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Former lurker wants to say his piece

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by razorsharp, May 10, 2014.

  1. Aldrick

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    We are getting a bit off topic, but I feel it is an important discussion to have anyway for Razorsharp's benefit...

    I largely agree with Great Whale's interpretation, but as a former Christian who has also studied Judaism I have a few thoughts. I think the fundamental reason why Jews are more open minded about LGBT people has to do with their outlook, because there is really one critical difference between Judaism and Christianity. In Christianity there is a strong focus on Orthodoxy--right thinking and right beliefs. You are either right or you are wrong, and if you are wrong then you are a heretic and you are going to burn in hell. In Judaism the focus seems to be on Othopraxy--right actions and right conduct. You are expected to live a certain way, do certain things on certain days, etc. The "belief" aspect of the religion is something that is much more acceptable to debate among Jews. Debating anything about "belief" among Christians is not acceptable.

    So, among Jews you have a situation where they can debate certain practices, traditions and beliefs. People can openly disagree and debate with one another and STILL be Jewish. In Christianity this is not possible to same degree, because to question something is to question God himself and therefore is blasphemy. It therefore becomes a situation where the pastor/preacher/church is always right, you are not expected to question anything, you are simply expected to obey.

    When it comes to the various seemingly anti-gay passages, I think the important question is to ask why they exist in the first place. This is really a question that no one asks. Just taking Leviticus as an example, no matter how you interpret it it boils down to: a man should not have sex with another man as he would with a woman.

    It is really the woman part that is the most important there, and it is the root of anti-gay bigotry the world over. When you live in a patriarchal society, it is important to create a clear line between what is masculine and what is feminine. Therefore, what is masculine becomes valued and what is feminine becomes devalued. Men and women have sex--which is necessary for procreation. Men having sex with each other, if you see the world through a strict gender binary, one of the men in that relationship is playing the role of "female". If one of the men is lowering himself to a feminine role, that cannot be accepted, and so he must be punished.

    After all, a patriarchal society cannot be sustained if men are willingly embracing feminine roles. It is perfectly acceptable and possible for women to desire to embrace masculine roles, but they will never be considered as good or as equal to men. However, the reverse is not acceptable. If you value masculine roles over feminine roles, then the female who strives for the masculine is trying to improve herself, while the male who embraces the feminine is devaluing himself. He is a threat to the status quo.

    This is why, even in our modern society, young girls who are tomboys are less likely to be punished than young boys who display feminine desires and qualities. It is one of the reasons that transwomen are more likely to be attacked and killed than transmen. It is the reason that gay men are often the target of the anti-gay crowd than lesbians.

    ...and this brings us full circle back to Leviticus. The most important word in that sentence is "woman"--as a man, you should not be like a woman. Why? Because it will upset the patriarchal culture. There is a reason there is nothing there that says, "a woman shall not lay with another woman as if she were a man." That is because it is not a true threat to a patriarchal culture.

    So, it is important to ask the question, "Why is that in there?" Well, the above is the answer. It is to create clear divisions between masculine and feminine actions, and to prop up a patriarchal culture. Even today, in our modern world, this is still the source of anti-gay bigotry. It all comes down to gender, and what is and is not appropriate for someone of a particular gender to do.
     
  2. greatwhale

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    I actually didn't know this. It goes a long way to explaining this entire rather frustrating thread. I suspected that it probably was some kind of catch-phrase, it had "label" written all over it. It makes sense, it would be in line with "ex-gay" teachings and a sleazy co-opting of our own use of labels as a means of focusing identity.

    Note also that the abbreviation "SSA" nicely hides the words "Same-Sex Attraction" themselves, as if they were unspeakable, but the S's are there enough to focus on the sex part without ever considering the relationship part. Classic reductionist approach to them trying to constrain our attractions to the sexual act alone.
     
