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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Voices in My Head, Part IV: Thoughts on the Modern Gay » Voices in My Head, Part IV: Thoughts on the Modern Gay

Voices in My Head, Part IV: Thoughts on the Modern Gay

D Christian Harrison - September 20, 2005

It’s a little like Mormons everywhere felt watching Julie on Real World, New Orleans.

Pride festivals are now held across the country each summer. Salt Lake has one, and Utah activist groups are now talking about bringing it to Utah County and Provo. It’s a veritable calvacade of clichés… and it’s not for me. “It’s just for fun”, I’m told… “I really need to relax”. But I resent that my orientation has been reduced to parody.

It’s not just in the Pride celebrations… it’s on television, it’s in what passes as mainstream gay paper media, and it’s all over OUT.com, which declares proudly that it is “Gay Culture, Defined”.

Which is sad, really.

Of course, straights have MTV… but it just doesn’t feel the same.

Nowhere else do I see people so hell-bent on self-categorization and self-commoditazion.

Shame on us.

And it’s not just in the self-styled gay media… personals, social venues, it’s everywhere.

“I’m a top, what are you?”

or…

“I’m a cub looking for a daddy”

or…

“I’m a prep/jock who’s a versatile bottom”

and…

“What are you into?”

The dating scene is less about the discovery of self, it seems, than the matching-up of disparate proclivities… The primacy of sex and of one’s personal sexual tastes seems to be the the defining aspect of modern gay culture, and saying such is just not done. It’s a little like Republicans: the 11th commandment and all that. It’s my hope, though, that with growing acceptance, socially conservative homosexuals will find their voice.

I wish I had more to say than just a loosely-worded rant, but I don’t. I’m too close to the subject, really, to be objective: I’m too angry at all the psychosis that masquarade as orientation… all the self-destructive behavior that’s accepted as a natural part of coming out… of the perverse sense of entitlement that is so pervasive.

If homosexuality isn’t immoral, we have a strange way of showing it.

34 Comments »

  1. I don’t mean for the last post in the series to be such a bummer… but I just didn’t want to derail the series earlier, and I felt that it wouldn’t be complete without at least _some_ comment on what passes for gay culture.

    So there you go.

    * sets rabbit loose, let’s dogs out from starting gate *

    Comment by Silus Grok — September 20, 2005 @ 12:57 am

  2. “one’s personal sexual tastes seems to be the the defining aspect of modern gay culture”

    Perhaps I am missing something, but other than sexual tastes, what else is there that differentiates between gay and straight?

    Comment by Kim Siever — September 20, 2005 @ 7:31 am

  3. Kim,

    I don’t think there’s anything which binds the gay community together other than sexual preference.

    I myself have never felt comfortable “there”. I’m LDS, really just wanting to be married with family — to put the whole “sex” thing behind me.

    Not so easy, though. So I end up being marginalized in both communities.

    I’m 47, celibate and alone, and miserable about it.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — September 20, 2005 @ 8:30 am

  4. I can’t imagine what it must be like to try to be LDS and gay. Do you choose to remain celibate and unmarried for the rest of your life, or do you find that love and become forced out of the church? This has been a very interesting series Silus, thanks for the posts.

    Comment by jjohnsen — September 20, 2005 @ 9:02 am

  5. So D, I take it you find the same hollowness?

    I’m far from miserable… but the “scene” is certainly demoralizing.

    I know committed couples. And for the most part they are guys-next-door… but even among the people that I know who are in committed relationships, there is a 1970s laissez-faire attitude about relationships and fidelity.

    It’s not universal… but it is wide-spread.

    Comment by Silus Grok — September 20, 2005 @ 10:06 am

  6. Kim… there really isn’t anything that differentiates. But that’s the rub: one would think that in a group as diverse as we are, that there would be, well, diversity. But either the social conservatives died-out during the last ice age, or they are smoothered into silence by a hedonistic mainstream.

