01 March 2009

Being Gay is Still The Topic De Jour - a Big Issue.

The issue of homosexuality is still a big thing for some. For others it is done and dusted, they no longer think it is an issue and are happy to let it be. The number accepting it are growing, but there is still plenty of debate, prejudice and controversy on this subject. Gay marriage has thrust it further into the limelight, with different nations and states choosing to rule differently on this, the time to debate it is most definitely now.

Okay, I will come clean, I am a straight man, so what could I possibly know. Well, although it may not count for much some peoples eyes, some close friends of mine, and even some family are gay. I have seen them go through the negative and discriminatory attention they receive for it.

I cannot say I entirely understand “what a gay person thinks” or why some people find the issue so disturbing that they become homophobic. All I know is that it is becoming a divisive issue and without discussion and debate on it, there can not be understanding.

This lens is however more about presenting some of the issues around this, and asking you what you think.

My use of the word Gay

For the sake of this article, for convenience, I will use the term Gay to describe Homosexual males, females (Lesbians) and Bisexual people or behaviour. Sorry if that offends you, but I am not going to write out every grouping every time.

I know that for an older generation, or for English teachers, this word has a different meaning of simply being happy. As far as I know, it was adopted as a way of describing the happiness felt by someone who has finally accepted their own sexuality and ceased denying it.

For a much younger generation, calling something “gay” is used a general term of dislike, and is not intended as a word for those who are homosexual. I will not use it in that context.

Being Gay

At the moment, there is a huge debate about what it means to be Gay. I think it is worth exploring different streams of thought on this. I am going to approach with objectives first and try not to advocate any. Do not read these as my opinions – just an attempt to reflect those out there.

  • Being Gay is a lifestyle Some people like to show being gay as a complete lifestyle choice. This means that it is something you buy into as a whole, Gay friends, gay music, gay clothes etc.. Or it could simply mean that you are a gay person for life. This engenders statements like “only a gay man would buy another man perfume”.
  • Being gay is only the love life. A gay person has many straight friends, and other than their choice of partner, has a lifestyle indistinguishable from a straight person – they go to the same clubs/pubs, watch the same “kind of films” – as if people were that simple anyway.
  • Being gay makes you part of a “gay community”. Is there a “Gay community”, is it that people who are gay feel more easily accepted by other gay people, more likely to be open minded about their orientation. In modern life, has this dissolved as gay people have integrated with the heterosexual community?
  • Being gay is permanent So it is something that once someone is gay, they are always gay, they do not dip in and out of, they become and stay gay. How this becomes the way is covered elsewhere.
  • Being gay is a fad. It is something someone does for a little bit, just to be awkward, cool or different, they will grow out of it one day. They are perhaps in denial, or just having fun. One day they will change.
  • A single Gay encounter May be kept to one time, or may spark a whole lifestyle change. Will it be for life, or will it be an experience someone does not want to experience again? Will it even perhaps make someone bisexual – partial to both?
  • Being gay is something learned Is it learned behaviour? Can you learn, from your environment, or through some family situation, to become gay?
  • Being gay is genetic/hereditary/congenital Could it be something that some people are born with? Perhaps it is a disposition, that in many lies unfulfilled, or perhaps (in some peoples eyes) untempted.
  • Being gay is a natural thing Animals can be gay can’t they. Research shows many mammals do have some gay behaviour in some individuals. It is not restricted to humans. Should this have any bearing on peoples attitudes toward it?
  • Being gay is a mental illness Some believe that this is something that can be cured, if only the right psychiatric/spiritual/physiological key can be found. That it is some kind of pestilence.
  • Gay people only fancy gay people Some people think that a gay person is only interested in other gay people and will not be attracted to a heterosexual person.

Is the nature of being/feeling gay still an important part of the debate?

A really important question here has been whether it is a learned behaviour, or a natural thing. The progressive will say, why does it matter - people should be allowed to chose or be their sexuality and be accepted for it. The conservative will also say, why does it matter, it is still wrong.

Perhaps it is time not to focus on this distinction, but it currently exists all the same. Do you think it should be important in this issue, or do you think that it being a choice or nature are besides the point? Your answer should be regardless of this coming from the liberal or conservative view.

Is the behaviour vs nature question relevant?

No, it should be treated the same way regardless.

Naked_Girl says:

Homosexuality is like greatness: Some are born gay, some achieve gayness and some have gayness thrust upon them.

There are those of us who know we are gay from a very very young age, so you could argue it’s genetic. Some of us start to realise we are gay much later in life, and it’s a journey through sexuality, so you could argue it’s behavioural. And some of us meet a person who knocks our socks off, and even though we don’t think of ourselves as gay, we are for this person. And that’s inexplicable.

I think sexuality is fluid, arguments can be made for nature or nurture, but it shouldn’t matter either way.

