oasis
columns


James

May 1999

Ignorant Labeling

About Homosexuality being an "unexplained mystery"... That literally makes me sick. It's so petty for someone to be able to say "I don't know if you are gay by choice or not... let's wait until it's decided before I treat you fairly." But even if it's proven we WERE born that way, there's still gonna be homophobia. I mean, what is wrong with you people! I'm standing here, flat out telling you that I never consciously chose to be gay. You would believe me if I said I never chose to be insane (if I were insane). How is it your place to judge my character on something that you can only learn of from the source (me), when you refuse to listen to what I have to say? Especially when we're discussing such a huge part of who I am as a person.

It's simply not right for someone to feel they can dislike me for choosing to be gay anyway. Even though I didn't, why would it make a difference? Why is it so wrong for me to prefer those of the same sex, if there is a demand for people just like me? Would you think I was "less bad" if you knew I had no say in the matter? Those ideas don't make any sense to me!

Something I hear frequently on talk shows and such when they're discussing people who "don't agree with" (as if we asked your opinion!) homosexuality is "Why do you care what they do behind closed doors?" Does that mean homosexuals are only gay if they have sex? I've also heard people make comments like "Person 'A' is gay with Person 'B'!" So is Person 'A' only gay while with Person 'B'? Are we only gay "behind closed doors"? What about the rest of my life? Does that mean I can't hold hands with a boyfriend in public, because it's not "behind closed doors"? If I show affection for a man by kissing or hugging, would you say I'm not necessarily gay because we're not having sex?

Another thing that drives me crazy... You never hear people debating the definition of "heterosexual", do you? So why is the definition of "homosexual" (for most straight people) *someone who has sex with those of the same gender* (another instance of the "behind closed doors" idea)? That is such a basic definition. Is that who I am, and nothing more? I would hate to think that my sexuality is so simple. And if I did have sex with a man, what if I didn't want to do it with this person, but they forced me. Or what if I didn't enjoy it or really want it, but was too confused to decide that at the time? And so is heterosexuality, being the opposite, *someone who has sex with those of the opposite gender*? That doesn't include half of what being straight means, and you can see clearly why it's not a good definition. So why do you think the opposite defines gay perfectly? You wouldn't accuse someone of being gay just because they've never had sex with someone of the opposite gender. Something to keep in mind when trying to define "gay", is that heterosexual is not the "default", but merely the most probable of the orientations. People are born gay or straight; they don't start as one and become the other. Therefore, because it can't be accepted just as "normal" and basic, and not requiring explanation, your definition for gay people must be applicable to heterosexuality simply by replacing all the words "the same" with "the opposite" (for gender or sex).

And then there's the definition that gay people like to use for it: *Someone who falls in love with someone of the same gender.* Now wait a minute, does that mean that I'm restricted to falling in love with a man, but nothing else? What happened to the sex? Are we not allowed to be promiscuous because we're gay?

But that's the angle we're forced to use when arguing for the right to be sexual with a member of the opposite sex (lifting 'sodomy' laws), is it not? We couldn't say "We want the sodomy law lifted so we can go do each other whenever we want." We have to say, instead, "Why should I not be able to express my love for my boyfriend of a monogamous relationship?" Are we saying it should be illegal to have sex with another man unless you're in love? But why should straight people be able to have sex with the opposite gender, legally, whether in love or not, if our right to have sex relies on those factors? And when we argue for legalizing marriage of the same gender, do we not also use the same arguments? Straight couples don't need to prove that they're in love in order to wed.

And in both of these definitions, where does the role of attraction come in? I can either have sex with a man, or fall in love with a man... but what about being just attracted to a man? If I don't love a man, or have sex with one, but lust after the guy who sits in front of me in class, does that mean I'm straight?

One might think, now, that a more fitting definition of "homosexuality" would be something like "someone who is attracted to, OR has consensual sex with (and enjoys it), OR falls in love with someone of the same gender." Even though this covers most of the bases, it still makes me uneasy that my sensuality and sexuality had been simplified to such a small field of checkpoints.

Maybe one day someone will realize that the concept of, and the word "homosexuality" should ultimately remain undefined, but merely described to the best of our human ability. And maybe one day someone will realize that "heterosexuality" as a concept is just as enigmatic.

James
acerstar@bright.net


About the Author
©1998-1999 Oasis Magazine. All Rights Reserved.