. Theoretically he/she could have a happy heterosexual life in a more homophobic society. I do think it’s true at least for bisexuals who would be less likely to explore the homo part of their sexuality.
Does it mean we need a homophobic society? No, for many reasons: millions of homosexuals would be unhappy, bisexuals who still managed to get in love with a same-sex person would be unhappy, etc.
The examples you provided explain why being gay is not a choice and an average conservative in those countries would be glad to agree with you. That’s not choice, that’s western propaganda made those gays (at least some of them) the way they are.