Stazjia says:

A person’s sexual orientation is nobody’s business but their own. I really object to people setting themselves up as judge and jury on other people’s behaviour as long as it doesn’t break the law.

dannystaple says:

My own opinion on this is that my view on the gay issue will not be altered by if the behaviour is learned, nurtured, chosen or genetic. From my point of view, even if it is chosen behaviour, that still should not justify Christian, Muslim or other hate groups. Also, those hate groups and people offering a “cure” will not stop even if it is proven. Proof rarely appeals to such people. I would like to think that if someone chose to have a mix of gay and het relationships that they would not be maltreated for it. Disproof/proof of genetic disposition should not permit bigotry.

Yes, it makes every difference.

meggingmad says:

I have a fraternal twin brother who is as straight as I am gay. As kids, our parents brought us up with utter fairness in all ways and nurtured us as equals. Yet, here we are now…so different. I can only conclude that “gayness” is largely genetic. I`m also speaking here as a biologist.

Anonymous Says:

I definitely believe that behavior vs nature remains relevant and makes a difference. I do agree that regardless of if a person deems it behavior or nature, that it should be treated equally; however, I do very strongly feel (and I am an out lesbian) that it is so incredibly sewn into the hearts and souls of so many gays that their sexuality is not a choice in any way whatsoever, including with myself. And for many of us, coming to accept ourselves is an incredibly difficult road to travel, and some fight it and deny it for years and years, and do everything possible to avoid it. When we finally do come to terms with it, it feels like an incredible insult for someone to tell us that after all of that, our sexuality is a choice we have made. Many of those who deem homosexuality as a choice do not feel the same way about heterosexuality, and that his absolutely ridiculous. It is not a pick and choose which is nature and which is behavior type of question. What is true for them is true for us. I absolutely believe people are born gay, and I believe, especially to those of us who have fought so incredibly hard to be who we are after denying it for so long and facing the adversity and hatred of others, that it is truly hurtful to be told our sexuality and our love is only a choice we have made.

skiesgreen says:

With memory of my last death and resurrection it is not genetic but we bring it with us as memory from previous lives. I was a man when I died last and now a woman. As a child I thought like a man and could not understand where my strength has gone, It took me a long time to learn to be female, although I have not had homosexual tendencies. But I could have allowed them to develop and in this regard religion and science are both wrong. But there are situations where sexual organs do not develop properly and some are left neither male nor female or are mixed up by this process in other ways. That means that it cannot be wrong nor is it learned behaviour but just another one of those natural quirks that happens and is beyond man’s understanding.

mysticmama says:

Yes it is relevent in the reality that fundamental Christian hate groups are still using “chosen lifestyle” to feul their hate campaigns. Science has proven that it is genetic, but hate groups refuse to aknowledge facts and are still actively trying to “cure” gay people.

Neil says:

I think if it is ever proven to be a natural thing then that is one additional argument to relieve any guilt which a gay person may feel from the verbal abuse that may have gone his way.

Faith Resources for being gay

It is interesting to learn that there are books with wildly different views on how to reconcile being both gay and of faith. Christian, Catholic, Muslim and Jewish books are abundant for this, some of them showing how much of the hate is not at ALL justified by the original teachings and holy texts and use of texts to try and justify them may actually be perversions.

It is a sad fact that in modern culture, most of the persecution and hate still comes from a religious context, although it would be wrong to tarnish all religious believers with that brush.

Do you accept gay people/behaviour?

Are you at peace with the concept? Or are you going to fight this thing tooth and claw? DO you think it should be suppressed and driven out, or that it should be expressed (at least with some propriety - like heterosexual relationships) and permitted?

Should gay people be accepted?

Yes, me, my freind, neighbour, brother or sister are gay.

meggingmad says:


Anonymous Says:

Yes, I am gay, and I absolutely believe we are no different than heterosexuals. We are just people. My future stepdaughter recently asked my fiancee and I to stop holding hands in public because it is weird, and when I said, “It’s no different than a man and a woman,” she said, “Yes it is. Stop.” That really broke my heart to see such a young generation already instilled with the prejudice of the overly conservative and bigoted generation in this part of the United States. Gays should be able to hold hands in public without everyone staring or making faces or acting uncomfortable. What makes us so different than anyone else? It is a hand in a hand.

skiesgreen says:

Absolutely. They are as normal as anyone else in this world and to condemn, target or abuse them is a crime in my eyes,

Tiggered says:

It’s not my business what do people do in their beds. I don’t care much about the issue, since it never caused me any pain either way, but some nazi/christian/fundamentalist balderdash turns me into a raging monster. Hands off the bedroom!

ernieplotter says:

By all means! and they should not be considered “gay people” they ARE people like everybody else!

On Gay Marriage

One subject that has certainly brought this area front and centre of religious and political discussion are same sex marriages. There are many schools of thought on this. I have tried to describe each as if from that point of view. Again - do not mistake those views for my own.

