January 23, 2015

Culture war over gay marriage is most pronounced among recent generations

Most culture war battles are fought by middle-aged and old folks, except for those occasional outbursts when young people collectively presume to know jack squat about anything momentous. We saw it in the late '60s and early '70s, when youngsters came in polar opposite flavors -- Weathermen and SDS protesters, and those who felt like beating up the protesters. Middle-aged people were more mellow and less polarized.

That fell toward a minimum in the '80s, when young people weren't so ideologically polarized and didn't presume to have easy answers to big political questions. It was mostly fully grown adults arguing over Voodoo Economics, the Cold War, prayer in public school, and the like. This continued into the mid-'90s during the Gingrich revolution.

Over roughly the last 20 years, though, youngsters have started to get more uppity and more in each other's faces over big political issues, while the middle-aged and old folks are watching from the sidelines and aren't too polarized amongst themselves. Only now instead of the capitalist imperialist war machine, the big issue among today's loudmouths is sanctioning homosexual deviance by granting them access to the institution of marriage.

Just as during the Counter-cultural era, the popular mind only sees the shrill young people who are in the know-it-all / right-side-of-history camp. All the other young people who showed up to the protests only to harass the protesters, well, that isn't very exciting. And it spoils the picture of young people acting under a single common will.

Today, and perhaps as it will be recorded by history, only the shrill SJWs make it into popular recognition about "how young people feel about gay marriage." Most of the pushback against the SJWs is in fact coming from their peers, not grumpy old men. Older people are less divided, though less in favor overall of gay marriage, and so don't feel motivated to enter the fray. For Boomers and Silents, there's not much at stake for the purposes of signaling which broad ideological camp you belong to, since both camps don't disagree so much on this issue. Liberals and atheists from those older generations are not so gung-ho about gay marriage.

Since this may come as news, let's look into it using data from the General Social Survey. As always, only whites are studied in order to remove race as a confounding variable.

How does support for gay marriage differ by religious or political affiliation, across the generations?

Conservatives in almost all generations are only about 1-10% likely to say they "strongly agree" with gay marriage.

Yet there are dramatic differences in liberal responses across the generations. Among liberals born from 1945-1954, only 30% strongly agree. It's a little higher, at 38%, among liberals in the '55-'64 cohort, and about that high as well among libs in the '65-'74 cohort.

What about those who spent at least some of their formative years in the pro-homo '90s? Hold onto your butts. Libs in the '75-'84 cohort strongly agree at 54%, and those in the '85-'94 cohort at 59% -- a quantum leap from libs in the preceding generations. Normally the late X-ers line up with the early X-ers, and away from the Millennials, but here is one shameful example where we fit the Millennial pattern instead. Isn't being lumped with them instead of the early X-ers reason enough to reconsider your views, if you're a late X liberal?

Conservative Millennials are also more in support of gay marriage than conservatives from earlier generations, who again only strongly agree at around 5%, give or take. Strong agreement with gay marriage rises to just over 20% among Millennial conservatives. (Some conservatives.)

The point remains, though, that strong support for gay marriage varies much more widely by political affiliation among the late X and Millennial cohorts, primarily due to the skyrocketing support among liberals. Earlier cohorts show far less polarization on this topic by political ideology.

Without going through all the numbers, the same conclusion emerges when we look at support among varying degrees of religious fundamentalism. Comparing strong support for gay marriage between those who think the Bible is the literal word of God vs. those who think it's a book of fables, there isn't so wide of a gap within the Boomers or early X-ers.

However, within the late X and Millennial cohorts, strong support soars among the seculars, while remaining about as low among fundamentalists as it is among fundies in earlier generations, around 5% give or take. Here too, Millennials who ought to know better are too in-favor -- even the fundies among them strongly agree with gay marriage at 16%. Hope they don't mind burning in Hell.

