A gay man’s account of his own burgeoning heterosexuality.
When I came out at age twelve my sexual-preference didn’t feel like a choice. Biology seemed to confine me in pubescent shackles and all I wanted was any male that would (sexually) give me the time of day. I wouldn’t have called myself promiscuous (”but who knows?!”) and finding a sexual partner proved tricky in the dominantly Christian suburb where I lived. Luckily, at thirteen, my family moved to inner city Portland where I could surround myself with gay culture.
After a two year binge on gayness, where I was constantly surrounded by like minded people who taught me that, above all else, I was normal, I realized that, ironically, it has been conservatives, Christians, Mormons, Jews and the blue collared (like the loggers on my mother’s side of the family) who have always upheld the unique role homosexuals play in society. The liberal idea of homosexual equality, to me, is far more bigoted and backward than anything I’ve ever heard from an “ignorant” “anti-gay” conservative.
Gay men are cultural refugees, marginalized muses, and mystical aesthetes. Their legacy and contributions to society can be traced from late 19th century photography back to the dreamy statues of the Greeks. Like a kind of autism, sensory stimuli overwhelms the gay-male brain. In a rural family, there will sometimes be a boy who Sticks Out, a boy who is uninterested in paternal pursuits, like throwin-the-ole-pigskin-around. Instead of Tonka Trucks and building blocks he is hypnotized, overwhelmed, by the lushness of his mother’s clothes, the silks and the linens, the seductive scent of her perfumes, sandalwood, vanillas, orange blossoms and rose buds, and struck by the vibrancy of her make up, the deepness of the mascara, the pastel shadows, and the violent beauty of a streak of lipstick across a palid face. Makeup, to him, is simply a paintbrush.
I’ve worked with children in my church and in summer camps. I’ve noticed that this nascent fascination with aesthetics, for boys, often couples with a predisposition towards sensitivity and/or shyness. This predisposition leads, inevitably, towards a failure to bond with peers, particularly the ones uninterested by paper and string. This disjunction causes a feeling of Otherness which is tantamount to the gay experience. It’s a uniquely gay Otherness unlike racial exile. I want to, almost, call it “queerness.”
When gay adults claim that he or she has been gay since childhood what they are remembering is, in effect, this particular kind of Otherness, this queerness.
Because of this it seems odd to me that gay activists would align themselves so stringently with biology. The widespread desire to find a biological basis for homosexuality is still moot (I doubt we will ever find a substatial biological foundation for gayness) and, furthermore, will lead to claims that we are deformed at the prenatal level. The desire itself is symptomatic of an over-politicized social climate. The left actually believes that finding the “Gay Gene” will force everyone to submit to the rhetoric of “acceptance.” Quelle fascisme!
The LGBT community needs to stop harassing Christian people. The Judeo-Christian tradition sees homosexuality as an existential threat because it is. Gay men, in fact owe a lot to the church and how it has influenced gay culture. (Then, when I stare at the alter boys, the contra altos in the choir, and the statues of boys lashed, crucified, bleeding, naked, I can’t help but think that the church also owes something to gay culture…). From the ACT UP campaign, in which queer activists stromed into a cathedral and threw condoms at the bishop, I have been vastly dissapointed in the way the LGBT youth have conducted their partiuclar mode of “building awareness.”
In the words that might remind you of the great gay messiah, Chris Crocker, “Leave Jesus Alone!”
A truly progressive politics should not be a middle-class, elitist posturing with a paternalistic attitude toward the religious working class’ “ignorance.” “We are the educated ones, and your homophobia comes out of deep ignorance,” touts the left. I hate this. We are smarter than this.
Sexuality is highly fluid. It wasn’t until college that I even realized that having sexual realations with a woman was allowed, let alone a possibility. I was a sexually reversed person. A faggot who needed to “come out.” And, sitting in bed one night, next to my male lover, I lit a cigarette and asked if he had ever had sex with a woman. “Of course not,” he replied. “I’m a faggot. I like dick.” “Well,” I said, “So am I, but have you ever? Have you even considered it?” He frowned said, “Once but I didn’t like it.”
It occurred to me that the feeling, the fright and excitement, the visceral fury of the simple idea of having sex with a woman, was something I had not experienced since, say, I was sixteen and trying to have sex with men. Gender didn’t seem to matter so much anymore, the excitement of something new and “forbidden” was overwhelmingly appetizing. And yet, like a sixteen year old, I was terrified to peruse anything. WHAT IF I WAS WRONG? Better to just stay in the closet.
If sexuality can be this fluid how are we, then, to concede that gayness is strictly biological? How? Perhaps the chemistry has just changed? But then, is it a coincidence that the chemistry would change in college, especially a college where sexual experimentation is allowed, nay, encouraged?!
To deny fluidity of sexual preference is to abandon the work academics have put into the study of gender and sexuality. Sex is temporal and always on a continuum, coming in and leaving like the tides. It permeates every relationship, even familial, every dream, every word that comes out of our mouths is in someway touched by sex. How can we find a GENE for this? How can there possibly be one biological factor, nay, one UNWAVERING biological factor that determines our sexuality from birth until death?
We can change our sexuality. Yes. You heard it from a fag: sexual conversions are theoretically possible. Though they may not be pleasant or desirable or even valuable, and though Christian fanatics may use this fact against queers, sexual conversion must be theoretically possible. We are more comfortable knowing that sexuality is genetic, rather than letting it loose to the chaotic powers of God.
Instead of mooing about equality the Left should look long and hard (tee hee) about its approach to gay politics. At the same time, we, as gay men, should seriously reconsider our affiliation with the left, our pursuit of marriage rights, and special legal protection. Additionally, gay men ought to embrace our culture’s character in spite of its tendency towards sexual promiscuity and drug use, nay, BECAUSE of sexual promiscuity and drug use. To be gay is to be an outsider. To be an outsider is to be an artist. To be an artist is to be hated by soceity at large.
Even if you think homosexuality is an inborn trait it does no good to seek the approval of government, the Judeo-Christian establishment, and other contenders who know very little about queerness. I’m adopting the view of Parker who once said, “heterosexuality isn’t normal, it’s just common.” We’ve got to start thinking and behaving along those lines instead of validating the Right’s queer-fears and degrading our culture by asking for their vapid approval. I’m not calling for separatism, (though a continent of gay men wouldn’t be half bad) but I am calling for enlightened militancy. We’ve got much bigger fish to fry than marriage.
Since homosexuality is a choice, there is no need to harbor self-hatred by thinking that our choice to love who we want to love is somehow wrong. It’s fabulous. And it’s how we have and are going to survive for the millennium to come.