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post #121 of 194
A lot of interesting stuff going on in the thread now that's being addressed from all sides. A few thoughts:

My initial impression of rach's position was that it was intuitively correct; it's the (ab)normalcy of sexuality that creates (or removes) space for other things to define one's identity. However, the more I think about it, the less I'm convinced of that.

I think we can all agree that sexuality is important to identity, whether you're straight or gay. If it weren't on the straight side, gay jokes wouldn't be so offensive/embarrassing. So I don't think that heterosexuality is something we can take for granted as a norm; it, too, is created, shaped, defined and limited. There's plenty within heterosexuality that's considered deviant, e.g. polygamy, age of consent, partner swapping, fetishes, even things like anal (despite being wholeheartedly accepted by the porn community ). Western literature has dealt with this topic for millennia (see Oedipus Rex, for example).

I do think that these things are less remarked upon and noticed by straights, which lends the appearance of normalcy. I don't think these things are related to sheer numbers (i.e. the 1 in 100 are gay stat), because other minority deviations from the mean (e.g. blonde hair) aren't treated the same way. So are straights just living in bad faith? If so, gays seem to have subscribed to the same bad faith view of normal/deviant.

Moreover, it's important not to get caught up in the straight/gay dichotomy, which happens a lot in these sorts of discussions. Traditionally, sexuality has often been defined in terms of a male/female binary with men only recently being seen as the more sexually aggressive gender paired with a passive feminine partner. Current male (hetero)sexual identity is essentially less than two centuries old. Gays will have to question gender at the same time as they question sexuality. Thomas Laqueur is some good reading on the topic.

Uhh, and as usual I forgot where I was going with this as I wrote it. So I'll just put it out there and see what it elicits.
post #122 of 194
Quote:
Originally Posted by holymadness View Post
Traditionally, sexuality has often been defined in terms of a male/female binary with men only recently being seen as the more sexually aggressive gender paired with a passive feminine partner. Current male (hetero)sexual identity is essentially less than two centuries old.

Sorry if I've misunderstood you here, but haven't gender roles been fairly defined, at least in the West, for several millenia (treating the holy books of the Abrahamic faiths as pseudo-historical here)?
post #123 of 194
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by holymadness View Post
So I don't think that heterosexuality is something we can take for granted as a norm; it, too, is created, shaped, defined and limited. There's plenty within heterosexuality that's considered deviant, e.g. polygamy, age of consent, partner swapping, fetishes, even things like anal (despite being wholeheartedly accepted by the porn community ). Western literature has dealt with this topic for millennia (see Oedipus Rex, for example).

I originally wrote something on the topic but it muddied my post so I edited it out. Homosexuality is overt and allowed despite the fact that it might not necessarily be fully accepted. Incest, polygamy, statutory rape, etc. are disallowed by society, covert, and also not accepted. The existence of a few similarities doesn't change the very obvious difference (ie. overt sexuality).
post #124 of 194
Quote:
Originally Posted by holymadness View Post
it's less clear to me that other aspects of sexuality and attraction don't precede social categories, especially if one agrees that homo/heterosexual inclinations (as opposed to activities) are not a choice.
This is part of what I was trying to say earlier, could not agree more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rach2jlc View Post
Where I grew up, being "gay" wasn't even a part of the conceptual make up of reality, except as a deviant act somewhere on the evil meter well past armed robbery, but just short of wanton murder.
Sorry to hear about that harsh experience, and glad I do not share it. What I don't understand is why you consider that this particular social influence was limited to gay kids. Presumably, where you grew up, the social determinism was just as great for straight kids. Being gay was outside of normal reality, but so were not being "manly", not wanting a monogamous marriage with kids, etc. Right?

It's not the "straight" lifestyle that was desirable, it was a particular, and narrow, form of it. Furthermore, I think this unfortunate landscape is pretty limited to some areas, fortunately.

