Dating and relationships are challenging for everyone. Gay and lesbian people must deal with many of the same dating and relationship issues as heterosexual people, but they also face many unique challenges. Since gay and lesbian people are minority groups that have been marginalized for much of history, cultural prejudices have traditionally made finding partners and developing healthy relationships more difficult. As American culture becomes more accepting of gay and lesbian people, more LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) singles bars, communities, and dating websites and services have made dating and relationships more accessible. As of 2010, through artificial insemination, surrogacy and adoption, more gay and lesbian couples are having children. This means there will be more LGBT families in the coming years, providing more relationship models for young gay and lesbian people.
Gay and Lesbian Dating
Gay and lesbian dating is often easier in large cities than in small towns. Most large cities boast more than a few gay bars or clubs, and LGBT communities often set up headquarters in areas with large population densities. The American cities with the most vibrant LGBT communities include Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Miami, Seattle, San Francisco and New York City, according to the website Queer Theory.
Gay and Lesbian Relationships
Fundamentally, gay and lesbian relationships are similar to heterosexual relationships, however research conducted by couples therapist John Gottman at the University of Washington alongside University of California psychology professor Robert Levenson found that homosexual couples fared better with certain relationship challenges than did their heterosexual counterparts. "Gays and lesbians are nicer than straight people during arguments with partners: they are significantly less belligerent, less domineering and less fearful."
As of 2010, the issue of same-sex marriage is controversial, with only five states legally recognizing same-sex marriages (Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont). Many other states have amended laws to give same-sex couples more equitable rights, but marriage remains an elusive privilege for many couples across the country. According to a Stanford University study by Darren Spedale, 46 percent of straight marriages end in divorce, compared with 17 percent of same-sex marriages.
According to studies by the National Adoption Center, American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, "children raised by lesbian parents do better academically, are more confident than their peers and have fewer behavioral problems." However, adoptions by same-sex partners are banned in Florida and are subject to greater scrutiny in many other states, according to a report on CNN.
Homophobia in the Media
Before the 1980s, portrayals of homosexuality in the media and pop culture were usually negative. They often depicted sexual or social deviance (like Norman Bates in "Psycho"). However, since then, portrayals have been more common and more favorable, according to Gallup. The number of Americans who considered homosexuality to be acceptable increased from 38 percent in June 1992 to 51 percent in May 2002.
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- lesbian concept image by Alexey Klementiev from Fotolia.com