November 1, 2007
It’s about the freedom to be true to who you are
Someone I know has said to me more than once that he’d have an easier time empathizing with LGBTQ causes if gay people spoke less about sex and more about love. I’ve generally been a bit mystified by the argument, given that most of the arguments I’ve heard do indeed focus on love, and more. Perhaps the flashiness of Pride festivals and such might give one the impression that the movement to recognize LGBTQ people as human creatures fully deserving of all the rights and recognition straight people receive as a matter of course is indeed focused on sex, but my feeling (as a sometime attendee but never an organizer) is that that’s a side effect rather than an intended effect. (An outsider to our culture might well think that the mainstream is all about sex, too, but that’s another matter.) I also think the anti-gay rights crowd has had a good amount of success framing the issue around sex — and all of this together meant I found this piece by Jerry Maneker over at Pam’s House Blend particularly compelling:
To [Donny McClurkin], and to so many other homophobic people, both Straight and Gay, whether or not to have sex is a choice, and so, since they seem to equate being Gay solely with having sex, McClurkin and those who think like him can with a straight (pardon the pun) face say that being Gay is a choice.
So many are unable to see that having sex is usually a manifestation, or a culmination, of a more or less loving relationship, and emotional sensibility, or affectional desire, and McClurkin seems convinced that same-sex loving relationships (the idea of which may well scare the hell out of him, and of which he might very well be incapable at this point in his life) is also antithetical to being a Christian, so his “relationship with Jesus is tearing you, tearing you.”
He sees the choice to be not only between being Gay (as he seems to define the term) and being a Christian, but sees, in his case, that “love is pulling you one way and lust is pulling you another.”
He has, according to his reported statement, divested “sex” from “love,” and so, since he equates being Gay with sex, and he sees “sex” as distinct from “love,” he can believe that being Gay (which he equates with lust and sex) is a choice by his definition of what “Gay” means. And if he’s incapable and/or fearful of same-sex “love,” which I believe may very well be the case, he doesn’t see, and certainly doesn’t want to see, being Gay as embracing one’s whole being, including feelings as well as actions.
It is not only many, if not most, straight people who can only see one’s being Gay in terms of one’s sexual activities; many Gay people themselves define the term “Gay” in this way, so that rather than one’s seeing their being Gay as encompassing the whole person, body, mind, and soul, they see the term “Gay” the way that they have been taught in or by churches, and other instutions, largely, if not solely, run by homophobes.
Hence, many Gay people themselves don’t realize that they are Gay until they have had one or more satisfying same-sex sexual encounters and retrospectively understand that they were Gay long before they engaged in sexual activity. It’s only when a Gay (or Straight) person is able to integrate love and affection with those encounters, that they then are better able to become emotionally and spiritually intact as human beings. But to be given institutional, interpersonal, and psychological permission to integrate the emotional and sexual parts of one’s nature is made very difficult in a rabidly homophobic society, largely aided and abeted by those who have yet to healthfully integrate these two facets of their humanity.
The whole piece, of course, is worth reading. Go check it out!