Attitudes towards and about the gay community are changing rapidly. At the ballot box this fall, voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington voted to support same sex marriage. Many organizations have anti-discrimination policies that include language regarding sexual orientation. Younger people seem more inclusive than previous generations when it comes to sexuality. And yet, there are still people in the gay community who feel they are not fully a part of the wider community around them. And there are those in that wider world who aren’t ready to accept gay people as full citizens.
We’ll discuss the findings of a recent survey designed to give voice to the downstate Illinois LGBT experience. It’s an update to a similar survey from the year 2000, and it suggests the climate has changed in a number of ways, from more support of issues surrounding gay rights, to fewer workplace complications, to a general sense of tolerance of one another, regardless of sexuality. But it also finds that downstate Illinois, while more tolerant, is not necessarily outwardly supportive of the gay community – or, at least in the eyes of the respondents to the survey, there is room for improvement.