Wednesday, January 23, 2013

LGBT

As I finish up PART THREE in the series (it should be up tomorrow or the next day), I thought I'd mention something I came across. I feel like I get way too much information from Yahoo! (I, for some reason, find it hilarious that I was compelled to include the exclamation point) News. But I saw this on there: Link. In it, a kid, during some sort of awards ceremony, comes out to the whole (or a big portion of) the school (or some thing). It is, in my opinion, a pretty underwhelming video, but that may be because the crowd seems to be made up of a bunch of loud idiots. I bring this to the readers' attention  not because I want to make fun of the audience or stupid audiences in general; there's something about it I want to discuss. Namely, the refocusing of the moral question as it applies to sexuality. Here, I'll paste his speech for easy reference:

Most of you see me every day. You see me acting the part of "straight" Jacob, when I am in fact LGBT. Unlike millions of other LGBT teens who have had to act every day to avoid verbal harassment and physical violence, I'm not going to do it anymore. It's time to end the hate in our society and accept the people for who they are regardless of their sex, race, orientation, or whatever else may be holding back love and friendship. So take me, leave me, or move me out of the way. Because I am what I am, and that's how I'm going to act from now on.

There's a couple things I want to point out. First of all, I think he plagiarized this scene (at least the idea) from this movie (one of the only decent gay films I've ever seen), and I think that's pretty funny. (I actually plan to do a post on gay film soon.) Second of all, it's actually a pretty ballsy thing to do. I doubt I'd have the fortitude to get in front of a bunch of people and do that. I also find the issue of constantly acting, "living a lie" as they'd say, kind of interesting as well (but I'll have more to say about this in a later post; probably the same post as the gay film post).

I think the value of the whole thing ends there, though. For example, I find his use of "LGBT" really strange. In fact, most news sources keep using this phrase: "he came out as LGBT." I don't think I've ever referred to myself as "LGBT." I've never even thought it. It sounds stupid. But I think it's a phrase that's used on purpose. It's used, I think, to make the issue a political one. An issue where it's the weak group against the strong, oppressive group. Identifying yourself as "LGBT" allows you to align yourself with the weak group and become the good guy fighting against the bad guy. Which leads me to the point of this post. What I think is being done here is actually a sort of philosophical or moral sleight of hand. The issue is not about whether people should pick on gay kids or whatever. The issue is sexual morality. The whole controversy is whether gay people should have gay relationships. If it's good guy v. bad guy, then you can avoid the real issue altogether.

Now, this kid wasn't going up there with the intention of defending his moral choices, but his going up there was exactly this. Standing up and saying "it's time to end the hate in our society" was really him saying "I am going to go off and have homosexual sexual relationships because I think they're just fine." He was just doing it under the guise of good guy v. bad guy. Sometimes I feel like people fail to realize why homosexuals feel there's this big us v. them struggle. It exists, I think, because people still, and probably always will, consider homosexual relationships immoral. They can't articulate why, but they do. But what these people are speaking to when they say they think homosexuality is immoral is almost completely ignored. They're just assumed to be ignorant or bigoted; it has to be an issue of "hate." What they're saying can't have any merit because the LGBT people are the little guys who are fighting a hateful world, and the little guys, or so it goes, are always right in their cause. (I think we can probably give a pretty decent thanks to Christianity for this strange and illogical standard, incidentally.) By focusing on "LGBT v. The World," the real question completely disappears. It allows the homosexual to "overcome" something without actually overcoming the moral problem. 

I think this completely realigns the whole debate in such a way that it effectively ends the argument. But it also does something else that's pretty important: it allows people who may consider homosexuality immoral to jump on board because they also dislike the idea of "hate" and "discrimination." This, in my opinion, is really unfortunate. But you see it all the time; people who are originally against homosexual relationships come to completely supportive of the LGBT movement when they discovery they have a gay son or a gay friend. What kind of person would disown his friend for being gay! Or what kind of parents would stop loving their child because he's gay! Bad friends and bad parents. No doubt about it. But this has nothing to do with whether their original position, that homosexuality is in fact immoral, is correct or incorrect. That the parent or friend treats the homosexual with compassion does not give the homosexual the right to pursue homosexual exploits. It's completely irrelevant to the issue. The homosexual could say things like "I'm gay, and I hate having to hide it, and I hate what people think about me," and not endorse homosexual activity. But he doesn't; it's never that way. The one is always the other.