  3. Wildside

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    wow, I didn't know that!!! I never realized where that term came from. Interestingly, my vocabulary has gradually progressed from "a homosexual contact or experience" to "suffering from same sex attraction" and now to the present moment where I say "I'm gay."
    It wasn't a conscious progression, it just kind of happened. And wow, the power of words. Because it reflects where I have been at different points of my journey.
    when I would think in terms of "a homosexual experience/contact", I was in TOTAL denial, and saw it as an aberration, in the sense of not being who I was, just something that kind of happened. Almost like I didn't do it. Or as Flip Wilson would have said, "The devil made me do it," But, I believed, that really wasn't who I was.
    Then eventually I picked up this "SSA" term. I don't know where I picked it up, but probably living and breathing an environment that wasn't so accepting of anything outside a vary narrow understanding of acceptable human sexuality, I heard it and it was something that was at least a little more honest that pretending that being gay wasn't really who I was. It acknowledged that it was in some way a part of who I was.
    Somehow the word gay entered my consciousness, by the time I looked in the mirror four years ago and said "I am gay," acknowledging to myself that I am gay for the first time in my life that indeed that is who I am. Even from that moment, I wasn't totally free of denial, and perhaps I won't be until I am out to everyone, or at least everyone who matters (which is all that straight people do at the end of the day -- they don't go around wearing shirts proclaiming that they're straight. although if someone did, I would wonder if they were in denial).
    But now, when I discuss the topic, I say that I am gay. I guess the term "SSA" is in itself a form of denial. But now that i know where it came from, and the term itself transmits some level of denial, it will now be dropped from my vocabulary. The whole labels thing in itself can be a real issue, for another thread, but personally I need some label to help ME understand who I am and to understand my experiences in life. No label is perfect. But I am perfectly happy, delighted and thrilled to proclaim I AM GAY. I hope that you and everyone can come to that feeling about whatever best expresses their life and being.

    ---------- Post added 26th Nov 2014 at 11:48 AM ----------

    I read once that a lot of western rejection of the problem comes from a Roman rejection of anyone who is penetrated, as being inferior in some way, or unclean. So all women were inferior because they were penetrated, and did not have any rights. the word "testify" comes from the root "testes", and when testifying rather than putting your hand on a bible (which didn't exist) you put your hand on your balls, which obviously women couldn't do, so they couldn't testify in court. and then there were the vestal virgins. they were women, but the weren't penetrated, so they got special privileges. they could drive their chariots through the city streets where nobody else could, for example. and so the problem for a gay man would have been the whole penetration thing. I don't know, but I suspect that being a top would not have been a problem. I've read that the term "homosexual" didn't even come into existence until the 19th century, less than 200 years ago, and "gay" is a lot more recent, and LGBTQIA is a lot more recent than that. Words reflect the understanding of the time. But when we try to apply modern psychology, sociology, science and even religious thought to every writing from two or three thousand years ago, we are translating more than just the words. We are translating world views, scientific understanding, and who knows what else. I think that the danger is that we infer a lot in that process, and people have come up with a lot of justification for their prejudices in the process.
     
  4. Lexington

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    I had something similar. I tended to think of it in clinical terms early on. "I find myself having a sexual response to men." Like I was an algae or something. :slight_smile: Now, I say I'm gay. Or, more commonly, "I dig guys." :slight_smile:

    Lex
     
  5. razorsharp

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    well, thank you all for the advice. I guess your message is: 'don't ever get married to a woman'.

    I have to say, I am slightly disheartened with this advice. I thought that some of you would have given me more advice on how getting married would be possible if I played my cards right. I admit, it was not what I wanted to hear.

    I'm disappointed with how I've turned out in life and how I got to this situation. Obviously I will continue to think about things and see where life takes me :icon_sad:
     
  6. Black Raven

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    Well, the truth is often harsh and not what you want to hear.

    I can't tell you anything but "Deal with it".

    If you play your cards right, you can probably stop tormenting yourself, though.
     
  7. flatlander48

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    A few thoughts...

