Ever wonder why there are now millions of openly gay relationships, including marriage, when there were virtually no such relationships 120 years ago?
How about in government, where 3 openly lesbian and/or bisexual women could be elected to the U.S. Senate and a gay man voted in as governor of Colorado in 2018? Back 120 years ago, they all would have been imprisoned.
The answer may lie in paradigm shifts. A paradigm is defined as a clear example or pattern, such as: Science is a paradigm of true knowledge.
Copernicus and Galileo Example
A readily recognizable paradigm shift occurred in 1543 when Nicolaus Copernicus, the Renaissance-era astronomer and mathematician, published his scientific theory of heliocentrism. Until then, the universal consensus was that the sun revolved around the earth.
Decades later, when Galileo offered Pope Urban VIII an opportunity to look through his newly invented telescope to prove Copernicus’ theory correct, the pope refused—calling the telescope an instrument of the devil.
In 1632, the pope’s theologians used the Bible as “proof” that Galileo’s science was in error and branded the heliocentric theory as heresy. The pope excommunicated Galileo and put him under house arrest for the rest of Galileo’s life.
Copernicus and Galileo’s views eventually won the day. Their theory—once totally unknown—now is universally accepted worldwide.
Change of Views Took Centuries
A widespread change in thinking like this is called a paradigm shift. Similar monumental shifts, until now, happened gradually over centuries.
In the case of the Christian church, leadership eventually admitted its mistake concerning the heliocentric theory. In so doing, the church suffered no harm. Its worldwide membership grew from 155 million to over 2 billion during the 4 centuries that it took to accept the paradigm shift.
Sex Separated from Procreation
Human sexuality, including homosexuality, is undergoing a similar paradigm shift. It started in 1948 when Alfred C. Kinsey published “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male” and then in 1953, “Sexual Behavior in the Human Female”. Academicians and scientists consider Kinsey the world’s first sexologist.
As for sex in general, Kinsey and other scientists soon changed the paradigm that sex is a means for procreation—and only for that purpose. The world came to learn that sex has many functions. The paradigm shift was that healthy sex can and is often separated from procreation.
Before Kinsey, society’s common views on heterosexuality were if sex were only for procreation, the following should be illegal:
- Premarital sex
In most parts of the United States, they were illegal. A person could literally go to jail for engaging in them. The shift, in many ways, is what liberated women from the disparaging adage “pregnant, barefoot and in the kitchen”.
So, what’s the homosexual paradigm shift? Before 1948, everyone thought of homosexuality as moral choice. It was considered a depraved choice, in part because it offered no opportunity for procreation.
Unfortunately, the morally “depraved choice” of homosexuality was justification for:
- Job loss
- Housing and work discrimination
- Unethical psychiatric and psychological therapies
It was also the underlying impetus for violence against and even murder of LGBTQs. In areas of the country where the paradigm shift hasn’t occurred, negative outcomes still occur from a bias against science and empiricism.
Since Kinsey’s publications, scientists have since discovered:
- Sexual orientation is relatively fixed attribute
- Homosexuality isn’t an illness
- Animals also engage in homosexual behavior
Today, a consensus in the scientific community recognizes that sexual orientation is not a choice but a normal variation of human sexuality. This view is growing among the nonscientific population too.
When Kinsey published his books, they were immediately criticized because of his methodologies and that his findings encouraged moral deviation. However, this historic significance of his work is that his attempts at scientific research were the first of their kind.
In the end, he was only reporting what he discovered by using scientific methods. His research spawned vast amounts of other scientific research on homosexuality and heterosexuality by other scientists.
A huge, positive side benefit of Kinsey’s research is that he taught gay people that they were not alone. Gays ended their isolation, came together for a variety of reasons and joined the national political dialogue. Not just gays, but their families and friends joined the national chorus.
The homosexual paradigm shift is what makes authentic relationships possible. Not just between and among LGBs—but with their families, friends and coworkers. The shift is incomplete, however, in those regions of the country where attitudes are based on inaccurate or missing scientific information.
Moore’s Law suggests that society has developed the ability to produce and absorb information much more quickly. Paradigm shifts will no longer take centuries to unfold.
The U.S. Supreme Court marriage equality decision indicates that positive changes have occurred for the acceptance of gays and gay relationships. According to the Pew Research Center, over 60% of Americans (including 70% of millennials) approved the high-court decision. Most opposition came from those 60 and older.
This bodes well for those who will be seeking support for authentic gay relationships in the future.