7 Reasons To Be Hopeful in 2015
7. The Wisdom of Youth
It's all about the younger generation. From this reporter's admittedly American-centric, Generation X perspective, Millennials born between 1983 and 2000 are more connected, accepting and diverse than any previous generation in modern history.
Unlike their comparatively spoiled parents' generations, who grew up during times of greater prosperity, Millennials have come of age during the Great Recession, a time of unemployment and economic challenge overshadowed only by the Great Depression.
Arguably, the Great Recession and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, fought by members of the Millennial generation, who have by and large accepted LGB troops since the fall of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, have imbued this generation with greater character and substance than my generation or the Baby Boomers.
Millennials compare well to their great-grandparents' generation, called by Tom Brokaw "The Greatest Generation," which overcame the depression of the 1930s and won World War II. Members of the second-greatest generation — the Millennials — are in themselves reasons to hope for a better tomorrow for LGBT people, as well as other minorities and the poor.
6. Smarter, Stronger Human Rights Advocacy
Because their missions are always growing, non-governmental human rights organizations have become incredibly efficient in terms of how they spend their resources. And they too have been tempered by the effects of the Great Recession (which technically ended in June 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Research, but which still reverberates today, according to the Economic Policy Institute).
Groups like Amnesty International, the Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights First and Human Rights Watch have robust global LGBT advocacy programs. Although HRC's international operation late-comer status was not without controversy, the group's proven track record makes it a powerhouse in all of its endeavors. I say, as long as everyone's focus stays on the goal of attaining basic human rights for gender and sexual minorities, the more the merrier.
All four groups have earned nearly unanimous respect by aggressively holding human rights violators accountable with vigorous documentation of their abuses. Reports compiled by groups like HRC, HRF, Amnesty and HRW put the lurid and often horrifying details of transgressions before the eyes of the world. Their reports act as glaring mirrors that can be held in the faces of offending governments, politicians and the bullies themselves — even when said offenders are the groups' own home countries.
5. Social Media's Continued Growth and Influence
More has been said and by more eloquent and informed commentators than yours truly could possibly add about the potential and realized impact of social media. Just ask Hosni Mubarak or any survivors of Libya's former Qaddafi government about the power of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Only China, North Korea and Iran seem able to control the impact of social media. Two of those three countries are largely isolated from the rest of the world. So far, China manages to have it both ways: restricting social media and remaining open for business with the rest of the world. But even there, its unruly child, Hong Kong, may ultimately break Beijing's control.
4. Growing Influence of LGBT Media
Even as the "mainstream" consumer magazine market has contracted by 20 percent in terms of advertising revenue since 2008, LGBT media has grown by 24 percent during that same period, according to VSS Intelligence, which tracks media market trends. At the same time, circulation of LGBT publications grew by a whopping 15.1 percent in 2013, according to Rivendell Media.
All of that growth will at least in theory allow publications and news sites like The Advocate, Out and our worthy competitors to continue bringing light to stories such as the recent defeat of homophobic public officials in Florida who did everything they could to stop marriage licenses from being issued to loving, same-sex couples. Or, to a recent feature about the state of LGBT equality in Africa.
3. Evolving Intelligence
Let's just sum this one up by assuming that humanity is still evolving and that evolution includes the accumulation of greater intelligence for our species. Add in that it is self-evident that accepting and respecting the equality of LGBT members of society is simply smarter than rejecting and denying LGBT people, and voila, another reason to be hopeful.
2. Yesterday's Radicalism Is Tomorrow's Conservatism
Every journalist and writer hopes she or he will say or write something that is remembered. If nothing else, I hope to be remembered by an axiom I first penned in the mid-1990s: What was radical yesterday is liberal today and will be conservative tomorrow.
If the idea that all people are created equal was once considered radical, but is claimed now even by conservative ideologues in many societies, it follows then that the same will ultimately be true of notions such as full equality and acceptance of gender and sexual minorities.
1. The Polls and Big Mo
In U.S. presidential politics, they say momentum, the "Big Mo," is the holy grail. U.S. News & World Report recently said, "Gay Marriage has the 'Big Mo.'" Indeed, as that same U.S. News article noted, a CBS, New York Times poll recently found that only 37 percent of Americans oppose marriage equality, while 54 percent support it.
While there's certainly a thriving anti-American sentiment in many corners of world affairs, such as sub-Saharan Africa, where several countries have jail-the-gays movements whose leaders claim homosexuality is imported from the West, there's no denying that trends in the U.S. still influence human affairs abroad. As American society becomes more accepting, to a large extent, so too will societies abroad.