Saturday, December 11, 2010

Differences Are Normal

Back in September of 2009, I made a smugly moralistic little post called, "My Two Dates"

The point of that post was to talk about a little event where I got asked if I would be interested in joining a couple for a little threesome action. I talked about how I learned a valuable lesson about misjudging people.  And then at the end of it, in an attempt to whitewash the fact that I was still a judgmental prick, I said that I was not interested in hooking up with them.  But I never really said why.  And to be honest, at the time, I wasn't really all that sure myself.   I did give some lame-ass excuse about how it would bring up some emotional baggage; as if I had any clue what I was talking about.  

Well, truth be told, 6 months later, I found myself chained to the wall of their play room having a good time.  This happened twice, on consecutive weekends.

Now, here are the reasons why I'm bringing all this up:  1) my conscience is getting the better of me.  Since I had originally said I wasn't interested in doing something only to turn around and do it, I felt like I had some explaining to do.  Not that anyone would have known either way, or that I needed to justify myself, I just needed to be honest.  2) I've finally come to terms with the core reason I was uninterested in hooking up in the first place and I've finally been able to put it all into words.  That is to say, I sort of knew what it was I had been working out back then, but I hadn't fully understood until now what it was all about.  3) I feel rather smugly moralistic about it all, which, oddly enough, is what's motivating me to write this in the first place.

In the 6 months that followed our initial meeting back in August of 2009, I had managed to get over my fears and initial reservations for avoiding them.  Many of my fears had mostly to do with just plain old self-esteem and insecurity. But my reservations or rather, my stated noninterest was rooted in the mindset of looking for my "One True Love".   A belief that had been culled from the many, downright useless, beliefs regarding the purposes of sex, intimacy and relationships, which were all framed within the context of traditional religious ideals, namely, the Mormon kind.  So, naturally, play time with a couple who have been together for 15 years wasn't going to get me into a relationship of that kind.  Although, it could develop into some other kind of relationship, not that this one was, but whether it happened or not, it was not the goal anyway, I was simply not interested in doing anything unless it fit within the set of "values" that I been accustom to.  So, I was willing to pass up an opportunity for some serious adult oriented fun. 

I had grown up around the idea of the traditional Mormon polygamist family and I knew about Polyandry from studying all the many forms of BDSM relationship dynamics that embraced it.  So, back in 2007 when I was first coming out, I was prepared to admit to my mom at the time, that I could not say that such arrangements would never happen and that I could see myself living in a nontraditional dynamic in the future.   It was an attempt to plant a seed in her mind that the rules have changed; the expectations of normality must be adjusted.  There is no "one right way" of defining a family.  To my surprise, she added to that by telling me her understanding of family, which included even more combinations that I had never imagined.  She was already ahead of the game.

However, I still held back.  I still had my doubts if such things really were for me or not.  I realized in the end that I was still in love with the idea of the perfect, white-picketed, fenced-in, nuclear family, that I had grown up to believe was the only way that was truly acceptable in society or at least in Mormon cultural society.  To make matters worse, the gay marriage debate was raging in the media and I found myself caught up in the whirlwind, trying to prove to the world that gay people were normal, that they were just like everyone else.  But, it was like going back into the closet all over again.  I had a hard time figuring out how I was going to get the queer world that made sense to me, fit in with what everyone else expected the gay world should be.  I wanted the freedom to live an honest life but not make others uncomfortable. I don't know how I was going to do that.  I was trying to have it both ways.  And in the end, the big question that I was not asking was, "why do I still try to garner their acceptance anyway?"

In all of this, the core issue to embrace was, if I'm going to live honestly and with any modicum of dignity and self-respect, I will stop trying so hard to live by their "rules".  I am gay, but more than that, I am queer.  There is no way I'm going to fit within the "rules" of the prevailing religious society's notion of the traditional, patriarchal family, no matter what I do.  So, essentially, I get to decide what constitutes the "purpose" of sex within the context of my relationships and I get to decide what constitutes my own family.  Whether it's comprised of a same-sex couple who fosters or adopts children, or whether it's comprised of several same-sex adults who all share partnership roles, or a partner and those that make up the "extended" family.  There could even be a hierarchy just like in the traditional or historical sense but with different names, titles, and meanings.  It doesn't matter.  I get to define what family, friends and sex are within the context of my own values that work for me.  And today there are millions out there, gay and non-gay, who happily and joyfully do just that.  

