The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Good and Gay?: A Moral Context for Homosexuality

I started to go down this road in the previous post about black homophobia, after some thought, it seemed better to address in a separate post. Besides the previous post was getting kind of long. It’s something I’ve actually wanted to blog about for a while, regarding homosexuality and morality. I started putting together a post a several weeks ago but then thought the moment had passed, but with Hillary and Obama’s recent comments it became topical again.

It comes down to a basic question: Can you be gay and be a good person? Can you be good person and be gay? Can you be gay and good? Good and gay? From religious conservatives, there seem to be two answers: Maybe. And no.

In his remarks during and after the NBJC Black Church Summit, Bishop Harry Jackson seemed to go back and forth on this question, of whether homosexuality and or same-sex activity are inherently immoral, but then seemed to come down on the side that one can’t be homosexual and moral. I started writing a post to address that assumption, but Leonard Pitts basically did it for me.

Pitts addressed African American homophobia in a column a few months ago. the previous post about black homophobia, and then went on to take Tim Hardaway to task for his remarks. But his recent column addressing Gen. Peter Pace’s comments should apply to Harry Jackson and a few others.

If those who feel that objection would admit to being driven by instinct and not principle, I could at least respect their honesty. Frankly, it’s not uncommon for heterosexual people to flinch at the idea of homosexual intimacy. But the problem is, that admission would cost gay-haters the pretense of principle.

After all, to admit that a response is visceral is to admit you haven’t thought it through. Ergo, frame it as a ”moral” issue. As a practical matter, it comes out the same, but it sounds more high-minded. And never mind that it makes no sense.

I have never understood how a people — meaning individuals bonded by some racial, sexual, religious or geographical commonality — can be immoral. Is it immoral to be Jewish? Immoral to be male? Is it immoral to hail from Idaho? How, then, can it be immoral to be gay?

At this point, of course, someone is frantically pointing to an obscure Old Testament passage as his or her authority for the immorality of homosexuality. Thing is, the Old Testament also requires the death penalty for disrespectful children, forbids the eating of meat cooked rare, and obligates the man who rapes a virgin to buy her from her father and marry her. I’ve seen no groundswell of support for those commands.

Morality, it has always seemed to me, has less to do with commonalities of existence than with how you treat other people. Do you lie to or about them? Do you steal from them? Do you cheat them? Do you walk by their suffering, oblivious? Do you, except in self-defense, harm them physically or mentally? The answers to those questions, I think, define morality more exactly than whether you’re sharing a bed with someone who has the same sexual equipment you do.

Except that if you’re gay, as far as some people are concerned, you are basically the same as people who lie, cheat, steal, turn a blind eye to suffering, and actively bring harm to others. And that’s even if you don’t do any of the above and never have. You’re still have the same moral standing as people who do, and a lower moral standing than people who don’t do any of the above and are also heterosexual. Celibacy won’t necessarily get you off the hook either, because even having homosexual desires damns you as far as some people are concerned.

The closest to equality you’ll get is the “we’ve all sinned, and fallen short blahdy, blahdy, blah” response. Congratulations, you’re on equal footing with liars, thieves, murderers, adulterers, rapists, shoplifters, tax cheats, drug dealers, etc. And that’s just from being gay (bonus if you’re a “practicing homosexual,” I guess). You’re just as “intrinsically disordered” as the paranoid schizophrenic serial killer. And you get to enjoy the company of your moral equals even if you’ve never even come close to their accomplishments; even if you’ve spent your entire life avoiding the activities that earned them their spot next to you on the moral food chain.

If you’re heterosexual and you do all of the above, you can stop doing all of the above, and never do it again, and raise your moral standing at least somewhat above that motley crew. You can not, however, be gay and do the same. Unless, that is, you can stop being gay. Goodness, after all, is a choice. And if you can’t be gay and good, then gayness must be a choice.

It must be. Even in the face of evidence that sexual orientation doesn’t change, it must be. Even in the face of evidence that there may be a biological component to sexual orientation, it must be. Because otherwise the implications, as Tony Campolo pointed out, are unacceptable to a great many people.

The reasons for these beliefs were all too obvious to me. If either of these theories had validity, then it could be said that homosexuals who wanted to change could do so by making the decision to be open to the work of God in their lives and getting some good Christian counseling. When I questioned such conclusions, the interviewers usually came back at me by claiming that if I did not accept what they were saying, then I must be implying that the homosexual orientation was inborn. That, to them, was unthinkable because accordingly, this would lead to the assumption that God created homosexuals the way they are, and that we should accept them as such. Over and over, I would have to repeat that nobody knows definitively what establishes same-sex attraction in persons – and again I would have to assert that what we do know is that it is practically never the result of any conscious decision.