  • Marriage, is defined by the bible as a man and a woman. If you are a biblical scholar, I do not know if this can actually truly be found in scripture, but it is something that is often said. This would mean that by definition it excludes gay marriage.
  • Marriage allows a couple to show their dedication to each other Regardless of their sexuality, by being together, a couples bond is increased by celebrating and making formal their relationship. It means that society as a whole is more cohesive, and because people are supporting each other, less of a burden to the state as they look after each other. They are more likely to have good, happy lives.
  • Marriage is only for the sake of children. A gay couple is unlikely to have children (adoption topics aside) so marriage, being for the sake of children, is pointless and should not be supported for gay couples. This may mean it is also not suitable for those not intending or otherwise unable to have children.
  • Allowing gay marriage weakens the concept of marriage. Allowing this cheapens marriage, makes it more of a casual thing. Gay people are expected to be more promiscuous so this makes it more likely that divorces will follow. Diluting it to allow further definition may open up a can of worms to allow many other forms of marriage - like bigamy.
  • Consenting adults who love each other should be able to make this choice. Love should be allowed to express itself in this form. It is an affront to love that marriages representing almost business-like arrangements between hetero couples are allowed when marriages representing only love between homosexual couples are not permitted.
  • Marriage is a matter of expressing a long term love - Any couple wanting to really show long term love should consider this to show their commitment to each other.
  • Any marriage is a bonding of people that is good for the fabric of society, be it straight or gay
  • A Gay Couple, through marriage should be able to expect some of the legal privileges through marriage that any straight couple should.

What is your opinion? What would you add?

Do you support gay marriage?

Why not, if people love each other, it should be their choice.

meggingmad says:


anonymous says:

100% support marriage equality. It’s sad that we have to even call it “gay marriage.” It is marriage, and it is for everyone. Check out my squidoo lens on the topic. It’s titled FREE LOVE.

skiesgreen says:

Marriage is just a few words said by someone in authority. It is not from God but the product of man’s attempt to control all things, especially sex. It’s a bit of magic in other words, like so much of man’s religious bent. So I can’t see the fuss. If people want a ceremony to cement their union let them have it.

pilegirl says:

It is arrogant to assume that we should be able to decide for others whom they should love or marry! Let’s live and let live. And mind our own beeswax.

dannystaple says:

@Brad - given that world population problems are generally down to Over population, and not Under, I don’t think a few Gay marriages are going to prevent the human race reproducing. I also don’t think that some great majority are going to ‘turn gay’ because society accept gay marriages. Would you start eating a food you disliked (for me that would be salmon) because someone else did?

Marriage should only be for one man and one woman.

Brad says:

I seem to always think along the lines that if everyone in the world was gay, there would be no way to reproduce. Of course, scientific advancement would find some way to grow babies out of test tubes and distribute them to the same-sex couples. But it isn’t natural. Not from a moral or religious standpoint, but from an obvious view on simple anatomy, it’s abnormal.

Because of the small amount of people that are “gay,” I think it’s almost a feeling of being different from the other guy. I’m not saying all people are like this, but most of the people I know that claim to be gay seem to like the attention that comes from being different than everyone else.

To make the stereotype that gay marriages last longer than straight marriages is not applicable to the situation. Gay marriages only account for a small amount of the marriages, at least in the United States. Therefore, basing info off of a few people rather than thousands doesn’t make sense. The way a marriage stays together, in my opinion, is not what gender you are, rather the compatibility and loyalty to your marital oath even through tough times. I can easily name off dozens of marriages that I personally know of that have lasted until death. Making the assumption that gays are more loyal to their partner strictly because of their sexual orientation just doesn’t make any sense.

Online resources on this difficult subject

There is plenty to read on this, especially in political and evangelical quarters. Here are some of the more well thought out commentaries on this:

  • An evangelical change of heart on sexuality | Ekklesia Ekklesia are a British Evangelical Christian think tank, looking at the issues of the age. This is a well thought out and well put piece on the subject which may cause some to really examine their beliefs. Among other things, it compares the current controversy around homosexuality to similar historic controversies around slavery.
  • Homosexuality – a hot topic on Religious Tolerance.org Religious Tolerance.org is a site with many well researched essays examining all sides of difficult and divisive topics right now. Regardless of your beliefs on this issue, reading this site and examine the opposing viewpoints will allow you to understand others better on this.
  • Fear the rainbow! A storm is gathering. Are you afraid, Christian? Are you afraid enough? Great tongue in cheek article discussing the shrill voices of the homophobic few.

A little humour

While this is a serious subject, perhaps it is too serious. People from both sides of this debate could do with a sense of humour on it, and sometimes, having a laugh about a subject will allow you to put down any hatefulness and be a little more at peace with each other on it, or at least go about your life and business without it consuming you.

  • Is He Gay?: For Every Woman Who’s Met the Ideal Man and is Wondering…Why Hasn’t he Tried to Kiss Me? by Ed Baker
  • All Sorts: A Mixed Bag of Gay and Lesbian Sweeties by Bruno Bouchet

Image sources

The title image is based on The Gay Pride/Rainbow Flag and The Pink Triangle symbol. I brought them together using Inkscape. It is not my intention to offend anyone with this image, please use the feedback to inform me if it does.

I am aware there are versions of this as a flag with the symbol on the hoist or canton (whatever those mean), but being ignorant of flags, I plonked it in the middle.