Friday, December 30, 2005

Re: Peculiar Mormon’s "Gay" Issues

I can understand why a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with homosexual inclinations, tendencies or desires might have a problem with the term "gay." I apologize if I have offended any such persons by using the word. I just find the whole argument to be a bit silly – no offense. I don’t believe that many people make the same distinction between the word "gay" and "same-sex attraction." Perhaps they should. But I doubt they do.

When I use the word gay, I simply mean that I am attracted to men. That doesn’t mean I have rainbow stickers on my bumper. That doesn’t mean I like shopping with my girlfriends. That doesn’t mean I get regular manicures and pedicures. It simply means I am physically and emotionally attracted to men. I doubt anyone outside Mormon gay culture – excuse me, Mormon same-sex attraction culture ;) – would misunderstand that. Plus, saying "I’m gay" sounds better to me than saying "I’m a man with same-sex attraction" or "I have homosexual tendencies." To me, that’s like saying I am a human of the male gender. Sure, it’s correct, but it’s easier to say, "I’m a man." It’s just an argument over semantics. Anyhow, now you know what I mean when I use the word.

While we’re on the topic, I want to defend myself against the accusation of improper word usage. I think I'm the shit when it comes to English grammar and usage, so I must address this. For the record, I have never used the word"gay" as a noun. I know it’s an adjective and I’ve only used it as such. The phrase "I’m gay" is an example of the adjectival usage. It’s just like saying "I’m ugly," "I’m skinny," or "I’m annoyed." Ugly, skinny and annoyed are all adjectives. If I were to use an article, either the definite or indefinite one, then I would be using the word as a noun. Saying "I’m a gay" or "I’m the gay" is an example of the noun form of the word gay. Hardly anyone ever uses the word as a noun.

That’s just an aside. I wanted to prove that I know my nouns and adjectives. :) I feel better.

Lastly, I disagree with Peculiar Mormon on the issue of disclosure. I strongly believe in being open and honest with people. PM suggested I am not "as willing to fight this" because I am telling others. I disagree full heartedly. The only people I’ve known who have fought this successfully – in a manner I respect and appreciate – have been open and honest with their loved ones. I think secrecy is the breeding grounds for major problems. By telling my siblings that I am gay – or that I struggle with homosexual tendencies – I am not saying I am going to live a homosexual lifestyle. I have been frank with them and have told them that I simply don’t know what I’m going to do. Like I’ve noted before, I have made no hard decisions and I constantly go back and forth on the issue.

In any case, the fact is I am attracted to men. Beyond pride, I see no reason for hiding that detail of my life. I’m sure many people could argue against my philosophy. That’s fine. I know a lot of people who live very mysterious lives and don’t reveal any intimate details. And that's fine. But I’ve always prided myself on the fact that my life is an open book – except for the closed homosexual chapter – and I am happiest that way. It’s always bothered me that this part of me has been a secret. Plus, if I really do want help with this aspect of my life, then I’m going to have to open up. That’s one reason why I’ve decided to open this chapter and share it with others. So far, I’ve found the experience to be very helpful – for both me and others. I feel a lot better about myself and my life.

I guess that by "labeling" myself or telling people about my sexuality I am probably reducing my chances of finding a willing girl to marry me. That’s fine. I figure if God really did give me this as a trial and if he really wants me to fight it or overcome it, then he will make that possible -- regardless of the number of people I tell. After all, His will be done. I highly doubt that telling others about my struggles will thwart the plan of God. :)

Alright, everyone bored with this blog entry? I don’t blame you. Here’s a more interesting fact: I finally told my best friend last night over the phone. She didn’t even seem phased by it. She said she would love me regardless of my decisions. She also had suspected that I am gay, but she didn’t want to ask me about it. Bless her heart. She’s wonderful!

I’ve decided that my timing on this has been pretty dang good. By this point, most people have already suspected it, so it hasn’t been a major revelation to anyone. I’m glad that people have been prepared for it thus far. Next people: another brother and his wife. This one should go just as smoothly.

Happy New Year!


Blogger Silus Grok said...

Hey man!

Merry Christmas... and a happy new year, too boot!

I wish you would have linked to wherever this is all coming from, so I could get a little context... but oh well.