If “God created homosexuals the way they are” then by extension — assuming that God doesn’t make mistakes, and that what God created is good and has a purpose even if we don’t understand it — there must be a moral context for homosexuality. It would have to be amoral rather than immoral. Just as heterosexuality is morally neutral, but is instead defined morally by how the individual uses his or her sexuality, so too would homosexuality be moral or not depending on how the individual uses his or her sexuality

That is, there must then be a way to be a “good” way to be gay; or simply a way to be “good and gay.” Or as Campolo put it earlier when discussing Ted Haggard, the individual who’s same-sex oriented must then decide what that means for his or her life. For some it might be celibacy, but for others it might mean finding a healthy outlet to express their sexuality.

And that’s where the religious right hits a brick wall. There can be no outlet for same-sex orientation that is not morally corrupt. It’s essential to their understanding of how the world must work. Gays have a specific role to play in that scenario, and goodness has very little to do with it. (And yes, there’s a delicious irony in Ted Haggard being mentioned in the following quote.)

Ask Pastor Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and good cop to Dobson’s bad cop at the top of the evangelical world, and he’ll offer a more nuanced answer. Like most fundamentalists, Haggard believes that sexual sin is among the worst; he also knows it is the most common. Evangelicals, he’ll say, aren’t more obsessed with sexuality these days; rather, homosexuals are, somehow, more homosexual. The official line is that gay marriage marks a tipping point (Haggard, like many evangelicals, is a fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s book of that name) into wholesale hedonism. The unofficial line, among leaders such as Haggard and Dobson is that it’s a fight their side has already lost.

But the specter of gay marriage still serves a function. Christian conservatives take pains to distance themselves from the sexism of their forefathers. Every Christian man-guide emphasizes the claim that women play just as important a role in the maintenance of what evangelicals view as society’s all-important unit, the family, and it’s more than dishwashing, suckling, and sex (though what else they are to do is not often discussed). Women must submit to their husbands, but their husbands in turn must commit to “serving” their wives. The phrase that comes to mind is “separate but equal.”

But with Christian womanhood restored and redeemed, a crucial character in the Christian conservative morality play has gone missing: the seductress. It is no longer acceptable to speak of loose women and harlots, since sexual promiscuity in a woman is the fault of the man who has failed to exercise his “headship” over her. It is his effeminacy, not hers, that is to blame. And who lures him into this spiritual castration? The gay man.

As E.J. Graff points out in What is Marriage For?: The Strange Social History of Our Most Intimate Institution, when the world doesn’t work they way they believe it must, these folks have to have someone to blame, according to her theories about the moving target that is the generally accepted “purpose of sex,” and where various social changes have finally brought us.

If refraining is the right thing, then sexual pleasure is evil. If reproducing is the right thing, then the “crime against nature” is any act that prevents babies — whether coitus interruptus or drinking pennywort tea as a contraceptive. If sex is for refreshing each other’s spirits, then someone besides contrascepting pairs must become society’s sexual scapegoat.

And since it’s unlikely we’ll turn back the clock far enough to undo the social changes that have brought us to this point, guess who wins the scapegoat lottery?

If there’s a context in which it’s possible to be “good and gay,” somebody loses their scapegoat, and even more than that. Graff points out in her book, as Stephanie Coontz does in hers, the social changes that brought us to the point of even discussing the possibility of same-sex marriage initially brought about greater independence for women; including the advent of contraception, which separated sex from the inevitable possibility of procreation. Says Graff, “contraception and female emancipation went hand in hand.” As did education and female emancipation, property rights and female emancipation, or economic independence and female emancipation.

The threat of legal same-sex marriage, then, is actually doubled. It carries one step further the progress that’s lead to women no longer having to “submit to their husbands”; they might volunteer, a’la the “surrendered wife” model, but not many women have to marry and thus “submit to their husbands” as a necessity for survival. Social progress changed the status of women, and the same people who oppose same-sex marriage would like to undo that progress to whatever degree they can. Legal same-sex marriage further cements those social changes, and makes it even harder to turn back the clock.

