24 April 2008

Moderation

Moderation: I often see ignorance of this principle in practice among my friends and brethren, the mohos.

Incidentally, I'm speaking, as usual, from a primarily male perspective.

Most of us have spent much of our lives feeling freakish, evil, shameful, or otherwise thoroughly repressed when it comes to attraction, dating, or sexuality in general. As a result, when "coming to terms" with everything and realizing we're not monsters, many seem to then take this one part of the psyche which has become a secret obsession--because talking about it felt forbidden--and magnify it into the primary aspect of personality. The lifelong repression and shame give way to a manic sort of entitlement that leads to speech and actions that, if done in most social circles in the heterosexual world, would probably be considered inappropriate, unhealthy, or otherwise puzzling.

I totally recognize there are more complexities to some people's stories, but these are some simplified versions of things I see fairly often.


Example 1:
When discovering others with similar experiences for the first time, there's an exciting, idealized over-identification and urge to make new best friends with every moho and share every little thought and "past transgression" (all aboard the PT train!) with these people based solely on homoness. Just being LDS wasn't enough to be bosom buddies with every LDS person, but suddenly queerness seems enough of a basis to form immediate and intense relationships. Then, when it goes all wrong or a guy/gal gets burned by one of these people they didn't know yesterday but just divulged every detail of their life to and into whom they invested all their energy, they retreat with all the dramatic flair of Richard Simmons, scrambling "back into the closet," safely away from the dangers of the moho world.


Example 2:
When discovering romantic feelings for the first time with someone else who returns those feelings, it's a total rush and feels amazing after so many years wondering what the *bleep* everyone has been so worked up over since puberty. It's beautiful and animating and euphoric, skipping along those pink, shimmery clouds of infatuation. It's just too dry and boring to step back and say, "Well, my religious beliefs conflict with pursuing this, and I need to figure a few things out first before jumping into something against my beliefs." So most don't. They just skip along in giddy bliss, ignoring inconvenient beliefs which might take the glimmer out of this newfound joy. But when the relationship goes sour, or gets too intense or too "real", many are snapped back to a sense of responsibility. They jump right back into church activity, turning to severe penitence and completely cutting off the now ex-friend who tempted them so awfully. They recommit to living a monk-like existence or immediately ask out a girl from their ward like they should have been doing all along. Gotta make up for lost time. They commit to never looking at another guy to avoid even the possibility of lusting again. Until it all becomes a pressure cooker again, and they fall for the next one, and the pattern repeats.


Example 3:
After discovering that kissing or making out with the same gender is WAY more fun than kissing or making out with the opposite gender, many gain the sense of entitlement in that regard, too: "If straight people are allowed to do it, so am I!" Suddenly, the fact that even straight people are expected to keep their paws off of each other's privates until marriage seems irrelevant because hey, it's just different for us, and we're entitled to a little 'happiness' too! Because they've spent their lives living by what felt like someone else's rules, they take their sense of entitlement to a whole new level.


There are plenty of other examples, but these will suffice, methinks. I think many such behaviors would, in most social circles, be looked on with humor, disgust, or puzzlement by most people, at the very least by most emotionally healthy ones. But somehow, when those of us in unique groups get so steeped in our little subcultures, we lose some ability to see clearly how our actions really affect ourselves and others around us, and how they are perceived by those outside of the subculture, or how...unusual they are.

On the other hand, I have to acknowledge that most of my life, I've had active LDS friends on the conservative side of the behavioral spectrum, so that's my paradigm, and I do recognize that a lot of straighties have similar patterns of sexual behavior. But I am speaking from what I've experienced and observed more closely.

I'll also reiterate that I understand not all cases are as simple as they appear, and I will also acknowledge that it's understandable that these things are done, given the years of bottling most of us do. But I just can't shake the disgust I feel when I see grown men indulging in embarrassingly immoderate and unseemly behavior patterns. I sheepishly include myself at times among those who have done things like that, or at least wanted to, though I like to think mine have been stints of such behavior more than patterns. *grin*

In any case, as I see it, this lack of moderation is fairly rampant among people who otherwise would be pretty moderate people. Entitlement replaces standards. Satisfaction obliterates consideration. Liberation demeans moderation. Appetite drowns reason. And to many outside onlookers, I promise you a lot of what happens in "moho culture" looks like a friggin' mess. I'm not trying to point fingers. If I was, I'd have to point to myself, as well. And gosh, that's uncomfortable. But really, folks, let's try to embarrass ourselves a little less and make our choices more deliberately by practicing a bit more moderation.

1 comment:

J G-W said...

Sometimes it takes a few swings of the pendulum before you end up in the nice, moderate middle.

Shortly after coming out, I remember having a conversation with this straight woman, who was telling me about some gay "friend" of hers. She described all the bizarre, obnoxious behavior he engaged in, "flaunting" his homosexuality, etc.

Of course my immediate response was, Why am I getting an earful about this? Am I responsible for every other crazy fag in the world?

Then I took a deep breath, accepted that I have some responsibility to humanity in a general sense, even if this situation was not my fault. And I proceeded to explain to her what it is like to live for years and years feeling like you are the only one, like if anyone knew they would take you right out to the back lot and put you in front of a firing squad, like your whole life's been a lie... And how that can reduce us to a kind of temporary insanity when we finally discover that the true lie is all the attitudes that forced us into that dark, cramped, wicked place.

We need to cut each other some slack. Eventually things calm down...