Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Gay Discussion

I recently learned that a genetic explanation for homosexuality is really the gay community’s only legitimizing argument for gay marriage. Last night I got into a lengthy discussion about gay marriage with five of my Mormon guy friends, a rather risky move on my part. I simply played devil’s advocate and challenged their views on the issue. All five guys were strongly opposed to gay marriage – not a big shocker considering the audience.

One of the guys was especially passionate about the issue. He has done a lot of research on the topic, and he had great arguments against it. He’s definitely on the far right of the political spectrum. Anyhow, I found that my strongest argument for gay marriage was that homosexuality may be genetics-based. Of course, other arguments do exist, but my friend was able to rebut all of them, except the genetics one. When I argued that homosexuality is determined by DNA, he had to refer to Mormon leaders who say that people aren’t born gay (a weak argument outside church circles).

The discussion was very interesting. I really enjoyed it – even though I’m sure many of them now suspect that I’m gay. Ha!

Here are some of their arguments, which are the typical ones, against homosexual marriage:

1) Sending mixed messages to children (i.e., that both homosexual and heterosexual marriages are okay) will confuse them, resulting in an increase in homosexuality.

2) Allowing homosexual marriage will lead to the destruction of the family, the fundamental unit of society.

3) Children raised in homosexual homes will develop serious psychological problems.

4) If homosexuality is learned, then the government has no obligation to allow gay marriage.

I also had a great one-on-one discussion with one of them afterward. Our discussion focused on gay Mormons. He argued that sexuality has taken center stage in our society, causing people to think that it’s the MOST important element of their life. He blamed the media for this shift in American culture. He argued that sexuality should be a secondary issue – for heterosexuals and homosexuals alike. As you can guess, he argued that gay Mormons should abstain or marry women. I really enjoyed hearing his perspective. I respect his views.

Besides those conversations, nothing really important going on in the life of this gay Mormon.

14 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a first time reader to your website. I find it very informative. I am also LDS. Without going into my personal views on the issue of homosexuality, I think it's important to point out to your friends that, recently, Church leaders have suggested that homosexuality "may" be at least partly a result of genetics. As is the case with many social issues, the church leaders have softened and/or adjusted their teachings about the issue of homosexuality as science has learned more.

9:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To rebutt another of the arguments listed, I can't site the research offhand, but studies have rolled in on children raised by same sex parents. Among other things, children raised by same sex parents tend to be just as or more psychologically fit as kids raised in hetero homes. Of special interest are the "sexual" aspects of the study. Kids raised by same sex parents tend to wait longer to have sex. Also, being raised by homo parents has no impact on the sexual identity of the children (meaning, being raised by gay parents doesn't make one gay).

In our society, at least, it makes sense that kids raised by homosexual parents are going to be more educated and be more responsible and mature when it comes to sex--mainly, I assume homo parents are more likely to actually educate their children on sexuality.

One factor skewing the study, I imagine that it is the more responsible set of homosexuals that actually try to raise children. This is in stark contrast to the straight demographic, where you will have more accidental pregnancies and more people who are unfit to be parents trying to have and raise kids.

I'll be honest with you, I'm straight and I feel a little threatened by same sex marriage--though I am very in favor of civil unions. I don't know that it's a good idea to so readily tinker with the family. That said, the reality is, straight people have already damaged the family far more than gay people ever will. It is the straight people who have turned divorce into an almost expected affair. As straight people aren't adopting the children in the foster care system, gay people should be allowed to adopt them. You can no longer argue that such "families" are bad for the children.

The foster care system is something that conservative, straight America almost entirely ingores. When they get their act together and really take responsibility for these kids, for the family, I'll accept their advice elsewhere.

Sorry for the long ramble. I appreciate what you are doing here--I don't have any advice, but I hope you are able to find some comfort in the church, and that your life runs well, whether you decide to stay in or out of the church.

10:42 PM  
Anonymous C.D. said...

Dear GM: You would be better of going to meetings of gay rights organizations, or gay social organizations, where you could learn more, and gain greater acceptance of yourself, than arguing with rigid TBMs, who are unlikly to change their views. Of course those arguments against homosexuality are ALL bogus; they all start with (and are animated by) a presupposition, a fundamental bias, that homosexulity is bad. Yes, studies have shown that kids raised by gay couples are no more likely to be gay than kids raised by straight couples. But so what if more kids WERE gay? I would not see that as a problem, becuse I don't see anything wrong with being gay; it is a variation, like being left-handed or red-headed. But what difference does it make if a kid is gay or straight?

In MA, where gay couples are getting married, heterosexual marriages are not being underminded. In time, we will see more states, and more countrries favor giving equal rights to gays and straights--including the rights to marriage. It does not matter if being gay is due to nurture or nature. Governments are smply showing respects for adults' rights to live the lives they want to live, when they grant equal rights.