    * shrugs shoulders *

    Comment by Silus Grok — September 20, 2005 @ 10:10 am

  7. Silus,

    My main focus is on a “moral” model for homosexual behavior. Since homosexuals are outside the moral boundaries set up by heterosexual church leaders, there simply is no model to aspire and adhere to. Homosexuals must understand the benefits of sexual restraint, which goes against the central precept of many homosexuals: sex is free, fun, and unconstrained. Hence, even homosexual couples find themselves applying the “freedom” aspect of sex to their lives.

    I’m speaking mostly of male homosexuals, though. Lesbians are much more likely to bond faithfully for long periods of time. Because of the pain of coming out, at the end of the process the person feels euphorically free. Put two “euphorically free” men together for a sexual encounter, and it will be fun, but probably anonymous — no reason for restraint or commitment at all.

    This is why I’m for same-sex marriage, and for a moral model of behavior for homosexuals and heterosexuals alike. Homosexuals should not be constrained as to their choice of partner, but they should learn to restrain their own impulses to have sex with everyone they meet, and instead focus on the individual’s character.

    In isn’t a lot different than what LDS teenagers/young adults are expected to do before marriage, to prepare for an eternal companion.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — September 20, 2005 @ 10:23 am

  8. Silus:

    It seems to me that gay culture has developed as it has largely in reaction to the social mores and constraints that homosexuals have to struggle with.

    It is not surprising to me that many homosexuals would desire to flaunt their sexuality when they’ve been told, directly and indirectly, that their sexuality is shameful.

    I accept many of the criticisms you offer of gay culture and community. Many of them could be applied to the straight world as well. Few things make a mockery of the institutions of marriage and family as shows like “Who Wants to Marry a Millionarie?” and that ilk, and they have nothing to do with gay culture.

    It’s our culture that’s not well, period.

    Which to me is the supreme irony in all of this. We condemn homosexuality and homosexuals for being immoral, but then as a Church we work to deny them outlets to instituions that promote morality and stability.

    Comment by Chris Williams — September 20, 2005 @ 10:23 am

  9. “We condemn homosexuality and homosexuals for being immoral, but then as a Church we work to deny them outlets to institutions that promote morality and stability.”

    Very well said, Chris!

    :)

    Comment by D. Fletcher — September 20, 2005 @ 10:40 am

  10. “I’m a cub looking for a daddy”

    Could someone please translate the above question for me? I pretty much figured the others out, but don’t have a clue about this.

    Comment by Befuddled — September 20, 2005 @ 10:59 am

  11. A young guy looking for an older guy for sex.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — September 20, 2005 @ 11:03 am

  12. To be more specific… a young (and hairy) man… blah blah blah.

    ( Sorry, Rusty… this post should make for some interesting Google returns.

    Hehe. )

    Comment by Silus Grok — September 20, 2005 @ 11:12 am

  13. So in my late-night stupor, I completely failed to include a section on dating and how well-served the gay community (and society at-large) would be if gays dated “straight”… employing many of the approaches and morés which straight couples use (or at least know).

    Guess you’ll just have to read the essay.

    ; )

    Comment by Silus Grok — September 20, 2005 @ 12:05 pm

  14. The problem, as I see it, of “dating” another gay man in the LDS Church, is that it doesn’t seem to have a progression. Most dating has some vague purpose, to find an eternal mate. But two gay LDS men who date, but don’t want sex, are tempting themselves beyond what I could endure.

    I prefer a non-dating kind of life, but admittedly, I’m lonely.

    What I really would prefer is to date, get engaged, and then marry, as I’ve said in the past.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — September 20, 2005 @ 12:14 pm

  15. I think this whole discussion has been interesting and enlightening, thanks to Silas especially and D. Fletcher for helping all of us.

    Hopefully we will take away from this an increased desire to treat gays with the respect they deserve.

