Gay Spin City -- By: Tony Payne

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 05:2 (Fall 2000)
Article: Gay Spin City
Author: Tony Payne

Gay Spin City

Tony Payne

Homosexual Public Relations machines creating an illusion of reality

From Condemnation to Acceptance

By any standard, it has been an extraordinary transformation. Thirty years ago, homosexuality was the practice of a small and virtually unseen minority, a marginalized sub-culture viewed with suspicion and distaste by society at large. How quickly things have changed. Within the span of a generation, our society seems to have moved from suspicion and condemnation, through grudging tolerance, to open acceptance and promotion, and now it seems to have gone all the way to suspicion and condemnation of those who might speak ill of homosexuality.

Perhaps the most potent symbol of this transformation in Australia has been the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. From its beginnings as a small, counter-cultural protest march in 1978, the event has become a juggernaut no longer even requiring its sexual adjectives. It is now known simply as ‘Mardi Gras’ and is touted as the largest and most important festival on Sydney’s calendar. It is broadcast at prime time on network television, with breathless commentary from popular personalities, and live crosses to cross-dressed roving reporters. The presentation sometimes approaches the surreal, as the commentators introduce each float or group in the parade and say something nice about them: “And now we have the Fetishist Society, wearing their trademark black leather. They’re a small and very tight-knit group, the Fetishists, but they do a lot for the community, and it’s lovely to see them here tonight…” and so on.

According to prime time television, what was considered deviant thirty years ago is now a perfectly normal and healthy part of the community. How has our society changed to this extent in such a relatively short space of time? What has driven this remarkable transformation? In this short article, I want to consider that question from just one angle — the angle of spin.

The Public Persona of Homosexuality

In many respects, the victories of the gay lobby over the past thirty years have been PR victories. Homosexuality is not more prominent and “normal” today because of a massive increase in the number of homosexuals (the best most recent studies put the figure at between 1 and 2% for men, and less than 1% for women). Nor have there been any major scientific breakthroughs or discoveries that might account for the process of “normalization” that we have witnessed.

What has changed is the portrayal of homosexuality in public discourse — in newspapers, magazines, film, and the electronic media. The public persona of homosexuality has received a complete makeover, which has largely taken place through the hard work and campaigning of...

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