On The Gay Thing . . ., (New thread on a subject that came up in a different topic)
Oct 22 2009, 12:45 PM
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This topic arose as a result of my having chided Quest a bit for having employed "gayness" to describe "the individuals involved in the globalization, military aspect of 911" in this thread: http://pilotsfor911truth.org/forum/index.php?showtopic=18236 As an out gay man I took some offense to it but it wasn't that big a deal. Still, it opened up the subject, one I've considered bringing to this forum for some time but never felt it was appropriate. After tnemelckram's reply in that thread (which I will quote in full below before replying to it), I decided this might be a good opportunity to open up this discussion. I'm putting it in "chill" because, for me, it is the kind of discussion you might have with some friends you've known for a long time while seated around a table at a bar. Everyone is welcome to listen or toss their 2¢ in but not everyone may be comfortable with it.
First, though, tnemelckram's post:
On the gay thing . . .
I think I understand what Quest was trying to do but he got carried away. Painter rightly pointed that out. Quest did the right thing in response to Painter's concerns.
The military guys who fostered public fear and otherwise encouraged or enabled our botched response to 911 (among them, some likely perps) tend to be macho, conservative types steeped in an authoritarian credo. Quest's label attacks the way they perceive their manhood, which they highly value, so it carries some sting. Given that what they did ran counter to their serious responsibilities to us, I don't think that any attack on them is too strong. So it seems Quest wanted to take a good swipe at them in this fashion. He is keeping "drama queen" for these clowns, which I think is accurate, more than enough by itself to make his point, and otherwise appropriate. Look at how they tried to drum up militarism and an exalted place for themselves and the so called "Commander In Chief" in the public eye after 911, while over-reacting to criticism to the point of calling their critics "traitors". Drama Queens indeed! And up till now the term only seemed to apply to Brent Favre! Quest's point is well made without adding "gay". Quest personally doesn't seem to give the word an inherently negative meaning like that for "N----r". He used it because the military guys would think it is negative, especially when applied to them.
GBLT people are in the midst of a struggle for equal social acceptance and legal rights. Black people might be near the end of their similar struggle. Unlike "N----r", "gay" has many uses with positive connotations, but it can also be used in a derogatory way. In both cases, words that are inherently negative or used negatively undermine the drive for social acceptance, so there is good reason for the sensitivity.
But I found that one issue needed perspective. I have several gay friends and socialize with others fairly often. Most of them (including the friends) have made The Big Suggestion in one form or another. I say I'm flattered but unfortunately hetero. Their response eventually boils down to how can you be sure until you try? My answer is that if they are certain of their sexual orientation and confident and comfortable with it, then I am equally sure that I only like the girls. Every sexual thought I ever had and have involves one woman and/or another; also, while men are the same as me, women are different, and I prefer different.
Now comes the big insight - even though they're gay, they're still guys! Of course they are inclined make a try at you! They can't help it, just like I can't help trying to do the same with women! So we're still basically the same. With this understanding, there is nothing offensive about it - I often used the "how can you find out unless you try" line (or argument) on women during mating dances - it's nice that somebody likes you. The episode almost always ends well with some good male-oriented jokes because after all your both still guys.
Good insight, tnemelckram. Even though I'm gay, indeed, I still am a guy and although I'll be 62 years old soon, my libido isn't much different than it was at 22. That's not a brag, its just the honest truth.
I grew up gay in the rural Midwest in the 1950s/60s at a time when "gay" meant happy. I don't remember when I first heard "gay" used to reference homosexuality but it probably wasn't until my first year of college in Chicago, 1966/67. This was also when I began to meet and hang out with other gay men. However, to be clear, that was not when I became sexually active -- that had begun from a very early age. I'd known I was sexually attracted to other guys from probably around age six but, being that young, my understanding of what that meant was still very unclear.
