What I Don't Like About Being Gay In America
by LA Jamison
Last I year I published a memoir 3 years in the making called "Discoveries in the Closet: A Young Man's Struggle with Faith and Sexuality". It is not popular enough nor have I heard a lot of feedback to write an updated version as of yet.
Nevertheless, if I could, this post would be an inspiration on some thinking/experiences I am having in an update. There are things I don't like about being gay and some of those things gays won't tell you or aren't even connected with because ...well...I don't know what the reason is yet. Perhaps people don't want there to be cracks in the rainbow because we have to fight so hard for equality in this country but I'm breaking the barrier. There are cracks and just like any other group in this country, some of the negative feedback we get is our own fault and coming out of our gay culture mechanism.
Lack of desire for relationships over sexual connection and play.
I don't know about the straight world. I can't speak for everyone but I can speak for myself and others I encounter as a gauge--at least for my small portion of experience. I meet plenty of women who want relationships. Men are a different story. I've met plenty of professed "straight" men having gay sex even, married too (you can read about this book.) There are always one or two women that are as strong about sex over relationships as some men. But, pretty much I could have my pick of women who wanted a relationship. I've often said to myself "If only..." I was straight I would have my pick from women."
The problem I see with men on men is that men are inclined to seek relationship through sex first to begin with. Men are geared toward the visual. I am a man, a gay man so I get it. I am like this myself. Gay men are often so consumed with sexual experimentation and what works for them sexually that emotional intelligence takes a back seat or down with the spare tire in the trunk. Our "media" in the LGBT community is geared to all the same thing most media is geared toward: "sex sells". In the gay world, for me, It sometimes feels like a world of little boys who have been given permission to let their penises rule over their hearts (and effectively shutting hearts down) and not seeing the need to grow up decades in the running. They will spend years at gay clubs, bars and going to retreats and events based on sexual and masculine power dynamics but do nothing in learning about how to effectively find the man of their dreams through healthy, effective relationships or communication. Live and let live? Sure! But could these men...some of them...being missing out on something because of a poor gay model structure regarding relationships? I think so! And those of us who want relationships with them miss out too! The problem for gay men is that straight people have a lot more alternatives to get away from shallow or purely sexual play dynamics. It is not that we have nothing for other options in the LGBT. It has gotten better, but the options are smaller and harder to find because we make up less of the population and have been confined to seedy underground cultures for so long. The sexual dynamic is strong for us and it is an easy substitute to go with.
This isn't a popular thing for me to say because I know myself, coming from a background of going through the ringer of the gay cure industry, that there is a certain moral value under traditional and extremist thought that often despises gays for their sexually charged culture. It is the cause of our "sin", they would say. They are of course an extreme view that require sexual repression and narrow thought on sexuality and relationships. But, they aren't totally off the mark either in pointing out a sexually charged culture trumping actual relationships. My problem isn't sexual experimentation. I'm all for it. My problem is the seemingly lack of willingness to rise above that into a relationship. On this point, the traditionalists have a point and have seen something that does exist in gay culture. It is not that it doesn't exist in the straight culture (which traditionalists hypocritically are silent about and choose to say "boys will be boys") but is not as pervasive as it is in gay culture right now. Many years prior to our present church leadership at my gay affirming church, I had my crotch grabbed and I remember the repeated exaltation for people in the fellowship hall to curb their gloating over past sexual exploits where children and new attendees could over hear. I can't say I have ever had that happen in a church I was part of during services. Thank God this has changed at our church with our stronger leadership and I feel much safer and also act better myself. However, this crossing boundaries without agreements set or abided by, exist in a lot of gay circles. Again, not that it doesn't happen in straight circles but there are lesser places to go in gay circles where this doesn't exist.