It’s no coincidence that the political forces opposed to same-sex marriage or marriage equality also oppose gender equality and advocate returning to more strictly enforced gender roles. The Institute for Progressive Christianity recently published a paper titled “The KIngdom of God and the Witness of Gay Marriage,” which includes among it’s premises:

1. Gay marriages demonstrate the possibility and desirability of gender equality in any marriage by modeling a relationship where the parties to the marriage do not distribute roles and responsibilities based on gender. This modeling supports the positive transformation of the curse of gender conflict, and subsequent patriarchal domination pronounced at the Fall from Paradise into gender egalitarianism .

2. Gay marriage’s ascendancy and resilience in society participates in a fundamental shift of the culture’s understanding of marriage. That is, marriage is being transformed from a utilitarian arraignment grounded in the idea that women are sexual property to an egalitarian life journey with a partner who one chooses to develop and share mutual love, affection, respect, and support.

… One of the most obvious issues to which gay marriage speaks is gender equality. One of the strongest and most relied upon objections to gay marriage from the Right is that it violates the concept of gender complementarity. Gender complementarity is the metaphysical claim that men’s and women’s social functions in the world are determined dichotomously by their biological sex, such that where men are convex women are concave.

Undergirding the concept of gender complementarity is the assumption that men are metaphysically meant to rule over women (ideally in the spirit of love, of course) and women are metaphysically meant to serve men

… Thus, from the gender complementarian perspective, those who act as though women and men gain equal spiritual, emotional, psychological, and existential satisfaction and dignity from leading and serving, and are meant to experience both of these sides of the human psyche, are disordered, as are those who advocate this notion of equality and balance.



The possibility of gay marriage invites heterosexuals to view their intimate partners (or potential intimate partners) not through a lens of gendered otherness primarily —that is through the lens of gender complementarity— but through the lens of sameness, that is through the lens of sharing a common human dignity, as it was in the beginning.


As much as it may seem like a tangent, the above both reinforces the relationship between sexism and homophobia, and places gay & lesbian equality in general and marriage equality specifically in the context of earlier progressive social movements, all of which — from the abolitionist movement, to women’s suffrage to the civil rights movement — had strong foundations in moral principles; progressive moral principles like those Pitt referenced in his column.

But legal same-sex marriage also threatens to take away the much needed scapegoat and, as more same-sex couples get legal status and more people live with the reality of same-sex marriage or marriage equality, it forces a redefinition or reframing of same-sex relationships. And it does this by taking away the tactic of reducing same-relationships to mere physical acts.

You can see the benefits of this point as a strategy. Reducing love, friendship, passion and companionship—the critical elements of most gay relationships—to a simple physical act is extremely reductive. We’d never talk about heterosexual marriage primarily in terms of vaginal intercourse, or merely sexual needs. It slights the depth and variety of the heterosexual relationship. Nevertheless, it remains a simple fact that a large amount of the opposition to gay equality (especially among heterosexual men) comes from a visceral association of gay relationships with sodomy.

As Pitt’s said, “to admit that a response is visceral is to admit you haven’t thought it through.” But the visceral response also suggests that they understand the connection between same-sex marriage and women’s freedom. The quote above is from an essay on sodomy laws, and it’s worth noting the repeal of sodomy laws probably has at least part of its roots in the legalization of contraception and the de-stigmatization non-procreative sex. It’s thus no coincidence that the some of the same people who oppose marriage equality support the idea of sodomy laws, and for the same reason; the advent of the former and the demise of the latter both have the effect of putting same-sex relationships on the same moral footing as heterosexual relationships.

And that means establishing a moral context for same-sex relationships and same-sex activity. It means, rather than simply establishing “Gay is good” or “Gay is okay” as generalized values, erecting a social structure within which being gay is neither good nor back, but in which it is possible to be “good and gay.”

In his remarks at the NBJC summit Harry Jackson expressed concern about “sexual responsibility” but doesn’t seem to consider the possibility of a model for sexual responsibility in same-sex relationships, at least not beyond celibacy. There, again, is the “visceral reaction” to same-sex activity. But, as the essay on sodomy laws points out, the social changes mentioned earlier have brought us to a point where same-sex activity may be seen as serving many of the same purposes as heterosexual activity.

You can think of sex—within marriage and in other relationships—as a form of bonding; as a way to deepen and expand the meaning of intimacy; as a type of language even, where human beings can communicate subtly, beautifully, passionately—but without words. And in a world where our consumer needs are exquisitely matched by markets, in which bourgeois comfort can almost anesthetize a sense of human risk and adventure, sex remains one of the few realms left where we can explore our deepest longings, where we can travel to destinations whose meaning and dimensions we cannot fully know. It liberates and exhilarates in ways few other experiences still do. Yes, taking this to extremes can be destructive. And yes, if this experience trumps or overwhelms other concerns—the vows of marriage, the trust of a faithful relationship, or the duty we bear to children—then it can be destructive as well as life-giving. But the idea that expressing this human freedom is somehow intrinsically and always immoral, that it somehow destroys the soul, is an idea whose validity is simply denied in countless lives and loves.