I must say that on the issue of the use of the word "gay", I'm a little torn: I fully understand that words have power — amazing power — to shape the minds that use them, so I appreciate the approach. My problem, then, is not with the approach but with its underlying tenants.

Using terms like SSA or SSG or "struggling" make me sound broken... and I'm not broken.

I don't know if my being gay is merely a trait (like left-handedness) or a handicap (like being born deaf), but I don't hear south paws or deaf people talking about their "struggle".

Well, that, and it's easier to say "gay".

: )

I wish more folks would use the term gay — if only to begin shifting public perception that homosexual men are some monolithic force of nature; that we're Queer Eye for the Straight Guy-loving, leather thong-weearing, pedorasts (or some such nonsense).

I'm an active and faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints... and I'm gay; I'm a loving uncle, brother, and son... and I'm gay; I'm a lover of all things related to land use politics... and I'm gay.

I hate Prada... and I'm gay.

8:26 AM  
Anonymous M l'Homme said...

Members of the LDS Church regard themselves as Christians, and call themselves so. Many evangelical Christians regard the LDS Church as a bastard that has no claim to the appellation 'Christian.' George W. Bush wanted to seem softer, so he called himself a 'compassionate conservative.' Conservatives who are not George W. Bush have resoundingly rejected the term as mealy-mouthed, while self-proclaimed liberals tend to view the 'compassionate' modifier as bunk. Vermont has granted same-sex couples the opportunity to obtain substantially the same rights as married couples through civil unions, even as it has refused to grant same-sex couple the right to "marry." I mention these examples to bring out the idea that labels are important things. Shakespeare's oft-repeated comment that “ . . . a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet . . ." makes for great literature but is not in accord with the prevailing modus operandi of modern life. Individuals, organizations, and governments attach great importance to the labels they apply to themselves and others.

As far as the usage of the term 'gay' goes: I am extremely hesitant to use it (not least because I am sexually and emotionally attracted to women, albeit not as much as men). Silus Grok noted that he would prefer more people using the term 'gay' in order to dilute its current (or perhaps latent) cultural connotations. To anyone familiar with the broad panorama of persons primarily attracted to others of their own sex, it is clear that no one definition can accurately or adequately encompass all self-styled ‘gays.’ But that is the truth of any label of any importance. The cultural connotations I ascribe to self-proclaimed ‘gays’ until demonstrated otherwise (youth fetishism, promiscuity, effeminacy, histrionics, etc.) are sufficiently negative that I wholeheartedly reject the label for myself. To me, telling others that I am ‘gay’ would give them the wrong idea about who I am: anyone that I do tell (inasmuch as I am semi-closeted) I trust enough to provide a fuller picture.

Perhaps it’s because I’m persnickety (I am), but that’s my view.

-monsieurlhomme AT gmail DOT com (formerlyFellow)

1:42 PM  
Blogger DCTwistedLife said...

I think that whole, 'lets use SSA' terminology is indeed very silly. It's beating around the bush, its a way to pretend like you aren't attracted to men, or that you 'don't want to live that lifestyle'. But I think to say that that just makes it worse....

This whole "SSA" vs "gay" nonsense is brought about by these so-called psychologists who attempt to change a persons sexuality thru therapy. The fact is that people cannot be re-trained or 'fixed' into liking women. It doesnt happen. From a psychological point of view, trying to change "SSA" is very unethical, even harmful for the mental state. The church should know this by now. They DO know this, but they dont want to change policy....but thats a bit off topic.

Gay to me, means that someone is attracted to other men. Plain and simple. It doesnt mean you sleep with them. It doesnt mean you act stereotypically gay. And even if you do, what's wrong with that? People are who they are. Not all of us are supposed to love football and not know how to dress or act. lol... I DO love Prada, I love to shop, I hate sports, but no I'm not flaming. And even if I was, what would be so terrible about that? Its sad that people allow others to teach them to hate themselves. I have done that for 21 years. I am tired of hating myself, I still do, but I am trying to fix THAT, not "fix" my homosexuality.

