30 October 2010

RANT: Sexuality is not Based on Action

This post was sparked by a comment by a reader. Before I go into this however, I want to make it clear that I am not attacking this person in any way. I simply want to explain why this argument doesn't make sense in my head. Obviously, I could be wrong, but here is how I think about it:

I reject the idea that action is what defines sexuality. This is a common argument. Gay people are often painted as purely sexual people. In the comment, the logic (and at first glance, it seems appropriate) was that the simple desire to cheat doesn't make you a cheater. The need you feel to lie, doesn't make you a liar. It isn't until you act on those feelings/desires that you become a "liar"/"cheater." The argument is then put forth that the desire to be homosexual doesn't make you homosexual.

Let's first look at the definitions of "cheater," "liar," and "homosexual."

Cheater: To deceive by trickery; swindle. To act dishonestly; practice fraud. One who cheats.
Liar: a person who has lied or lies repeatedly.

So far the argument holds true. Indeed, to be a liar or cheater, your actions must define it.

Homosexual: a person who is sexually attracted to members of the same sex.

Okay, so here is where the argument falls apart. A homosexual is not defined by his/her actions. Furthermore, sexuality is WAY different from adjectives like "cheater" and "liar." Sexuality is a core element of our humanity. It is a very important element of our being.

Ok, now for some logic. In order for sexuality to be determined by action, the following must also be true. All people are simply asexual until they act on their attraction. That means that, in the church, kids are asexual until they are 16 when they can finally date. It isn't until they hold a girls hand, kiss them, and start displaying their sexuality, that they become defined as a heterosexual. However, I am almost certain that if you asked these kids if they were asexual at age 15, they would, in large part, say NO- I am VERY heterosexual.

The term "homosexual" and "heterosexual" are also a bit confusing because sex is implied in the word. This is often used to show that gay people are purely lustful creatures looking for sex. But is sex what makes you heterosexual? Do you marry someone simply for sex? If so, I would argue that you are probably marrying for the wrong reason (and I think the brethern would agree with me). Instead, being a heterosexual means that you long for and are intrigued by the companionship of a person of the opposite gender. There is an emotional need for that partnership to feel complete as a human being. Much of this is based on sexual attraction, but just as heterosexuality isn't all about sex, homosexuality is much more than that. If it was only about sex, why do gays want to marry? There are much easier, no-strings-attached methods to satisfy lust.

Before coming to terms with my sexuality and being honest with myself, I dated girls. I'd take them out, hold their hands, cuddle, even kissed a couple. Based on my actions, I would be heterosexual. Yet underneath those actions was inner hell. It was so hard for me. It felt so unnatural and I couldn't understand why people kissed, why they held hands. It felt forced. And worst of all I would be in emotional agony whenever it came time to act heterosexual. It wasn't that I was dating boys. My actions were not homosexual ones. Yet I was and am gay. Once I became okay with that idea, I quickly found out why people held hands, why they kissed, etc. I couldn't understand it until my actions were in line with my emotional and sexual needs which are both parts of my sexuality (or perhaps, less confusing, orientation). When my actions became honest with my soul, I finally found out what being in love felt like. That was this year, age 25. Well after my peers have felt heartbreak and experienced love. Better late than never =)


Cashflow Creator said...


Thanks for responding with such a thoughtful reply. I didn't want to elicit a Rant, and don't think the above is one. However, I think I might have been misunderstood. My contention is that the terms homo/heterosexuality are difficult to define because not only are they emotionally charge, complex, have multiple meanings and are vague outside of being behaviorally defined, but they can lead to role playing, and labels (judging people) which can also cause problems. It is like defining love (the agape type). It is very hard to do and when someone says "I love everybody" I would probably ask them what they mean, and remind them that their actions speak louder than their proclamation when they treat someone poorly. Neither am I saying that we are mentally asexual before our first sexual experience. When you define yourself as a Gay BYU man, I would ask you what does that mean to you. I get a sense of it from your blog, and I am thankful, and I am sure others are too, that you do this.

Being a BYU student long ago I remember the time that I went to my cousin's birthday party. He was about your age. He was a BYU student. He was gay. I was amazed at all the BYU friends that came out to celebrate. There were more than a few. Most of them were gay. I was surprised how open they were about it back then. Seems like times haven't changed too much as far as BYU stand, as I think back then you would be kicked out immediately if you told school officials that you were attracted to the same sex. They wouldn't do that today, unless you acted on it or made a big deal about it, would they? However, I hope what happened my cousin doesn't happen to you. His sexuality became his whole identity probably because as he was rejected by some family and friends and had no one else to turn to. It became somewhat political for him. He moved to San Francisco, frequented the bath-houses and died of AIDS. Although I didn't reject him, I regret that I didn't help him more to avoid premature death and suffering with more understanding and love. He was truer to a label of himself than to himself. I hope that is not the case for you.

