Thursday, May 03, 2007

Gay and Un-Gay Relations, Part 4: Experts

Continued from: 1, 2, and 3.

Experts. The choices you make as a gay man do not make you an expert on any “gay lifestyle” but your own.

Some ex-gays admit to spending years having sex with any man they could, filling their body with drugs, and hurting every last person in their life who ever loved them. Then they sincerely want to be taken as an authority on living as a gay man?

It’s no surprise they ended up miserable and wanting to change. Of course they did, and, if that lifestyle is what being ‘gay’ means for them, I’d hope to help them to never be ‘gay’ again. It’s also no big surprise when they go from such a life to one of attacking other gays and lesbians, while riding the lowly repentant sinner’s high horse. It’s a continuation of certain personality traits, trading one drug for another.

But they did not make poor choices because they experience an attraction to men, or were intimate with men. They didn’t hurt others without much concern because they were gay anymore than they do the same now for being ex-gay. I mean, most women seem to get along just fine :-).

Now, I know there are reasons. They probably made such mistakes because of the social issues and beliefs that are regrettably often handed to gay youth. The admitted willingness to act in ways contrary to their sense of ethics didn’t help a bit either. But they were their choices. They wanted and helped form the worst aspects of the gay community, but the “gay lifestyle” they fashioned for themselves has nothing to do with being gay for many others.

Instead, many are chaste and cautious with sex, and focused on their loved ones. Many were out building relationships, and careers, not spending nights in clubs, or the other seedier places, as such ex-gays often describe. We all reap what we sow, but for many that’s our homes, our place as fathers, and our marriages.

I now have my family to protect, and I’ll do it vigorously (and sometimes rudely :-)). For such people to use their past against us would be comical, if it weren’t so effective, and so many of our straight opponents weren’t anxious to believe in such expertise on “the gay lifestyle”. Funny, it must be one of the few instances where the more mistakes you make at something the more you’ll be respected as an expert on it.

Once again though, that same finger must be pointed at the gay community. The mistakes and misery our members experienced and created in straight unions, cannot be rightly used to malign the families of those individuals trying to make it work, and maybe not even needing to try to near the same extent. Such people do not define the gay-straight marriage anymore than ex-gays can define the lives in the gay community.

Of course, this behavior too is understandable. It’s easy to see yourself in another gay man. It’s easy to extrapolate and use the barriers of orientation to generalize, in the same way ex-gays may use the barriers that hindered them, such as social pressure, to assume their experience into our families. But understandable is not a pass for us either.

There’s this insistence out there that both gay-straight unions and gay couples are somehow doomed to failure or are somehow illegitimate or unhealthy by default. Both types of unions are posed as a source of misery. And, sure, there is a lot of misery out there and we can see some of it in the data on both sides of the argument. I’ve no problem, of course, looking at the research ;-). But just as ‘anecdote’ is not the singular form of ‘data’, averages are not individuals. What is far worse, though, is the work of these experts, using personal anecdote against whole groups. It is yet another ironic chunk of common ground I see between the two groups, and an error we both must work to remedy.

Just one more post on this :-).


Master Fob said...

So I used to walk by this gay bookstore and in the display windows they had all these books on gay politics and queer theory and stuff--you know, to make it look like gay people actually use their minds and not just their libidos--but then when you actually went inside and saw what was behind the displays...

Oh wait, that wasn't me at all. Never mind.

Scot said...

"but then when you actually went inside and saw what was behind the displays..."

What is Carpenter ants? No. Bea Arther? No. What is stuff you couldn't put in a window outside amsterdam?

Let me say on this topic MF, how nicely I think you've handled your experience. You could as easily as many have turned your life into an attack on either side, but you didn't and don't.

Mr. Fob said...

Thanks, Scot. The compliment means a lot coming from someone I respect so much.

playasinmar said...

What is Ted Haggard?