Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Common Ground

Thinking back as to why I was so struck by the blogs of gay men married to women, I think a large part of it was the bizarro world similarities I kept encountering, despite our significant differences. I almost identify with this group in ways I do not as often with the average gay man.

1. -- We’re both quietly resented by those in the (minority) extreme camps of our own activist groups. The far anti-gay camp sees the orientation alone as a reason to dislike another, or worse. In the other camp, married monogamous gay couples raising children are “mimicking their oppressors”. Why would anyone, particularly gays, ever want to be “tied down”, to be “subservient” and surrendered to their spouse and children? If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

2. -- Regardless of #1, we are both used like currency by our respective activist groups. The “ex-gay” advocates put up a happy gay man and his wife of 10 years, and we put up an even happier gay couple and their entire family of 20 years, and on and on goes the gay arms race… I'm not against it, as it serves some of my aims, and I think both sets of “poster boys” can serve people looking for possibilities, but it can feel dehumanizing.

3. -- We are both called selfish for wanting our marriages; us for not wanting the norm and them for wanting it. But are we any more selfish for this than anyone else? We may be directed to our unions by different paths and personal desires and sacrifices, but we both want to commit to, take care of, and be responsible for a person we love and the families we’ve built… selfish.

4. -- We are both told we’re selfish for raising children, “playing dice with their lives” or “conducting a dangerous social experiment”. Sure there are exceptions, but is there any more common an example of selflessness than parenting? Any place in human lives where they’re more typically willing to give everything and expect nothing but the other’s health and happiness? Even when things go wrong, people error, and families fail, are they to say the child should never of had life, or their parents? I have a hard time understanding how a bit of anatomy or a sexual orientation, can so easily blind people to good, healthy, happy families, but even those that don’t run smoothly are precious. Really, if they cared about children they’d be trying to help, instead of insult and undermine their homes with law or encouraging husbands to leave their wives.

5. – We are both told we must be unhappy. For me, this one ironically and generally comes from a culture with double the average use of chemical antidepressants in the nation. It also comes from folks that are the source of all the major hurdles in my life today and most determined to harm what I love (for our own good :-)). So, how to counter the impeccable “stop hitting yourself” line of reasoning? Eh, who cares to, when your far happier than most people you know, and the person using it isn’t actually concerned for your happiness? There’s hardly a way to talk people out of their expertise on our lives, as it’s near a matter of faith for both sides.

6. – The love for our spouses is questioned and disbelieved. We’ve all heard it, too many times. “Gay couples don’t love each other. Instead, they are addicted to sex, to the gay lifestyle. Their sex and intimate relationships are an expression of psychological disease or past traumas. Compensating for failed masculinity? An oppressive mother? Molested as a child? It couldn’t be love!” Essentially “Gays don’t feel like we do for our families”, and how dangerous is that? On the other end, some gays claim gay men can’t ever love a woman. "They’re just caving in to social pressure, creating loveless “marriages of convenience” so they can fit in…" I’d encourage such critics to read their blogs; if their love isn’t apparent in their struggles and determination, we must not agree on what “love” means here.

7. -- I think the greatest similarity I feel with most these gay men married to women is in our role as parents and committed spouses. That’s simply something you can’t explain to someone who isn’t, and particularly to someone who doesn’t care to be. I think many gay men simply don’t understand what fatherhood does to a person. They don’t really understand what motivates me, or these gay men with wives and children (If they only knew how quickly I’d sell out gay causes if they worked against my kids, I’d never be invited anywhere :-)). But it makes perfect sense to me to give up pieces of yourself for them, and be floored if you loose them in the slightest if your orientation can't be ignored. I worry some in the gay community can treat these connections far too callously and casually, just as the anti-gay movement has done to our families and unions for decades. Sad how that happens.

8. -- Others?

Anyway, maybe when our radical activists are at their impasses, we married gay men have the best hope of finding the common ground.


-L- said...

This is a great post for so many reasons. Number 4 in particular gets my blood boiling. And it has opened my eyes to the injustice of committed gay partners being told they shouldn't have the right to children because they can't be ideal parents. It's just silly for someone to say something similar to that about me and my wife because they have no idea what a great family we're making. I would have *loved* to grow up in a household like ours. I think it's happier and healthier than any of the families I can see around me.

It is bizzaro, I suppose, but you've nailed some interesting comparisons.

Scot said...

That’s what kept surprising me. I kept recognizing my emotions in your posts. ;-)

Err, I posted that and just as I was off for a meeting and decided the title had problems. I was thinking the sci-fi bizaro world, you know, where everything is just the same with one important change. Then I remembered, from my youth, that the bizaro Superman was the evil Superman. I didn’t mean to suggest you’re the sort in the bizaro world, or that anyone is bizarre :-). (too big an explanation for a regretted two word title?..)

Scot said...

One other thing, L, for what it’s worth, I’m sure you’re a wonderful father.

I often wonder how much of being gay is a blessing, and its reach. Perhaps, for both of us, it has given our roles a greater clarity and intent than we’d have if we weren’t forced to think on it so much.

-L- said...

Yeah, thinking through things is nearly never bad. ;-)

It would be fun to live in Utah because then I would try to convince you to let our families meet. Ah well.

Your blog is fantastic... I don't know why more people don't comment. But I kind of like being the center of comment attention. ;-)