So some Mormon feels kids raised by gay parents will be damaged. I may feel that kids raised by Mormon parents are likely to be damaged in various ways--sexually repressed, homophobic, judgmental. But we allow people to raise their kids as they see fit.

If you join Fiedster.com or MySpace.com, you can meet plenty of nice people who happen to be gay, have no guilt or hangups over it, and are dating happily. That's lot healthier world than the repressive, guilt-ridden world Momon culture tries to create for its gay offspring.

11:00 PM  
Blogger D-Train said...

The real gay marriage issue for me is constitutional. The 14th amendment says "equal protection of the laws". That means equal protection.

There's no compelling reason to overrule that constitutional injunction that has been demonstrated by anyone.

11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

G.M.,

I remember the time period when I was at the height of my struggles with reconciling Mormon doctrine with my own feelings and thoughts. Because I was still an active member trying to follow the "Gospel," I put the most credence in the ideas offered by Church members and leaders. As a result, my perspective remained a bit skewed.

It wasn't until I broadened my circle of friends and acquaintances far beyond those who belong to the Church that I became more objective in my thinking, and more comfortable with my own thoughts an feelings.

I'm not saying that you haven't done this. But I suggest that you not base your conclusions about a topic like same-sex marriage solely on information from a group of Latter-Day Saints. I agree with the earlier poster that the conclusions reached from your discussion are either inaccurate, or begin with the assumption that homosexuality is wrong.

Get out there. Meet some homosexual couples. You'll learn that that are not really different from straight couples in how they interact and how they raise their children. Healthy child-rearing is not limited to straight relationships. And poor child-rearing is not limited to gay relationships.

7:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gay Marriage will simply not destroy marriage in any way, shape, nor form. Anyone who wants to truly "protect marriage" should work toward outlawing divorce.

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill here....

I don't like the way the poll is worded. To remain true to your religious convictions when confronted by temptation to cheat on your partner, or to have indiscriminate sex is not the same as staying true to a religious conviction that tells you homosexuality is a sin. This question covers a really broad range.

On another note--there are a lot of opportunities in DC to meet and interact with a borad spectrum of people and beliefs. That is but one thing I love about Washington. I strongly urge you to take advantage of those opportunities. And as always, wish you much happiness.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Machu Picchu said...

we had a discussion as LDS columbia law students on the topic last year.

if you want to lake a look:
http://columbiajreub.blogspot.com/2004/11/gay-marriage-and-church.html#comments

I had my naaman epiphany... but other than that, i've still found no reasonable argument against gay marriage besides appeal to religious authority. i think that's a problem, and wish that we could hear something more than "fundamental unit"--which simply is not always the case. even if it is, does a type of family's being 'fundamental' detract from the importance of say... educational institutions or churches??? they're important too. so might be same-sex marriages.

3:22 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

I think it is interesting that a good majority of your commenters are "anonymous". Just interesting to me.

I would like to add that there are a number of non-mormons in the world who also believe that there is no such thing as the "gay" gene. To be perfectly honest, until they find it, I don't buy it either. Kind of like the "fat" gene...they haven't found that either while studying the human genome. Perhaps it really is just a fact that people eat way too much of the wrong food and don't exercise enough. Perhaps having a "gay gene" or a "fat gene" is just a good excuse for the unexplained. There are a number of things that I wish could be explained by a gene...how about "being a total bitch gene", or "I'm just a lazy slob gene".

K.

3:25 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

c.d what the hell is a "TBM"
and D-Train equal protection means to EVERYONE...a lot of people of different ethnic origins sure don't feel like they are equally protected. Bigots, racists and just plain jerks abound don't they? If it's gonna apply it better apply to ALL.

K.

3:27 PM  
Anonymous C. D. said...

Kris-- "TBM" is shorthand used in some Mormon and non-Mormon circles for "True Blue Mormon." People who fully buy into the church's policies. Who tend to accept whatever "the Brethen" (leaders of the church) say. I believe people have the right to marry whom they please, and the question of whether or not there is a genetic component to homosexuality is irrelevant. Of course I believe in equal rights for al, and in equal protection for all. You will find that most supporters of gay rights are supperters of civil rights and equal protection, gebnerall, whether it concerns race, religious belief, sexual orientation, gender-related issues, whatever. I would not read too much into the fact that people often respond to blogs anonymously. I post here "anonymously"--using only my my initials, only so I won't get spammed by strangers. I've made my identity fully known to "Gay Mormon in private Emails. I'm not "anonmous" to G.M. And I'm "out" as a gay person to everyone in my life as a writerand director in NYC. But on the other hand, there is no need for every reader of this blog to know my name and contact to me. Because the incidence of homosexuality varies from society to society--in some societies, more people participate in it than others, though it exists in all societies--I don't think homosexuality is ezxclusively genetically determined. But studies of twins raised apart suggest that biology is a factor. There may be genes that predispose some people towards homosexuality (and possibly also to high inteligence and creativity and aesthetic sensitivity--such traits are often found together). Bright, creative, sensitive, highly aestehtic individuals who are also gay are fairly common. There is so much homosexuality in the theater world--actors, dancers, playwrights, directrors--I would not be surprised to learn there might be a gene or genes helping shape such people's sexual interests and there aestetitc interests and their talents.

