Sunday, May 23, 2010


There is a superb article I read yesterday entitled, Equating sexual orientation with "sex life", by Glenn Greenwald, part of which reads as follows:

The fact that someone would equate "are you gay?" to "do you download a lot of porn from the internet?" is astonishing to me. The latter question really is about someone's "sex life," while the former is about who they are. The premise that being gay is about one's "sex life" has long been the foundation of the dictate that gay people remain closeted (we don't need to have your "sex lives" rubbed in our faces; keep that to yourself). I don't mean to single out Kevin here; the point he's making -- being gay is about your "sex life" and thus should be deemed off-limits unless the person voluntarily raises it -- has been repeated over and over during the last month by countless people who fancy themselves quite progressive on gay issues.

Indeed, the very notion that it is "outrageous" or "despicable" to inquire into a public figure's sexual orientation -- adjectives I heard repeatedly applied to those raising questions about Kagan -- is completely inconsistent with the belief that sexual orientation is value-neutral. If being straight and gay are precise moral equivalents, then what possible harm can come from asking someone, especially one who seeks high political office: "are you gay?" If one really believes that they are equivalent, then that question would be no different than asking someone where they grew up, whether they are married, or how many children they have. That's what made the White House's response to the initial claims that Kagan was gay so revealing and infuriating: by angrily rejecting those claims as "false charges," they were -- as Alex Pareene put it -- "treating lesbian rumors like allegations of vampiric necrophilia."

Please read the full article, as it's one of the best on this subject that I have ever read.

The justification of the closet, particularly in such situations as the confirmation hearings of Elena Kagan, or any public or political figure for that matter, hinges on the myth that when one states his/her sexual orientation he/she is divulging "private" and "intimate" information about his or her sex life. That belief is a myth because being Gay or Straight tells us nothing about favorite sexual positions, frequency of sex, existence or degree of promiscuity, etc.

When one asks about one's sexual orientation the person being asked is not being asked about his/her sex life!

The above article shows the fallacy of equating one's sexual orientation with one's sex life, and does so in a concise and insightful manner.

This article by Greenwald deserves to be as widely distributed as possible, and I urge you to please do so.
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Speaking about non-heterosexual orientation in a casual manner is a revolutionary concept for most people, Jerry. It's exactly where our minds need to be, though, if the groundwork for full equality is ever going to be laid.

Jerry Maneker said...

Absolutely, Don Charles! The unfortunate myth perpetrated by most churches is that "morality" is equivalent to "sexual behavior," which is seen by most clergy, and those who believe them, as being the very definition of what it means to be "Gay." They probably don't see Straight people in that light, but they are tellingly obsessed with seeing one's being Gay in that light and in that light alone.

Once people come to see that "Gay" does not merely equal "sex," and that being Gay is what one is and not merely what (if anything) one does, further inroads will be made to unmask the myths that have been religiously perpetrated, and have yielded much to clergy and others in the way of material and/or psychological gain. Best wishes, Jerry.