I grew up on a farm just outside a very small rural town so it wasn't like I was completely isolated. As soon as we could ride our bikes, many of us boys in approximately the same age group, started palling around with one another. In fact, the pond on my dad's farm was only a short walk down the railroad tracks from the town and it was the local 'swimming hole' for all us kids during the summer (and ice skating rink in the winter). None of us ever bothered with swimming suits as we weren't shy and it was completely private. My sexual experiences with other boys were very tame early on but the point is they happened and I don't think any of us thought too much about it. There was an element of 'guilt' and 'shame' in the sense that we knew our 'playing around' wasn't to be talked about, especially w/ the 'rents.
I think the point at which it began to 'sink in' that I was fundamentally different from the other guys happened around age 11 or 12. I remember it quite vividly. A group of three or four of us were sitting on the front porch of the country store (probably drinking soda or eating pop-cicles). One of the boys had somehow procured a "girly magazine" with naked ladies in it and although we were all joking and kidding around while furtively looking at it, I was aware that 1) they were getting aroused by looking at the pictures, 2) I was not and 3) the fact that I was not needed to be kept a secret. I knew this because, even though "gay" wasn't a term I was familiar with, "queer" and "faggot" (among others) were words known to me. I understood that having this label hung on you would lead to a lot of trouble. In my still developing pre-teen brain all this didn't make a lot of sense but at that moment I began to understand something that I hadn't before. I was "different". While other guys might be willing to have some fun with another guy, what they really wanted to do was with girls.
As I grew into a teenager this increasing awareness created in me a kind of isolation that, to be honest, I've never fully overcome. This is one of the reasons I'm interested in discussing this topic, especially in a forum that (by all appearances at least) is populated by heterosexuals. (Bill, AKA Oceans Flow, AKA Griz, who passed away earlier this year, was the only other member of this forum who was openly gay.)
For me, growing up "gay" in that environment at that time meant learning to be very very careful. I felt there was something seriously wrong with me and I had no idea that my feelings were shared by a significant minority of the population -- that, indeed, there was a whole sub-culture or "gay" people. Where I had been a relatively out-going, gregarious and happy-go-lucky kid, as a teenager I became withdrawn, sullen, and developed a 'loner' persona. This wasn't too difficult as I was smart, perceptive and had a vivid imagination. But by the time I was 14 or 15 I had become increasingly depressed and, to be honest, somewhat suicidal. The outlook for the future from my POV was pretty grim. I knew I wasn't interested in girls and I also knew I was going to be expected to start dating and all the rest of it, including wife and kids. That TOTALLY freaked me out. I also had no one I could talk to about what was going on inside me, not that I'm sure I would have known how to, even if there had been.
To make matters worse, beyond my sexual attraction to some of the guys around me, I was also developing emotional ones. I had a very bad crush on one of my classmates who I'd known all my life. I fell in love with him one early evening while going for a walk with him in the woods. It literally struck me like a bolt of lightening. This was during a Boy Scout outing and we were off away from the other boys just walking along talking about I don't know what and he stopped, looked around and said (speaking of the woods, fields, sky), "Isn't this beautiful? When I grow up, I want to own some land like this." I had never before in my life heard another boy talk about beauty, never before heard another boy just spontaneously express something so wonderful and intimate. As beautiful as the world around us was, to me HE was the most beautiful thing in it. Although I could openly agree with his sentiment, what I could NOT do was tell him how hearing it made me feel about him. We were already friends but what I wanted at that moment was something much more -- a completely different kind of relationship -- and, yes, one that included sexual intimacy. It was also clear to me that that was not going to happen.
Not long after this my parents began spending their winters in Florida (they were in their 40s when I was born), taking me with them, enrolling me in a high school over a thousand miles away from where I'd grown up. This was a good thing for me on a lot of levels. For one thing, it gave me a further excuse to remain a "loner," and got me out of the rather limited world I'd been growing up in. This high school was HUGE by comparison with the small country school I had attended. In the spring/summer my parents and I returned to the farm -- thus my social life was split -- and in a lot of ways this worked well for me. I did have a girl friend in high school as this was expected and, truth be told, I did like her a lot -- as a friend. We even made out on several occasions in high school and I discovered that the plumbing works regardless of the gender. Later on in our Freshman year in college (she went to a private school north of Chicago) in her dorm room, we would happily shed our virginity with one another. That I was also meeting and having sex with other guys wasn't something I'd felt brave enough to tell her yet but I'd already indicated, and she'd fairly well accepted, that I was attracted to other guys. After all, this was the late 1960s when experimentation in all kinds of directions were not uncommon and social attitudes were beginning to change.
