McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–Advertisers, politicians and propagandists all agree that a picture is worth a thousand words. Images evoke emotions that in turn enable a viewer to identify with, or reject, a product, person or idea. Positive pictures are intended to attract. Negative images are meant to repel.
Since Feb. 12, the day San Francisco issued the first same-sex “marriage” licenses, the world has been bombarded with images of rapturous homosexual couples pledging their love to one another. Photographs and video have captured faces wide with smiles and streaked with tears.
Hardly a day goes by without a report in print, or on television, about some aspect of homosexual “marriage.” More times than not, the accounts are accompanied by images of newly “married” same-sex couples grinning, crying, hugging and/or kissing.
Go back in history to mid- to late 1980s and you will find the images that dominated the media concerning homosexual life in America were quite different. Then it was the ravaging reality of AIDS that preoccupied news reporting. Pictures and video of homosexuals wasting away from the dreaded disease were constantly displayed.
Whether it is with happy images of same-sex couples getting “married” or with bleak pictures of homosexual men dying of AIDS, the media has long sought to engender sympathy for homosexuals. Any report or imagery that could be construed as negative or remotely “homophobic” is avoided.
The only negative portrayal connected to homosexuality is of those who believe it is a lifestyle choice — and a poor choice at that. Organizations and individuals opposed to homosexuality in general, and to same-sex “marriage” in particular, are routinely portrayed as narrow-minded, homophobic hate-mongers.
The current media effort to portray same-sex “marriage” in a positive light seems to have had little effect on the public at large. Most polls show that two-thirds of Americans remain opposed to the idea of homosexual marriage. Even in Oregon, where same-sex “marriage” licenses continue to be issued, a solid majority are against recognizing same-sex “matrimony.”
Rather than engender sympathy, could it be that the images of same-sex couples saturating the media are having the opposite effect? The daily parade of grooms kissing grooms and brides embracing brides might well be too much for grassroots Americans to handle.
Most of America has come to tolerate –- in the classic sense of the word -– the reality of homosexuality. Though the total number of homosexuals is small (most recent studies indicate that, at most, 1.4 percent of women and 2.8 percent of men think of themselves as homosexual or bisexual), they are found in every strata of society.
There are homosexual politicians, homosexual entertainers, homosexual educators, homosexual lawyers, homosexual doctors, homosexual clergy, et al. Even though those who define themselves as “gay” make up 4 percent or less of the total population, you would be hard-pressed to find a segment of society that does not have a homosexual presence.
Most Americans are rather laissez faire when it comes to personal sexual behavior. So long as what is done is out of sight, between consenting adults, and no one winds up in an emergency room, it is my experience that most people are willing to live and let live.
However, once untoward behavior starts parading itself on Main Street, then the attitude of mainstream America changes. When homosexuals insist that grassroots folk celebrate and affirm their lifestyle –- which is a key part of what marriage accomplishes in our society — then toleration comes to a screeching halt.
The same sun that melts wax also hardens clay.
Pictures of “happily wedded” homosexuals have not had a positive effect on most Americans. Grassroots folks are having a difficult time connecting emotionally with images of same-sex couples smooching, must less being “married.” It seems the emotions the pictures are evoking are anything but endearing.
Kelly Boggs, whose column appears each Friday in Baptist Press, is pastor of Valley Baptist Church in McMinnville, Ore., in the Portland area.