Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's Not Broken

[Content/trigger warning: anti-GLB prejudice]

You know how you read the title of something and you know you really shouldn't even bother reading it if you don't want to get pissed off, but then you think, "oh, this is going to be so bad it's good" so you click on it anyway?

That's kind of what I thought when PF passed this story my way. Headline:

"Confessions of a recovering lesbian"

Ohhhhhhh. Really.

Lesbianism is something that requires recovering from? I scoff at you, offensive headline.

The "confession" begins with a citation from an Acclaimed Social Scientific Research Expert on the matter. Or, you know, a Catholic Church catechism. Same dif:

"Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.' They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. (2357)"

You know, the whole "gay agenda/recruitment tactic" thing is kind of an in-joke among many LGBT advocates, but I have to give some major patriarchy-recruiting props to a male-supremacist institution like the Catholic Church using its authority not to make life easier for LGBT people and heterosexual women, but to declare that the only way one can have a Proper, Moral, And Genuine Sex Life is within the bounds of a heterosexual, "gender complementary" man-on-top marriage. Well played, sirs.

I'm also tempted to say a lot of snarky things about this really offensive confession and the bigotry within it, but I find the story pretty sad.

In it, the writer discusses her 15-year marriage to a man, during which she "struggle[s] daily with same-sex attraction." She talks about how it was difficult being shunned for being gay when she was younger, and of now fighting the urge to go to lesbian bars when she's on work trips. Of being married to a man, she says:

"The sexual attraction to women, however, never went away. I discovered that while I was still attracted to individual men, I was primarily attracted to women as a whole both sexually and emotionally."

And I'm all, "I can totally relate, sister."

Being a young lesbian was hard. And, it is usually in my best interest to avoid lesbian bars while on work trips. (Is it just me or are hangovers after 30 so much worse?). And... I can relate to these things because I am a lesbian.

It's her call, of course, to self-identify however she wants, but I question if she (and her cheerleading Catholic readers who commented) knows what the word "former" means.

Aside from that, the thing about these "confessions of a former gay" narratives is that they demand LGBT people and allies to respect the "former homosexual's" choice to not be gay anymore, but they never suggest that living as an Avowed Lesbian, Bisexual, or Gay is just as valid, legitimate, and moral of a choice as is the choice to be in a heterosexual relationship. Indeed, they actively and explicitly state that it's not, as that is the entire premise upon which their new lifestyle choice is based.

It's like, they assimilate into the cool kids' marriage club and start saying things like:

"It helps, too, to know that what I have with my husband trumps anything I could have had in a homosexual relationship....Naturally, I have profound compassion for those who struggle as I do. But I don’t believe we must indulge same-sex attraction if we experience it. I’m really no different than a straight man who struggles not to objectify women. Or a straight woman who is tempted to fornicate. We’re all broken people, which is why we all need Christ....Does God love His [sic] children who struggle with same-sex attraction? Yes, of course. But He [sic] loves us too much to leave us that way."


I find two things (actually more, but I'll only focus on two things right now) really offensive about this. The first is the narrative that people in same-sex relationships are somehow un-disciplined or constantly succumbing to temptation. Well, let me break it to you. Even though I live my life as an Avowed Lesbian, relationships are still hard. My monogamous civil union with my partner, even though it's gaygaygaygayhomolezgay and even though it's really good, actually does still require give-and-take, honesty, discipline, commitment, and struggles.

Some of these anti-gays seem to think that being in a same-sex relationship is an ongoing bacchanalian feast of fleshly delights that is totally unlike their super special, super disciplined relationships.

Two, what especially sends shivers down my spine are the "What a beautiful piece" and "see, we're not gay haters, we just want you to not be broken anymore" head pats many Catholic commenters gave to this "former lesbian" in the comment section.

It's like there's no capacity to recognize that calling people broken when they're not is really hateful, actually, and that calling that odious statement your precious and sacred religious belief doesn't give you magical immunity from having it called such.

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