Friday, January 25, 2008

Gay Men Are Not the Default Non-Hetero Human Being

I take issue with statements and articles that assume gay men are the default non-heterosexual human being. Unfortunately, just as "man" is the historical default human being, some gay men- some heterosexuals- hold the view that gay men are the non-hetero standard human and lesbians (and bisexuals) are some sort of "other."

For instance,

1. Some Gay Men Do It

The latest Time magazine, in its series on "Love," includes an article called "Are Gay Relationships Different?" The purpose of the article is to explore whether gay relationships are different than heterosexual ones, yet the article is narrated by a gay man talking only of his own personal experience as a gay man, with a few crumbs thrown in about lesbian relationships. (I know, I know, it's the superficial pages of Time magazine, what more did I expect).

Even though what gay men and lesbians (and even heterosexuals) have in common far outnumbers our differences, gay men must be careful in presuming that their experience is The Authentic Gay Experience that can be generalized to all non-heterosexual experiences.

For instance, the gay male author writes of an old medical book talking about "the chapter on homosexuality" [that is, male homosexuality] that read "The homosexual must constantly search for the one man, the one penis, the one experience that will satisfy him. He is the sexual Diogenes, always looking for the penis that pleases. That is the reason he must change partners endlessly." Yet a few sentences later, indicating that the article is also about lesbians, the writer says, "Research on gay relationships is young. The first study to observe how gays and lesbians interact with their partners during conversations... wasn't published until 2003...." While speaking only from his personal experience as a gay man and citing old stereotypes about only gay men, it wasn't until 12 paragraphs into his short article that he mentions lesbians as well.

This sort of writing is reminiscent of early writings (both medical and oppositional) regarding "homosexuality." Homosexuality was largely framed as a male phenomenon. Homosexuals were men. Oh yeah, and women too when it was brought to the collective attention that women could also be gay. Yet, same-sex relationships, sexual behavior, or romantic feelings between women were largely seen as non-existent or non-threatening.

So, while the author in the Time magazine deigns to discuss "gay relationships," meaning gay and lesbian ones, he would have done better to limit his article solely to a discussion of gay male relationships and how they are different than other types of relationships. For, even though he invokes the phrase "and lesbians" a couple of times, the lesbian experience in nowhere in his article.

2. Anti-Gay Bigots Do It

What is more insidious, however, are anti-gay bigots. These folks are especially prone to thinking that gay men are the default non-heterosexual human. Unofficial chief of the anti-gay industry Peter LaBarbera of Americans Obsessed With Butt Sex For Truth About Homosexuality is particularly guilty of this. He bases much of his opposition to homosexuality on the "it spreads disease" argument- meaning, of course, that gay men have higher rates of HIV/AIDS than heterosexual people do and therefore gays and lesbians shouldn't have equal rights.

He writes,

"Wake up, medical and political establishment: homosexual behavior is unhealthy — no matter how many secular sermons you preach against "homophobia." Due to liberal political correctness, which insists on treating aberrant — even deadly — behaviors and lifestyles as a "civil right," we as a society don’t seem to have learned much from the AIDS pandemic....

Why aren’t all schoolchildren being taught that there are special health risks associated with homosexual behavior and that they should "just say no" to homosexuality?...

Why won’t the news media make the common-sense connection between these frequent stories about (male) homosexual behavior and disease — to the idea that perhaps it’s probably not smart for society and pop culture to celebrate homosexuality and bisexuality ?"

All this being said, I would like to ask him what his beef with lesbianism would be, as lesbians are at the lowest risk of HIV/AIDS out of any other group.

Oh, wait... wait a minute! His issue with lesbians is that (fictional) lesbian gangs are raping schoolgirls (a story later completely discredited. A-der), and that lesbian financial guru Suze Orman (wrongly) calls herself a virgin for being a Gold Star Lesbian (because if you have sex with women you're not actually "chaste").

Oh brother.

Those aren't real reasons for being against lesbians. Lesbians, to Pete, are an afterthought, just as "guilty" as gay men by virtue of association to everything homo. He doesn't want his sheeple to think too much about lesbians, because thinking about gay men is so much.... scarier. They get Teh AIDS and spread it! His writings about lesbians can be easily reduced to different variations of "ew gross, ew gross, ew gross" over and over again.

Now I forgot what I was originally talking about.

*thinking..... thinking*

Oh yeah.

Dear gay brothers,

Don't forget about the lesbians and other non-male-non-heteros and presume to think that you are speaking on behalf of "all gay people" when you tell your personal stories. Acting like Default Gay People pisses non-male gay people off. But that being said, we are in this together so all is forgiven.



Dear Peter,

I am eagerly awaiting your arrival in the Hypocrisy Hall of Shame.


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