Why is this culture war most polarizing and shrill among those who went through adolescence during the '90s and after? Well, that's when the whole gay issue became an issue. It was wholly absent from the battles over civil rights, youth liberation, sex liberation, feminism, and so on, circa 1970. I don't care if a couple of queers in some New York bar got into a tiff with the vice squad, I'm talking about widespread propaganda on behalf of homosexual deviance, making it seem as though the warped, perverted, and diseased are "just like us."

If your mind was impressionable during the '90s and after, and you had a liberal disposition, you took that crap and ran with it. If your disposition was conservative, it failed to resonate with you. This polarizes the generation coming of age during the period.

If your mind was no longer impressionable, it didn't matter if you were a raging liberal -- your pet topics hardened into shape back in the '60s and '70s when nobody questioned to categorization of homosexuality as a mental disease, let alone try to equate the abnormal with the normal. Blacks, women, students / young people -- these are not tiny groups of abnormal deviants, but large minorities of mentally normal people who had some legitimate grievances (and some other wacko grievances) with their treatment by the majority. Gay marriage just doesn't resonate with the big liberal causes of that earlier era, so the earlier generations are not so polarized by the issue.

The fact that it's liberals who have driven the polarization highlights how liberalism is a destabilizing force -- a feature, not a bug, in order to move society away from the always backward status quo and toward the always superior voyage toward unknown lands. (Hope it doesn't end up like it did in Alien).

And the fact that this culture war is primarily playing out among the children of the '70s, '80s, and '90s means that we shouldn't look too much to the older generations for support. It's not that older conservatives wouldn't agree with us, but that they just can't get that angry and militant about it because they don't see what all the hubbub is about. Their liberal peers aren't a bunch of gay butt-lickers, and don't hate their conservative guts for not supporting gay marriage. Older libs may try to score status points or signal good taste by siding with the queers, but they don't show the seething visceral hatred that the younger libs do for opponents of gay marriage.

Millennial conservatives ought to be the sidekicks, since too many of their so-called conservatives actually support the sanction of gay deviance. They are also less likely than other conservatives to judge homosexual sex as "always wrong" -- 55% among Millennial conservatives, but around 65% among Gen X conservatives, and nearly 75% among Boomer conservatives. (Though again, the older ones can't be counted on to mobilize on this topic, even if they're entirely in agreement.)

Only five years left until we see some serious shit in 2020 (more or less), if Peter Turchin's analysis of the rhythm of political instability is on the mark (with peaks every 50 years, the last being around 1970). It seems obvious what the main issues will be, but what has been less talked about is how concentrated the battles will be among the younger third of the population, for whom polarization is greatest.

The youth bias of the conflict will only exacerbate how destructive things can get. The actions won't be confined to gray-haired politicians zinging or shouting at each other in Congress, despite the media trying to hype up Obama's "sick burn" during his State of the Union speech. We're in for some real Molotov-cocktail-throwing times, I'm afraid.

GSS variables: marhomo, homosex, polviews, bible, cohort, race


  1. Speaking of Obama, if I'm not mistaken he affected opposition to gay marriage until about 4 years ago at which point the urge to appeal to the younger set took over and he suddenly declared that it was imperative that we "do more" to make gays accepted. Which shows how Boomers just didn't give it much thought until this rising surge of homo concern among the under 40 crowd became impossible to ignore.

    I'm with you about being embarrassed at the misplaced compassion among the post mid 70's crowd. This is gonna be a source of shame that's never going away much like how the Boomers will never be able to explain away or justify to any satisfaction the rampant draft dodging they did.

  2. It's not their fault, the pro-gay propaganda was shoved down their throat and they believed it. As they get older they'll discover the truth.

  3. I used to think that Gen X-ers were dismissive of everything but many people (even some Gen X ones) will eventually succumb to decades of indoctrination.

    Course, it's gonna be even easier to deceive gullible non Gen X-ers.