For me, though, things were never simple or easy. Although I knew I was gay, I wasn't really comfortable with it. I enjoyed the sex, no doubt about that, but there was also this burgeoning "cultural identity" thing I had to deal with that just didn't sit well with me. I had no problem identifying as a "hippie" -- rock and roll, pot, LSD, political awareness -- at age 19 I was quite immersed in all that. But the "gay" scene (although there was some overlap) was different. To be honest, I didn't like most gay men I met. To me they often seemed catty, bitchy, cliquish and, fundamentally, insecure. Not all, of course, but a lot. Consequently (and this was a real headache) I most often found myself attracted to other straight guys! (IMG:http://pilotsfor911truth.org/forum/style_emoticons/default/blink.gif) In fact, the early 1970s found me living with a bisexual guy (we'd been class mates in college) and his woman friend who he eventually married. Three-ways? Yep -- and not only that -- but I won't go into detail. Suffice it to say although I was having some fun I was far from comfortable with myself.
I moved to California in 1973 and within a rather short period of time met and fell in love with an extraordinarily good looking woman three years younger than myself. This is the part of my story that often confuses my friends, both gay and straight. You did what?? Yes, and we ended up living together for 10 years and are still the best of friends. The Bay Area had gone through a lot of social changes in the years just prior to my moving here, so much so that being "gay" wasn't much of a big deal to anyone. So, I had no problem being "out". But I still had this problem relating to "the gay community" or "gay scene." I just didn't like it. I didn't keep my sexual preference hidden from any of my friends so when she and I met I was pretty up front about it. That we subsequently began to fall in love was kind of confusing for both of us but it was also undeniable. Although we talked about it, we never married (I was actually more open to this possibility than she was). Neither of us particularly wanted children (again, I was probably more open to that than she). Since she was a VERY sexual young woman and I was certain I wasn't going to meet all her sexual needs, we agreed to have an "open" relationship. For me, the way that worked is that I became monogamous with her (by my choice) because otherwise it would have just been too confusing. We agreed that whatever we did we'd not keep it a secret from the other and she did have a few 'affairs' outside our relationship -- all of them emotionally unsatisfactory for her. All during this time I continued to identify (when asked) as "gay." I tried wearing the "bisexual" hat for a while but I knew it wasn't right. I was sexually attracted to men and although I could be sexual with a woman and even enjoy it, it was rare to find myself attracted to a woman and I never fantasized about them.
It wasn't until after the AIDS crisis that all this began to change. (Had I not kept myself monogamous in the preceding years, I very well might have been an AIDS victim.) What changed wasn't "me" so much as the "gay culture" around me. Gay culture suddenly had to deal with some truly significant issues -- such as death and dying and the meaning of relationships. I began attending group sessions with other gay and bisexual men who were, or had been, in relationships with women. Some of them even married with kids. That was a real eye-opener. Through this I also began to meet other gay men and to see that things were changing. It wasn't all just about sex any more -- it was about men trying to understand themselves and their sexuality and it was about the possibility of building lasting relationships in a world that was (especially outside the SF Bay Area at that time) mostly ignorant of and hostile toward such relationships. It became clear to me then that I needed to redefine my relationship with my female partner. She wasn't very happy about it but after the initial rage we worked through it. We're now like close brother and sister. A few years later I met and fell in love with a man, David, with whom I lived for 7 years before his untimely death due to a brain tumor. Prior to his death we participated in a "gay couples group" that met once every three weeks for six years. Within that, there was a core group of five gay couples that not only remained together all during that time but really worked at coming to understand the complexities of male-male relationships in an overriding male-female culture. I suggested to the group at the time that we document what we were discovering but, unfortunately, we were all too busy living our lives and our relationships to do that. (I think it would have made fascinating reading not only for other gay men but for heterosexuals as well. We really aren't all that different although there are important differences, too.)