As Hermionie Granger says in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,
"Fear of a name only increases the fear of the thing itself". And I think that is very true. Dont be afraid to call yourself what you are, simply because you are afraid of stereotypes that might be associated with it. We are all stereotyped in some way or another. Should Blacks, Latinos, Arabs, and Jews be afraid to call themselves that because of their stereotypes?? Some of us fit the stereotypes, some of us dont. We shouldnt care what random ppl think about us, becayse it's only those who are close to us that matter. Moreover, it would be sort of good to show that the gay community is diverse! not JUST people who love to shop, or party boys who go out and do drugs and get laid, not just effeminate guys. By being afraid of a label, you only allow a stereotype to be perpetuated further. People need to break those perceptions.

3:39 PM  
Anonymous M l'Homme said...

By the way, there's a rather interesting discussion closely related to this subject going on over at Malcontent.

By the way, the whole notion that stereotypes need to be broken down is downright nutty. Try to live without stereotypes. You wouldn't be able to assume anything about other human beings: you couldn't assume that other shoppers would manifest even a modicum of respect in stores, you couldn't assume that any portion of the population outside youself knew how to maneuver a vehicle, you couldn't rationally apportion time needed to get through government offices, you couldn't assume anything about anyone. Surely my counterexample is a straw man (and I don't even think that DC Twisted Life argued that all stereotypes should be broken down), but it is useful. Stereotypes allow men to function. The rule I take is, simply, that a stereotype applies until shown otherwise. At that moment, it is foolish to hold on to that stereotype with regards to the individual who has shown it to be false in his case. Writ large, stereotypes only break down when they fail to be useful for navigating life. When they are broken down, they are replaced by new ones.

The discussion over at Malcontent makes clear that some stereotypes, though hotly disputed, are still strong, even within the gay "community."

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Charles A. said...

I am glad that things went well with your friend. It's hard enough to deal with the struggles of just being gay, but add the struggle of porn to it, and it becomes really hard. I hope you are not offended by my comments. As for P. Mormon, you don't someone jabbing you like that.

I think you are extremely brave in your stand. Congrats!!


11:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill here:

Are heterosexuals who do not engage in sexual activity with members of the opposite sex still heterosexuals? If they are, then homosexuals who do not engage in sexual activity are still homosexuals. Call them gay, call them queer, call them SSAers--they're still homosexuals.

As someone who came out of the closet in 1979, I can appreciate being afraid of being stereotyped. Calling yourself gay does not make you a stereotype. Your behavior and cultural choices make you a stereotype. I am gay and I do not consider myself a stereotype.

P.S. GM, you're right. When it comes to grammar, you're the shit!

5:36 AM  
Blogger David said...

Bill has it right, call it whatever you want, doesn't change what it is.

My Sister-in-law told me after I came out to my family that she knew I was gay the moment she entered the family.

I've learned that most of the time people see what they want to see, which tends to be what they are most comfortable with.

This was a well written post. I can relate to the feeling of wanting to be honest with people. I felt like I was lying for 21 years, it tore me up to feel like I had to hide from the people I loved. Keep doing what your heart tells you to do, what brings you peace, and I really believe you will fulfill whatever it is God wants you to do in this life.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Peculiar Mormon said...

I completely didn't mean any offence, if that's what was taken. And really, I suppose it is a bit skewed of me to say "hey, don't say gay!" Because hey, sometimes for speed's sake, I say gay as well, instead of Same-Sex Attraction...But it DID seem a bit to me like you were kind of labling yourself with the lifestyle, and I was like "eegads, keep fighting!" everytime you used the word "Gay." No offence intended, none taken. Now we have a better understanding of eachother's view of the terminology, right? And information is the bane of misinformation. Misinformation breeds hate, distrust etc. Glad we're on the same page...and I completely see eye to eye with you on use of the language.

How flattering, I must say, that I got an entire blog entry sparked by MY comment! LOL.

11:57 PM  
Blogger howller said...

The tendency among Mormons to avoid the term 'gay' goes back to the long-held belief that gay people are simply heterosexuals who are tempted to have sexual relations with members of the same gender. So for many years church leaders made a point of using the word 'homosexual' only as an adjective and never as a noun.

Gay people who are loyal to the LDS faith and choose to remain celibate often avoid the term 'gay' to distinguish themselves from homosexuals that have sex. In doing this, they help perpetuate the belief that homosexuality is only a behavior, not a sexual orientation.

12:10 AM  

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