Monday, April 30, 2007

Gay and Un-Gay Relations, Part 1: Traitors

Very Early in coming out I learned not to expect, because a person is gay, that they are a person on my side of an issue. These lessons were not learned with the un- or ex- or inactively-gay crowd, but with the more radical elements in my crowd, such as the folks mentioned here. Being gay simply does not mean or imply you are bound in any way to be in a certain camp, even on gay issues, perhaps especially on gay issues ;-).

So, if we’re all deserving of our own conscience and choices here, why do gays in conversion therapy, and gay men marrying women and choosing celibacy sometimes feel treated like traitors by the gay community?

Certainly, because they are, sometimes and significantly, treated as traitors. It happens, and for nearly every case unjustly and with that certain cruelty that comes from dehumanizing “them”.

I believe the source of this is an imagined insult or threat.

Not as dramatic, but bear with me; vegetarians get this all the time. A fellow grad student and friend of mine was a vegetarian, for his family’s particular sort of Hindu faith. The first time we ate together that fact came out. He quickly went into a whole speech regarding how vegetarianism is the choice for him, as a result of his religion, and that he didn’t think it wrong if I ordered the animals off the menu. I was going to anyway :-) and assumed as much, but he’s right to worry. People do tend to react badly if they feel they’re being judged by another’s choice, particularly if that other believes they are acting for moral reasons or for the supernatural’s command. It’s tough to imagine people will treat you justly in tangible ways in this world when they think you’re going to their Hell anyway. I believe something very similar often occurs when gay men encounter gay men who’ll not meet their attraction in action (vegaytarians? Eh…).

But, if I’m merely promoting that vegetarian choice as the one for me, one not to be forced on or coerced into others, by lowering them or elevating myself by law or social pressures, certainly I could not be said to have any harmful intent.

For whatever portion of the gay community’s hostility that represents, it’s absolutely wrong and regrettable. If in the inactively gay man’s shoes, and with their beliefs about the way the supernatural works, such a choice might seem reasonable to all gay men. Besides, another’s personal choice for their life is simply not an editorial or assault; if it were I’d be worlds more offensive than I already am ;-) by the human pleasures which just don’t please for me.

I simply hope, with what I’ve learned by frequenting the blogs of gay LDS, I’ve been and will be helpful in quelling the mistrust and fear within the gay community. There are people worth knowing, supporting, and respecting in both their camp and ours.

5 comments:

Master Fob said...

In my experience there are people on both (all?) sides of the gay issue, particularly the gay Mormon issue, who react defensively to those who have made different choices than they have--I assume that this is because they see these alternative choices as judgments or because if those alternative choices appear viable then the validity of their own choices might come into question. In other words, if that gay man is capable of being happy in a straight marriage, then I can no longer say that straight marriages for gay men are impossible and therefore not an option for me. Or vice versa.

Also in my experience, I've seen people on both sides who are not so insecure, who are content enough with their own decisions that they don't feel threatened by the decisions others have made. In case you're wondering, Scot, you're one of this latter group of people.

Loyalist (with defects) said...

trying to find that "security" of decision after one has admitted to themself is difficult at best.

MoHoHawaii said...

We've made a lot of progress in the last 30 years or so. We couldn't be having this conversation back then.

I like blogging because it allows me to see a wide variety of life experiences. This is a good thing; we don't all have to do it the same way.

Scot said...

MF:
(all?)

No. Remember, it’s always us vs. them ;-).

if those alternative choices appear viable then the validity of their own choices might come into question.

That’s a good point I hadn’t realized. Not only may it seem like a judgment from outside, but it may cause a person to uncomfortably question their own choices.

In case you're wondering, Scot, you're one of this latter group of people.

Thank you; I hope I’ve never been hostile here... But one never knows :-).

MoHoHawaii
We've made a lot of progress in the last 30 years or so. We couldn't be having this conversation back then.

Maybe in a mental hospital for the criminally queer, or a bar in San Francisco? ;-) I do agree. I’m surprised weekly. Show me anyone who says they knew 3 decades ago gay couples could have children and function hindered only by law, not their surrounding culture in a suburb of Utah and I’ll call them a liar (with tamer language).

This is a good thing; we don't all have to do it the same way.

Amen.

Marmoreal said...

amen, brothers, amen.
this dynamic of interaction between gays of various chosen life paths mirrors the dynamic of interaction between those of various chosen religious paths. people secure in their own chosen religion (organized or otherwise) can have amiable conversations including diverse points of view while those not so secure in their religious affiliation can become rather defensive, hostile and intolerant of anyone suggesting a different religious viewpoint. same dynamic, different context...