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Archive for December, 2008

Can a gay guy become straight?

Posted by bert5 on 9 December 2008

This is something probably up until recently almost every young gay male might have at least asked himself once.  You don’t have to come to this blog to find out that the general consensus on the answer for males is no.  Supposedly, women are more fluid in this regard, but I have no personal experience to supplement this observation.  The most that I tried was trying to well, um, imagine doing it with a girl.  Probably some gay guys go all the way with this experimentation.  But well, for me, nothing.  I suppose straight guys might be too fearful of trying the reverse, but I imagine if they were to try, it might come as a relief to them (just the certainty of it, of course, not a moral judgment here) that they would also feel nothing.   (NYT: bisexuality)

The title of this post is a query which somehow reached another of my blog posts.  And what’s unstated in the above query of course is more troubling.  Why would a gay person want to be straight?  (And why aren’t any queries ever written the other way?  i.e. Can a straight guy become gay?)  Is there in fact — counter to Seinfeld’s statements — anything wrong with being gay?  Of course, I would say there isn’t anything wrong with it, in fact, there are actually a lot of benefits to being gay.

The religious and social conservatives say otherwise, but they are wrong.  In the process of putting down gays, they have created a society where search queries such as the above occur (along with even more troubling ones like: “I’m gay and I don’t want to be”).

Here is an excerpt from Stephen Carter’s Stanford’s Commencement address in 1994 which illustrates the problem:

… I [Carter] had the very great privilege of serving as a law clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the Supreme Court. I also spent much of the last year of his life working with him on an oral history project and listening with fascination and simple joy to the marvelous story of his life.

Justice Marshall was a wonderful storyteller and most of his stories were intended to inspire to uplift, or simply to amuse. But one story was different. One story was chilling. I heard it more than once. The last time was at a banquet just five months before Justice Marshall died, a banquet up in San Francisco, and the story for me, and I think for Thurgood Marshall, too, captured the principal point of what the civil rights movement was all about. I will tell the story. Obviously, I can’t tell it with Justice Marshall’s flair, but I will use as many of his words as possible.

During the time that he and other lawyers for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund were handling criminal and civil rights cases throughout the South, he happened to stop in a small town for a fundraiser. When his formal remarks were over, he was taken aside by a black man from the audience. “Lawyer,” said the man. “Yes,” said Marshall. “Lawyer, you’re educated. You’ve been to college.” “Yes, I have,” said Marshall. “Well, then tell me, do you know anything about this thing called reincarnation?” “A little bit,” said Marshall. “Well, if you do,” the man said, “and it’s true, there’s something you ought to arrange for me. I want you to fix it so if I come back, I can make it as a pig or a goat or a cow, anything but a Negro.”

“Anything but a Negro”–that’s what the man said. Now, Justice Marshall, by his own account, was stunned by that story, and that story illustrates more that anything else what the civil rights movement was about–a social system so totalizing and so oppressive that it generates a kind of self-hatred, that makes a man hate the color of his own skin, so that he would rather be an animal. If someone tells you, for example, that affirmative action programs somehow run contrary to the spirit of the civil rights movement, think about that story. The movement was about much more than discrimination or color- blindness. It was about eliminating, doing what we could to eliminate, this oppressive force in American society, a force for self-hatred.”

Some may take offense to the notion that racism is anything like homophobia.   But when people like Matthew Shepard and Lawrence King are killed simply because they are gay and larger percentages of gay teens commit suicide, I would say homophobia can certainly be as bad as racism.  Perhaps worse at least up until recently because of the isolation of the closet or “the double life” such that gays often do not even receive support from family or friends.

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