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Having Gay Friends Makes You A Better Person, Says Science

Having Gay Friends Makes You A Better Person, Says Science

Science claims that having gay friends makes you a better person and we aren't surprised one bit! After all, homophobia doesn't really do much but fill your heart with hate.

"People who had at least one gay or lesbian acquaintance at baseline exhibited larger attitude changes at two and four-year follow-ups with regard to support for same-sex marriage and moral acceptance of homosexuality. Furthermore, this contact effect extended even, and perhaps especially, to people who otherwise displayed more negative prior attitudes and lower propensities for gay and lesbian acquaintanceship," stated a paper titled Gay Acquaintanceship and Attitudes toward Homosexuality: A Conservative Test. To be honest, this comes as no big surprise. You see, at the end of the day, it's homophobia that makes people more intolerant towards queer people. But attitudes are prone to undergo a marked change when someone comes out to their straight friends. So effectively, over time, people with queer friends not only become more supportive of their friends, but they also are more likely to open their hearts to accept others from the LGBTQ community like never before. 


 
 
 
 
 
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With the help of data collected between 2006 to 2008, and United States General Social Survey (GSS), Daniel DellaPosta, a sociology professor at Pennsylvania State University, was able to show evidence of change in the cultural attitudes towards queer people over the years. In fact, what he found during this time, was the fact that straight people who responded to this with one or more queer friend "exhibited greater shifts toward increased acceptance of homosexuality and gay marriage in 2008 and 2010." In fact, in the 2006 sample, 54% of the responders claimed to have least one gay acquaintance, 47% admitted to having a gay coworker and 31% said that they had a gay family member.


 
 
 
 
 
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According to the findings of the study, a marked change in attitudes towards queer people was noticed when people had to deal with someone they have known, for example, a family member, coming out to them. Having known them for a while emphasizes on the bond the two have formed over a period of time. It also indicates the importance that straight people give to the bond that has already been formed between them. "This theory is perhaps most eloquently expressed in Harvey Milk’s famous exhortation for gays and lesbians in all walks of life to ‘come out’ to their friends, relatives, and coworkers in order to ‘end prejudice overnight,'" revealed DellaPosta in the study.


 
 
 
 
 
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Amazingly, this kind of friendship has a more pronounced effect on straight people who are "older" and "politically conservative". While they are probably the ones with the reputation of being the most homophobic of them all, vocally airing their disdain about same-sex marriages, they are surprisingly also the ones who stand a higher chance at changing their views and opinions based on their queer friends. Turns out that getting to know a person makes them less hatable based on their sexuality. To be honest, this really doesn't come as a surprise because queer people aren't the monsters most think them to be. 


 
 
 
 
 
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"From a different perspective, intergroup contact theory suggests that contact with members of an outgroup reduces prejudice through a corresponding reduction in social distance. The distance-reducing mechanisms proposed by this approach, such as learning about the outgroup and reappraising previous beliefs, share the logical implication that contact should have the strongest prejudice-reducing effects in cases in which initial prejudices and social distances are largest," claims the study as well. "In this case, individuals who begin from a baseline of less tolerant views will experience the largest shifts in attitudes because of contact."


 
 
 
 
 
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While this study is rather positive, it doesn't guarantee these changes being observed in everyone. Especially those who maintain only casual contact with their queer acquaintances. In fact, it also addressed those who remain homophobic despite knowing queer people well. While attitude changes were rather common, it wouldn't be fair to maintain that not everyone did turn out to be as tolerant as we hoped they would. "There are clear limitations to the analysis undertaken here that should make these findings necessarily provisional," stated the study.


 
 
 
 
 
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"Most critically, we might wonder whether there is some underlying and unobserved selection in the type of person who reports relatively negative views toward homosexuality at baseline but nevertheless reports a gay acquaintance," it also stated. To be honest, this doesn't come as much of a shock considering the fact that society collectively has spent centuries propagating hate against queer people. To be honest, over the centuries, violence against the LGBTQ community has not only been carried out by individuals but also by the state in forms of corporal laws that punish homosexual acts. 


 
 
 
 
 
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Though this study proves that the world is indeed changing for the better, DellaPosta believes that it isn't enough. "Without the aid of a more directly experimental or quasi-experimental intervention, we cannot ensure a true 'apples-to-apples' comparison even with the aid of propensity scores to match respondents on the basis of baseline attitudes and sociodemographic factors." So while we hope that researchers figure how to make people less homophobic and more human, here's raising a toast to all those who chose to see past all the hate and spread a bit of love in this terrible, terrible world. 


 
 
 
 
 
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