This whole setup allows the homosexual to get away with immorality while forcing his parents or people who care about him to "accept him for who he is." Anything the parents or friends do that condemns the behavior will be seen as them being bad parents or bad friends. And if society says anything, they just have "hate." And it really doesn't matter what the kid is doing. He could be committing the most depraved sex acts with any number of partners, but if someone says "I think that's wrong," it's LGBT v. The World all over again. And because of the way our society works, if you're the little guy, the kid who is picked on, everything you choose to do that's related to why you were picked on must ultimately be correct. This is a major, major problem in my estimation, and it's usually the reason discussion about sexuality won't ever go anywhere. 

Now, please understand that I am not condemning coming out or anything like that (or even necessarily what this kid was trying to do). There are enormous difficulties homosexuals (especially young homosexuals) face. It's something that I have to personally deal with almost every day. Homosexuals should be treated with compassion and understanding. But that's not everything. The world needs to create a safe space for homosexuals who don't want to seek the homosexual lifestyle. Right now there is no great space for them; everything is dominated by those fellows with the flag up there. As I noted, there's really not a lot of space for me. And it's hard, I understand that. You can't go to your priest and say "I want you to talk more about homosexuality in the homily" without him thinking you're trying to shoehorn in the homosexual agenda. And it makes sense. People who want to talk about homosexuality usually are for spreading acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle. But this is the fight the Church should be fighting, if it does anything. It's never going to make any progress in helping homosexuals otherwise.

I hope everyone is well.

10 comments:

  1. I agree with pretty much everything you say in this post. So let me offer my own two cents here - pardon if anything here is too graphic.

    Right now there is no great space for them; everything is dominated by those fellows with the flag up there. As I noted, there's really not a lot of space for me. And it's hard, I understand that. You can't go to your priest and say "I want you to talk more about homosexuality in the homily" without him thinking you're trying to shoehorn in the homosexual agenda. And it makes sense. People who want to talk about homosexuality usually are for spreading acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle.

    I think there's a different reason there's often a reluctance to talk about it, and it all goes back to the start of your post:

    The issue is not about whether people should pick on gay kids or whatever. The issue is sexual morality. The whole controversy is whether gay people should have gay relationships.

    Most people freeze up when talking about sexual morality in anything close to detail. It's a little like how very few people talk about 'abortion' nowadays. What they talk about is 'a woman's right to choose'. If you ask "Choose what?" you get glares most of the time.They do not want to say the word. They do not want to talk about the subject in detail, except in the most abstract, one-sided ways. They want to talk about reproductive rights and the ability for a woman to plan whether or not she's ready to have a family or... etc, etc. Conversations so opaque that if you didn't know in advance they were talking about abortion, you may well end up confused about what was being discussed.

    The same thing comes into play here. Even when you say 'homosexual relationships', that's still on the perimeter of the issue. I mean, if you subtract the sexual aspect from a homosexual relationship, what exactly is left to object to? Now when I say subtract, I mean subtract - even the temptation, etc issues needing to be taken into account there. But really, once that's gone, all you have is a very deep friendship. And that's not the problem, nor has it ever really been a problem in any church or Natural Law teaching I know of.

    But, that's where things get real complicated. I think people are even more reluctant to talk about sex in anything approaching detail than they are abortion. Do so, and the conversation will stop.

    I also think that feeds into the 'little guy versus the bully' issue. Because, so long as the conversation stays at the abstracts first and foremost - 'relationships' - then it's incredibly easy to obfuscate things, where you have people grandstanding about how people against such things 'hate love' or 'hate people because of who they fall in love with', when really, the central issue is in a different area.

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    1. I don't know what you think was graphic, heh. No, as always, thanks for the comment. I want to say, though, that I was not trying to euphemize anything by saying "gay relationships" in that line. I really did mean homosexual sex. If I were to go back and fix it, I would change it to "homosexual sexual relationships," which is how I worded it later on in the post.

      But this doesn't make your comment any less valid. In fact, it might even make it more. But you are completely right. When it's kept at the "relationships" level, it makes it sound like it's just a matter of emotions and not a matter of morality. Or, it makes it sounds like "love" (which is normally understood as just strong feelings for another person) has nothing to do with larger moral questions, as if it can supersede them. I intend to spend a lot of time throughout the life of the blog discussing just this issue.