Quote:
Originally Posted by why View Post
If you want to see what I mean first hand, talk to a gay person like they're a real person -- get to know them, inquire about their interests, see what you have in common, etc. and you'll see how much they absolutely respect you for it just like any other person would.
What makes you think many people here don't have normal friends that happen to be gay (or bi)?
post #125 of 194
This is an interesting thread. I think that given where I have lived my entire life I have been desensitized to many of the real questions about the differences and similarities between the gay and straight "lifestyles," having simply accepted them all as part of the total spectrum. Because of that I really have nothing to add, but wanted to say it was a good thread.
post #126 of 194
Quote:
Originally Posted by holymadness View Post
A lot of interesting stuff going on in the thread now that's being addressed from all sides. A few thoughts: My initial impression of rach's position was that it was intuitively correct; it's the (ab)normalcy of sexuality that creates (or removes) space for other things to define one's identity. However, the more I think about it, the less I'm convinced of that. I think we can all agree that sexuality is important to identity, whether you're straight or gay. If it weren't on the straight side, gay jokes wouldn't be so offensive/embarrassing. So I don't think that heterosexuality is something we can take for granted as a norm; it, too, is created, shaped, defined and limited. There's plenty within heterosexuality that's considered deviant, e.g. polygamy, age of consent, partner swapping, fetishes, even things like anal (despite being wholeheartedly accepted by the porn community ). Western literature has dealt with this topic for millennia (see Oedipus Rex, for example). I do think that these things are less remarked upon and noticed by straights, which lends the appearance of normalcy. I don't think these things are related to sheer numbers (i.e. the 1 in 100 are gay stat), because other minority deviations from the mean (e.g. blonde hair) aren't treated the same way. So are straights just living in bad faith? If so, gays seem to have subscribed to the same bad faith view of normal/deviant. Moreover, it's important not to get caught up in the straight/gay dichotomy, which happens a lot in these sorts of discussions. Traditionally, sexuality has often been defined in terms of a male/female binary with men only recently being seen as the more sexually aggressive gender paired with a passive feminine partner. Current male (hetero)sexual identity is essentially less than two centuries old. Gays will have to question gender at the same time as they question sexuality. Thomas Laqueur is some good reading on the topic. Uhh, and as usual I forgot where I was going with this as I wrote it. So I'll just put it out there and see what it elicits.
I agree with all of this. I think I was (as usual) not being clear as I wrote, but this is more or less what I was trying to get at. The elimination of an inherently dualistic framework or definition is, I think, where we need to go/are going. It is in this way that the "desirable" gay way of life will find an authentic meaning. It won't just be a part of a binary (gay/straight) that will always leave it at a disadvantage. Anyway, I really appreciate your critical remarks; they REALLY help move this discussion into interesting directions more than the usual.
post #127 of 194
Quote:
Originally Posted by rach2jlc View Post
I agree with all of this. I think I was (as usual) not being clear as I wrote, but this is more or less what I was trying to get at. The elimination of an inherently dualistic framework or definition is, I think, where we need to go/are going. It is in this way that the "desirable" gay way of life will find an authentic meaning. It won't just be a part of a binary (gay/straight) that will always leave it at a disadvantage.

Anyway, I really appreciate your critical remarks; they REALLY help move this discussion into interesting directions more than the usual.

I was just about to ask about this very thing. Beat me to it.
post #128 of 194
Quote:
Originally Posted by unjung View Post
Sorry if I've misunderstood you here, but haven't gender roles been fairly defined, at least in the West, for several millenia (treating the holy books of the Abrahamic faiths as pseudo-historical here)?
No, in fact they've shifted quite dramatically since then. The most recent shift followed the scientific revolution and Enlightenment where we went from a culture with a 1-sex theory (woman is just a corrupted, inferior version of man -- found originally in Aristotle) to a 2-sex theory (men and women are separate biological entities). Note also that gender roles have transformed dramatically, and not simply in the obvious, political ways. For example, prior to the shift that I'm describing, women were seen as the more sexually aggressive gender, often seducing and luring men away from virtue. That has since changed to a view where men are sexually predatory and women are passively virtuous. Again, Laqueur is the authority on the topic.


Quote:
Originally Posted by why View Post
I originally wrote something on the topic but it muddied my post so I edited it out. Homosexuality is overt and allowed despite the fact that it might not necessarily be fully accepted. Incest, polygamy, statutory rape, etc. are disallowed by society, covert, and also not accepted. The existence of a few similarities doesn't change the very obvious difference (ie. overt sexuality).
I'm not sure what distinction you're trying to draw here. Plenty of homosexuality is covert and plenty of 'deviant' heterosexuality is overt. If we were to shift the discussion backward in time a few generations, it'd almost all be covert. Yet if we shifted waaaay back to ancient Greece and Rome, it'd be all overt by our standards.

My point was simply this, and perhaps it was confused with the negative connotation of what I was describing (i.e. if it seemed like I was equating homosexuality with incest or paedophilia, that's misreading me and not what I intended to convey): sexuality, whether gay or straight, is circumscribed and limited by culture. In fact, looked at as a whole, what's considered strictly normal -- in a general sense, since mass opinion doesn't really exist -- is surprisingly little. Why is that? And how is it that that (whatever 'that' is) becomes 'normal'? Related to this thread topic, how would homosexuals go about challenging that? It seems to me that one only reinforces the distinction between what's deviant and what's not by reifying heterosexuality as a social norm.
post #129 of 194
I just had a conversation with a straight friend about the idea of built in normalcy for hetero's and how the gays have to do a better job to be accepted. The general idea was that the gays are doing a disservice by having the parades and being so overtly sexual, oh and don't act so much like a chick. I said some gay guys kinda want to be more like gals. Now I agree that it's not helping matters with the conservative crowd. I asked if it seemed fair that straight folks don't have to win people over and yet show the same behavior (Mardi gras, spring break). I have problems relating to much of gay culture as well, but it doesn't define me. My friend asked if more gays could just be more like me (hockey, Sopranos fan). I think that guys coming to terms with being gay often feel emasculated by the association of the stereotype. I do agree that alot of the behavior is reactionary for good or worse.
post #130 of 194
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Étienne View Post
What makes you think many people here don't have normal friends that happen to be gay (or bi)?

