Saturday, September 27, 2008

[revised slightly]

This from Jen at Kids of Queers [click here] a while ago:
Having grown up in a Mixed Orientation family and having witnessed the damage it does to all members of the family I can't understand why these marriages still happen today.

The United States and the world is simply much more accepting of gay relationships and while marriage might still not be an option for a gay couple depending on where they live there is no reason that two men or two women can't live together and raise a family. More to the point there is no good reason that a gay person needs to marry a straight person anymore.

Not that there ever was a good reason... so why is it still happening? Why would a man, there are far more gay men who marry a straight spouse than there are lesbians marrying straight men [is this really so? I'm not so sure...]
, choose to marry a woman knowing he was more than likely gay. I say this because, as my very unscientific poll demonstrates, most people know or at least think they are gay at a very young age. So why put a spouse and self through this?

Is it possible that gay men think they can really repress their urges to have sex with a male and have a fulfilling sexual relationship with a woman? It's is one thing to try and fool yourself but quite another to fool another person. Marrying a person who presumes you to be straight when in fact you have doubts is fraud plain and simple. [More about this later...]

I suspect there is little thought put into the matter with regard for the straight spouse. If there were any concern for that person these marriages wouldn't take place. Why would someone knowingly enter into a marriage under these circumstances? Can it be possible that they really don't understand that when they do come out that they will tear the very fabric, of the one person they purportedly loved above all else, of their reality?

...I can't help but think that the people who do marry a straight spouse, when they know they are attracted to members of the same sex, are pretty selfish and immature. Hiding behind a person so that you don't have to admit that you are gay is pretty childish and thoughtless. While I don't doubt that there is a love there and that a deeper one might even develop over time it still doesn't justify a person basically using another person so that they don't have to either admit who they are to themselves or be the person they really are to the world. And to think so little of the spouse, that they don't deserve to be completely and fully loved for who they are not to mention the hell they will eventually be put through is really very cruel.

OK, let's talk "selfish and immature."

I will in no way quarrel with the obvious truth that Jen herself has suffered from the fallout from her parents' marriage, but it seems quite a leap from that defensible truth to her dubious generalization. Who did she talk to in her "unscientific poll"? Not me, certainly, and not, thank God, any member of my family.

Why does she suppose that none of these marriages happen, and last as long as they do, in at least some cases because the parties involved are in love with each other? even the man with the woman? Jen is hardly alone here:
last year I had to listen to a good friend go on at some length in my presence about how she couldn't understand why a gay father of her acquaintance stayed with his wife and children. From her lofty vantage point, she too had apparently lost sight even of the possibility that he loved them. He may; he may be loved in return. Anginae over at "Is There a Word for People like Me?" [click here] has posted some rather eloquent words on this topic.

is absolutely right that the parties may have no clue how much pain could be headed their way, and that there may be a certain amount of denial going on on all sides. But it is hardly for anyone on the outside to start making sweeping judgments about what is right and what is wrong in general. There are only two people in any given case who can answer that question, and none of them are us.

of us.

In my own case, my bride-to-be knew my entire unsavory history as I knew hers, and we met on the other side of those sins of comission and omission. As Jen could probably have pointed out at the time, in the long run it did not in fact "work out." Lots of other people apparently did at the time, though not, of course, to us; over the last two years, I have had to listen to any number of people, people I thought loved me and my family, tell me in no uncertain terms that they had always known it would never work. The problem with their certainty is that they weren't there when we were living it; those of us who were there were committed to making it work, and it worked for most of a quarter-century. What eventually tore us apart had its roots not only in my sexual ambiguity, but in a great many other things which had happened between us, things neither of us could have known at the time at the time of our wedding.

OK, that's one hobby-horse of mine. Then there's this: Chris [which is fast becoming the gayblog nom de plume of choice--whatever happened to "Joe"?] over at "My Journey Out" [click here] recently posted this:
I realize I can't be a gay guy. It's not how I've lived my life so far. I can't suddenly shift my expectations of a relationship.

I know how I want things to be and though I'm willing to bend, I'm just this way.
I'm a good guy, a good provider, I'm fun to be with, interesting to talk to and caring and yes I can be a total dickhead and go Germanic on you if you ruffle my feathers.

But I'm also not some guy who likes to cruise parks, hook-up on and pretend I'm having an intimate moment as some guy whose name I won't remember is blowing me. I'm the real deal. If you're looking for a solid loving relationship, well look no further. I'm not going to run when it gets tough. But I can't fix my weaknesses and I'll play to my strong side and hope that whomever I'm with understands and appreciates the balance of the person they're getting.