After David's death I fairly quickly found myself in another relationship that lasted for three years. I'm not going to talk about it because it was very fucked up in a lot of ways, although also quite fascinating. It could be a novel unto itself! Suffice it to say that since that ended in late 2000 I haven't been in a relationship and haven't been sexual at all. Not that I don't sometimes think about it, of course, but, frankly, at this age, I just don't have the energy it takes to find, build and sustain a relationship with anyone. Relationships, for all their joys and sorrows, really are a lot of work.
SO -- all the above (and I realize it is a lot) is to say to any of you who are interested: "This is where I'm coming from." I do this because I first of all need you to know that being "gay," like being "straight," doesn't necessarily conform you to any particular stereotype. We're all individuals and we're all different. We have many things in common and many things that we don't share. The primary difference (so far as I can tell) between "gay" and "straight" is that the latter is assumed to be the norm. It is very difficult for people who identify with the norm to 'get' what that means because it is the water you swim in and take for granted.
Those of us who live and experience life outside that norm have to contend with this in various ways. One (in my opinion ultimately unhealthy) way is to create a sub-culture within the dominant culture. The benefit is it creates a 'safe' social space within which one can be more one's self. The down side is it is isolationist and can feed negative stereotyping (if not down-right misapprehension) of the minority group. The way I see it MOST of the negative associations many straight people have with homosexuality appear precisely because of its normative (judgemental) attitudes towards it -- which then becomes reinforced by the isolationist tendencies of the sub-culture that invariably arises.
That is fairly abstract so let me give an example: Many heterosexuals believe that most homosexuals are only or predominantly interested in sex without emotional involvement, much less commitment. What they don't understand is that this fixation on sex that many homosexual men exhibit 1) isn't all that different from the sexual fixation most heterosexual men experience (the difference being only in the object of desire) and 2) the predisposition to negative judgement and the absence of positive roll modeling within the culture reinforce the need to 'act out' and 'behave' in ways that reinforce the very activity being judged. More specifically, had I been able to freely express my emotional feelings toward the boy I fell in love with as a teenager without the fear of condemnation by either him or the society around us, I likely would have done so. Had those feelings not been reciprocated, that pretty much would have been the end of it. I could still have my feelings and feel 'ok' about having them -- just as a straight boy might have to deal with a similar situation toward a girl who didn't have reciprocal feelings toward him. Or, more favorably, had the boy felt similarly in this imaginary 'ideal' world, we would have been able to explore our relationship in exactly the same way heterosexuals would have -- and without any overriding condemnation of it. ABSENT THIS what happens is the need to keep secret and hidden what ought to be appreciated as an expression of something, well, ultimately 'divine'.
I want to share with all of you something I came across recently that you may find quite interesting. First, what this is is a part of a boy/boy romance story written and posted in an on-line forum that is geared predominantly to pornography of various sorts. Although this excerpt isn't pornographic it does mention 'sucking' so just be aware of that. In brief, the story is about a gay boy, Dermot, whose parents had died leaving him in the care of an abusive uncle who, discovering that he was gay, threw him out of the house. Dermot then ends up on the street and, to survive, becomes a hustler and is eventually beaten and raped by a group of thugs. Battered and bloody, Dermot is discovered by a well-to-do good samaritan who sees to it that he is taken to hospital and cared for so he can begin to heal not only physically but emotionally from the trauma. The good samaritan is a father who has a gay son, Lando, near the same age as Dermot. Lando visits Dermot in hospital during his recovery and they begin to become friends. One thing Dermot discovers is that Lando, while identifying as "gay," also identifies as "Catholic," and Dermot finds this very confusing -- especially since a Catholic priest toward whom he had turned in his desperation basically told him he was going to hell for being homosexual. This is part of their conversation about this subject:
"It doesn't compute, Lando. I think you're fooling yourself. But shit! What do I know?" Dermot concluded in a rush of uncertainty, not wishing to offend his friend.
