Friday, September 3, 2010

Brody's Scribbles... Gay Marriage Not Nirvana

Joseph Couture is a Canadian based Author and Freelance Journalist. Joseph's blogsite can be found here: [ Link ]
By Joseph Couture (London, Ontario) SEPT 3 | Eavesdropping can be quite enlightening. Yesterday while riding the bus, I overheard a rather heated discussion from a young heterosexual couple about gay marriage. The discussion was provoked by the fact that we have just passed the fifth anniversary of legalized gay marriage in Canada.
The young lady was hoping that next time around Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservatives will finally win a majority government so he will have the power to reopen the gay marriage debate without fear of reprisals.
Her boyfriend also supported Harper, but thought the issue should be left alone.
“It’s about equality,” he told her. “In Canada, we are all equal.”
If only we all believed that -most importantly, we gays.
Looking back on the gay movement in this country, I can safely say that we have come a long way and achieved a lot of important things. But gay marriage is not the biggest of them.
Here’s why-
I wish it were true that the passage of a law made gays and lesbians equal. Perhaps in theory it does, but in practise it has really only highlighted our differences.
The reality is that many gays struggle to maintain healthy relationships. That is because deep down, or maybe not so deep down, we are trying to find our own identities and sense of self worth.
Gays, gay men in particular, often feel a sense of “otherness” in our society that causes them profound distress. They don’t want to be seen as different from everyone else, even if they know on some level they are.
Take for example the profiles I see on gay dating sites. One after another in endless procession men write they want someone “masculine”, “straight acting” and “discreet.”
What this means is that they don’t want anyone who looks at all gay, and they certainly don’t want anyone who will let anyone else know they are gay. Many of these same profiles also say they these men have wives and kids. In this case, discreet really means helping them keep their secret lives secret.
I have talked to so many men who have said that while they think of themselves as primarily being attracted to persons of the same gender, they would never have a relationship with a man because they could never admit the truth to family and friends.
Many of the gay men I know seek casual sex as their primary outlet for sexual satisfaction, but pretend to be straight to the rest of the world. The few gay men that I know who are in long term relationships seem more like joyless roommates who play cards together rather than happy lovers.
I recently read an article where the author was celebrating the fact that gay men who got married and had children were happier because they felt closer to their families and identified more with heterosexuals and less with gays. In other words, they felt less gay by imitating straight people.
Worse, gay activists seem to believe we have more or less reached the end of the road in the struggle for gay liberation. They seem to think that there is no longer a need for activism; we have reached Nirvana.
They refuse to address the drug abuse, the rising levels of unsafe sex, the myriad of mental health problems and other self-destructive behaviours that our community is plagued with because of our collective self-esteem crisis. They seem to think that because we have the right to marry, we can forget the rest.
May I point out that marriage is not a perfect institution, whether gay or straight? Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce, a surprising number cheat on their spouses and countless others are trapped in abusive relationships. That doesn’t even begin to look at those marriages where people are merely unhappy.
It seems to me that gays don’t really want to feel equal to heterosexuals by getting married- they merely want to be seen as less homosexual.
It won’t work because we are different. The problem is we see different as bad. Why can’t different just be different and not inherently good or bad? Can’t we learn to be proud of who we are just because we believe in our own basic goodness regardless of our sexual orientation?
As far as I’m concerned gay marriage is not the pinnacle of our success, nor does it represent the end of the road in the liberation process. It is merely one step- perhaps a big one, depending on your point of view. 
But there is still much hard work to be done.