The daily life of a gay couple in today’s society is much more different than decades before, and it is easy to presume that it is also much better. Members of the LGBTQ community have earned most of their natural, civil rights in the last decade and are certainly visible in our modern society, today more than ever before in history.
Of course, there are still wide gaps between gay couples in western societies and gay couples in other parts of the world, where they are still being discriminated against and even harassed. Therefore, the daily life of a gay couple in a western society, like the United States, is an example of positive change, acceptance, and legal recognition that are not prevalent everywhere.
On the other hand, there are many layers and nuances within American society and lifestyle, as well. It would be wrong to assume that all members of the LGBTQ community go through the same experiences and perceive their lifestyle in the same way. Social changes and legislative changes are still new because a decade means a relatively short time, in historical terms.
There is also a generational gap that needs to be considered. While younger gay couples take some of their freedom for granted, LGBTQ people who have experienced discrimination, violence, and who have fought for their rights in the past decade are much more aware of what still needs to be done and of the injustice that is still present today.
In many ways, the lifestyle of a gay couple in the USA could be much better than the lifestyle of gay couples in other parts of the world, where they do not fully enjoy civic rights. However, according to LGBTQ activists, the American society and government are still not fully welcoming for gay couples, and there are several legal battles that need to be won.
Important facts and data
Pro-LGBTQ activists and organizations can contribute to a better understanding of the gay couples’ lifestyle in the USA because they gather information and provide statistics. Some facts show a significant improvement in legislation, while others demonstrate that at a social level, gay people and couples are still not feeling integrated and acknowledged.
According to statistics, over 40% of LGBTQ people consider that they live in an environment that is not welcoming. This means that despite legislative improvements, almost half of the members of this community do not feel completely accepted in their daily environment. On the other hand, more than 90% of gay adults believe that today’s society is more accepting now than in the past decade.
Therefore, although society as a whole is undoubtedly more accepting today, after years and years of the gay rights movement, when it comes to their close environment, a lot of LGBTQ couples do not feel accepted.
In 2007, the Employment Nondiscrimination Act specifically prohibited any discrimination based on sexual orientation during the process of hiring and also in all work environments. Since that moment, gay couples could be hired and work without having to hide or fear discrimination.
Two years later, in 2009, the Matthew Shepard Act outlawed hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This was another victory for gay couples, considering that a lot of them feared for their lives in the past decade.
In 2011, a highly controversial issue regarding military service was finally solved. The infamous ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy was lifted, allowing gays, lesbians, and bisexuals the right to serve in the military. Therefore, either one or both partners in gay couples today are free to serve in the military.
One of the most significant victories for gay couples in the USA was the legalization of same-sex marriage in all 50 states in 2015. After more than a decade of struggles, bans, and overturns, gay marriage was finally legal all throughout the United States, allowing gay couples to fully enjoy the rights of married couples.
Before this historical moment, gay couples faced several difficulties when it came to taxes, domestic partnership benefits, and child adoption. Since 2015, gay couples have the right to legally marry in any of the American states and, therefore, enjoy all the rights and benefits of legally married couples.
Gay couples and society
Studies show that gays, lesbians, and bisexuals still report a lower level of satisfaction concerning their daily life. This is mainly because society continues to propagate the idea that heterosexuality is the norm, which makes LGBT people feel marginalized despite having won their legal rights. It seems that sexual orientation and life satisfaction cannot be separated.
There is a difference between society and the government. Even if the government has made significant legislative changes in the past years, that undoubtedly improve gay couples’ access to various benefits, society takes much longer to change. Studies have clearly shown that feeling accepted and integrated into society is essential for a high level of life satisfaction.
Gay couples who live in communities where they do not feel accepted and where heterosexuality is the norm, will most likely feel unhappier and report a lower quality of life. Being a sexual minority in today’s society continues to be a stigma, especially for younger gay couples.
The concept of family, similarly to the concept of marriage, is a crucial one and has gone through several transformations. The prevalent understanding of this concept in today’s society goes back to 18th century Europe, with procreation being the culminating point of marriage that resulted in the creation of a family.
As a natural result of multiple changes that had occurred in our society, the concept of family has also gone through a transformation. One of the most important changes is the development of homoparentality or same-sex parenting. The possibility of becoming legally married and raising children represented a major milestone for a lot of gay couples.
There have been numerous debates regarding same-sex parenting and the welfare of children raised by same-sex parents. Various studies concluded that families formed by gay couples are, in fact, very similar to heterosexual couples, in terms of their general lifestyle, duties, and characteristics. Gay couples who form a family have the same responsibilities when it comes to raising children.
They have a similar manner of planning their daily routine and dealing with their taxes and all other financial duties. Also, families with gay parents organize leisure activities and provide entertainment for their children in a similar way to conventional families. In fact, there are no significant differences between homoparentality and conventional parenting.
The daily life of gay partners who are also parents is surprisingly similar to that of any other family in the USA. However, there is one significant difference, and this has to do with various interactions within society. This is where gay couples and gay families face some difficulties, although the concept of same-sex couples and same-sex families is widely accepted today.
Gay couples are definitely more socially visible in the present time, but their legitimacy is still questioned. In their daily life, they can encounter rejection from institutions that are important in the community, such as religious or educational ones, or they can encounter prejudice, judgments, verbal attacks, and even symbolic attacks from members of society.
Other parents, school teachers, religious figures, and local government representatives are some of the members of society that can show signs of discrimination in their daily interactions with gay couples. Gay partners who participated in various surveys claimed that although they are treated with respect, they noticed that people have a general depreciative view on gay couples and gay parents.
Some of them also noticed that heterosexual couples or parents could feel uncomfortable around them, which is a subtle form of discrimination. Disapproving looks, offensive remarks, and even doubting the parenting skills of gay couples are other subtle forms of discrimination. These facts reinforce the idea that even though gay couples have gained legal visibility, prejudice and discrimination still exist.
Homophobia continues to manifest itself in both private and public spheres, including the families of LGBTQ people. The good news, however, is that public debates, legislative changes, and growing support networks have a major positive impact on changing social perception and fighting prejudice.
Gay couples enjoy the same civic rights as heterosexual couples in the USA, but they are still facing the challenge of social prejudice. Gay partners are still encountering discrimination and intolerance in their daily life, even if subtle. Society has always been reluctant to change and challenges when it comes to fundamental concepts such as partnership, marriage, parenthood, and family.
Same-sex couples who are also raising children are pioneers in our society, and it will probably take some time before this extended notion of family is fully accepted. The first step, which is legal recognition, was a fundamental one, and it changed the daily lives of gay couples forever.
They are now legally and socially visible, with full rights. It is just the beginning, and many other positive social changes will follow.