    I’ve (consciously) hired 3 gays as theater managers over the years. All three were excellent employees, all three would still consider me their friend and I their’s. They are good people. I don’t agree with their sexual orientation the same as I don’t agree with some of the business ethics and low-life tricks of some “good” Mormons I’ve delt with.

    This discussion has again shown there are sensitive, spiritual, member who deserve our love and respect.

    Comment by Don — September 20, 2005 @ 1:34 pm

  16. Before y’all leave, I just have a quick question:

    If gays are legally married (i.e. in MA, Canada, etc.), are they breaking commandments by living together/sleeping together? They are legally and lawfully amrried to a spouse…

    Comment by Barney — September 20, 2005 @ 1:38 pm

  17. The Church is not required by law to approve of the Massachusetts same-sex marriages. I would say… that they are breaking the commandments even though legally bound in MA.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — September 20, 2005 @ 2:05 pm

  18. Don:

    I don’t agree with their sexual orientation the same as I don’t agree with some of the business ethics and low-life tricks of some “good” Mormons I’ve delt with.

    I don’t get this.

    You are calling for greater respect for gays, but then in the very next breath you say that you put their orientation in the same class as bad business ethics? Homosexuality is some kind of dirty trick? It makes your call for greater respect ring pretty hollow.

    What’s not to agree with? Silus Grok and D. Fletcher are two gay Mormon men who have chose to live chaste lives, but you don’t agree with their orientation? Do you think they chose their orientation and that’s why you don’t agree with it? Why would they chose their orientation and then chose not to act on it so that they could keep their lives in harmony with church teachings?

    Puzzling.

    Comment by Chris Williams — September 20, 2005 @ 2:56 pm

  19. I don’t get why the marriage of two drug-addicted, ex-con (or still in jail), spouse/child-abusing heteros would be accepted by the Church and hte world at large, but the partnership (in marriage) of two upstanding, kind, considerate, compassionate homosexuals would not.

    Doesn’t make sense. The straight couple could get married in Vegas in an Elvis chapel and the church would accept it. Why not a gay couple married in a(nother) church ?

    Also, according to the covenants in the temple, a gay married couple would have made the same covenants in the endowment as a straight couple married outside the temple.

    Comment by Barney — September 20, 2005 @ 3:02 pm

  20. Barney:

    There is a double-standard in marriage, yes… But that’s an argument for a redoubling of efforts to improve marriage across the board — not, one for expanding the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.

    Comment by Silus Grok — September 20, 2005 @ 3:50 pm

  21. Chris, you’re right, my comment does sound a bit shallow when I read it again. What I meant to try and get across is two things: First, people should be treated with love and respect no matter what their problems are. Second, I admire Silas and D. Fletcher for their open discussion and their efforts in living the gospel. They recognize their differences and their challenges. The “good mormons” who lie, cheat etc. but think it’s ok…it’s part of doing business really don’t deserve my respect as much as Silas and D.

    Am I making sense? I just figure these guys are working hard and deserve our love and respect…but there are many in the church who shun, condemn or worse and yet these same members honor some of the liars etc.

    Comment by Don — September 20, 2005 @ 4:21 pm

  22. Thanks for answering me guys. I made the mistake of typing it into yahoo and searching–I managed to get the same info you gave me but much, much more, er, graphically.

    Comment by Befuddled — September 20, 2005 @ 4:31 pm

  23. Silus:

    I don’t see how you square your opposition to same-sex marriage with your desire for some revelation or guidance that will provide a moral outlet for those with your orientation. I find your parsing of marriage down to an institution that supports the development of children to be cold and detached from your own reality. Those of us who are married know that it is much more than that. We don’t deny the blessing and privileges of marriage to childless heterosexual couples, do we?

    Comment by Chris Williams — September 20, 2005 @ 4:42 pm

  24. Chris Williams: “I accept many of the criticisms you offer of gay culture and community. Many of them could be applied to the straight world as well. Few things make a mockery of the institutions of marriage and family as shows like “Who Wants to Marry a Millionarie?” and that ilk, and they have nothing to do with gay culture.”

