The decriminalisation meant that homophobic laws were not enforced in some circumstances. But many aspects of gay male life remained criminal.
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In fact, the repression grew much worse. Gay saunas were raided. Gay and bisexual men, and some lesbians, continued to be arrested until the s for public displays of affection, such as kissing and cuddling, under public order and breach of the peace laws. In , the year before partial decriminalisation, some men were convicted of gross indecency. People were denied employment or sacked from their jobs because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Others were refused rented accommodation or evicted from it. Some were turned away from pubs and restaurants. Gay fathers and lesbian mothers lost custody of their children in divorce cases. They had no redress in law.
At the Conservative party conference Margaret Thatcher used her keynote speech to attack the notion that people had a right to be gay. Coinciding with this intolerant atmosphere was a massive rise in arrests of gay men for consenting behaviour. In Home Office archives I found that there were 1, convictions and cautions for gross indecency in The 2, recorded offences of gross indecency that year was almost as many as the 2, recorded in , when male homosexuality was totally illegal. Full reform did not happen until 36 years after Respondents were classified into one of three age cohorts according to their date-of-birth: Each of these categories represent a broad range of life experiences and developmental trajectories influenced by LGB history timelines Cook-Daniels, Additionally, at the time of the study the categories approximated periods of: Respondents were asked to state the sexual identity label they used to describe themselves.
When comparing sexual identities, our primary interest was to understand how bisexual identity is distinguishable from same-sex identity. Gender, which was compared in separate analyses, was not a factor in our comparisons of same-sex and bisexual identities. T-tests were performed to describe differences in the mean ages of sexual identity milestones, disclosure milestones, and the time between milestones by gender and sexual orientation. Chi-Squared tests were performed to determine differences in the proportion of disclosure by group.
A multivariate analysis was conducted using dummy variables for each sub-population identity to control for potential confounding. All of the figures highlighted below are statistically significant at the. Sexual identity milestones differed by gender, sexual identity, and age cohort Table 2 and Figure 1.
Women self-identified as non-heterosexual when they were almost 3 years older than the men age Bisexual identity was the most influential characteristic on age of first same-sex attraction. Bisexuals self-identified as non-heterosexual at an older age than gay men and lesbians 20 vs. Differences among age cohorts were also prominent. LGBs in the youngest cohort ages 18 — 29 experienced their first same-sex intimate relationship 4. Members of the youngest cohort also self-identified as non-heterosexual at the youngest age The proportion of individuals who disclosed their sexual identity differed among subgroups both by the age at which they were experienced, and whether they were experienced at all that is, if the person has ever disclosed their sexual identity to a family member, LGB, or heterosexual friend.
Women came out to LGB friends at a later average age than men Respondents in the youngest cohort disclosed their sexual minority status, on average, to a family member at age Also, bisexuals first disclosed their sexual identity to other LGB and heterosexual friends at a later age than did lesbian and gay respondents The time between age of first same-sex attraction and first self-identification differed among gender and sexual identity subgroups.
Women reported more time between the age of first same-sex attraction and self-identification than men 6 years vs. The time between first same-sex attraction and first same-sex intimate relationship was significantly different for age cohort and sexual identity subgroups. LGBs in the youngest age cohort waited fewer years between recognizing their same-sex attraction and being in their first same-sex intimate relationship compared with the middle and oldest cohorts mean lengths of wait were approximately 5, 8, and 11 years, respectively.
Gay men and lesbians became aware of their attraction to members of the same sex earlier than bisexuals but they took over two years longer than bisexuals between the age of their first same-sex attraction and their first same-sex intimate relationship 5 years vs. There were no differences among the other subgroups of the population in the time between these milestones. The time between first self-identification as a sexual minority and first disclosure to a family member, varied by gender and sexual identity.
Section 2: Long-Term Views of Homosexuality, Gay Marriage and Adoption
Although, as mentioned above, women took more time to self-identify after their first same-sex attraction, men took longer to disclose their sexual identity after self-identification, across all disclosure groups 6 vs. Looking at sexual identity, although bisexuals experienced more time between their first same-sex attraction and their first self-identification, gays and lesbians took longer between first identifying as a sexual minority and disclosing that identity to any of the disclosure groups 5.
Including all sub-population groups into a single multivariate regression did little to alter the findings. After controlling for the other identity variables there was no longer a statistically significant difference between men and women in the age of first disclosure to another LGB individual. No other significant changes were observed in the other gender comparisons or across all other identity categories data not shown. Consistent with our first hypothesis, there were pronounced gender differences in sexual identity and disclosure milestones.
Men, whether gay or bisexual, experienced most sexual identity milestones earlier than women, but they tended to take more time between milestones. Findings suggest that parents view and respond to gender atypicality more negatively for boys than for girls, which could lead boys to process feelings of difference at an earlier age. Our data similarly suggests that although men may be aware of their sexuality at younger ages, women tend to be able to process through sexual identity milestones more quickly.
Findings supported our second hypothesis that younger cohorts of sexual minorities had a shorter time between milestones than older cohorts, and partially supported our hypothesis that sexual identity and disclosure milestones occurred at a younger age among younger cohort LGBs. LGBs in the youngest cohort became aware of their same-sex attraction at about the same age as the older cohorts around 11 years of age.