Gay Mormon said...

Thanks for the clarification! I COMPLETELY agree that sometimes people attach a whole lifestyle to the word "gay" or "homosexual." I've seen it. And I think that is the biggest problem on all side of this issue. The loudest gays who dance down the streets with rainbows painted on their bodies are basically solidifying to the rest of the world that their actions/values = gay.

The people on the other side of the argument who make broad statements about gays being creatures of lust, promiscuous, etc. also solidify that idea in peoples minds.

My purpose for this blog (and life) is to help people see that a certain lifestyle doesn't have to be attached to sexuality. Heterosexuals are not all family-oriented church goers who say grace and pack lunches for their kids. Homosexuals are not all partying, loud, slutty, in-your-face kind of people.

When I first realized that this attraction wasn't going to go away and I began meeting people, I was so confused. I wasn't like them. I didn't wear my sexuality on my sleeves. I don't through sex around as if it is candy on halloween. For a couple days I thought, "maybe I'm not gay, I don't fit into to that lifestyle." But I also knew I wasn't heterosexual. There was no place for me.

Then I realized, I don't need to subscribe to another person's way of life. I can make my own path, and forge my own way of living. I feel like a lot of people are faced with this when they come out. The easiest gay people to meet are the party scene. The guys at gay bars and clubs. You certainly aren't likely to meet that gay accountant or CEO. Especially when you have no connections to gay people.

When I say I am a Gay BYU student, I mean that I seek male companionship on the same level heterosexuals seek the companionship of the opposite sex. I mean that I am not spending the rest of my life like the last 15 years in shame of this part of me. I mean that I am no less a person than my heterosexual counterparts. And I mean that just like other BYU students, I have devoted much of my life to the gospel and have served a mission and am close to the church.

My sexuality does not define me. It is an important part of who I am, but it is only one part. I intend to share with people how I have chosen to make my path in the hopes that maybe others will see that being "homosexual" doesn't tell anyone much about you. That there are ways to reconcile values, morals, and beliefs with sexuality. Right now the voices of the gay community aren't doing a good job at showing that. I want to be one of the voices that does.

Thanks for your comments =)

Cashflow Creator said...

All I can say in response is to continue to be true to yourself. Some good examples can be found. One CEO-type that has come out in the Mormon community is Bruce Bastian, WordPerfect's founder. You probably already knew this and have listened to his interview with John:


Navigating Mormonism, especially in Utah, and more so in Happy Valley, as a gay man can be very difficult, hell, as a straight man, it can be difficult! ;-) My sympathies, and prayers go to you in doing that successfully. Bruce wasn't able to do it, especially when the Church sponsored Prop 8. Good luck and God Bless you in that effort. Thanks again for your blog.

Gay Mormon said...

Thanks! I do know about Bruce and have listened to his podcast. I will likely be working with him in the near future. I think a lot of people became disenchanted with the church over the prop 8 issue, and I don't blame anyone for leaving the church. It hurts a lot. But I personally don't believe that it makes the church any less true. I think it was the result of mistakes made by men, not a mistake in the purposes and foundational doctrines that the church was founded upon.

I'm sure that I will likely be excommunicated in the coming year- unless I find one of those few amazing bishops who actually do welcome gay couples to the ward. Right now, the church doesn't want me. But I don't plan on letting that stop me from attending and making it as much a part of my life as I can. I also hope that, in some small way, I can add to the growing understanding of members and leaders about this issue.

Anonymous said...

I envy you for your willingness to allow yourself to be connected and true to your feelings about expressing affection.

I was out with a good buddy (gay) who kept trying to put his arms around me and hold my hand. I kept brushing him away and pulling back from him because I was self-conscious.

Get this. We were in a gay bar. Now that's inhibition to the max.

Gay Mormon said...

@Anonymous- It definitely takes time. You have to unlearn all the hate and disgust that we are taught to feel in relation to homosexuality. For me, I figured that if I could hate it enough, I would eliminate it from myself. But really, all that happened was that I learned to hate myself.

Why did you brush him away? Think about it. Was it because you really didn't want him touching you at all? Was it because you didn't want people seeing? Was it just an unconscious reaction? Would it have been different if it was just the two of you in private?

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