Gay vs Black Community Progress

I repeat it again, I am a big fan of the NPR blog, Hidden Brain. I love how the host explores people’s mind and behaviors. And his storytelling is beyond this world… He hooks you on the intrigue, spin you by flipping the scrip and drop some serious knowledge backed by science. Oh, and the most important, he explores topics that you never hear about in mainstream media.

A recent, good, surprise was about the progress that the Gay community made in record time. The image below shows that in 1988 77% of American adults said that gay sex is “always wrong” and then in 2016 this number dropped to 40% in 2016. 37 points may not seem exceptional. After all, there are still 40% people thinking “gay sex” (I hate that term by the way, but that is what they used in the research) is always wrong. That is a lot of ignorant people. However, let’s look at the bright side. At the current pace of change, in a few decades people will not have bias against gays.

Hello, this is EPIC! Let’s contrast this with the Black community. How long before the bias against Blacks go away based on current pace of change? More than a century. For the biases against women to go away… same, more than a hundred years.

How come the LGBTQ+ community made so much progress, much more than any other groups in so much less time? This type of progress should make any other minority extremely jealous. Put it this way, the LGBTQ community made more progress in 30 years than the Black community in 200 years (according to my own back of the envelope calculation).

What’s the secret? How come one community that suffered terrible discrimination for so long converted the majority from haters to supporters? When other minority groups still have a long fight ahead of them? Read the whole study if you want the scientific explanation. I will boil it down to the essential.

First, let’s look at changes in the society. Between 1985 and 2010 the percentage of people with Gay or Lesbian friend went from 23% to 68%. I do not believe that the number of Gay or Lesbian increased in that period of time. More that the number of people coming out increased. What’s key is that suddenly society went from virtually nobody having a Gay friend to the vast majority having at least a Gay friend. This is powerful way to create change. People build strong relationships with friends, family members and once their connections come out they realize that their bond should not change (at least for the smart ones).


In the movie BlacKkKlansman, the Black protagonist pretends to be white for weeks. He can do because he speaks to the KKK over the phone. But in real life, how to apply this approach for visible minorities? It almost feel like if the opportunity for people of different background to interact with each others over a long period of time may be the solution. The question is more about how to create voluntary this situation. A Zombie outbreak or Aliens landing on earth forcing people to live together in a shelter is the only scenario I can think of. Yup not promising…