Monday, May 22, 2006

Gay Monogamy, Does it Exist?

Anti-gay and ex-gay folks often talk about the "dangers" of promiscuity among gays, and it's rare to hear people in these groups speak publicly about homosexuality unless they are detailing how often gay men get around.

The reaction recently from many gays has been that these types of statements are blind stereotypes that don't take into account the myriad committed gay couples that exist across the country. The anti-gay folks out there have been directing the debate for far too long, and I'm glad to see people come out and say that committed relationships certainly exist.

Unfortunately, though, it appears that some on the ex-gay and anti-gay side don't believe that long-term, committed relationships exist at all, in spite of what the gay people actually in those relationships claim.

Mike Ensley, of Exodus, said as much in a post on his blog a few months ago. I'm disappointed, especially since I've found many of Mike's other blog posts to be open and honest about his struggle to overcome sexuality. In the post, Mike talks about his own promiscuity from the age of 16-21 and how many older couples he went home with and extrapolates this to lead him to disbelieve any and every gay couple that claims to be monogamous.

He doesn't, though, seem to make the connection that because he was picking up guys for sex in bars, he was getting what he was looking for (and so were they), and that possibly committed couples don't go out to bars searching for hook-ups. Instead, he makes the unfortunate proclamation that, "in five years of living homosexually I never had a monogamous, long-term relationship, but that in 5 years I never met a single person who did." This sounds all too similar to the Melissa Fryrear statement where she claimed to never have met a lesbian that was not sexualy violated or molested.

It's talking in absolutes like this that causes my huge frustration with so many ex-gay and anti-gay folks out there. How can anyone claim that an entire group of people (millions) has never had a committed relationship? Surely Mike can admit that at least one gay couple out there is monogamous. Surely he should realize that his own experience of meeting other guys in bars is not what gay every gay person goes through and that going to bars (even straight ones) is not the best way to find any committed couples.

It's interesting this claim is coming from Mike, especially coming from an organization that is constantly criticizing gay groups for claiming ex-gays don't exist. If I'm being honest, I've never personally met a successful ex-gay, nor have I met anyone that has. Then again, since I don't hang out with a bunch of ex-gays, I wouldn't really expect to. For that reason, while I am skeptical of organizations that claim high success rates without proof, I am perfectly willing to accept someone's claims that they are ex-gay, and I'm sorry to hear that Mike can't do the same.

It all comes back to my old theme. If being gay is a sin, let it be a sin, but don't continue negative stereotypes about gay people to turn people against them. This isn't just telling the real story about gay life as Mike claims, it's being disingenuous and dishonest about gays in general, and it's disappointing, to say the least.


At 22/5/06 7:42 PM, Blogger BC WaterBoy said...

My personal opinion on the ex-gay phenomena and the associated claims is that is yet another version of the closet. People making these claims are bisexual at best, and horribly brainwashed and delusioned at worst. That being said, I don't know any ex-gays per-se but am aware of some bisexuals who appear on the scene and disappear for months back to their heterosexual personna. On the issue of monogamy and promiscuity, I think that there many couples who are monogamous and many others that are relationship/emotionally monogamous. I don't think this is unique to our community and it is certainly prevalent amongst heterosexuals to have more than one sexual partner. The access to available partners for gay men just happens to be greater than for our heterosexual counterparts. Claims that we are incapable of relationships are bogus and based on a premise that doesn't recognize gay orientation as legitimate so I wouldn't expect relationship validation from those people either. It is truly sad however that gay people are suckered into these bogus groups and harmful therapies.

At 23/5/06 4:14 AM, Anonymous Steve Boese said...

because he was picking up guys for sex in bars, he was getting what he was looking for (and so were they)

That resonates with me.

In the past, I've also heard Ben talk about how one hormone-laden glance at Dupont Circle in DC can lead quickly to a sexual encounter.

I've never been a prude about sex, nor an angel about it. Not being prone to promiscuity doesn't have much to do with my moral character winning hard-fought battles with my libido.

I'm just not built for free-flowing sexual encounters with strangers or even "friends with benefits". I was a virgin until 20 or 21, and wasn't with a guy until 34.

Sometimes I've wondered if I would have been better off if figuring out more of my sexual side sooner, like Ensley, but I doubt it. It seems probable I needed more time.

I've known plenty of people like myself, gay and straight - folks who are neither abstinence evangelists nor sex junkies, people who make conscious choices about their sexual lives, live largely according to their values, learn from mistakes, and expand horizons in unexpected but healthy ways from time to time.

I've also known folks for whom a more sexually-charged phase of life was instructive and helpful and led to putting sex in a more balanced perspective amongst their other interests, passions, and responsibilities. Their self-description echoed Ensley's in reaching a place where they were ready for something different. Sex had brought them good stuff in some ways, but the dissonance between physical vulnerability and emotional distance wasn't working for them any more.

The stereotypes promoted by anti-gay and ex-gay folks irritate me, too, Brady... The human experience is much broader than they seem to want to admit, and as long as they've got some sort of anecdotes from their experience in situations with which they're now uncomfortable, they seem to prefer generalizing that their experience represents the norm.

At 24/5/06 6:25 PM, Blogger Bruce Garrett said...

He doesn't, though, seem to make the connection that because he was picking up guys for sex in bars, he was getting what he was looking for (and so were they), and that possibly committed couples don't go out to bars searching for hook-ups.

Nail. Hammer. Bang. Sometimes you wish they'd just listen to themselves talk every now and then.


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