So, as it stands, the gay marriage debate will continue, obviously, as many people will be seeking to be part of that normalcy and continue to fight for it.  And that's OK.  But I'm no longer interested in fighting.  Because, truth be told, it's all a bunch of crap!  It's not to say that I don't support it or I won't be part of it someday, I may get married, but in the end, I don't believe, considering the way I view and choose to live my life, that my family, whatever form it takes, will ever be treated with any sort of respect whether I'm married or not.  Because the basic fact is, we, as queer folk, are not normal.  We are different

There is nothing wrong with being different.  But, spending any more time trying to convince a religious society that can't abide difference is a complete waste of my life.  And that is what most of the gay marriage political debating has been about, gay couples having to put up their best possible face to show the world just how normal they really are.  This for me means compromising my self-expression, my integrity, my sanity, to appease those that can't or won't embrace what they don't understand.  I'm not going to waste my time hiding and I'm done trying to change their minds.

We, queers, must make our own rules and live by them.  And it's not by the norms of an authoritarian religious society that we are to be comparing ourselves.  If we allow that, we are falling into the expectations of those who have never questioned why their normal familial traditions make them so bloody miserable.  And we might as well be miserable right along with them.  Sure, they will judge us by their standards, there is no way of getting around it, but they are in the wrong when they do.  They are the ultimate hypocrites if they think their normality is applicable to us.  And we are wrong if we try to get them to think our difference is not different. 

The great automatons that comprise most of the religiously bound human race are lost in a sea of sameness.  A lack of perspective and creativity in thought and reason, they have failed to embrace diversity, thus they have failed to embrace what's important.  And sadly, they are trapped there, consumed by fear of things they are also afraid to understand.

I know I keep reiterating this but I want it made clear!  It's not my place to fit within their reality, to erase my differences so that they can think I'm normal. The responsibility actually lies on them to broaden, allow and embrace the differences into their definition of normal.  They mistakenly believe that to do that, they would have to compromise their core values, which they say they shouldn't have to do.  Just like how I'm saying I shouldn't have to compromise mine for them.  But what they must understand is that I'm not compelling them to live my life the way they are compelling me to live theirs.  My core values are values I impose upon myself whereas their core values are values they want imposed on others. 

I've been foolish in thinking I could measure up to their expectations because they seek and impose an unattainable perfection.  And as they continue to do so, their definition of normal narrows, which makes their definition of perfection narrow.  Thus, any possible embracement of difference becomes impossible.  I've also been foolish in expecting them to look beyond their fears.  I know how hard it is for them.  I also know that they must make the effort on their own if they ever want to look beyond those fears.  No one can do it for them!  But I can't wait forever.

In essence, what I'm saying is, my search for acceptance from the Mormons has been put to rest.  My ship has sailed.  If they want to leave that "Great and Spacious Building" to get across the river now, they'll have to build one themselves.  They have been given the tools, materials and the plans; all they need is the desire.  Once they do, I'll be here ready to receive them.

7 comments :

  1. I really appreciate the paragraph about core values and who is ultimately responsible for making adjustments. I also appreciate what you said about how they have to make the changes themselves. I think that I often see the changes that the church is making and where I like to think they are going in the future and I am hopeful, but as you said they have to be the ones to reach out...

    Awesome post.

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  2. This is one of my favorite posts I've ever read. Go you!!! I really admire your honesty, and you put everything really well. It's funny, 'cause on my blog, a good friend of mine made a very honest, personal comment and got totally slammed for it. I was just thinking about how much bravery it takes to put yourself out there and tell the truth, and then I read this. And, by the way, have I ever mentioned how much I admire you?

    The problem with the mainstream Mormon (or, really, conservative Christian) perception of the "white picket fence" is that it confuses surface "reality" with actual reality. It's astonishing, sometimes, how others' perception of us can be so different, so...wrong. Now, I could just be projecting my own experience onto the rest of the world, and making everybody else a lot more interesting than they are, but "normal" people get chained to walls, too. It's just that, if you're straight, it's a lot easier to hide.