To return to Pitt’s essay for a moment, the soul destroying idea that sexual expression through same-sex activity is always immoral — even in the context of committed monogamous relationships — has moral implications for the religious right when it leads to advocating discrimination against same-sex partners.

Morality, it has always seemed to me, has less to do with commonalities of existence than with how you treat other people. Do you lie to or about them? Do you steal from them? Do you cheat them? Do you walk by their suffering, oblivious? Do you, except in self-defense, harm them physically or mentally? The answers to those questions, I think, define morality more exactly than whether you’re sharing a bed with someone who has the same sexual equipment you do.

The moral implications for advocates of anti-gay legislation are even more significant when you consider that it’s possible to make a conservative Christian case for same-sex marriage

I suppose you can dismiss these people’s stories. You can argue that they are so depraved and so in love with their sin that they are incapable of responding normally and humanly to such strong incentives. You can believe that, as long as you understand that in doing so, you are in the name of Christian morality judging all homosexual persons to be categorically sub-human. You might also argue that these people are simply lying. And you can believe that too, as long as you understand that such a cavalier dismissal seems to lack the diligence God expects from us in keeping his ninth commandment not to bear false witness against our neighbor.

Why not simply take the common sense route? Why not acknowledge that apart from a miraculous work of God, it appears that for the most part a gay person’s chances of successfully adopting heterosexual feelings are about the same as a straight person’s chances of successfully adopting homosexual feelings?

A civilized society ought to recognize that there is a big difference between homosexuality thus understood, and perverse and irresponsible sexual practices such as incest and bestiality. Thus, it is only appropriate to respond by treating homosexual persons humanely and allowing them to live their lives with dignity and respect. And whatever we as Christians might conclude about the morality of homosexuality before God, we also have to realize that with respect to society a gay person’s open acknowledgement of his or her homosexuality is, in a very real sense, an act of personal integrity.

The writer of that piece also wrote the following on her blog, about “normalizing gay relationships.”

I don’t know about how “normal” gay relationships are “supposed” to be. But frankly, when I picture a gay couple living together in a committed relationship, I do think their life is probably not much different from any other marriage. Sitting at the breakfast table reading the newspaper over coffee. Taking turns walking the dog. Griping when the other person hogs the computer. Asking about the long distance call that showed up on the phone bill. Gelling on the couch together watching the eleven o’clock news, until someone finally gets up and mumbles something about having to wake up early the next day.

I’m afraid I really don’t know how to answer for such normalcy. But I do think it would be helpful if, in the church, we acknowledged that this is probably how things really are. That way we could at least avoid discrediting ourselves when people discover the vast difference between the sterotypes we set up about gay relationships and the ones they encounter in the real world.

As another blogger points out, focusing on what same-sex marriage might look like instead of unilaterally defining it as “right” or “wrong,” or reducing it to a “simple physical act” while “slighting the depth and variety” of same-sex relationships, might lead to looking instead at how it might be a moral good for the individuals and society at large. And that model need not be limited to marriage or to a the moral tenets of Christianity. Buddhist sexual ethics, which focuses on using sexuality in “non-harming” ways, can and does provide space for same-sex activity and relationships within its moral context

But, meanwhile, that previously mentioned discrediting is already underway in states where gay couples can either marry legally or obtain legal status nearly identical to marriage, and in neighborhoods we return to with our marriage licenses or civil union certificates and return to the business of the routine mentioned above. It’s the same kind of discrediting that gradually occurred after the end of segregation, when black and whites lived and worked next to one another long enough to recognize the same mundane routines and common concerns in one another’s lives.

That discrediting takes place in neighborhoods where we live day-to-day next to each other and discover it’s possible for someone to be a good neighbor and gay; to be good parents and gay; to be good spouses and gay. And it happens when our neighbors witness what happens to our families without the benefits and security legal marriage can provide. It happens when have to compare that reality with the reality of the gay & lesbian families who are their neighbors, and they compare the morality of the gay & lesbian families on their streets against the people who would deny their neighbors the rights and protections that every other family on the street enjoy.

