It was not just another Texas-style party. At a lavish ranch outside Austin last spring, some 300 ranchers, bankers, oilmen and politicians drank, ate barbecue, smoked pot and paired off for lovemaking. The only unusual aspect of the weekend-long party was that the guests were homosexuals. In an East Coast version of the Texas party, the cruise ship Renaissance sailed out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for the Caribbean last December carrying some 300 homosexuals, including doctors, lawyers, architects and businessmen.
To most Americans, these and similar recent events are unfamiliar. To those who learn about them, they are jolting evidence of the spread of unabashed homosexuality once thought to be confined to the worlds of theater, dance, fashion, etc. Similarly jolting have been public announcements of their homosexuality by a variety of people who could be anybody's neighbors—a Maryland teacher, a Texas minister, a Minnesota state senator, an Ohio professor, an Air Force sergeant (see box p. 34).
Your husband may be a homosexual, Redbook tells its 4.5 million women readers, but your marriage can survive if you make an effort. In her "Dear Abby" column, Abigail Van Buren reassures the distraught parents of a lesbian: "Why do you assume that her sexual preference will necessarily 'ruin' her life?" There are gay* studies classes in 50 colleges, gay dances in churches, gay synagogues, gay Alcoholics Anonymous groups, a lesbian credit union, even a gay Nazi Party and a Jewish lesbian group formed to fight it. There are now more than 800 gay groups in the U.S., most of them pressing for state or local reforms. The Advocate, a largely political biweekly tabloid for gays, has a nationwide circulation of 60,000, and the National Gay Task Force has a membership of 2,200.
A generation ago, Sex Researcher Alfred Kinsey reported that in the U.S. between 1% and 2% of the women and 4% of the men were exclusively homosexual, with 13% of all men predominantly homosexual for at least three years of their lives. A conservative estimate of those who are exclusively homosexual today is 5 million. The more political of the new homosexuals like to consider themselves a minority group like the blacks and claim that they number 20 million, most of them, of course, still "in the closet."
Since homosexuals began to organize for political action six years ago, they have achieved a substantial number of victories. Eleven state legislatures have followed Illinois in repealing their anti-sodomy laws. The American Psychiatric Association has stopped listing homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder, and AT&T, several other big corporations and the Civil Service Commission have announced their willingness to hire openly avowed gays. In a special issue on homosexuality, the teachers' journal, College English, went so far as to suggest editorially that although it may be painful, homosexual teachers should reveal their sexual preferences as a matter of "academic responsibility." If they do not do so, argued the editorial, they will contribute to a "cycle of oppression for our gay students, who, without gay role models or support, will very likely experience self-loathing, ignorance and fear."
But even as homosexuals congratulate themselves on such gains, many other Americans have become alarmed, especially