And again, somewhat later:

I'm weary of all the gay drama. For those long term readers, you know that almost without fail every single semi-relationship I've endured has had some element of flare. I've had more drama in the last 2 years than in 16 years of marriage.

I'm left wondering whether gay guys are just fundamentally flawed. Handicapped. Misfits of society, forever doomed to ride the happy gay merry go round. You might argue that my young friends are simply immature, but let's not forget my experiences with William & his friends and others had equal drama. I say this not to rile you, f*cking homo that you are, but because I now find myself an immigrant to this new world unsure of the rules, whom to trust and how to make my way to a better life. It's all new and quite strange to me.

There are so many things I could say. But perhaps for once I'll just keep my mouth shut; you've heard most of it before. Hang on a bit, there's more--Frank over at "Out of the Ashes" [click here] recently posted this:

In one of the discussions yesterday, I made the comment that I was looking forward to the day that I would have a special man in my life...

I was rather taken aback by one person's response to me. He said that the mistake that a lot of ex-married men make is to try and have a monogamous relationship with a man. It's generally the kiss of death in such relationships and he advised that I seek an open or semi-open relationship. After all, he opined, the real reason for a monogamous relationship is so that you can "bareback."

Well, this ignited a firestorm in the community. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of men who felt that a monogamous relationship was possible in a gay relationship....not for barebacking....but for emotional intimacy. It was very interesting to see the various guys' take on the whole topic of monogamy. There were a good number though, who agreed with the "open" concept...

So is it possible for gay men to be committed to only one person? I know a number of such relationships at my church and they are an inspiration to me. Why do you suppose that a lot of men within the gay community have to have multiple partners in order to be happy?

Didn't keep my mouth shut this time. How often I have wished I were a person who could just resist the temptation to wade into a fight I should stay out of. I didn't; I responded with this comment:

That question is one of the poisoned apples in "our" basket.

There is a great divide between the Stonewall definition of "gay" as being about sexual freedom [as long as everyone can agree that no non-genital body parts get involved--a lot of self-delusion there, in my opinion] and the idea that we are "normal, just a little bit different". There will never be a synthesis, in our generation. Younger people will have to wrestle it out, as future women will have to look at the cost of the "having it all" their mothers went looking for.

3/4 of all gay relationships are open; 1/4 of straight relationships are. Say what you like, women act as an anchor to a man's hunting instincts. You can see this pretty clearly in the stereotypes of what a lesbian brings on a second date [a U-Haul truck] and a gay man brings on a second date [what's a second date?].

I say: be prepared for the worst, and let yourself be pleasantly surprised. But then, that's always been my approach. So it may not be such good advice.

Hang in there.
Bottom line?

"We" need to find some middle ground between "freedom from oppressive heterosexist models" and "nearly normal." As is so often the case, we are clearly not going to be able to have it both ways for long...
The so-called LGBT community is not the only place where the distinction between public and private has broken down--far from it. We are also not the only people who live lives that seem to engender their own downfall--far from it.

But it would be a clear sign of our having "grown up" to admit that we share some responsibility for what has happened to us, what continues to happen to us, and how we are perceived. Like the rest of the relatively sane inhabitants of the United States of America, we have to stop letting the extremes drown out the possibility for compromise and accommodation, to stop letting our insistence on our own truth crowd out the validity of truth that may redound on us in ways we do not like.

But then, I am still knee-deep in internalized homophobia. Not so much internalized, actually; I'd say it's right out there:
much of what many people assume it means to be gay is not something I can live with. That's my problem; I know that. I'm not in favor of policing anyone's sexual behavior; I have made my own peace with all sorts of things that used to scare the bejesus out of me [and make me light up like a Christmas tree--events not entirely unrelated]. What people do with other consenting adults in private places is their business; what we do in public is not just our business.

We need to face what we are, statistically if not personally.
And that means taking on some hard truths, as individuals and as a community, if we can in fact become one...

Well, I am definitely on the outside on both sides of the street; most of what I value has little or no application here on the "other side", and yet I find that what I experience here roots me all the deeper in the incomprehensible mystery that is actual truth.

As the Jewish sage Franz Rosenzweig said: "All truth is polyphonous." Augustine said that human existence was a great song in which we are each single notes. Ben Franklin and I say that we are all in this together: we will either hang together or hang separately.

Well, here's to better days all around.
Hang in there, all.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, my. Heavy subject indeed on a Sunday morning.
    I was gonna write you a long-winded response, but I guess my brain's still not up and running yet... but I do have some thoughts on the subject, and maybe I'll post about them soon.
    In the meantime, I hope you're hanging in there. Tell the Goat he better be treating you right.
    All my best.