    People see a happily married straight couple, and they assume they're, you know, boring as dirt. And maybe they are. But in my experience, "normal" heterosexual couples come in two categories: secretly miserable, because they're sexually repressed and have no real communication skills, or outwardly June and Ward Cleaver and behind closed doors...bring on the zipper mask. Living in the 'burbs and being a SAHM can be really repressive and misery-inducing, unless you have a sense of humor about it, and yourself. Your sex life is, apart from everything else, a release: it's something of yours that nobody can judge, or take away from you. You can go to PTA meetings, and talk about whether the New Bedford Whaling Museum is appropriate for third graders...and then go home, put on some black vinyl, and spend some happy time with your husband. It's like you're in college again!

    I think, with time, as "gay" becomes more accepted, gay couples will develop their own set of "Ward and June Cleaver" stereotypes, and, thus, it'll become easier for those among them who actually have sex, and enjoy having sex, to hide in plain sight, too :-)

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  3. @Kiley, Thank you.

    I had written another part about how their imposition of their core values on other people was an example of a flawed core value that is counter to the concept of love. But I took it out. I wasn't able to get it to read correctly, you know, talking about layered values etc. it sort of derailed it. Does anyone want to tackle that subject?

    @CJ, Thank you very much! This post took courage that's for sure. It's been rattling around in my head for almost a year and went through 15 odd drafts and I still took out stuff that I wasn't ready to talk about yet.

    You and I do think alike on so many things. Although, I'm rarely interested in talking politics though. But in any case, it's like you're my long lost twin sister from different parents...or something.

    Now, about that gay version of the "Ward and June Cleaver" stereotype. It was irritating at best and down right crap at worst. It's what really bugged me the most about the "No on 8" campaign. It was so overly sanitized it felt fake and disingenuous. They exist, great, show them, but don't throw the rest of us under the bus, again and again. I can't tell you how many times the rest of us got used as scapegoats. Remember the so-called "pig sex" thing from our Utah legislature friend (who mustn't be named)? Sure it was extreme, but guess what, it was a tactic to demonize and draw attention away from the heterosexual "pig sex". BTW, the whole "pig sex" thing is a perfect example of how one can take a superficial image or misunderstanding of something from another culture they don't understand and then use it to demonize. This was do damaging it resulted in the gay community turning their backs on that harmless subculture of the gay community. No one took responsibility to to call that man on his bullshit. Instead, they started distancing themselves from each other, effectively dividing much of the queer community as a whole. I can't count the number of times I've called out a few activists to knock it off and stop using us as scape goats. Some apologized publicly and didn't do it again.

    Regrading your comment:
    "Your sex life is, apart from everything else, a release: it's something of yours that nobody can judge, or take away from you."

    That may be true, but, they can and do judge. It results in harassment. i.e that "pig sex" crap.

    But we have it lucky! I really wished something more could be done with that shit going on in Africa and other places right now. It's abhorrent!

    One last thing before I retire for the night(week),

    You may have noticed that I never used quotes around the words 'normal' or 'different' in my post. I hope that people will pick up on that and think about it.

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  4. Thanks :-)

    Part of the problem, as I see it--and, shamefully, I've been part of it myself, at times--is that GLBT rights advocates (gay and straight) often put tremendous pressure on the community to sanitize itself. To "earn" your civil rights, you have to act a certain way, dress a certain way, etc. In short, you have to prove that you deserve equality. Sure, some of the more extreme pride events are a turnoff for some people--I don't especially like watching people have sex, regardless of who they are--but so what?

    And that, to me, is the existential significance of the "Pig Sex" thing. Straight people can act as disgusting as they want, and people may condemn them, sure. They may refuse to interact with them socially. But they don't--and can't--take their civil rights away.

    PS: as far as the whole politics thing goes, that's why I sent you an invitation to my private blog ;-) I think it's more interesting? At least it's not about senate bills ;-)

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  5. One of the main reasons I avoid politics is because I'm more interested in talking ABOUT politics. Most people can't seem to do that. They just start to talk THE politics, or in other words, proselytizing their political beliefs. It's actually worse than the religious types who try to convince me I'm a evil sinner and that I need to beg Jesus for the forgiveness else I'm hell bound etc. But that's rare. I've found that I can discuss religion with many people because I seem to be around more and more people who are less likely to start proselytizing.

    Few people can talk ABOUT politics or about the politicians. I don't think many people have realized that political ideology is just a secular form of religious ideology.

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  6. I would love to use that comment in a post.

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  7. You can quote me anytime! :) My ego loves it!

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