That discrediting will occur not because they’ve been indoctrinated to believe that “Gay is Okay” or “Gay is Good,” but because they will know that it’s possible to be a good person and gay. They will have known good people — good neighbors, good parents, good spouses, good citizens, etc. — who also happen to be gay.

8 Comments

  1. The closest to equality you’ll get is the “we’ve all sinned, and fallen short blahdy, blahdy, blah” response.

    Yeah, I’ve heard that too. And lately, my response has been, “Well, let me know when you’ve stopped sinning before you tell me to stop.” It’s so easy for many in the religious right to tell other people how to live, but goodness forbid that they be held to the same standard.

    JOhn.

  2. Yeah, I hate that ‘we’re all sinners’ line of crap too.
    Reality paints a very different picture. Murderers, thieves and adulterers…can all marry. Once and again, as long as they are heterosexual.
    The moral question here, regarding goodness and being gay.
    We, in recent history have seen how a person’s background…being Jewish. Or a single characteristic, being black, was used as a tool to create evil and malevolence around the innocents who happened to be Jewish or black.
    When the Nazis were feeling enabled and emboldened by their advancement.
    The neighbors and friends and colleagues of Jews, also became his willing executioners of Jews.
    It didn’t take long, before even the benevolent reality of living and working side by side with Jews, was overshadowed by renewed distrust and anger against the same.
    In our American society, despite the mission statement and guarantees contracted within the Constitution and Bill of Rights, a citizen is charged and should be asked:
    does a good and contributing gay person, have less rights than a heterosexual person who has committed much harm to others?
    Scott Peterson, who murdered his wife and unborn son, can marry. Even while behind bars.
    But Ellen DeGeneres and Portia DeRossi cannot.
    Newt Gingrich and Gary Bauer dare to pass judgement on gay relationships within or without marriage, yet their own liabilities can be repeated over and over again.
    But the soldier Sgt. Alva, who served this county and was maimed by doing so, cannot marry his significant others.

    Our Founders were confronted with this moral question, as were segregationists later on: does the most reprobate white man have more protections and rights than the finest and most upstanding black person?

    To hazard the question, one can find that many heterosexuals haven’t thought it through. Haven’t been taught or challenged to do so.
    It’s easy to respond tersely and without consciousness to the question.
    But they believe that the worst things that happen to gay people, like being murdered, are anecdotal and far off someplace.
    But most profoundly unkind thing, to have one’s children taken away arbitrarily, or to never adopt them to save them from institutionalization. Or to care for one’s chosen love so that the state won’t have to.
    Not thought through. Not engaged in by straight people with gay.
    Indeed, straight people hijack and determine so much information that they control about gay people, when the results are bad, or don’t match reality and their credibility suffers, still, they will ‘blame the gays’ for making liars of them all.
    Religious people will indulge in how reactive they are to be against gay people.
    But it doesn’t occur to them that gay people aren’t and haven’t been so reactive to the hurts they’ve been dealt.
    Instead of exploiting this as weakness, I would see this as a strength of moral character within gay people worthy of religion’s greatest prophets and teachers.
    Even with your article here Terrence, you’ve thought it all through.
    Religious people especially seem to be unaccustomed to thinking ENOUGH through, as if faith is a shield from exercising greater intellectual…and consistent moral prowess.

