Monday, October 17, 2011

Perfectly Valid Alternatives?

I read this Q&A with a 30 year-old self-described gay Mormon man who is married to a woman and have had it in my queue of things to write about for a while. [Update: The original article is no longer available, but I did find it reproduced in full at another blog. For copyright reasons, I will not link to the reproduction. It is entitled "I was married to a gay Mormon."]

I remembered this interview when I posted "Not Born This Way," linking to a woman who admitted that she chose her same-sex relationship.

In the interview, the man says:

"Gay-rights activists would do well to admit that same-sex relationships are a choice for gay people, and opposite-sex relationships are a perfectly valid alternative for gay people. Mormons are OK with same-sex relationships being a choice. A core of Mormon doctrine is to allow men [sic] the privilege of acting according to the dictates of their own conscience. They can respect a person's choice to be in a same-sex relationship. Like I said, we do not oppose civil unions. The problem comes when they tell Mormons it is not a choice, and that their family and friends who have made another choice are either lying or not being true to themselves.

I have felt enormous opposition from the gay community for getting married to a woman. Many people in my situation don't want to deal with the pressure, and they hide their sexual orientation. If they try to come out, they get accused of not being true to themselves, and are pushed back into the closet. The closet is a horrible, awful place and no one should be forced to be in it."

There's a bit of muddling going on in this statement. Many lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are fully aware that we generally choose our romantic partners. Yet, the people we are attracted to, however, is not something we generally choose.

So, sure. I have made a choice to be in a relationship with my partner. I tend to consciously choose something that important. That choice is not really the point of contention in this debate. The point of contention is that, for me and many other people who identify as gay or lesbian, marriage to a person of the other sex is not, actually, "a perfectly valid alternative" to a same-sex relationship.

I mean, even as I self-identify as a lesbian, I wouldn't completely rule out the possibility of falling in love with a man. For starters, though, he'd have to be a progressive radical feminist. So there goes like 97% of the male population. And then, he'd also have to be somewhat androgynous, like sports, play video games, and like hanging out with my queer friends. I'm also not sure the sex thing would work out so well for us. Nor am I interested in physically bearing children with my hypothetical hubby-to-be, something many "marriage defenders" tell us is basically the whole point of marriage. It would also be nice if he'd be cool with letting me hook up with women. Um, instead of him.

So, once that Venn Diagram gets drawn, I wonder how many men would be left for me to have my "perfectly valid alternative" with.

So yeah. I'm happy that this gay dude's heterosexual marriage seems to be working out for him. More happy people in the world is a good thing. But that his hetero marriage is working out for him doesn't mean it can work out for all gay people. Nor does it mean it's a stellar idea for all gay people to give that lifestyle a whirl. I think he would do better to use more "I" statements instead of deigning to speak for all gay people.

Also relevant, of course, is what it might be like to be the heterosexual partner of a gay man or a lesbian. One woman recounts, ironically in the very same media outlet, what it's like to be a woman married to a gay Mormon man.

"I stuck it out and stuck it out until I found out my [gay male] ex was meeting men on the Internet for sex. At that point, I wasn't going to stick around to wait for him to bring HIV home to me. I didn't care what my priesthood leaders said anymore. My male Mormon leaders and their male Mormon God could go to hell...

When I saw that my own father contributed money toward Prop. 8, it broke my heart. My own parents opened their wallets and paid money toward a cause that will guarantee that more women will end up like me, unhappily married to a repressed homosexual who felt deception was the only option."

Are we surprised by outcomes like this, when marriage is framed as existing for "responsible procreation" and when gay people are so-helpfully informed that we're already free to marry (someone of the "opposite" sex, of course)?

It just makes you wonder.

To those who believe that a partner's homosexuality is a trivial detail, and less significant than, say, the requirement that one partner be a biological man and the other a biological woman, how do you really feel about the prospect or your daughters marrying gay men and your sons marrying lesbians?

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