Despite this shared starting point, LGBs in younger age cohorts experienced other sexual identity milestones first intimate relationship and first self-identification and all disclosure milestones earlier than the older cohorts. In addition to experiencing milestones earlier, LGBs in younger cohorts took less time than LGBs in older cohorts between milestones. This is consistent with previous findings by Parks and Hughes Whites, Blacks, and Latinos were similar in sexual identity milestones, disclosure milestones, and time between milestones.
The only difference noted was that fewer Black and Latino than White respondents disclosed their sexual identity to heterosexual friends—something that was also found by Dube and Savin-Williams Our fourth hypothesis, that bisexual people experience sexual identity and disclosure milestones later than gay and lesbian people, was supported. However, although they began the coming out process at a later age, the mean time between self-identification and disclosure was consistently shorter for bisexuals when compared with gay men and lesbians.
Limitations of this study should be noted. The data used in this study were collected in from people who were then between the ages of 18— The youngest cohort reported experiencing all coming out milestones consistently earlier than the middle and oldest cohorts.
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Also, because this study took place in New York City, the results may not be representative of the experience of sexual minority people across the United States. The large variability in social and political climate by geographic location may be an important factor in sexual identity development. That said, many New York City residents have come of age outside the city and migrated there Egan et al. As we indicated above, the study is limited by the retrospective data in that we do not have information on a range of socio-cultural and socio-economic factors at the time that our respondents have gone through these coming out milestones.
Lastly, though the purpose of our analyses was to demonstrate the variability that exists within the LGB population, we nonetheless aggregated several subgroups using umbrella categories that are themselves quite diverse. For example, by treating White, Black, and Latino participants as three distinct categories these analyses are unable to recognize the overlap between the groups such as Latinos who could identify as racially White or Black in addition to the nuanced differences within subpopulations of the same group such as comparisons between Latinos with different national origins.
Similarly, the categorization of participants as lesbian, gay, or bisexual neglects the fluidity of sexuality.
As a cross-sectional analysis this study was unable to address how this fluidity influences sexual identity development. Given the evidence that younger cohorts are experiencing sexual identity milestones at progressively younger ages, it is important for scholars to continue to study the identity development trajectories of sexual minority youth. It will be especially important to observe how coming out during adolescence, versus coming out in emerging adulthood—where youth are under less influence from parents, and schools, and have more legal rights—will affect the physical and mental health outcomes of LGB people.
These findings should be used to strengthen research on LGBT health disparities by encouraging researchers to consider the impact of coming out milestones among sexual minority subgroups. For example, bisexual people have been found to have higher odds of suicidal ideation and attempts than gay men and lesbians Saewyc et al. In our study, we found that bisexual experienced a greater time between the age of first awareness of same-sex attraction and the age of first self-identification than gay and lesbian respondents.
Studies are needed to characterize the processes through which individuals move among the coming out milestones. For example, if a greater time between milestones is indicative of internal conflict, researchers may benefit from examining sexual identity milestones by identity subgroup to partially explain the increased odds of suicidal ideation and attempts.
Health interventions should consider how sexual identity milestones, especially those associated with the early onset of psychosocial health problems, may influence health outcomes among different subgroups. For example, Parks and Hughes show that higher rates of alcohol use among lesbian and bisexual women are associated with time between realization and disclosure milestones, and the degree of disclosure to family members, which could inform prevention and treatment programs. Studies have also found dramatically higher smoking rates among sexual minority teen girls, and slightly higher rates among sexual minority teen boys, when compared to heterosexual teens ALA, Understanding the ages at which teens process their sexual identity development could offer alcohol and smoking prevention campaigns a series of points to incorporate relevant and affirming messages for LGB youth.
By understanding how subgroups of the LGB population vary in their sexual identity development, health professions can design and implement more effective interventions for sexual minority youth. The authors wish to thank Dr. Laura Durso, PhD for comments on an early version of this manuscript. Ilan H. The authors report no conflicts of interest.
For Your Health: Recommendations for A Healthier You
National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Sex Res Social Policy. Author manuscript; available in PMC Sep Meyer 2. This discourse, in turn, linked up with considerations about the state and its need for a growing population, good soldiers, and intact families marked by clearly defined gender roles. Doctors were called in by courts to examine sex crime defendants Foucault, ; Greenberg, At the same time, the dramatic increase in school attendance rates and the average length of time spent in school, reduced transgenerational contact, and hence also the frequency of transgenerational sex.
Same-sex relations between persons of roughly the same age became the norm. Clearly the rise in the prestige of medicine resulted in part from the increasing ability of science to account for natural phenomena on the basis of mechanistic causation. The application of this viewpoint to humans led to accounts of sexuality as innate or biologically driven. The voluntarism of the medieval understanding of sodomy, that sodomites chose sin, gave way to the modern notion of homosexuality as a deep, unchosen characteristic of persons, regardless of whether they act upon that orientation.
The effects of these ideas cut in conflicting ways. Since homosexuality is, by this view, not chosen, it makes less sense to criminalize it. Persons are not choosing evil acts. Yet persons may be expressing a diseased or pathological mental state, and hence medical intervention for a cure is appropriate.