I should've been more precise with whom I directed my comments toward. A lot of people are pretty obviously ignorant of some issues presented here. It's not any different from me being ignorant of stock trading and other subjects I know little about. Like I said before, people will pretend to be accepting and even go so far as to convince themselves that they're accepting but as soon as a gay person shakes their hands and greets them they go through the formalities of politeness and often never delve beyond the surface in their interaction.

Short answer: it's a hunch based on experience.
post #131 of 194
Quote:
Originally Posted by why View Post
I should've been more precise with whom I directed my comments toward. A lot of people are pretty obviously ignorant of some issues presented here. It's not any different from me being ignorant of stock trading and other subjects I know little about. Like I said before, people will pretend to be accepting and even go so far as to convince themselves that they're accepting but as soon as a gay person shakes their hands and greets them they go through the formalities of politeness and often never delve beyond the surface in their interaction.

Short answer: it's a hunch based on experience.

Do you think that's a matter of assumptions and prejudices or more a matter of initial awkwardness and fear of offending?
post #132 of 194
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by holymadness View Post
I'm not sure what distinction you're trying to draw here. Plenty of homosexuality is covert and plenty of 'deviant' heterosexuality is overt. If we were to shift the discussion backward in time a few generations, it'd almost all be covert. Yet if we shifted waaaay back to ancient Greece and Rome, it'd be all overt by our standards.
You're looking way too far back here with Greece and Rome. They don't apply. When two heterosexuals kiss each other nobody will bat an eye. When two homosexuals kiss the reaction is often quite different. You can give examples all day but it's ultimately pedantic and pointless and I don't intend to try to catch a bunch of red herrings here. Homosexuality is overt and the existence of a small subset of people who choose to stay hidden from society doesn't have any effect or bearing on society's reaction to homosexuals. In regards to normalcy: it's simply a case of 'innocent until proven guilty' so to speak. When homosexuals display their sexuality they're 'proven guilty' (ignore the inadvertent harshness of the example and play along with it ). When a couple are found out to be swingers, a person a paedophile, etc. the same thing occurs but in varying magnitudes in accordance with the 'crime'. Homosexuals tend to show their homosexuality a lot more often in everyday life than swingers and paedophiles do.
post #133 of 194
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas View Post
Do you think that's a matter of assumptions and prejudices or more a matter of initial awkwardness and fear of offending?

It may just be awkwardness, but the existence of the awkwardness illustrates an aversion even if it's not as substantial as prejudice.
post #134 of 194
Quote:
Originally Posted by why View Post
You're looking way too far back here with Greece and Rome. They don't apply.

When two heterosexuals kiss each other nobody will bat an eye. When two homosexuals kiss the reaction is often quite different. You can give examples all day but it's ultimately pedantic and pointless and I don't intend to try to catch a bunch of red herrings here. Homosexuality is overt and the existence of a small subset of people who choose to stay hidden from society doesn't have any effect or bearing on society's reaction to homosexuals.

In regards to normalcy: it's simply a case of 'innocent until proven guilty' so to speak. When homosexuals display their sexuality they're 'proven guilty' (ignore the inadvertent harshness of the example and play along with it ). When a couple are found out to be swingers, a person a paedophile, etc. the same thing occurs.
Granted, but what of it? I think this is self-evident. I'm more interested in why this is occurring, especially since it hasn't always been that way, which is why I drag history into these discussions. I think that investigation of the relationship between condemnations of different kinds of sexual deviance, whether hetero or homo, is more fruitful than you're giving it credit for. Social attitudes can't be taken for granted.

I think I see where you're coming from, though; you think I'm giving short shrift to the day-to-day oppressive experience of gay. Possibly true. It's a difficult thing for me to get worked up about since I'm coming from the 'dominant' group. There is a whole school of thought that says I can't understand 'what it's like' so I shouldn't bother. Have I misunderstood you?
post #135 of 194
Quote:
Originally Posted by holymadness View Post
It's a difficult thing for me to get worked up about since I'm coming from the 'dominant' group. There is a whole school of thought that says I can't understand 'what it's like' so I shouldn't bother. Have I misunderstood you?
Among other things, your mentioning of normalcy/abnormalcy in heterosexuality really advances the discussion, I think. It's something that admittedly I didn't even consider in my posts and is a critical component of seeing how the issues might work in a realistic setting. So, though you may not be a ghey, you are definitely seeing the issue.
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