Friday, December 3, 2010

MANY GAY PEOPLE NEED TO GROW UP!

It seems to me that there are two major types of Gay people: 1. Those who seek, in one way or another, to adapt to the existing social structure and its oppressive demands; 2. Those who seek to change that oppressive social structure and eliminate its homophobic demands.

The first group is largely made up of sexual hedonists who equate being Gay with sexual activity and with acting out according to their self-defined labels of "queer," "fag," "dyke," etc. They are seemingly content with making the best out of their oppression, even to the point of denying the reality of that oppression, and engaging in all sorts of diversionary activities that remove them from having to confront the reality of their own oppression, and their active participation in that very oppression.

The second group evince dignity, demand to be treated as first class citizens, and meaningfully fight to overturn the ignorant and hateful rhetoric and actions of homophobes. Moreover, they see being Gay, like being Straight, as involving romantic love that is inextricably related to their sexual lives.

The first group is largely made up of traitors to the LGBT civil rights struggle, and it is the second group that is largely made up of those who take this civil rights struggle seriously, and don't restrict their activities to self-indulgent displays and self-absorbed feel-good rhetoric as does the first group. It is the first group that is seemingly oblivious to the harm those displays and that rhetoric have on others, on their own psyches, and on the LGBT civil rights struggle.

About three years ago, I wrote the following article entitled, On The Need To Grow Up, that I'd like to reprint here:

As I've written before, I would have my class think of the first word that occurred to them when I said the word "Gay." All of them said that the first thing that occurred to them was the word "sex."

As I told them, let's assume that the average couple has sex three times a week, each session lasting about 15 minutes. That means that only about 45 minutes a week is devoted to sexual activity.

Clearly all of us, Gay or Straight, are awake for far more than 45 minutes a week. All of our lives encompass far more than the engaging in sexual activity!

Being Gay, just like being Straight, is about one's whole being: his/her perceptions, sensibilities, and emotional/affectional/sexual preferences. We are all multifaceted, and to restrict oneself or others to being a mere one-dimensional sexual animal does a grave injustice to both logic as well as to Gay people themselves.

The unfortunate fact is that many Gay people, too, have bought into the false notion, inculcated by religious and secular homophobes, their very oppressors, that they are merely sexual beings who are mere "selfish hedonists", and who then, therefore, portray themselves, and view themselves, as just that: one-dimensional people who focus on sexual activity, and who define themselves by their sexuality and by little or nothing else.

Moreover, the appropriation and use of pejorative and hateful self-identifiers, as well as the engagement in frivolous activities that also mark one as an "outsider," as a "deviant," as "the other," and even as "the enemy" to what is considered to be "normal" and "moral," tells us far more about the given person than it tells us about anything else.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being into BDSM or being a member of the Leather community, for example, but the blatant hostility of the latest Folsom Street Fair, for example, was consciously and/or unconsciously designed to keep LGBT people in their place of being viewed by most of society as justifiable victims to persecute; reinforce LGBT people in taking pride in being in an "outsider" status, as "sexual outlaws," who have no desire to be part of mainstream society.

This activity and its consequences was done by unconscious and/or unconscious design! It seemed to me to be far less a celebration of the Leather community than it was a statement telling others, particularly religious people, "F***k You."

One can blame centuries of discrimination for the unconscious and/or conscious self-loathing that prompts the appropriation of the hateful epithets of the oppressors by which many LGBT people identify themselves, and the sexualization of the self as the major component of one's very being that is held by many LGBT people, but that explanation only goes so far, and gives such LGBT people too much slack when any of us put the onus of self-hate solely on those who discriminate against the oppressed.

There is a point when one has to own his/her dignity, demand the respect due to any human being, demand full and equal civil and sacramental rights regardless of the negative messages and hostility that have been visited on that person in the past, or even in the present.

And those goals will not be realized as long as the minority group accepts its inferior status, and revels in it by referring to its members by the very same terms used by the most virulent homophobes throughout history and in our midst.

No self respecting person, Gay or Straight, stands for being treated as less than fully human; no self respecting person, Gay or Straight, uses negative self-identifiers that have been historically (and contemporarily) used by their oppressors. The slave mentality is blamed on others, but the fact is that it ultimately resides within each human being whether or not to accept that mentality.