  3. DAMAGING EFFECTS OF THE CLOSET

    If anyone watches or reads the news it would have been difficult not to have heard of the many of sex scandals as of late. I am now speaking of men in high profile positions. A great many of them are members of the clergy. These men obviously knew full well what they were supposed to believe about homosexuality. To them it is considered an immoral and abominable act. Why then were these men not able to pray away these sinful thoughts and be able to resist the temptations of these unnatural acts? Would they have been more successful if they had prayed to a different God perhaps? Or could it be that it is a normal sexual orientation for some people that cannot be altered and it is what God intended for them? It would seem that since members of the clergy who are considered to be closer to God than we mere lay people would be very successful ridding themselves of all sorts of perverted thoughts and acts. It is quite likely that they have prayed about it enough but without success. If the heterosexual majority would do some research on their own by going to gay bars or log on to the gay chat rooms where many gays meet other gays with the safety and anonymity that computers provide. They would then realize the vast numbers of clergy and married men from all walks of life that are struggling with this issue. These men are just the tip of the iceberg. These men are those that are willing to take the first step toward homosexual contact. It is done in baby steps with much guilt, shame, fear and trepidation. I have talked too many of these men as I was researching for my book. It seems quite clear to me that if the clergy themselves cannot fight these powerful inner urgings through prayer then perhaps we ought to start looking at it differently. After all homosexuality does not cause victims as long as it is of mutual consent between adults as it would be expected of heterosexuality as well.
    Perhaps it is high time that the phenomenon of “the closet” is addressed and understood. I believe it is essential to discuss “the closet” to provide the necessary context from which to view some of the scandals that have happened recently to people in high profile positions. This discussion needs to be civilized our knee jerk reactions and judgments held in check. After all, the last time I checked Christian doctrine we are not supposed to judge others. We need to discuss the subject of “the closet” with great compassion. By the term “closet”, I am referring to the emotional place that many people with same sex attractions recoil into in order to keep any suspicion of their sexual orientation away from them. Many closeted gay men will often compartmentalize their lives and marry in order to try and rid themselves of these same sex attractions and to thwart any unwanted suspicion. When one represses the powerful natural urgings of sexuality they then often have secret sexual liaisons, become very involved in conservative religious dogma and/or become members of the clergy themselves desperately hoping that these same sex attractions will go away if they just try harder. Whichever methods closeted gays use, are desperate attempts at hiding, or even used as a way of trying to rid themselves of their natural sexual inclinations by trying to play it “normal”. This is done out of shame for being something other than what they believe their God or families and friends want of them. I am speaking primarily of men at this time because I believe men use the closet even more often than woman. The reason being is because of societies more narrow view and expectations of what behaviors are considered acceptable and “normal” for men. Woman can be tomboys much easier than men can be sissies. Of course not all gay men are effeminate by a long shot but that is a stereotypical image of gay men. Therefore men with same sex orientations will often practice stereotypical masculine behaviors to thwart any suspicion out of fear of social denunciation.
    The practice of compartmentalizing ones life for very long often will often cause the development of some emotional problems to varying degrees and manifesting in a variety of ways. Many closeted men develop coping mechanisms such as addictive behaviors of all sorts whether it is alcoholism, prescription or non prescription drug abuse. They may develop addictions to pornography, sexual addiction or other self-destructive ways of acting out. The longer one stays in the closet there will then also generally be more victims because of their closeted lifestyle choice. The victims may be their wives, children, their friends, parents, siblings etc. All feeling like they have been betrayed and deceived when the closeted individuals true nature is discovered as it was for ex-governor of New Jersey, Mr. McGreevy, ex-congressmen Foley, the president of the Evangelicals, very patriotic members of our armed services to name just a few of the staggering numbers of men that have also been hiding their true selves. I feel very sad for the victims as I do with the closeted individual. They are all truly victims. I understand the humiliation, despair, and profound depression that the closeted individuals feel that soon follows once that door to the closet has been flung open. For some, the shame and fear is just too unbearable and suicide seems like the only alternative to ending their unbearable pain and shame. Suicide rates and addictions are much higher than heterosexual men.

    Society needs to take some responsibility with this matter of the closet by being more accepting of alternative lifestyles. Without the closet, try and imagine how much less pain many people and families would have to endure. Not only the ones that feel that living in the closet is their only alternative, but for the victims that find themselves feeling betrayed once the secret comes out.

    We as a culture have some soul searching to do on this matter and not be so self-righteous and quick to judge. There are a variety of ways of loving and living. We need to accept the fact that what seems to be normal for some is not necessarily normal for all. There is still so much shame involved yet in this day and age concerning sexual orientation in our rather hypocritical puritanical society. This attitude is unfortunately what causes many gays not to seek help concerning issues they may be struggling with from the appropriate professionals. I generally do not recommend clergy because it can cause further damage due to their religious agendas which can deepen one’s shame and depression. This is a very complicated issue and I don’t have all the answers. I am however certain that society has to become more compassionate toward people with innate same sex attractions. If they do not, we will continue to shame many gay people enough so that it will continue to inhibit many from being true to themselves and therefore to their loved ones.

    One can read more about this issue and many other disturbing issues involving gay culture of today in my new book; “why gay men do what they do”; an inside look at gay culture. Thank you, Aaron Jason Silver
    http://www.aaronjasonsilver.com

  4. Repeat after me, 1, 2, 3

    Gay is Good, good is Gay!
    Our Sisters too, Lesbians is they.
    People is Gay, Lesbians is people

    Enough already. Seriously. We are human beings just like our “heterosexual” colleagues. Gay and Lesbian is not only good, Gay and Lesbians are people too.

    We are a moral people too.

    Anyone who says otherwise, should use a razor blade and let the rest of us get on with the business of living and loving!