    I think the difference is that while we can all watch the “Marry Millionaire” shows, everybody knows hundreds of heterosexual individuals/couples that are normal, everyday, committed people. I don’t think the same can be said for the homosexual community–the only knowing interaction some (even many) people have with homosexuals may be the gay rights parade where every gay man is apparently also a transvestite or is dressed up in a sailor’s outfit that he could only find in a size 4 times too small (sorry for the graphic; I was in Amsterdam over last summer). That is, I don’t think it matters nearly as much what the heterosexual community portrays in the media, becuase everyone knows what a normal heterosexual person/couple looks like. I’m not sure the homosexual community has the same benefit of the doubt, at least in the American heartland. Accordingly, if the homosexual commmunity only lets the most “out there” voices do the speaking, that may be all main-stream America will hear. Whether that’s fair or not is another question, I guess.

    Comment by jimbob — September 20, 2005 @ 7:07 pm

  25. Chris: I singled-out child-rearing as the primary reason that government has any claim on marriage at all… and in so doing, attempted to shield from my discussion any other coupling mechanism.

    Your and D’s discussion of a “moral model” for gays is a compelling one… and I will have to take some time to think it through. That said, I do not believe — nor can I envision ever supporting — a mechanism that grants gay couples equal standing with healthy hetero households on issues regarding child-rearing. That is not to say that gay couples can’t be good parents… rather, it is my belief that children have a right to a mother and a father, and that the state needs to preserve its right to discriminate in favor of healthy hetero households.

    Of course, this could take an entire _book_ to discuss… but hopefully I’ve made myself clear.

    Comment by Silus Grok — September 20, 2005 @ 8:48 pm

  26. Well, thank you Silus for a very interesting few days here on the blog. The posts have sparked quite a few good discussions both on the blog and for me, with a few friends as well.
    I was raised in this church but have been very close to the gay community as well.(At least in my own opinion.) I was heavily into drama, singing, ballet etc. and felt persecuted many times by members and such. Old bishops, leaders fellow quarem members, even people outside the church at school, you name it I faced it. I had many friends come out(12 my freshman year alone) to me or around me growing up in Spokane WA.
    I had a “crissis” of sexuality when I was about 16 years old, where I had to sit myself down and weigh out the possibilities of my being gay or straight. The fact that I am straight or if I was gay is not my point. What I was weighing was whether or not I wanted that “lifestyle” that I was watching my friends become a part of, and seeing all the ways that I felt I was “gay” through the many sterotypes society puts out there now. “Gay”, I felt, was almost a fad amongst my community of friends. That so many people were making the decision not on whether or not they are homosexual but that they were a drama kid who felt semi-rejected by most people/girls and that the life-style seemed to fit. Gay and homosexual are almost two very different things these days, due to the increase of pop-cultures influence on its portrayal.
    But, I digress, and its very late for me and I hope to still make sense.
    My point/thought/comment is, thank you. Thank you for bringing this subject matter to the fore-front of these members minds. That this IS an issue in our church/community, not just about sexuality but many different viewpoints and opinions throughout our entire church. And that it is not nessicarily about the sin as much as it may be about tolerence and love. So once again thank you for stating this and many more opinions on here, I hope to hear more.

    Comment by Bryce — September 21, 2005 @ 8:20 am

  27. Silus:

    I agree that children deserve loving homes and a mother and father. But what they deserve most of all is love. Any two fertile heterosexual fools can have and raise children. They don’t need a license from the government, and the government can’t do much to make them be loving parents.

    I think the jury is still very much out on how children raised in same-sex parented homes are affected. You, of all people, ought to keep your mind open to the possibilities.

    Comment by Chris Williams — September 21, 2005 @ 9:40 am

  28. Sorry, but I think the decadent gay lifestyle is a stereotype. I live in a/the state where gay marriage is legal, and I know married gay couples who have been in committed relationships for decades. One of my partnered gay friends is president of her Reform Synagogue board. The pastor of one of the oldest and most prestigious Unitarian churches here is gay, and extremely well respected. Sure there are the outrageous bars and parades and shenanigans, but that is also rampant in heterosexual life.