On one progressive, LGBT-friendly site, Don Charles and I tried to convince others of that fact. It was remarkable how the venom against our contentions (and sometimes against us) started pouring out from most of those who chose to comment. Deep down I'm convinced that they knew we were right, but they didn't have the guts to overcome and transcend the big lie that they deserve to be treated as second-class citizens.

They really believe that they are "sinners," regardless of whether or not they are religious and, in the case of those who had that message constantly reinforced by "ex-gay therapists," it may well have insinuated itself in their unconscious that drives them to continuous, life-long self hate. With psyches like these, there can be no meaningful activism.

When we throw into the mix political expediency, as seen, for example, with Barney Frank and the ENDA debacle; being grateful for the crumbs of incrementalism in the name of "progress"; "liberals" who go whichever way the wind is blowing; inertia where people are self-satisfied if they perceive their immediate needs are being met, regardless of the cost to their dignity and humanity, meaningful activism falls on deaf ears.

Moreover, such psyches and political anemia only serve to further embolden the homophobes, as they see these factors as signs of weakness, and the tragic conclusion is that they are right about that perception.

So, I say to those who revel in using pejorative and hateful self-identifiers, who are content with being treated as second-class citizens, who are delighted with crumbs of incrementalism, who are self-satisfied as long as their immediate perceived self-interests are being met, who tolerate the indignities attendant upon being treated as "the other," and "the deviant," who allow homophobic clergy and others to demean them with impunity: Grow Up!

When we were children we usually, and for some of us all too frequently, allowed adults to define our realities for us. Now that we're grown, we have an obligation to act our ages and demand to be treated with the same dignity and have the same civil and sacramental rights as anyone else! And not settle for anything less!

Listen to the Apostle Paul: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." (1Corinthians 13:11)

To the degree we act like children, either by centering our lives on frivolous and self-destructive activities, or by allowing others to define our realities for us, or by not demanding full and equal civil and sacramental rights, or by using negative and hostile self-identifiers that serve to perpetuate "outsider," "deviant," "abnormal," and "inferior" status, it is to that degree that homophobes are further emboldened; what rights that are currently enjoyed are threatened or may even be rescinded; increasing numbers of decent people will find "justification" for considering LGBT people as "not one of us," and the fight for full and equal civil and sacramental rights will be greatly harmed.

Moreover, such harmful behaviors and self-concepts are inimical to the fire in the belly that is needed to acquire the dignity and civil and sacramental rights that are enjoyed by all other citizens in the U.S.
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13 comments:

Leonardo Ricardo said...

I think this is a powerful observation but it seems to me the ¨first group¨ of sexual offenders/obsessives are to be found in strong percentages amongst heterosexuals (attending SA 12 Step Meetings one sees/hears a dramatically larger number of ¨straights¨ even in heavily Gay neighborhoods)...at any rate as you know sexual ¨addictions¨ as well as any kind of ¨addicition¨ often is simply the route of a emotional/spiritual problem that may or may not be ¨addressed¨ by anyone--straight or bi/gay/whatever included.

I do agree the quick ¨image¨ of LGBTI people brings sexual activities to mind but these ¨alerts¨ may have to do with sexual insecurities as well as much slandering words/phrases like ¨co*xs****r
¨eat-me¨ and dozens of other everyday smearing spew that comes our way. I found those ¨images¨ quite destructive in my early/young homosexual life and they drove me deeper into a world of my own self-loathing (with no sexual obsessiveness going on at all).

My point here is that many people ¨play the system¨ and how I wish they, straight or gay, would be more honorable, fair and decent...those good character qualities are easy to ¨portray¨ but they are quite often not real as we all know.

The very idea there IS a standard of moral behavior that improves one image and actual/responsible and accoutable personal character is a nice thought and a true and bonafide Christian standard for ¨being¨ emotionally/spiritually healthy...however, I need not look further than Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, the Pope and various Mormon leaders to know that ¨being¨ a standard bearer for ¨purity¨ doesn´t mean a thing unless the sinfilled reality of all of ones REAL actions are faced...I´m certainly not going to accept the ¨word¨ of any of the above as they spew out nonsense regarding the innermost character of people like me...I think liars, fear/hate-mongers and religious hypocrites of anystrip are dangerous to the common good...afterall, we are all together in life...truly a mixed bag or human beings who depend narrow-mindedly on the way we ¨see things¨ that makes the world ¨be things.¨

Jerry Maneker said...