  5. Check out this picture, it really goes along with the theme of this post :-)

    HOMO SEX IS…

  6. Hello, my name is Aaron Jason Silver. I am a gay man and have recently authored a very comprehensive book about gay male culture and its many inherent dysfunctional issues. I felt that it was high time that these issues were discussed openly, honestly and hopefully without defensiveness. Of course these issues to not imply to all gay people but I believe they definitely apply to the culture as a whole. In order for me to write this book I found it necessary to take the readers on a detailed guided tour through gay culture. I did this in an effort to promote a better understanding of the culture not only to gay people, but to the straight population as well who find the culture to be very mysterious. The book is entitled, “Why Gay Men Do What They Do”; “An Inside Look At Gay Culture”. Below is a brief summary of my book and what my concerns are about contemporary gay culture.

    I live in a gay resort along the Lake Michigan shoreline called, Saugatuck Michigan; it is considered one of the top ten largest gay resorts in the country. It is a very beautiful and quaint little town much like one would expect to see in New England. I own and live on a small horse farm which includes a dog boarding/breeding/grooming facility which is also where I do my writing. It is about 6 miles outside of the community. Many of the vacationers, whether gay or straight, are from our closest urban centers such as Chicago Illinois or Detroit Michigan. Living in this area for as long as I have, has given me a unique opportunity to observe the many different aspects and trends that gay culture has gone through and continues to go through.

    What I have observed for so long, is a minority culture that by its very nature is not accepted by the dominant culture in which it lives. The dominant culture of which I speak is largely a white Christian culture that by the nature of its religious dogma considers homosexuality a sin or worse yet, an abomination. I therefore devoted a chapter to the many misunderstandings and mistranslations resulting in mass confusion that Christianity has about homosexuality. Because of this it has had such an enormous impact on gay culture and its development. I would go so far as to say that it has not only defined gay culture, it has created it out of fear and necessity. Why I say this is because the truth is that the western world is largely a dominant Christian region. For this reason, and this reason alone, gay men and woman have for the need for survival created their own culture and in virtually all large metropolitan areas gays have created their own space. A place where they can behave in ways that comes naturally for them and even indulge in self-parody without the very real dangers of reprisal.

    Being out for over 30 years I have had the opportunity to have many conversations with my gay friends and acquaintances about what their school experiences were like. Also in the process of writing this book I interviewed countless gay men from all over the world, around 60 to be more accurate. What was very apparent was that the vast majority of gay men had very similar experiences in school. Most of them had felt isolated, lonely, picked on and clearly felt like the outsiders. After graduation many would go off on their own to college or flee to urban areas looking for some sense of camaraderie and acceptance for likely the first time in their lives. Many of these gay men would out of desperation for acceptance acquiesce to the already established norms and ways of behaving in the gay communities that they join.

    Over the years it has become more apparent to me that gay culture needs healthy charismatic leadership such as Martin Luther King kind of persona that will help inspire and motivate the gay community to move in a more positive direction. We still have a long way to go to be completely assimilated within the dominant culture. To me it seems that the gay community has become complacent and is happy just having fun and partying endlessly at their favorite watering holes. It is wonderful to want to have fun and play as long as there is some balance in our lives such as getting involved in some way in helping further our goals of complete assimilation and equal rights under the laws of the land. There is always something that all of us can do to help our fellow man. One can begin helping those in greater need and being less self- involved which I believe gay culture is. It seems to me that so many gay men are willing to settle for metaphorical crumbs as far as equal rights. I personally will not. I want the whole cookie because it is our right under our unique and wonderful constitution. However, we desperately need greater involvement within our culture otherwise we will simply continue with our dysfunctional lifestyle on a downward spiral. We cannot fool ourselves any longer into believing that many of the behaviors within the urban gay culture are acceptable. Just because many of the behaviors one can easily find within gay culture does not mean they are healthy. The rates of all addictions are much higher within gay culture. Unfortunately because they are so common they are not only acceptable but in fact encouraged.