    Regarding reparative or conversion therapy, there was an open letter done by a group of former practitioners. Find it at:
    Former Ex-Gay Leaders Unite in Opposition to Conversion Therapy - National Center for Lesbian Rights

    Regarding getting married, flip it around and see what you think. Imagine that your spouse came to you with the realization that regardless of what she did or how hard she tried, she could not dismiss the feelings she had for another woman. As a result of that, she felt that there was no other way forward than to seek a divorce. I'm not saying this is a likely situation, but it is a possible result. Anyway, for the situation that you propose, there is the potential for it all to go horribly pear-shaped. How would that make YOU feel?

    I've been a member of our LGBT employee affinty group at work for over 10 years. There is a phrase in the LGBT community urging us to, or be able to, "Bring our whole selves to work.". What this means is that we can spend a lot of time and effort in struggling with who we really are or hiding that reality from others. That amounts to time and effort that doesn't go into our work. Now, broaden this out to our lives in general. It is possible to take that time and energy and apply it to some positive purpose for ourselves and those close to us. Wouldn't we be that much further ahead? Wouldn't that improve the quality of our lives?

    Regarding therapists...
    I think the vast majority of therapists are straight forward, sensitive people. They realize what hangs in the balance: another human's well being. I think many go into the field, in part, as a way of gaining understanding to help resolve their own issues. In that sense, I think they often have a headstart in knowing what pain and anguish feel like.
     
    #147 flatlander48, Nov 26, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
  8. Benway

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    I don't think there's anything that's "lowering yourself" by being a bottom, in fact, I personally think that the "feminine role" is far more empowering. Maybe that's just me, and because I do think in binary terms and because of my general preference as a 'bottom' I do like to think of it as a feminine role-- but I don't think that's a bad or degrading thing at all.

    Also, keep in mind these "rules" were written by a bunch of half-naked men hopping around a fire shaking their staffs at the sun while wearing loincloths.
     
  9. Aldrick

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    I am inclined to agree. I was not stating my opinion on the matter, only how society at large (both historical and modern day) tends to view gender and sexuality. By viewing things through a binary, they see certain roles as either masculine or feminine. It is not even something that is uniquely limited to being gay, it is also taboo for a woman to peg her boyfriend--even if they are both into it.

    The larger point I was making was that when it comes to these types of texts it is important to understand WHY certain passages exist. It is not as if they went around plotting against gay people back in the day. Although homosexuality has always existed in humanity, the modern concept of sexual orientation did not start to come into being until 1869--and it has continued to evolve with our growing understanding since that time. Before this point there were no "gay" or "straight" people, only acceptable and unacceptable actions.

    The only reason a gay identity exists at all is because straight people have excluded and marginalized us. They essentially pointed their fingers at us and told us that we could not be part of their club, and as a result we had to form our own. If we lived in a society and a culture where heterosexual orientation was not the expected default, and same sex as well as opposite sex love and sexuality was equally celebrated and valued there would be no straight or gay people. The identities as they exist today would cease to exist, because they would lose their meaning and relevance. It would be the equivalent of individuals forging identities around having brown or black hair. It only makes sense for brown haired individuals to have an identity if black haired individuals marginalized and discriminated against them.
     
  10. greatwhale

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    It may be off topic, or it may, as I suspect, be more on-topic than we realize. In any case, what you wrote above is directly related to this passage from Rabbi Greenberg's book from which I quoted above, and which is part and parcel of the meaning of Passover:

     
  11. PalestrinaMX

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    But are you bisexual? Otherwise, why would you get married to a woman that you could never fully emotionally please, and give your heart too. You would be taking away her chance at real love.
     
  12. Benway

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    Well, I think in the OP's case I can chalk it up to something akin to this...

    ...as liberal as my father is, he insists on the position that there's no such thing as "bisexual," that you either "like dick or you don't," it's a stance he's pretty firm on. Now he also insists that this isn't a bad thing, but he'll annoyingly refer to people like John Lennon as "gay," when in fact that isn't the correct terminology. I think it's part of that religious thing, which as many of you have pointed out tends to have a binary, or, as I like to put it, "black and white" view of things.

    Personally, as much as I like one girl, I know I can never give myself to her because the female anatomy disgusts me. I hole away as an asexual hermit but I'm widely aroused by the male anatomy. It's not out of religious devotion I don't follow through on my arousal, but out of personal reasons, however the walls are wearing thin, lately, which for me may be a good thing.