    Comment by Kristin M. — September 21, 2005 @ 9:52 am

  29. Kristin,

    I agree that the outrageous behavior of paraders is a stereotype, but unfortunately, it is the public face of the gay community. Until “quieter” and more committed relationships are legalized and public, the general population is going to think that the outrageous behavior is tantamount to being gay.

    This false impression, that everyone who is gay is fabulous and promiscous, feeds the political right, hell-bent on preventing *those* people from ruining the country.

    Again, I see a real need for a model of commitment, love, and stability among gay people, perhaps even religious fervor.

    If there were such a model, I think a great many gay people I know would be grateful to simply marry and settle down, and not to have to march and display themselves and reveal their innermost feelings to the media.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — September 21, 2005 @ 10:13 am

  30. Bryce: I know what it’s like to be persecuted… but I was lucky, it never occured to me, growing up, that I was gay… because gay people wore leather and did awful stuff. I was just attracted to guys. Somehow, I never really made the connection.

    * rolls eyes*

    It wasn’t until I was 23 that I first uttered the words “gay” and “homosexual” in reference to myself.

    I was also lucky, in that I had (still have) an ego the size of a small nation, and most of my peers’ painful comments were shrugged-off as the mutterings of barely-sentient creatures.

    Of course, we may have had the same persecutors… as you may know, I grew up in Spokane and went to Central Valley HS… graduating the same year as one of Rusty’s sisters (Rusty, do you have more than one?).

    Heh.

    Anyway, thank you for your kind words. Your comments alone make this entire series a success.

    Kristin: You’re missing the point… I know that it’s a stereo-type, but is certainly _not_ a minority lifestyle. I was not only bemoaning the stereotype, but the flak gay social conservatives take for complaining… and my hope that wider acceptance of the gay community will make for a safer environment to have a critical discussion _within_ the community of our (many) excesses.

    D: Thank you again for your thoughtful replies, here.

    Comment by Silus Grok — September 21, 2005 @ 12:36 pm

  31. I guess I just dont get your “thoughts on the modern gay.”

    Why not allow all people their diversity of thought, action, entertainment and values? Do you, along with the Church, believe that every gay person should be conservative, celibate and pious, exhanging chaste kisses and holding hands on an afternoon stroll at the mall?

    So the Personals scene or the Pride parades isn’t you scene. Granted. And yet you don’t agree with gay marriage either. What do you want of the gay community? Anxiety? Misery? Loneliness? Self-flagellation? And if they don’t indulge in these, condemnation?

    Comment by Kristen M. — September 21, 2005 @ 3:42 pm

  32. Kristin, don’t go away mad please…!

    The Personals and Parades isn’t my scene, because I was raised in the LDS church, but I have great admiration for the courage of the optimists in the gay community. They are the ones who have made a difference for gay people in our culture, not I.

    This blog was attempting to address the problems of gay people specifically in the LDS community, and I think it is also admirable, and has some good insights.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — September 22, 2005 @ 12:27 am

  33. My take on the parades is that they cover the whole gamet of diversity in the gay community. We see both the outrageous and the consevative, and more. And what always brings joy to my heart are the many different churches represented that are embracing and supportive of the gay community.

    Comment by John B. — September 22, 2005 @ 11:49 am

  34. Kristen: I realize that tone is difficult to suss-out under the best of circumstances online, but yours leaves little to the imagination.

    You either haven’t read the series, or you’re choosing to take offense where none was intended.

    Of course, I may be to blame… perhaps I wasn’t clear enough. But your accusations/questions would take too long to go through, here. So I’ll have to take a pass. Perhaps I’ll have the wherewithal to answer you in the essay…

    Comment by Silus Grok — September 23, 2005 @ 4:17 pm

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