    . Very often gay men tend to be catty, gossipy and petty, the types of behaviors one would more likely expect to see in teenage girls. Many also tend to prefer situations that are superficial and are more comfortable with the more extraneous aspects of life. They tend to avoid deep or profound discussions dealing with emotional issues. They often avoid these situations as they arise by giggling or making some silly comment to bring the conversation back into a conversational arena that is more comfortable for them. Intimate discussions are not a comfortable area for many gay men, but of course not all. I believe these behavior issues in which I am speaking are a result of the residual pain from their school-age experiences. I call these wounds,” ghost wounds”. These ghost wounds of which I believe are responsible for many of the self-defeating behaviors one can easily find within any gay bar. I feel this is a good place to use a saying by Shakespeare that may seem overused to some but in this situation I find it highly appropriate because of its eternal truth. The saying goes as such; “a life unexamined is a life not worth living”. For many gay men their early years were very painful and perhaps this is the reason why they do not allow themselves to be introspective. The examination of ones life can be a painful process but the fruits of the process are well worth all the pain that they may have to endure. I need to make it clear that what I have just said is not a blanket statement about all gay men by any means but I feel comfortable saying that it includes a very large segment of the gay community. Most particularly the ones that are very involved within the gay culture. The greatest reason I feel that there is often a cookie cutter or a cliché look among many gays which makes them easier to spot. They want so desperately to feel that they fit in for the reasons I have mentioned.

    None of these issues that I brought up about the pettiness and gossipy behaviors, and the superficial nature of gay culture is not something I just made up for kicks. There is not a single gay man that I have ever talked to that hasn’t commented on this phenomenon themselves even though they themselves may also engage in these dysfunctional behaviors as well but somehow are not aware.

    The behaviors of which I speak I cannot honestly say that I have yet seen addressed. I consider these behaviors to be serious issues and part of the reason we are not further along than we are in our fight for equal rights. I would be remiss if I didn’t add that by my calling attention to many of these issues has caused numerous retaliations against me personally, my home and my pets by members of the gay community. I know that the truth can be hurtful but essential before the healing can begin. I feel that the gay culture is in a downward spiral. New HIV infections are on the rise again in the community by 12% along with other very serious STD’s. The answer to these very serious problems lies within us all. We need to stop this whirlwind of endless partying and take some time alone to think about what we are doing to ourselves and our reputations. I promise by doing so will enhance and enrich their/our lives in immeasurable ways.
    .
    Thank you, most sincerely, Aaron Jason Silver. http://www.aaronjasonsilver.com asilver@wmis.net
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  7. I claim no special insight into the issues that Terrance raised, but it seems to me that we get caught on the issue of “morality.”

    To get pedantic, the word comes from the Latin “mos” meaning established norms. The “mos maiorum” of Rome included the patrician virtues of piety, severity, precision of conduct, etc. But when we use the word “immoral” it is often because we lack a more severe word that works. It is a weaker word than “violent” or “fraudulent” or “predatory” or “oppressive” or “evil.” When we are using the word “immoral” to criticize someone or something, it is because those more severe words don’t apply at all, otherwise we would use them. Or, perhaps, because those more severe words would more clearly manifest our own violent, fraudulent, predatory, oppressive and evil conduct, what Christians refer to as the “beam in the eye.”

    “Immoral” conduct has no victim; otherwise, it would be called evil or violent. “Immoral” conduct hurts no one except a pecksniff or powermonger obsessed with other peoples’ business. We have seen time and again in history how the most priggishly morals-obsessed cultures easily become the most murderous. We remember Geneva today for its Swiss opulence, but the murderer who put it on the map was Jean Calvin. Germany had been among the most rigidly “moral” (and well-educated) societies in history when it dutifully and diligently worked overtime to construct the multitude of concentration camps and death camps and the monstrous network of road and rail to service that empire – while fighting massive opponents on two fronts, White South Africa today remains a bastion of old-school strict Calvinist morality, backed by the pre-Apartheid Dutch Reformed Church that has never truly surrendered. The most rigidly moral part of American society is the won that has gone to blows again and again to keep American apartheid enforced “by any means necessary.”

    “Morals” are not so much descriptive as prescriptive; the morals of the people shun this or ban that. It’s a little bit circular, in a sense; it’s like asking whether homosexuality is illegal. Laws and “morals” are established the same way, but with different degrees of formality or enforcement. The question I ask is whether same-sex love and intimate relationships are evil or oppressive, i.e. harm innocent people. Of course they don’t. Those who are hung up on their Biblical “morals” can stay well hung, so to speak.

  8. I have recently been plagued wondering how to change that general mindset of Gay = immoral. Yes the slogan adopted after Black is Beautiful, Gay is Good helps but obviously isn’t going to make someone who believes being gay is immoral to change their mind. So what do we do as members of the LGBT community to change that mindset? I believe the answer lies in action. As we fight for our rights in the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of the government, I believe we should try extra hard to not dismiss the stereotypes but live in compassion and community service. Believe me I know that this is hard considering the communities across America have waged war against us, but within this we can show how loving and compassionate the LGBT community can be despite the discrimination against us.

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