    J. Schmoe, some hobby horses never really fade away. Most Boomers still act like Southerners own slaves.

    Near middle aged Gen X-ers remember the gay bashing of the 80's and some of them feel shame over it that they will spend their lives trying to atone for.

  4. The 1890s were called the "Gay Nineties," and the label seems to fit the 1990s just as well.

  5. To Feryl: I came of age in the 1980s, and the supposed "gay bashing" was BS. There were instances of that occurring, yes, but they hardly registered and it was not some public panic. The notion that gays lived in fear and that it was open day on gays is straight up propaganda, up there with "the Muslims created a peaceful, tolerant society when they occupied Spain." BS.

    The real scam the gays pulled in my youth was the EVERYONE WILL DIE OF AIDS, mantra. People got into trouble for writing about the myth of heterosexual AIDS, but of course they were proved right. The gays tried to make what was (and no a large degree remains) their disease, into a general issue that affected everyone the same, another lie.

  6. What I meant by gay bashing was general homophobia (e.g. not approving of gay behavior) which was stronger in the 80's and even 90's than it is now.

    Gen X-ers started to be lectured about the "evils" of homophobia in the 80's and it really got aggressive in the 90's. Homophobia has been declining since about the late 80's and those who grew up hearing about how homophobic the dreaded past was are going to be anxious to "prove" how enlightened they are now. Boomers didn't hear this crap from the cradle to the grave so they are never going to be as interested in gay issues. It was an even bigger non issue in the 30's-50's so Silents really don't care.

    I've heard before about the mythic plague that AIDS was turned into. This was done mostly to destigmatize the disease and raise funds. It's harder to get people to care when you admit that nearly all non blood transfusion AIDS patients are gay deviants and/or IV drug addicts with the remainder of cases involving reckless straights sleeping with Bi people or addicts.

    In much the same way that Boomers still feel a twinge of guilt regarding pre 1970's race relations because Bull Connor German shepherd/fire hose tactics occurred in their childhood or adolescence, some later Gen X-er's still feel a reflexive guilt when gay issues are brought up because they've grown up in a period in which you could turn on the TV and see some fag (or a liberal fag apologist) sobbing about how much his life sucks because "nobody understands"

    I'm sure some Silent Gen people can get worked up about racism or homophobia but the feelings will never be that vivid or frequent since a good chunk of their life happened before the 60's.

  7. Liberalism has pretty much won. Look around you, crime is down, grievances are down except for crazies on Twitter, globalization is proceeding full force and most people live pretty comfortable lives. The average person's main concern is job stability, and that's not really as bad as people make it out to be. Nobodys going to starve so they're not really worried about issues like gay marriage, it just doesn't affect them much personally. for the large majority of people it's not an issue to really fight for.

  8. It's really sad. Like my English teacher he's like Mr. Bu-Fu. We're talking Lord God King Bu-Fu.
    I am so sure he's like so gross. Like he sits there and like plays with all his rings and he like flirts with all the guys in the class it's like totally disgusting. It's like barf me out. Gag me with a spoon!

  9. "Look around you, crime is down, grievances are down except for crazies on Twitter, globalization is proceeding full force and most people live pretty comfortable lives"

    people are in a constant state of anxiety, and an entire generation of young people have been shut out from having lives. like many, you are placing too much of an emphasis on stats.

  10. "We're talking Lord God King Bu-Fu."

    How far our society has fallen, when even the Valley girls used to "police" homo deviance better than today's so-called males. Also: using "queer" to shame a guy who doesn't seem that into you ("Johnny Are You Queer?").

    Strange to see how reflexive it was for girls to mock and shame the fags, it wasn't even a conscious part of a larger conscious plan in a culture war. Just, like, totally instinctual and natural.

    The '80s are truly a foreign land.

  11. Speaking of, let's pause for a refresher:

    Josie Cotton, "He Could Be the One" (1982)

    Voices from 1963, guitars from '77, and synthesizers from '82 itself. What doesn't this charmingly offbeat song bring together?