      You also bring up something that I want to discuss in a later post. That is, what kind of normal friendships homosexual men have (or can have) with one another or with other heterosexual men. I think there's an interesting issue there that deserves its own post.

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    2. I don't know what you think was graphic, heh.

      Well, I'm trying to be on my best behavior here. :) But I also cannot tell at times when I slip.

      Or, it makes it sounds like "love" (which is normally understood as just strong feelings for another person) has nothing to do with larger moral questions, as if it can supersede them.

      Well, that's another way it comes across. Whenever anyone slips in 'making love' as a euphemism for sex, particularly certain kinds, I want to know exactly what they mean. Because too often that's yet another way of papering over things, or trying to make everything sound nice and sterile and sweet. I'm no longer willing to pretend that porn stars are 'making love on camera' or somesuch, to use one example, or that all acts of sex are all about love and companionship or... etc. That's probably the worst manifestation of the whole thing, and particularly where I will gladly get graphic, at least by conversation standards.

      But you're right, love as 'strong feelings for another person'... it reminds me of the Sam Kinison quote. "I believe you shouldn't have sex unless you're in love. ... Now, it can be for a real short ****ing time...!"

      Either way, I only bring up what I do because I think, from a Catholic teaching point, from a Natural Law point, from a biblical point, the entire focus is on the sexual acts - and that happens to be something everyone prefers to dance around. Not just because say, 'homosexual sex is icky!' or whatever - people just plain head for the hills when sex comes up in a direct sense, even very liberal sorts. At least in my experience. Too personal, too many landmines to deal with, too awkward. At least for most people.

      And I really look forward to the friendships and relationships talk as well.

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  2. Great article, I think you're right in the regard where some of the clergy have difficulty wanting to give a homily about the Church's teaching on homosexuality because of fear of it being politicized. However, I would also argue the point that it is the failure of the laity to want and pursue their knowledge in the Catechism that lends to clergymen's apprehension.

    What society is misconstruing about Catholics and the dogma is that Catholics hate gays, and that cannot be anything but furthest from the truth! To sum up the stance of the Church, God has made us for SO MUCH MORE for us than what society has presented as the 'end-all' and objectification of the human person.

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  3. I hope you persevere in this blog and in your exploration of Truth.

    I appreciate your reluctance to be condemnatory of the young man in the video. However, in the same way that it is morally correct to condemn homosexual acts, I think we should discourage such displays. I think you do a fine job analyzing the problems with it; so it is slightly odd that you can't bring yourself to call it inappropriate.

    The thing that sprung to my mind when I watched his short speech was, "it is impossible to have an inner life without a private life."

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    1. I appreciate your reluctance to be condemnatory of the young man in the video. However, in the same way that it is morally correct to condemn homosexual acts, I think we should discourage such displays.

      What should be discouraged about it, however?

      I mean, I can think of a few things that are obviously wrong with the kid's mentality and display. But I'm curious what you thought Joe K left out here?

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    2. I understand what you're saying, Anon, but I want to be clear about this. Being gay sucks. And he's a kid. A kid who was probably encouraged by his parents (whom he is supposed to trust) to do this. While I obviously disagree with his message, I do not find the underlying action (standing up in front of your community to voice your concerns) inappropriate.

      You have to deal with it. Whether it's with your friends, or your parents, or your school, or even your church. You have to acknowledge that something isn't right, that you spend the majority of your life acting and hiding. Now, most people deal with it by saying, "screw it, I'm gonna go find a boyfriend because this is 'who I am'" and they're wrong in that part of it. But there is nothing inappropriate in trying to deal with the problem. The less you deal with it, the more screwed up you get. Please understand that "dealing with it" does Not mean coming out in a fabulous display. It just means recognizing the problem and saying to yourself "I have to get ahead of this."

      Do I like that he made it some scene? No. Do I think he could have been a little more stoic about it? Of course. As I said in the post, I think he made it a big production because he had to play the LGBT v. The World card. But say he went up there and said, "Look, it's really difficult not having any real friends because they don't really know me at all. I don't plan on pursuing homosexuality because it's immoral, but I just want to be honest with everyone." In such a case, I think he would have been taking a courageous step in the right direction. I know it's a fine line, condemning the message without condemning the means. And as I said, "coming out" usually necessarily means "I am going to go pursue homosexual sex," but it doesn't Have to be that way.

