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By Esmé E. Deprez,(c) 2013, Bloomberg News, Published June 13 2013

Gays see societal acceptance, but many keep parents in dark

NEW YORK – Almost all gay U.S. adults say that society is more tolerant than ever of their sexual orientation, even as almost 40 percent have kept it hidden from their own father, a poll found.

The survey released Thursday by the Pew Research Center is the most comprehensive study of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults taken since 2007, when same-sex marriage was legal only in Massachusetts, according to the group. Paul Taylor, one of its lead authors, said the insight will help inform debate as lawmakers confront the issue and the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on it for the first time.

“For the LGBT population, these are the best of times, but it doesn’t mean they are easy times or that their lives aren’t complicated,” Taylor, executive vice president at Pew, said by telephone from Washington, where the organization is based. “Many are still searching for a comfortable, secure place in society, where acceptance is growing but still limited.”

While a majority of respondents said they still face discrimination, the past decade has brought more change to the gay community and its place in society than any other.

In 2003, gays couldn’t marry anywhere in the United States. Now same-sex marriage is legal in 12 states and the District of Columbia, and supported by 51 percent of the general public. That’s up from 35 percent in 2001, according to Pew. Gays can serve openly in the military, and in many places same-sex couples raising children are no longer an anomaly.

Ninety-two percent of respondents said society accepts them more today than 10 years ago, and the same share said that trend will continue in the next decade, the poll found. Seven in 10 attributed the change to more individuals knowing someone who is gay. In a Pew poll of the general public released last week, about 87 percent of respondents said they did.

Coming out to parents was difficult, most said. Thirty-four percent still had not done so to their mothers, and 39 percent to fathers. There was an eight-year gap between the median age at which respondents first felt they may be something other than heterosexual, age 12, and when they first shared the revelation with a close friend or family member, age 20.

Tony Vedda, 53, said he first felt he was different from his two straight older brothers when he was in high school in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Friends were supportive, though he held off from telling his father until he was almost 30.

His father, Angelo, first took the news “rough,” Vedda said. Yet within a few years, it made their relationship better.

“It just took a little time for him to understand,” he said.


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