    If today's groups tried to make something that eclectic, it would come off as self-conscious and ham-fisted -- "Look at all these wacky things we threw in a blender!" "Hey guys, did you get that '80s synth reference? Or should we hit you over the head with it again?"

    Even if their heart was in the right place, the self-consciously curatorial tone would leave you on a downer, like "Remember when music used to get you moving? Well, it doesn't anymore, but here's our best stab at summoning the dead spirits of the '80s gods."

    The Josie Cotton song, and others like it from the New Wave era, were lacking in self-awareness, pretentiousness, and deliberate planning toward a goal. The song wasn't supposed to mean or do anything bigger than just get your body moving and set the fun-loving tone for a social gathering.

  12. "most people live pretty comfortable lives"

    - Horrific debt levels (esp. among Gen X-ers and Millennials who were too young (or not alive) to make the last prosperity train that left the station around 1990. Their Boomer (and Silent) ancestors got to enjoy at a young age: affordable education (that wasn't even required in many fields), easy access to well paying jobs with generous benefits, and promotions that came early and often. The generation that preceded them (the G.I./Greatest Gen.) ensured that these opportunities existed by playing fair and letting the younger gens. sit at the adults table. Compare that to how Boomers have adamantly refused to give X-ers/Millennials a break. Onerous college debt, degrading job "opportunities", demented Silents/Near demented Boomers refusing to step aside and let things take their natural course. And so.

    - Jobs with no benefits/pensions/too few hours (or too many hours) with slave driving upper management and co-workers who'll sell you out gutlessly. Did I also mention that the pay is usually lousy? Worker morale is at an all time low. Everybody hates their job.

    - Grotesque levels of obesity.

    - Off the charts levels of alienated, anti social behavior. Binge watching dumb TV shows, constant smart phone staring etc. People have fewer friends than they did in the 80's and people are much more rude, selfish, and disengaged from the outside world.

    - A Kafkaesque health "care" system that is so inhumane, convoluted, and expensive that it would be funny if it didn't literally kill so many people.

    - The ever bloating "justice" system that gives fewer and fewer rights/options to the vulnerable and more and more power to the system. More and more behaviors are needlessly criminalized and every kind of infraction is punished increasingly harshly. In the 50's, people didn't have to worry about getting killed for annoying a cop who happens to be having a bad day. They also didn't worry about losing their job/car/house/freedom over a minor mistake back then.

    - Relationships between the opposite sex being so tense, loveless, and superficial that many people take years to marry or they avoid long term relationships altogether. And when people do actually get married, there's a strong chance it well end in divorce.

    These things and other factors make people miserable and neurotic.

  13. Förest Hofbauer1/24/15, 3:06 PM

    A post about the Faggots and yet not a mention of GRIDS or Pedophilia? Really, Agnostic? Really?

    It's absolutely disgusting when the Pro-Homo agenda even manages to subvert people even like you to the point where you don't mention either. What's next? Defending the Jew?

    This post could have been written by half the millenial pozservatives you rightfully decry for not willing to discuss sodomites.

  14. "- Grotesque levels of obesity."

    Hey Feryl/Agnostic, what do either of you make of the fact that the majority of super obese states are "conservative?" (I'm not getting into the semantics of how many of the obese people there are black/hispanic, we all know plenty of southern whites are massive) Also, what do you make of the fact that liberals mock conservatives for being fat, yet will also lobby against "fat shaming," and promoting "fat pride?"

    "- Relationships between the opposite sex being so tense, loveless, and superficial that many people take years to marry or they avoid long term relationships altogether. And when people do actually get married, there's a strong chance it well end in divorce."

    I'm not a big fan of self-indulgent "dark" movies, but I just saw "Gone Girl," and man did that movie manage to capture the zeitgeist. But this doesn't surprise me, considering that David Fincher's two best movies, "Se7en" and "Fight Club," also manage to capture the modern cocooning/rising inequality climate. I doubt I agree with Fincher's nihilistic worldview, but he is very good at observing the climate.