      But I know how this kid feels. You feel completely lost, and your future looks completely bleak. You have nothing to look forward to because you don't even know What you're supposed to look forward to. He's trying to jump on to Something that's positive (and there's usually nothing more positive than "you're just great!" when you don't feel like it), and I think it makes perfect sense. Now, What he's trying to jump on to is wrong, of course, but desperately seeking something positive and going after it? I find no great wrong there. At least, I find no great wrong in the underlying motivation.

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    3. By coming out publicly, even if one uses the "Look, it's really difficult not having any real friends because they don't really know me at all. I don't plan on pursuing homosexuality because it's immoral, but I just want to be honest with everyone" form, one is only "coming out" to the very few people present which it is humanly/socially possible to have a meaningful relationship with. To the rest of the crowd it is alternately meaningless, political, confusing, titillating, scandalous and so forth.
      It is one thing to exhort a group to be compassionate and quite another to try and use them as a confessor. No matter how close-knit a community one may be addressing, I think one destroys the very important line between public and private by making such a personal revelation to a large group. That is why I included the comment about inner life. One is deluding oneself if one thinks that some profound communication took place, and is now less able to comprehend the inner voice and the real consolation of friendship.
      A bit of self-revelation when exhorting or chastising a crowd is one thing; seeking catharsis, growth or healing through addressing them is quite another.
      Take the quote of yours above and utter it before your closest group of friends and I would be perfectly fine with that. There is no possible way that would be more than 10 people.
      The same thing would apply to any personal struggle. I think it is essentially misguided to make any such general declaration.
      I agree that homosexual desire is uniquely alienating in our culture. I think our culture makes it so, however. The disorder is not in itself special.

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    4. I explicitly tried to say that I find no great fault in the Underlying Motivation of wanting to deal with the problem. I made no strong claims about the means. Would I necessarily deal with this problem by airing it in the public? Probably not, no, but in a way I Am with this blog. Is it less offensive because it's done anonymously? I am attempting to connect with the public in order to both teach and learn, and perhaps heal some. If this blog were to become enormously popular (which I sincerely doubt), and the news wanted to interview me, would I commit a wrong by telling the public that I am in fact gay, if I did so with intention of showing people that there is an alternative to the gay lifestyle?

      I do not think I would necessarily be deluding myself in such a case. People who know me, even from a distance, would probably be shocked by the news and be forced to reevaluate a lot of things. Similarly, people who were complete strangers (like people on the internet now) would be forced to understand my position and evaluate its merits. A lot of people would probably call me a self-hating gay, but they would at least have to confront the alternative.

      I don't think this kid, or I, would Necessarily be seeking catharsis, growth, or healing by doing such a thing. At least, not in any perverse way. No doubt this kid is aware that acceptance by his friends and family is more important than acceptance by complete strangers.

      I think I could address your evaluation of its specialness, or whatever, in a post on its own, but I will say this. Sexual disorders, whether it's homosexuality, pedophilia, whatever, tend to be uniquely difficult to deal with. This is the case, I think, because sexuality is an enormous and unique part of our lives (more so than Most (if not all) other psychological or emotional issues), and people with healthy sexual drives tend to take it for granted. I am not accusing you of this; I don't know your life situation. But I do know that I have met dozens of people who will say things like "why can't they just deal with their problems in private" and then go home to their wives to make more babies.

      I am not advocating that gay people come out to the public at every chance they get. At all. I am saying that homosexuals have a hard (suicidally difficult) time dealing with their sexual disorder, and that their attempts to reach out for help are not categorically bad. Finally, you say that our "culture makes it so," implying, I think, that it doesn't have to be this way/or that our culture is somehow broken in its evaluation. But why do you think our culture (or Any human culture) does this? It's not just arbitrarily picking some disorder; it's recognizing something unique and important about sexual disorder. Further, if it doesn't have to make it so, who is going to explain to the people within the culture that they shouldn't or How they shouldn't?

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  4. What I think is being done here is actually a sort of philosophical or moral sleight of hand. The issue is not about whether people should pick on gay kids or whatever. The issue is sexual morality.

    Exactly. In fact it is incredible (for me at least) how superficial and unthinking people are, when they let this kind of sleight of hand to pass. I think proponents of traditional morality should much more insist on this distinction and always and always, again and again return to this fundamental question: what is really the issue. And what is not. Otherwise, everybody forget and tend to focus on irrelevant issues.

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