01 Jun Gay Lifestyle, Gay Choice
Much of the evidence in support of gay marriage is anecdotal. Stories of happily married families with two mothers or two fathers, successful LGBT men and women being treated unjustly, and glorified sex changes. While there are some anecdotes in favor of traditional marriage (see some examples here, here, here and here) I wish to add my voice to the conversation. Nobody in my immediate family is gay. I was raised by a married man and woman and all of my six brothers are happily married to women. I don’t have tendencies toward homosexual attraction myself and have never had any desire to experiment with it.
My personal experience with same-sex attraction has been through dear and meaningful friendships. I have talked in great length with people I care about who are attracted to the same sex. I have learned so much from these friends and their stories. They have shared with me their struggles and their joys. I submit that my experiences are just as valid and personal as anybody’s and add an important perspective to the current discussion. In response to certain political “hot topics,” I’d like to make a few key points. The research on many of these ideas has been debated to death and clear evidence is yet to reveal itself. Here I am choosing to share only what I personally have witnessed.
1) My gay friends always have to make a choice. Setting aside completely the argument that same-sex attraction itself is either inborn or chosen, instead I am asserting here that – although it is often treated as an inevitability – a gay lifestyle is and must be a choice. In fact, my gay friends have made so many different types of lifestyle choices that I have created a spectrum in my mind to try to understand the myriad of options. I have gay friends that have told only a few close friends and family members (some haven’t even told family members) and have no inclination to reveal it to anyone else. I have some gay friends that choose to still date women because they believe in traditional marriage and are incredibly happy and at peace with this choice. On the other side of the spectrum, I have gay friends that have immersed themselves completely in the gay lifestyle and fiercely advocate for the cause. Some choose to have many partners, some commit to only one partner. In the middle are those that are still trying to figure it out, have experimented with dating the same sex but weren’t comfortable with it, or are quietly creating relationships with both men and women but not really making a fuss about the “gay rights” arguments that are swirling around them.
The point is that no matter what, it seems to me that the only inevitability for a person who is attracted to the same sex is the point that is reached where they must decide what they are going to do (or not do) and what it means for them, personally. And because society is trying to redefine values, the choice is not so clear. I feel for my friends, because it’s difficult to navigate a world with such murky waters. What I have learned from my gay friends’ challenging choices is that being attracted to the same sex does not necessarily dictate that you must only have sexual or marital relationships with the same sex.
2) My gay friends undoubtedly feel more pressure from other gays to live a gay lifestyle than they do from traditional families to live a traditional lifestyle. Of course not every gay person comes from a family that would be nice about them being gay. However, I have never seen a family cut off or shun their gay child or sibling. I have lots of gay friends and not one of them has been cut off. In fact, I have noticed the opposite happen where families and friends have reached out even more than usual and gone out of their way to make sure that a gay person feels love and support. After all, they deserve it because of the choices discussed in the point above. What I have seen in countless situations is that when a gay person “comes out,” the gay community pounces on them with all kinds of impending pressure. I have seen three close friends, who were happy at home, move away from their supportive families and subsequently feel pressure to change the way they live from friends they met that were gay. One friend has expressed multiple times how he wishes to return home where he felt more supported in making his own choices, instead of the constant pressure to live a gay lifestyle.
One of my gay friends who, when I met him, was at the completely traditional-marriage side of the spectrum has now gone full circle and resides firmly on the side of multiple partners, sexual freedom, and promoting gay marriage. He mentioned to me more than once that he had to succumb to all of these things because it was the only way he could make the gay community happy. All of this being said, I can’t help but question a “community” that feels the need to drag others to their cause. A worthwhile cause is attractive in and of itself and needs no coercion to make it appealing. There will be those that choose a gay lifestyle of their own free will. So why the manipulation and compulsion? Because of what I have witnessed firsthand, I question whether it is really an unfair societal oppression of gay lifestyle choices that is the struggle, or rather the pressure that some gays feel to “be gay” and the resulting inner tug-of-war that contributes to feelings of utter depression in those who are attracted to the same gender.
3) My gay friends that have chosen a gay lifestyle are inarguably more involved with alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, partying and criminal or delinquent activity. Part of the reason that sexual orientation is such a heated debate topic is because it often becomes a question of morality. I’m not here to argue whether involvement with each of the above listed is acceptable or not. What I can state is that it’s apparent from my interactions with my gay friends that they tend to all come and go together. On the side of the spectrum that is fighting loudly for gay marriage and/or immersed in a gay lifestyle, there is an obvious increase in drinking, partying and an excessive amount of sexual partners. Those that live traditional lives tend to stay away from these things and focus more energy on contributing to society through work or family relationships. Although current social constructs are supposedly morphing in such a way that gay marriage and homosexuality are becoming more acceptable, the fact remains that they have not been acceptable up to this point in history. It stands to reason that those who rebel against acceptable social norms tend to do so in more than one way. While I’m tempted to cite research backing up this point, there really isn’t much more to say. The correlation does exist. With so few gays and lesbians to gather information from, it’s hard to understand exactly what this correlation means. Keep in mind, though, that with a smaller population the generalization becomes more significant.
In all facets of life, an outside perspective can be most informative. It is for this reason that we visit a family therapist with our spouse, see a doctor when we’re sick, or even chat with a friend about something we are pondering in our personal life. On the inside of the box looking out, we often end up twisting things to fit our vision more perfectly. We don’t see the whole picture. We sometimes hear only one side of the anecdotal conversation. We often hear the anecdotal voices of the gay community, and sometimes we hear from family members. I add my story today to augment the current literature on the subject in hopes of better understanding what homosexuality means for those of us who might not be directly related to it. A common argument is that we can dismiss morality as a matter of personal preference and therefore it should not matter to me if I let others practice their homosexuality in blatant ways in my society. But even with morality set aside (which I believe is tragic but that’s another topic entirely), I have seen no positive impact from indulging in same-sex attraction in my personal interactions with it and therefore have no reason to support the continued acceptance, promoting and protection of it.