The long, sordid history of the gay conspiracy theory

For those engaged in it, the moral panic over “grooming” accomplishes what earlier iterations of the Homintern, like any conspiracy theory, did: offer soothingly simple explanations for perplexing phenomena. If the latest anti-gay hysteria could be attributed to a single statistic, it would be the one reported by Gallup last year that the percent of adults identifying as other than heterosexual has doubled over the past decade from 3.5 percent in 2012 to 7.1 percent. Much of this increase owes to the 21 percent of Gen Z that identifies as LGBTQ+. While it’s certainly possible the LGBTQ+ proportion of Americans born between 1997 and 2003 is twice that of millennials and nine times that of baby-boomers, a more likely explanation is that as societal acceptance of nonnormative sexual orientations and gender identities has increased, so has the propensity of young people to claim those orientations and identities for themselves — or at the least experiment with them.

For a loud minority of Americans, the enormous social progress won by gays and lesbians over the past 75 years — the most dramatic transformation in the status of any minority in history — is deeply unsettling, as is the increased visibility of trans people. And it is for the purpose of explaining this dramatic transformation that “groomer” discourse has proliferated. As gay people marry and serve openly in the military with no adverse consequences for the rest of society, the anti-gay movement has become increasingly desperate, to the extent that it is now ginning up hysteria about pedophile elites. During an earlier time, when gay people were forced to lurk amid the shadows like communist agents, this rhetoric was fatally effective. Today, nearly every American knows somebody who is gay. Fortunately, we are no longer living under the specter of the Homintern.

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