Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Is "Gay Lifestyle" Offensive?

I've been seeing a bit of outrage on various blogs I've come across over the way some heterosexuals use phrases such as "the gay lifestyle" or "the homosexual lifestyle." To be fair, I've seen some of "us" use them, too. But do we have a different meaning for these phrases? Do we consider the way some of us live to be a "gay lifestyle" at all?

For those of you who have wondered what exactly "the gay lifestyle" is supposed to mean, I went in search for you and found something that pretty much says it all. To be quite honest, it's pretty much what I expected was meant by "the gay lifestyle," and I wondered what was up with people even questioning "what the hell" that's supposed to mean. You know what that's supposed to mean. At the most basic, basic level, it means you're someone who likes, pursues, dates, has sex with, maybe eventually lives with someone of your own sex. The difference there is straight people are probably saying that with a negative connotation attached the majority of the time, and we're not.

As always, I can't speak for anyone else, but I want to tell you what I think of when I think of "the gay lifestyle." You frequent, or used to at some point in your life, GLBT spots--clubs, bars, etc--and you know pretty much all of the ones in your area...even some of the ones in places where you don't live. You have many GLBT friends. You have--or used to--lots of sex, particularly meaningless sex, with people of your sex...and if you weren't, you were longing to something awful because, you know, we're more obsessed with sex than everyone else is. Or, very opposite of that, you're in this never-ending relationship...if you're a lesbian, particularly with someone you essentially barely knew when you met her. You enjoy large-scale GLBT events, such as Pride, conventions and whatever else we're all allegedly supposed to know and get excited about.

You're up on gay news and media, including who's gay in Hollywood (not to mention in your neck of the woods) and what shows/movies have gay characters and themes, as well as what heterosexual (or so he/she says) made a "homophobic" remark to the media today. You might even live in some "gay mecca" or other places with lots of openly gay people, like LA, SF, NY, MA, or used to. You're overly-concerned with people coming out or are not exactly out yet but really want to be and fit (at least some of) the stereotypical reasons why GLBT individuals stay in the closet. And by "overly-concerned," I simply mean my view that it's none of your business whether or not someone else is gay or out, but you still insist that we should all be out anyways or even go about exposing people who are not ready for it. You engage in slamming people, even if just in a drive-by comment as opposed to on a regular basis, who don't speak out on their sexuality or "admit" it. You might even defend gay people when they're wrong or partially to blame. So many things are about gay vs straight, keeping us looking good, the other person is a homophobe, etc...things become ridiculously political.

I think those are just about it, or at least the biggies. It might not be the most flattering description. Some points come from heterosexual society, yes, but many of these have come as the result of exposure to more GLBT individuals. In particular, I tend to keep the ideas about over-the-top sexuality and partying, knowing and adoring all things gay, gay vs straight doctrine and the rather fascinating lack of understanding and tolerance for those who aren't out at the forefront of my mind when I think about gays.

I didn't think the way I thought about fellow gays was so different from the way those "homophobic" heterosexuals did...until I found the first link referenced in this entry. Normally, I would be very meticulous and painstaking in copying & pasting nonsense from the site and debating it piece by piece. Looking at what this, no doubt, guy has to say just makes me tired (also, today is just one of those days). Gays have unstable relationships? There's no evidence of a biological basis for being gay? Oh, okay.

So the class I took in college on...wow, I'm so out of it right now that I can't even remember the name of the class. But it was a class in which we read research and findings pointing to various biological indicators, as well as the possibility of there being an interplay between biology and environment. You're talking stuff that was showing that a maternal twin is a homosexual in 50% of the cases in which his/her twin is also a homosexual and markers that appear on the 28th chromosome in too many homosexuals to be a coincidence while not appearing in heterosexuals.