"If you promise not to get all hostile, I'll give you the benefit of my thoughts on the subject," Lando said.
Lando began, "I did tell you that I had to struggle with it, and you are right in saying that the fit is not perfect. All I can say is that I knew I was both gay and Catholic, and I had to find a way to make that work for me. I talked to my dad, to Father Schiller, and to my psychologist, Dr. Lanier. And I'm going to use the word 'sin' whether you like it or not. Now just shut up and listen. We can argue about it some other time.
"The way I see it, there are three ways a person can experience sex. One way is the way you have experienced it. Sex can be used to hurt someone. The most obvious way is in the S&M stuff you were describing, and in rape. That's a blatant, physical harm. But there are other ways in which sex can be used to hurt someone. Sex can be used to try to control someone. I haven't seen this in my own life, but I have heard of instances at school where a girl told her boyfriend, 'if you don't do what I want, there will be no sex for you.' That's a perversion of sex, I think. Both these examples are more about power and control than sex. And then, sex can be used to depersonalize someone. Use someone. Just treating someone like an object instead of a person. What's the phrase? A cum bucket. So, I think if you're the instigator of any of these kinds of sex, that's a serious sin. What we call a mortal or deadly sin, because it kills the spirit. It dulls the conscience if something like this is done often enough, so people get to think there's nothing wrong with it, but that does not change the reality. You're dehumanizing the other person. In these examples, sex is used to hurt the other person, and treat that person as something less than a full human being, a child of God.
"Another way of having sex is what we might call recreational sex that does not harm anyone. I mean, something like what I described doing. I really enjoy sucking and being sucked, and the guys who have been my partners have been kids at school, like me. It's completely mutual, and completely consensual. Nobody is being coerced, physically or otherwise. Just a couple of guys getting off. But it's not serious. None of us are into a serious relationship. We're not cheating on anybody. It's just fun. Now, I don't think that's a serious sin, but it's not using sex the way God intended it, either. But what I'm doing is no different, morally, than what an awful lot of straight kids are doing on dates. So, I think of this as a venial sin. It is a sin, because it's using sex in something other than the best way, but it's not going to send me to hell. Purgatory, maybe, but not hell.
"Finally, there is sex the way God intended it. Father Schiller told me sex is the greatest gift God gave mankind, next to His divine Son, Jesus. Sex is meant to be an expression of love. St. John tells us, 'God is Love.' In its most perfect form, when it is an expression of genuine, unselfish love, sex is a participation in the love God has for humanity. It's actually something sacred. And that's true whether it's gay or straight sex. And I don't think that kind of sex is a sin at all."
I share this with you for a variety of reasons. One is that although I don't regard myself particularly religious (let alone Catholic) I fundamentally agree with this character's understanding of human sexuality. The use of sexual energy, regardless in what form it manifests, for something other than 'divine union' is to fall short of its true purpose and, worse, when used for purposes of power over others, manipulation and control, or sadistic harm, is a perversion -- again, regardless of the gender specifics involved. Many of us suspect that sexuality is used in this perverse sense by the elites (yes, some within the military) for the purpose of manipulating and control -- including keeping all us confused about the higher purposes of human sexuality (again, regardless of the gender specifics).
I also share it because, having grown up when I did, I'm seeing that many gay young people today don't struggle with their sexuality in exactly the same way I had to. At the very least (whatever their understanding or attitude about it may be), most know that there is a world of "gay" people beyond their immediate social environment. In fact, what I'm seeing is there is a lot of "gay porn" being written by and shared among gay and bisexual teenagers and young adults which often (by no means always) are structured around romantic relationships such as being developed in the story above. Through story sharing they are trying to imagine a world quite different from the one I was brought up in. That these stories also include a strong erotic element may be disconcerting to some but given the fact that 'boys are boys' regardless of their sexual preference, this is hardly surprising.
This thread is now open for conversation (IMG:http://pilotsfor911truth.org/forum/style_emoticons/default/salute.gif)
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