I'm sure some of this has to do with the repression of society, that there is need for men to explore and push boundaries they never dared to before. Society and religion have a big part to play here. the wildman inside all of us rattles the cages to be set free and can go on decades of usurping other dynamics from years of shame and repression. oppressive, shaming religion fuels the wild man inside into all kinds of rampages and rage. However, there is no model to solidify relationships for men who want to marry men, for men who have more of balance of their energies. Instead, most men run or self sabotage possible relationships so they can keep playing around like little boys rather than entering mature relationships. Straight men do this too but the problem with being gay is you have two men tending toward this dynamic in a society that fuels it. This makes it harder for those men interested in more than sex to find someone. I have found myself bound to submit to more lower dynamics and events that are sex driven as a last resort from complete isolation, more times than I would like to admit… and yes, so have many gay men that I know. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think these events or sex/power play is always bad. I have fun with it too and I don't necessarily think I'm done exploring some....but in that "fun", the future for relationship doesn't look good for many of us that want more than that when that is largely all we got. Sadly, from what I gather from other youth, this is growing fast to be case in the straight world too. I’m not sure why but I hear it. It is great that we can be free to explore and push past boundaries that have confined us from finding what we want in life. But, I fear we have entered another extreme where no one wants to stop playing and become adults in adult relationships that actually mean something. It is getting better but we aren't there yet except in small pockets around the country.
Emphasis on the Physical
Emphasis on looks is pervasive in American culture and that is not exclusive to the lgbt community. Nevertheless, The gay culture takes it a step further that feels like, if you don't look a certain way; you've committed a sin that has given you form of a leprosy. I can go to a straight bar and strike up conversation with almost anyone. Go to a gay bar and try to do that and if you don't look or come across as "hot", you are bound to get shunned. There is that classic look gay men give each other like "what the hell are you looking at?". The velvet rage and arrogance of high society standards still exist today. We seem as gays to over flow with it and pour it onto each other with shallow expectations that aren't entirely within a person's control.
My only safe harbor has been my church and LGBT community center. But I wish I could go to any event or gathering without the fear that I would be treated as if I don't exist because I don't measure up.
Turtle Shelling It
WE HAVE COME FAR IN OUR PROGRESS FOR EQUALITY SO THAT WE CAN LIVE OPENLY AS GAYS BUT THERE IS STILL WORK TO BE DONE IN THIS COUNTRY. THERE ARE STILL PLACES OF EMPLOYMENT WHERE YOU CAN BE FIRED FOR BEING GAY (MY PLAY OF EMPLOYMENT IS THIS WAY). MOST OF ALL, THOUGH SOME HEARTS IN AMERICA ARE CHANGING ABOUT GAYS, I STILL FIND MYSELF HAVING TO HIDE MY SEXUALITY AS I OVER HEAR CO-WORKERS SPEAK HOMOPHOBIC REMARKS. ADOPTION OF CHILDREN IS STILL DIFFICULT AS WELL. WHEN SOMEONE LIKE DONALD TRUMP CAN SAY SUCH TERRIBLE BIGOTED REMARKS AND BE VOTED AS A PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE, I THINK IT SHOWS WE HAVE WENT BACKWARD IN THIS COUNTRY, OR AT LEAST, I HAVE NOT ADDRESSED THE BACKWARDNESS IN OUR COUNTRY EFFECTIVELY ENOUGH. I REMEMBER WHEN DAVID DUKE WAS JUST HINTED AT BEING PART OF THE KLU KLUX KLAN AND THAN FOUND OUT TO BE TRUE. HIS POSSIBLE CAMPAIGN WAS A GONER IN A MATTER OF DAYS. IT IS SCARY TO SEE WHERE WE ARE WITH SOMEONE LIKE TRUMP SOARING IN THE POLES.
THERE MAY BE MORE I HAVE TO SAY BUT THIS IS ENOUGH FOR NOW. I'M GLAD TO BE OUT AND TO BE GAY, BUT IT IS NOT ALL LUCKY CHARMS AND RAINBOWS WITHOUT CRACKS.