BY Advocate Contributors
December 14 2009 5:25 PM ET
Blessings to Meredith Baxter, the actress who played the progressive, politically active mother on the classic ’80s TV sitcom, Family Ties. After three husbands and five kids, she met the right woman, had her “aha” moment, and the pieces finally fell into place. She’s a lesbian. She’s a lot more progressive in a whole new way!
The question I kept hearing was, “How could she live into her 60s and not know she was a lesbian?” What keeps people so out of touch with themselves, they wouldn’t know their own sexual preference for several decades of their life?
Yet, when I did the math, I realized there is still a huge amount of the population that grew up during a time when homosexuality was a crime. The LGBT civil rights movement is still rather young. Just 30 years ago sex education was fraught with lies (even more so than today) and nearly nonexistent. Furthermore, people who are now in their 50s and older were raised in an age when the entire world was engaged in war; therefore, maintaining a calm status quo was likened to bliss. Many just wanted to get to the end of life having no harm come to their families. Sexual pleasure had very little to do with it. They often believed conformity was more important than diversity when it came to social structures, and many forces — religious, political, familial — used power, fear, shame, and even violence to keep people in line.
With all these pressures, their choice to live in denial — not understanding and avoiding their true sexual orientation — was the only way they knew to survive. Is it any wonder that plenty of people go to the grave never dealing with their sexuality or even experiencing the sex they secretly longed for all their lives?
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