This is, in the United States, an age of (relative) sexual liberation: Sex outside of marriage is common to the point of normalcy. Homosexuality and gender fluidity are increasingly accepted as natural expressions of human sexuality. Sex, in general, is the subject of public and open discussion in a way it hasn’t been before. Within the space of only a few generations—and with an acceleration that occurred over just the past several decades—American culture has done what in the centuries before would have seemed unimaginable: It has become (mostly, sort of, relatively) comfortable with sex.
You can attribute at least some of that, says the sex columnist and LGBTQ advocate Dan Savage, to the queer rights movement—and to the speedy normalization of gay culture in American life that arose as a result of its efforts. As more and more gay characters appeared on TV, and as more actors and athletes came out and encouraged their non-famous counterparts to do the same, and as queer rights advocates worked with their communities, Americans in general became, quickly, much more aware than they had been about gay life. And with that came an awareness, too, of gay sex.
That changed things for the better, and not just for the LGBTQ community. As Savage said today in a conversation at the Aspen Ideas Festival, co-sponsored by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic: “Gay people coming out, in the face of judgment and shame, about their sexual expressions encouraged a lot of straight people to express their sexual identities beyond just ‘I want to meet someone, get married, and have some babies.’”