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The idea of a gay community is complex and can be very controversial.
 Defining the community
The word "gay" is sometimes used as shorthand for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and possibly also "transsexual" and others, so "gay community" is sometimes a synonym for "LGBT community" or "Queer community". In other cases, the speaker may be referring only to gay men. There are many identifiable "sub-communities" - the leather community, the bear community, the chubby community, the lesbian community, the bisexual community, the transgendered community, the drag community, the rave community, and so on.
There are certainly sexual minority cultures which are shared by a substantial fraction of the given minority population. But there are also people in the population who do not share in the culture. Especially in gay villages, the social networks of many LGBT people are heavily concentrated inside the LGBT population. But other people are entirely geographically or socially isolated from other LGBT people, or don't feel their social connections to their LGBT friends are different from those they have with straight friends.
Thus it is possible to conceive of a worldwide or a local LGBT culture or social network, but which does not necessarily include all LGBT people in the area. There is also a potential distinction to be made between one's social network and one's sexual network (or universe of possible sexual partners).
Some question the notion of sharing a "community" with people one has never actually met (whether in person or remotely). But other advocates insist that all LGBT people (and perhaps their allies), are part of a global community, in one way or another.
The common culture generally celebrates pride, diversity, individuality, and sexuality. Many participants find it a refreshing antidote to hatred, discrimination, homophobia, sex-negative attitudes, and conformist pressures they sometimes encounter in the larger society.
Political activism is also very common, especially on LGBT, liberal, and libertarian issues (but there are, of course, LGBT people of every political stripe, including Log Cabin Republicans).
 Human and legal rights
The lesbian and gay community represents a social component of the global community that is believed by many to be underrepresented in the area of civil rights. The current struggle of the gay community has been largely brought about by globalization. In the United States, World War II brought together many closeted rural men from around the nation and exposed them to more progressive attitudes in Europe. Upon returning home after the war, many of these men decided to band together in cities rather than return to their small towns. Fledgling communities would soon become political in the beginning of the gay rights movement, including monumental incidents at places like Stonewall. Today, many large cities have gay and lesbian community centers. Many Universities and colleges across the world have support centres for GLBT students. The Human Rights Campaign advocates for GLBT people on a wide range of issues in the United States. There is also an International Lesbian and Gay Association.
 Equal marriage
In parts of the world partnership rights or marriage have been extended to lesbians and gay men, a further extension of social globalization. Marriage becomes hugely important when lovers are not from the same country. Without marriage, or an equivalent right to immigrate, a couple or occasionally even family can be broken up based solely on the sexes of the people involved.
The contemporary lesbian and gay community has a growing and complex place in the American & Western European media. The community has been targeted by marketers who view LGBT people as an untapped source of discretionary income, as many couples have a dual income with no children. Despite this, lesbians and gay men are still often portrayed negatively in television, films, and other media. There is presently a widespread ban of references in child-related entertainment and when references do occur, they almost invariably generate controversy. In 1997, when US comedian Ellen DeGeneres came out of the closet on her popular sitcom, many sponsors, such as the Wendy's fast food chain, pulled their advertising. In the USA, gay people are frequently used as a symbol of social decadence by celebrity evangelists and by organizations such as Focus on the Family. Many LGBT organizations exist to represent and defend the gay community. For example, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation in the USA and Stonewall in the UK work with the media to help portray fair and accurate images of the gay community.
Some criticize the "LGBT community" for adopting what they see as negative aspects of larger society, especially commercialism (including treating LGBT people as a distinct market segment or audience), conformism (though it may have different norms to which it pressures members to conform), dehumanizing those who do not define their life and behavior by their sexuality, and ghettoization. Some describe the existence of the community itself as a reaction to societal discrimination.