25 June 2010

"I'm Same-Sex Attracted. Deal With It, Homos."

A while back, I posted an entry titled I'm Gay. Deal With It, Strugglers, in which I expounded my opinion that while labels to carry social stigma and cultural baggage, using a label isn't inherently handing over your identity nor is it destroying the ideology (crusades?) of those who refuse to use it.

To be clear, I refer to myself as gay. I still am open (maybe more than ever, though perhaps not why you think, and that's a very different post) to a relationship with a woman, but I have yet to experience one of the kind which would be necessary to go ahead. I also cringe when people seem painfully, awkwardly bent on avoiding the g-word or the word "homosexuality", which contains the forbidden s-word. I want to shake some sense into the ones who seem so obviously conflicted and afraid of themselves that they're terrified of the implications of even beginning to think of themselves as "gay". I see it as very unhealthy, even if understandable given their paradigms and family/social pressures.

But I also have friends who confidently reject the term "gay" when describing themselves for personal, intellectual reasons but don't throw a fit if someone else refers to them that way. Many of them prefer to avoid labels altogether, often because they just don't believe it's a trait that can be accurately summed up in a label. I think that's true for almost everything, so I just don't see what's so different about "gay" or "same-sex attracted", but some people just have different sensitivities, social situations, or needs than I do. So as long as they're not militantly crusading against those who use a different label than they, they're not harping on me for choosing labels I would rather own than be determined by, and they're not preaching that nobody should use the labels to which they, themselves, ascribe so much meaning which I do not, I don't much care what label they use.

Within a church context, especially in extremely conservative areas (say, Idaho), where you're dealing with people who have little or no experience with "same-sex attracted" members (let alone "gay" folk), throwing around the word "gay" is a sure-fire way to garner distrust and skepticism and conjure all the wrong images simply because of the baggage the term carries and the lack of experience the people have with real-world people. The only way that will change is not to shove the g-word in everyone's faces while calling them bigots for reacting negatively to it (thereby confirming ideas about the aggressive, militant "gay agenda"), nor is it to obsessively dodge the g-word by pussy-footing around and wringing one's hands over it (thereby confirming it's something to be feared and disdained) but to speak the language of your target audience in order to facilitate opening the dialog to understand each other's point of view better and break down unnecessary stereotypes and faulty paradigms.

In other words, I have about as much patience for militant, general attacks on the use of "same-sex attraction" as I do for the same kinds of attacks on the use of "gay". I haven't seen the "SSA" people writing blog entries in defense of their practice, but if you read my post I mentioned above, just switch out all the stereotypes people have about "gay" to stereotypes people have about "same-sex attracted", along with everything they think it means about how harmful it is to use the one term or the other, blah blah blah, and that'll pretty much sum up my thoughts on the subject, I think.

7 comments:

Amy said...

I'm with you. I generally ask the person which word(s) they prefer, since everyone seems to get bent our of shape over one word or the other. I'm happy to use whichever word an individual is most comfortable with, but I think most of the hyper-zealous arguments on both sides are just over the top.

By the way, I want to read the post on relationships with women. Inquiring minds want to know.

Samantha said...

I prefer the term "gay/homosexual/lesbian/SGA/SSA/whatever". I feel it covers all the bases and rolls off the tongue quite well, includes a couple of acronyms which church and military members seem to find so necessary, and when you're bored you can pass the time by practicing saying the term quickly, three times, just to bone up on your enunciation skills. Oh, and it presents itself in alphabetical order which is necessary whenever possible. See--decorative AND serviceable AND educational (which, in my more conceited moments, I believe I am, as well)--who could ask for more in a descriptor/label/stigma/tag?

By the way, my Word Verification is "veronium" which is not a word, but I want it to be, so I'm thinking of changing my name to that.

Bravone said...

Amen.

Beck said...

I finally got to the point of personal comfort to call myself "gay" to another person - my therapist (who is gay) and I never have been more deflated when he corrected me and said I was not gay, but "bisexual", implying that I wasn't "gay" enough for him for me to call myself "gay".

Here I work myself up to using this three-letter word to describe myself, and he shoots me down!

I can't win.

Since then, I just don't worry about it.

Joned Rahadian said...

I dont mind with any term. Let it be "gay or ssa or sga or homosexual", it's fine.

But if anybody call me "sick", I'm gonna be angry. Because I believe being gay is not a sickness / disease.

Joned ^_^

Romulus said...

I have always used the term "gay" to describe myself. The only one I think is yucky is "queer." I will never refer to myself or anyone else as "queer."

Bravone said...

Romulus, Funny how times change our use of words. When I was growing up in the 60s and 70s, 'queer' was the 'gay.' I remember saying to a neighbor that something was queer, much as teenagers today say somethings are gay. He said, "Do you know what queer means?" I thought I did, but he explained that the real use of the word meant different, and that I shouldn't use the word the way I was.

When I was younger, people were still naming their girls Gay. I personally don't mind what anyone calls me, and when referring to myself, I try to use the word that the person would best understand.

Best wishes to all my queergayhomosgaers!