Gays, Small Towns, Climate Change Backlash

  • The increased visibility of L.G.B.T.Q. people as a sign of progress in a multicultural global society;
  • Versus the sentiments of a country song called “Try That in a Small Town”;
  • And global backlash against climate change policies as an indictment of human inability to anticipate and ameliorate existential threats.

NY Times, Jane Coaston, 20 Jul 2023: More Visible L.G.B.T.Q. People Isn’t a Curiosity or a Crisis — It’s Normal

I’ve said this before: they’ve (we’ve) been around all along. That they’re (we’re) becoming more visible is an indication that the forces of authoritarian conformity are loosening, and more and more people are now able to live their lives more honestly than they could have decades ago. Variation in sexual tastes has always been part of the human species (else, as I’ve wondered before, why aren’t all men equally attracted to all women, and vice versa?). But of course this infuriates the Savannah/tribal moralists, with their black and white thinking and their existential fear that their children may not provide them grandchildren.

The essay opens:

What’s the correct number of lesbians? Gay men? Bisexuals? Trans people? Is there a number that is too high? Too low? Just right?

Every year, Gallup releases a survey of how many Americans identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The 2023 edition found it was about 7 percent. That percentage has held relatively steady over the past three years, but it is about double the percentage in 2012 (3.4 percent). Perhaps most notably, the number of transgender Americans has increased, as has the number of people who identify as nonbinary.

A lot has happened over the past decade, a lot of it to the benefit of L.G.B.T.Q. people. This is the best time in American history to be L.G.B.T.Q., with the proviso that the bar for such an achievement is incredibly, unspeakably low. Marriage equality is now the law of the land, and more people know someone who is trans now than they did a few years ago. Many people now live in public, too, sharing their lives on social media with strangers. There are more visibly L.G.B.T.Q. people because there are more visible people, period.

But that visibility has produced a very strange complaint from some critics. L.G.B.T.Q. people are OK in theory, they seem to argue, but there are simply too many of them.

Followed by hilarious examples of existential panic and outrageous slippery-slope projections by conservatives.


I haven’t followed this story closely, since I don’t care about country music, but it’s fascinating to see an example of a country song that has provoked such condemnation.

Washington Post, Brian Broome, 24 Jul 2023: Opinion | Jason Aldean? Please spare me the small-town nostalgia.

This is about a song called “Try That in a Small Town” that, judging from the other pieces I’ve skimmed about it, purports to identify bad things that happen in big cities with things residents of small towns will not put up with. The writer of this piece, Brian Broome, is black, and recalls his own experience growing up in a small Ohio town. Ending:

You can see our national mythology around small towns shot through our culture. It is everywhere, in every Hallmark movie where the successful, young city woman returns to her hometown because her urban life is an empty one full of loneliness and streetlights. In this version, the real meaning of life comes from being surrounded by men in boots and women in housedresses. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I have had awful things happen to me in the city. But nothing more awful than things that have happened to me in the country. And we need to start shedding this idea that purity and goodness reside only in the places with one stoplight.

So, all you weirdos out there who escaped your small town? I see you. I know what you went through. And I hope you have found a place where you feel at home and comfortable enough to be yourself. You were never a weirdo. There was never anything wrong with you. You are not depraved. Sometimes we’re just born where we don’t belong. And someone creating an idyllic and violent fantasy of “community” of the place you had to leave behind doesn’t change that one bit.

But of course this piece dovetails with the previous item about the increasing visibility of gays and other sexual minorities. They all left those small towns, because the righteous residents of those towns (who “take care of their own”) wouldn’t tolerate them. When I heard of this song called “Try That in a Small Town,” it struck me as precisely an advertisement of the incivility of small towns, a declaration of those same principles of Savannah/tribal morality in which “good ol’ boys” may defend each other, but only because they’re all alike.


Washington Post, Henry Olsen, 24 Jul 2023: Opinion | Backlash to climate policies is growing

If proponents of climate policies thought this year’s scorching summer temperatures and extreme weather events would propel the world to embrace rapid action to lower greenhouse gas emissions, they were sorely mistaken. If there is to be any hope that governments might address this issue, they will need a new strategy.

Around the world, nations are choosing to prioritize economic growth and national interest over climate policy. That’s perhaps unsurprising for poor or developing countries, such as India or Indonesia, whose living standards remain far below those found in the West. But it’s also true of the economic powerhouse of China, which — despite its large investments in renewable energy — is still dramatically increasing approvals for coal-fired electricity plants.

Even more alarming for the climate activist community should be the backlash to climate policies in Western Europe. There’s no major area in the world where policymakers are more aligned with green objectives than there, yet popular pressure in nation after nation is forcing governments to curtail measures designed to quickly progress toward net-zero carbon emissions.

This is what I’m calling “prognostic myopia,” for lack of a better term: the inability of humans to anticipate long-term future consequences, and take actions to prevent them. Humans are short-term thinkers.

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