The unstable relationships and promiscuity thing, as well as the sexual deviation the little chart points to...even I wouldn't go that far. You know, heterosexual black women are probably the most affected by AIDS...you wanna say that somehow relates to their unstable relationships and promiscuity? It's not that you can't argue it. It's that who is going to do so? This is almost one of the times in which I'd be willing to back down and say white gays have a point when they say it's alright to pick on gays and no one else. Almost. I'm sure if whites knew or cared or had some agenda wrapped up in the fact that black women have HIV and AIDS in alarming rates, they'd, at the very least, think some of the same things about straight black women as many of them do with gays...make that, verify what they were already thinking, since a lot of people apparently see black women as promiscuous anyways (this has been news to me, but so many people say it that it makes me believe...)...and I can attest to the fact that too many straight black women tolerate unstable relationships.

I don't see gay relationships as unstable, in general. Yes, I do believe gay people tend to be promiscuous. Then again...who the hell is not promiscuous? My mother and I? Because, admittedly, that's sometimes how it feels--the only people on earth who are not obsessed with sex and out there trying to screw every hot person we can get our hands on are my mother and I. On the other hand, when I see stable relationships that have endured, they tend to be homosexual relationships. Sado-masochism is not just a gay thing, either...neither is sleeping with people you don't even know. Nor are STDs, clearly, or drug use. I mean, just ignorant sh!t. Apparently, this person thinks that neglecting to find and/or report statistics on how many heterosexuals fall into those categories means that they don't.

And, I've got to tell you, some of those numbers look unreal. They're either made up, or it's a skewed sample. Take it from someone who suffered through psychology classes on researching and sampling in undergraduate school, on the way to a psychology degree. It's not hard at all to conduct studies and/or pull up data that tell you exactly what you want to hear. If they'd only asked gay people like me to participate in their little nonsense, they would have had zero percent or n/a straight down under the gay community column, except for the life span question.

High death rates from suicide?! Wow, who'da thunk it? And why do you think that is, Mr. Homosexuals-are-worse-than-everybody-else?

Wow, I've got to tell you, I'm not even as obsessed with being gay as the people who run this site are. It's amazing. You know...I feel like going back to bed now (yes, alone, not with my 38 sexual partners whose names I don't even know).

But the thing is, clearly, there are differences between how I define a gay lifestyle and how these people define it. Is one more offensive than the other? Is one offensive, one not? If so, why--because one comes from someone is who is gay and one doesn't?

Personally, I don't use phrases such as "the gay lifestyle," but I do think in terms of living as a gay person and not living as a gay person...which I'm not really sure is different from thinking of "the gay lifestyle." I say that I don't live as a gay person, and the reason is essentially that I don't do most--if any--of the things I list in my thorough definition of the gay lifestyle, or even many of the things in my very basic definition. And obviously central to my not living as a gay person is not being out. And as basically mentioned, I don't do the things listed on that site in association with the "gay lifestyle."

Essentially, I question what exactly does it mean to be gay, GLBT, queer, etc. What's the difference between me and someone who is just "questioning" or "curious"? I think this is actually a problem a lot of queer women would have with me if we got to talking and they were looking at me for romantic purposes. Could this be, then, one of the reasons that is unspoken for why a lot of GLBTs would like to demand we all come out? Maybe I don't appear authentic enough, and coming out would help...notice whom it would help, though. Maybe you can't really be gay without taking on the struggles gay people who've come out have faced and continue to face as people who are out out there everyday.

What about other people who don't engage in the factors in these varying definitions of "the gay lifestyle"--are they really gay? Or is this kind of like the question of being "black enough," a question that is ridiculous simply because if you're black, you're black--no changing that, no measuring that. But, as always, you have differences between being black and being gay. One can argue that blackness is a bit more tangible. So that doesn't help me work through this.

So I tend to work through it by asking myself, "Do you like women?" The answer is "Why, yes. Quite a bit, actually." Sabrina Sloan, when she was on "American Idol" (G-d, I miss her), was singing every song directly to me, especially En Vogue's "Don't Let Go," i.e. "don't you wanna be more than friends?" Ummm...UH HUH! "Hold me tight and don't let go..." Your wish is my command. I smiled like a big dork through all her performances...still do when I just think about them.

Ding ding ding--gay.