    I digress, this is about the OP's religious inclinations, which do and don't tell him a mixture of half truths coated in the personal feelings of pastoral teachings based on those half truths based on translations of translations of translations. While there's a lot of fun poetry and numerological stuff in the Bible, it's really nothing more than a compendium of obsolete "witchcraft" (for lack of a better word) that gives people licence to judge others.
     
  13. biAnnika

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    Fascinating discussion of scripture, Aldrick, Mr. Whale.

    Aldrick, I really jive with the way you look for meaning in Leviticus and focus in on the meaning of "as with a woman". A slightly different read on that has been expressed to me that I'd like to share, and hear what people think.

    In the historical context...the culture at the time and place of writing...women were not free agents. Their role was basically that of property, and marriage was a contract (between men) to cement that ownership and transfer full rights. In that society, to "lie with a man as with a woman" would be to commit an act of dominance...to take control/possession of a *man*. So it wasn't about any particular *act*, but about the way in which the act was done...subjugation, rather than equality.

    This is consistent then with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, where the true crime was not (quasi-ironically) sodomy...but rather intended rape (and generally, intolerance of guests/foreigners).

    Thoughts?
     
  14. Wildside

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    that's what they used to tell us: get married and the feelings will pass. My experience is the experience of so many others. We got married, and the feelings didn't go away. they only got stronger. it's not something that can't be "fixed," and it is definitely not a choice. There are both heterosexuals and LGBT's who chose a celibate life, for various reasons, but not everybody is capable of that either. It sounded a bit harsh to read one bit of advice that just said "Deal with it"; but no matter how you say it, that's what it comes down to. I understand how hard this is to accept when you're really hoping to hear that it doesn't have to be this way. I just hope that you can find a way to accept yourself and love yourself as you are.
     
  15. biAnnika

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    Nope, dear. I'm afraid the notion that things could work if you played your cards right is a fictional path that manymany have gone down and realized for what it is.

    I think the question is what you do with that fact/this response. Do you do what they did and see for yourself, or can you learn from their mistakes? To some extent it comes down to why you asked the question: for validation of what you hoped was true? or because you actually wanted to hear peoples' experiences?
     
  16. Wildside

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    I can't emphasis enough that everyone here who is sharing their experiences is just telling you the truth of what happened in our lives, and is telling you this in love and concern. It is both to answer your questions with truth, and I would also say in some hope that another human being might avoid the pain and tragedy that we have experienced by arming you with the ability to make an informed decision, something that I didn't have. But what you do with that information is completely up to you. If you just want to find someone who agrees with a course of action that you have already decided on, I'm sure you can find it somewhere; but I doubt you'll find it in EC.
     
  17. Benway

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    As much as it pains me to say it, the advice "don't ever get married to a woman" is solid. I'm well aware of my sexuality, even if I don't act on it-- and even if there is one girl in this world I'd do anything for-- one girl I'd die for, I don't pursue a relationship with her because I know I can never be the man that she deserves.

    You're going to be disheartened, and believe me, I understand how it feels to be disappointed with how things have turned out in life, how I've turned out, if I could wind the mighty clock back and do things differently I would but none of us has that kind of power. It may not be what you want to hear, but you need to hear it.
     
  18. biAnnika

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    Benway...I like the new haircut and (especially) the new glasses! They really suit you!
     
  19. biAnnika

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    Benway...I like the new haircut and (especially) the new glasses! They really suit you!
     
  20. Benway

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    Oh, thanks. It's a drawing I found of William Burroughs done by some artist in the 1970s, I think. It's actually based on my previous profile picture, as it's one of the few pictures of Burroughs featuring him as a 'young' man, because he aged very quickly after his drug use from the 40s to the 70s when he finally quit heroin. Odd, considering he lived to be 83.

    Anyway, the OP hasn't responded in awhile, but I'm learning an awful lot about myself based on this thread... which is weird and beneficial at the same time.