8:38 PM  
Anonymous Andy said...

Science doesn't know sh!t about what makes a person love another person. Someone tell me what makes a person straight? No one knows. But a twenty something business finance major can pontificate about the "unnaturalness" of something practiced by constant percentage of people since time immemorial and he sounds like he knows something. Bullsh!t.

People trust "heterosexuality" simply because of the "form follows function" argument--a penis in a vagina leads to offspring, therefore penises and vaginas are FOR producing offspring. This confuses what they do, with what they are for. Penises and vaginas do produce offspring but no one can say definitively what they are FOR. This is the leap that is unquestioned by almost everyone. If the organs do one thing they must ALWAYS be used for that and NEVER be used for anything else! Think about that a minute. It is saying that because the organs do one thing, they should never, ever be used for something else. Huh?

This is a really weird argument when you think about it. It puts limits on the potential of the human being. We wouldn't do that for any other organ. Here are a few examples of twisted thinking inspired by the "form follow function" argument:

Tongues are for talking and eating. Therefore, creative uses of the tongue like kissing, blowing bubblegum bubbles, licking stamps--these are "perversions" of the "natural" use of the tongue. Violators of the natural purpose of the tongue will be prosecuted as perverts and should be shunned!

Skin is to protect your inner organs from outside elements, alert you to dangers from heat or sharp objects, cool you with perspiration. Therefore, creative uses of the skin like contrived massage, unnatural tanning, decoration of the skin with tatoos or jewelry, or prolonged bathing for pure pleasure is a "perversion" of the "natural" purpose of the skin and is forbidden. Violators of the natural purpose of the skin will be prosecuted as perverts and should be shunned!

Proscriptions against "perversions" of the "natural" use of the organs (and other things) has a long history. This argument has been used historically to forbid:

Kissing
Nakedness (it is natural to cover onself as in Genesis)
Touching anothers sex organs with the hands
Touching anothers sex organs with the mouth
Touching sex organs to anything other than the sex organs a person of the opposite sex

This argument has been used by church clergy and other authoritarian leaders for millenia. This agrument can go on and on! You can go back in history and find it used for controlling all kinds of new, creative--and by definition "deviant" --behavior(as in "artistic behaviour is deviant because most people do not behave artistically").

The form follows function argument is stupid, limiting and follows, not from a sense of aliveness and imagination, but from a sense of fear and a need to control.

When my uncle was a young married man (1955) the church would not let you go to the temple if you engaged in oral sex with your wife! He opposed this, spoke to church leaders and eventually the practice was taken off of the "unnatural" list. This is just ridiculous in my view--and sad. Are we all that scared of our sexuality that we need some former Idaho real estate executives (general authorities)to interpret the nature of our souls to us?

Also, in response to your friends who say that sex has become "elevated" in its emphasis in our society, let me say that I agree and disagree. Sex has become an obsession in our society to the extent that sexuality has been ignored. Many other cultures are more sexual than our own but way less obsessed with it. Why the obsession then in our society? I think the answer is in what is called "the tyranny of the repressed". Basically, this states that whatever you ban tends to come back in a perverted form. Our puritanical, sex-is-bad, do-it-but-dont-let-the-neighbors-know culture is to blame here. Healthy, real, unexaggerated, bodily sexuality is just not lived very often amongst our people. Instead, everything is exaggerated in our society and sex is the biggest exaggeration because in its real form it is so feared and repressed among us.

GM, your struggles with porn are a perfect example of the sickness of the culture we live in. The addictiveness you experience derives from the poverty of balance in your sexual expression. Your obsession is the "tyranny of the repressed". As someone has posted previously, your obsession would not occur if your approach to sexuality was not so repressed.

I feel a tremendous amount of anger at the ridiculous arguments against homosexuality expressed by your "friends" and by most of our society. These arguments are from people who buy into a view of sexuality that is unbalanced, repressive and discriminatory.

I venture to say that each of your friends will get married in order to finally have sex, and they will then do all kinds of sexual things with their spouses that are "unnatural" (per our form follows function argument) and an hour later they will be at dinner with you telling you how "perverted" homosexuality is because it doesn't follow the "insert here" theory of sexuality. Such fantastic arrogance! It just burns my butt to see this kind of thing. Oh well, what can I do but say my truth! Now you have it.
Good luck with everything.

P.S. Unlike you, I would not really "enjoy" a discussion like the one you describe with your LDS friends. It would make me feel discounted as a person who loves other men and totally alone in my love for my soul.

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:25 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Whether or not being gay is due to one's environment or to one's genetic makeup(I tend to believe it's a mixture of both), gay people deserve to have the same rights that straight people have, including the ability to marry their partner.

4:28 PM  

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