    Also, check out this article...


    "In retrospect, the entire show’s treatment of LGBTQ issues is awful, a fault pointedly illustrated by the exhaustive clip-compilation “Homophobic Friends.” But Chandler’s treatment of his gay father, a Vegas drag queen played by Kathleen Turner, is especially appalling, and it’s not clear the show knows it. It’s one thing for Chandler to recall being embarrassed as a kid, but he is actively resentful and mocking of his loving, involved father right up until his own wedding (to which his father is initially not invited!). Even a line like “Hi, Dad” is delivered with vicious sarcasm. Monica eventually cajoles him into a grudging reconciliation, which the show treats as an acceptably warm conclusion. But his continuing discomfort now reads as jarringly out-of-place for a supposedly hip New York thirtysomething—let alone a supposedly good person, period."

    It must be wonderful to be a liberal. You can also simply claim that you are your peers are the first "good people" to ever exist, and everyone before you is an evil bigot. This article reaches level of USSR/PRC levels. The author is taking part in a struggle session/denunciation against a fictional character, and trying to turn the said fictional character into an "unperson."

  15. "Really, Agnostic? Really?"

    go away jew

  16. Also, Agnostic, I think you mentioned once, that despite its reputation, NYC is actually on the lower end of homosexual activity.

  17. "his gay father, a Vegas drag queen played by Kathleen Turner"

    Wow, just wow, a tranny being played by a real woman? Care for some transphobia with your homophobia? It's like sometimes you wonder how society even functioned in the past, with so many rights being mutilated and re-assigned.

  18. What are the YEAR parameters you're using? Are cohorts by birth year or coming of age? I ask because GSS responses have shifted drastically just since the question was asked for the second time in 2004. Millennials only showing responses in 2010 and 2012 are going to appear to be deviating more wildly from Xers who answered the question from 2004 onward than is actually the case in terms of their respective opinions in 2015. Can't tell if this is taken into account or not.

  19. "Hey Feryl/Agnostic, what do either of you make of the fact that the majority of super obese states are "conservative?" (I'm not getting into the semantics of how many of the obese people there are black/hispanic, we all know plenty of southern whites are massive) Also, what do you make of the fact that liberals mock conservatives for being fat, yet will also lobby against "fat shaming," and promoting "fat pride?"

    Are many of the highly liberal states also the states in which status conscious people (many of them whites) put effort into staying thin?

    A lack of obesity is, if I'm not mistaken, correlated with higher income and higher status.

    More conservative states are less status conscious so there is less of a difference in the bodies of the rich and poor. Meanwhile, in Minnesota and California rich people are much more thin than poor people.

    i wonder if more conservative people tend to be physically mundane, whereas liberals are more likely to be scrawny, or really fat, or have gross looking overbuilt gym bodies from some combo of lifting, no fat diets, and supplements/drugs. This probably plays into the instinctive sense of "wrongness" that conservatives have for liberals.

    Agnostic has done posts before about how body builder diets tend to be terrible for a person's skin, hair, and long term health. He also did a post about "practical" exercise and how it builds a more healthy and useful body than gym stuff.

    So even superficially in shape people will sometimes look weird. Status striving and narcissism has led many people to do things to stay in shape that are actually bad for you. There's more to health than being ultra thin or ultra muscular.

    In highly status conscious/superficial areas people are more likely to do end up looking freakish in the never ending quest be more thin/muscular than your competitors.

    Amusingly, Dokken's guitarist George Lynch not only dabbled in body building (admits to doing drugs too) but he's also very liberal. Go figure. I know Arnold's a Republican but he's basically a California bred libertarian, not exactly sterling credentials. California has been ground zero for every fitness fad including PEDs, hardly surprising for a state that suffers from the rootless moral relativism typical of Western states as well as a lot of status striving. With so little respect for tradition/sanctity and modesty you might as well turn your body into a chemistry experiment.

