Local talks survey LGBT Americans

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - "Race, religion and sexual orientation barriers are breaking down," said Jesse Rhodes of Rancho Mirage.

One of the largest and most detailed surveys ever conducted among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans agrees. The Pew Research Center discovered more gay and transgender adults reported feel more accepted.

Rhodes, a former NASCAR racer, said the results and his experience as a gay man are mutual. He and his partner of 18 years are the new owners of the Skylark Hotel in Palm Springs.

"Instead of it being straight friendly or gay friendly. We're just friendly," he said.

Their hotel is what he calls an example of evolution.

"It was built in 1955. In 1955, it had all blacks go through the back. They couldn't stay there, they could only work. Now ironically a gay black man and gay white man own that hotel," said Rhodes.

However, there's still work to be done. The study reports fewer than 6 in 10 of the participants have come out to their mothers about their sexual orientation or gender identity. Fewer than 4 in 10 have told their dads.

"We didn't have discussion. He knew and was OK with it. Unfortunately, I have friends who have been shunned by their families," said Rhodes.

In fact, nearly 40 percent of adults said they were rejected by loved ones sometime in their life, 60 percent had been targets of jokes and slurs.

"At that point I was willing to fist fight. If you really want to bully me, I'm the wrong gay guy. If I saw that happening, I would interject," said Rhodes.

Rhodes hopes the country will continue to make progress.
"Acceptance is the right thing. We don't need a study to know that. And not everyone's the same," he said.

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