Tuesday, June 11, 2013

It's not about sex (update)

Apparently, many of our opponents think that we stop being gay if we are not actively having sex.  And they also think we are all about sex.  So something as gentle as holding hands is "flaunting it".

Writing in the HuffPo, Marissa Higgins takes them down,
Being gay isn't just about what happens in the bedroom. It isn't just about sexual positions. It isn't just about consummating passion or fulfilling a fantasy. It's about love. It's about understanding. It's about emotional connections. It's about all the good -- and bad -- parts of a relationship that all couples experience. 
 She tells a sad, familiar story  (familar, that is, for any LGBT couple that has dared to show the slightest personal affection in public):
Last summer my wife and I went to a baseball game. We sat next to each other and held hands. A man in the row in front of us walked down the aisle to his seat with a tray of sodas and hot dogs. I watched him pass a family with children, the parents giving each other a peck on the lips as he approached, as well as a middle-aged couple with their arms around each other's shoulders and a teenage girl who had her head on her boyfriend's shoulder. He didn't have a visible reaction to them, other than apologizing for walking by. 
He turned toward us as he bent to put his soda in his cup holder. ... We made eye contact, and... I watched his eyes flicker to my hand in my wife's and remain there for several seconds without blinking. They traveled up and down our bodies, unapologetic and unblinking. His eyes returned to mine, and they were wide. There was a flash of color in his cheeks. His lips ticked. I blinked. He furrowed his brow and dropped his eyes. He turned and sat quickly. He fussed with his tray and napkins erratically. His female companion asked if he was all right, and he scowled. As he passed his companion a hot dog, he said, "I just don't know why they have to hold hands." She turned slowly over her shoulder and glared at us. 
The couples he walked by in his aisle were innocent. They showed gentle, sweet affection between them. Their behavior was not inappropriate for a Thursday-night baseball game. What was different about my wife and me? We were two women. We were not in a porn film he'd found online. We were not giggling and drunk at a bar. We were not topless on a poster board. We were a normal couple at a baseball game. But in his eyes we were sexualized.
Wow  Yes.  we have been there--the insolent raking with the eyes. Then the expression of disgust.

 She goes on to argue that this is particularly related to being two women. The onset of "lesbian chic", and the packaging of two women to appeal to straight men is part of this.   "Lesbian pornography" is aimed directly at straight men.  They cannot see two women together without thinking of sex.

I think there is also a very visceral response against two men, also because the immediate thought isn't "how sweet they are" but a thought of what they might do in bed.  Certain straight men are incredibly hung up on the mechanics of gay sex (taken down here by John Corvino).

But it is certainly true that the argument against marriage is heavily, heavily an argument about sex.  And it misses all the rest of it: love, relationship, commitment, fidelity.  I'm gay all the time, not just when I'm in bed with my beautiful wife.

Higgins finishes,
The immediate conflation of the gay community with sex is dangerous. It puts us on a primitive level beneath our heterosexual peers. It highlights the importance of our sex and negates the importance of us as people -- whole, complex people with personalities, opinions and feelings that go beyond our sexual urges and practices. The focus on the "sex" in "sexuality" threatens to make us caricatures of the people we really are.
I talked about this at length in an essay I wrote two years ago.  I commend it to your attention;  Talking about Sex


PseudoPiskie said...

My favorite vicar always asks people who comment negatively about LGBTs if they visualize their parents having sex whenever they see them.

IT said...

Ha! like that