    By the way, snotty liberals mocking "fat" righties is rooted in the fact that liberals are often physically weak (or they get more buff but remain mentally weak) so they resent the bigger, tougher guys they feared who sometimes picked on them.

  20. Regarding politics and body type, guess who's the conservative among these three Hollywood types: Sean Penn (thin or gym body muscular in a few roles)
    Tom Selleck (consistently average and fairly athletic),
    Micheal Moore (fat, and not in a stout way either).

    Go figure, huh?

    Less pretentious, more stable, less fashion oriented conservatives probably accept and maintain a fairly consistent shape throughout life whereas neurotic, flaky slavishly trendy liberals struggle with body image disorders. So they desperately resort to drugs/dumb diets/over training to look better but their erratic unhealthy looking body stages end up reflecting their frazzled minds.

    Geography wise, I understand that the Western states tend to be thinner. Is that because unpretentious Easterners just aren't as superficial as crassly trendy people in the West? Is it because of all the blacks in the South and the urban areas of the East?

    Note also that the mania for exercise/fad diets fits into inequality culture. Nobody wants to blend in, to be ordinary. Not when you can assume a certain identity to try and fit into some high status group. So this nonsense started to appear in the 80's and it's gotten more absurd since.

    Look at the action stars of the 40's-70's; John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson. Athletic, yes (the Duke more so in his younger days, he did play college football) but not superheroic in their physiques.

    Then Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Van Damme in the 80's who all showed tell tale signs of overbuilt gym bodies and roiding (less so in Van Damme's case though he does look a bit too ripped and veiny in some of his early 90's roles). Not to mention the legions of wannabe action stars of the 80's/early 90's who clearly were drugged up.

    Pro Wrestlers also looked much more ordinary before the 80's. Vince McMahon wasn't naive about what these guys were doing and he started to really push guys like Hulk Hogan who could've stepped out of a comic book. By the late 90's few if any wrestlers looked like Jerry Lawler or Jim Duggan anymore (those guys were from an era in which natural strength and charisma was enough so they felt it wasn't even necessary to do tons of weight training, dieting, and drugging). As competition got more fierce eventually you had to have a ridiculously "cut" and monstrously overgrown body. Only the really tall guys could get away with natural looking bodies (since there are so few tall guys to begin with).

  21. "David Fincher's two best movies, "Se7en" and "Fight Club," also manage to capture the modern cocooning/rising inequality climate. I doubt I agree with Fincher's nihilistic worldview, but he is very good at observing the climate."

    Can't disagree with that, Zodiac (2007) is one by him that I watch from time to time (not that often since like so many post mid 90's movies it's too long). His recreation of the Lake Berryessa stabbing is so matter of fact and well acted that it's one of the few thing made since 1992 that really sticks with me.

    One thing that helps make Zodiac more palatable than Fincher's other stuff is that it accurately creates a true story involving mostly modest and agreeable people in an unpretentious time period (the later 60's/70's) so naturally Fincher can't get too carried away with the misanthropy and cynicism. Going too far would've also been an insult to the cops and reporters who fought frustration, uncooperative witnesses, and bureaucracy to the bitter end (nobody was ever charged and most of the players including the killer are dead or near death). Not to mention unfair to the victims as well.

    It's too bad Fincher is too young to have used his talents in a more healthy and fun environment.

  22. Rifle-dork -- I already told you to get lost and shit your diaper somewhere else. Spamming comments from a painfully weak sock puppet name just makes you look clingy and womanish.

  23. "What are the YEAR parameters you're using?"

    None in the OP. If you just restrict it to the '10 and '12 surveys, the pattern still holds -- more polarization among late X and Millennial cohorts, compared to Boomers and early X-ers, owing to far higher support among libs in recent generations, with conservatives not being terribly different.


You MUST enter a nickname with the "Name/URL" option if you're not signed in. We can't follow who is saying what if everyone is "Anonymous."