Thanks so much for your comment, Len. Best wishes, Jerry.

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

The bottom line is, both LGBT hedonists and religious bigots are portray LGBT humanity in a defamatory light. People approve when Right Wing bigotry is denounced, but they get uncomfortable when Left Wing distortions of Gay identity are criticized. They think it must be homophobic, but that's not the case. We can't be partisan in any way when we call out ignorance! No matter whether it's Left Wing, Right Wing, religious or secular, Gay or Straight ignorance, it poses the same threat to equality.

Jerry Maneker said...

You hit the nail right on the head, Don Charles! Best wishes, Jerry.

genevieve said...

A great post, Jerry. Incrementalism makes my blood boil. Sadly, ignorance runs through many people. Accepting it is a worse crime.

Lynne said...

This is so very close to the truth. I've gotten really tired of going to "pride" marches and finding them (here, anyway) still half full of Gay people who are advertising being into BDSM or have half their rear ends sticking out of chaps or whatever or riding atop floats while hanging out of sexual devices. Please. Do I care what turns other people (straight or Gay) on? Not in the least. But that kind of "here's the kinky stuff I do in bed" stuff seemed ok in the 1970s when we were still very immature and hadn't yet figured out it was who we *are*, and not what we like to *do*, that we needed to fight for and be proud of. But many in the more visible Gay community just haven't moved past that. And, truthfully, some probably never will. I mean, if straight people into kink felt culturally enabled to push themselves in people's faces and feel "pride", I'm sure they would be doing it, as well.

Until then, those of us who don't like it just don't attend or buy or support what's ridiculous.

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi Lynne: A great comment, and a great insight: "I mean, if straight people into kink felt culturally enabled to push themselves in people's faces and feel 'pride', I'm sure they would be doing it, as well." Why all too many Gay people don't understand this fact is a mystery to me.

I truly believe that we have to make a distinction between "Gay people" and "Sexual hedonists." In the latter group, hedonism trumps love/sex, as well as the quest for equal rights, and it is this latter group that is betraying the LGBT Civil Rights movement. Best wishes, Jerry.

Jerry Maneker said...

I absolutely agree with you, genevieve! Incrementalism, when it comes to equal rights, is like being a little bit pregnant! There is no such thing!

People are treated as full-fledged citizens under the Constitution or they are not, and LGBT people are clearly viewed and treated as second-class citizens, deprived of certain fundamental rights concerning which incrementalism has no place or justification. Best wishes, Jerry.

MgS said...

Incrementalism, when it comes to equal rights, is like being a little bit pregnant! There is no such thing!

But, to turn your analogy on its ear a bit, I think one can reasonably argue that the social changes that must take place in order for rights to be legitimately recognized is a lot like being pregnant - it's a process of gradual changes over time that results in a desired outcome.

I'm not saying 'settle for breadcrumbs', but it is unrealistic to think that change is going to happen immediately or overnight. It will come with time and persistence.

Lynne @ No Junk. Just Jesus. said...

Hi Jerry,

You are right on (again). Some time ago I wrote a Q&A post called "But aren't Gay people immoral -- just because they're Gay?", and in it I point out that there's nothing Gay people do that straight people don't also do (for example, compare today's sexualized "pride" events and Mardi Gras). (that post is now at: nojunkjustjesus.blogspot.com/2009/08/q-but-arent-gay-people-immoral-just.html).

Despite the ugliness of so much of the "ID=public sex"/hypersexualized portion of the Gay/Lesbian community, I do know from my own experience that there are fewer in that camp than there used to be. The difficult part is that many of the positions of local "leadership" are filled with those who believe anything but "anything goes" is "oppressive". Until that changes, little is likely to change in how we "look" to the larger straight community that only knows us through media/etc.

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi MgS: The tragedy is that it seems to me that a lot of Gay people are settling for breadcrumbs, if they even want those crumbs at all. For example, Civil Unions are not Marriage, even if there were the very same rights accrued to the former as are enjoyed by the latter. To settle for Civil Unions states that same-sex love is in some way inferior to heterosexual love. You're right: the quest for equality is a process, but that process is being greatly retarded. Best wishes, Jerry.

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Thanks Anonymous. Best wishes, Jerry.