The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


Because both direct comments and private e-mails have touched on this question, and we are still dealing with heart-space issues, I thought I'd comment. When I was in High School, like many of my contemporaries, I had a "yuck" response to the thought of gays. Then, as I got to know more of them, it just seemed to me that they were people making a different choice, or people for whom a different choice had been made. I honestly don't know. I do know that there I've seen enough examples of homosexual behavior in the animal kingdom to know that this isn't just a human thing, and that it also makes sense sociobiologically. Biologically, of course, one is less likely to pass on genetic contributions. But even there, the ancient Greeks considered that sexual contacts between an older man and a young boy were appropriate and even condusive to the communication of certain values. Lovers were thought to be the fiercest fighters on the battlefield in certain contexts. A man was expected to marry and raise a family, certainly, but I suspect homosexuality was partially approved of as a form of birth-control during non-monogamous sex. Of course, criticisms that Socrates would not "fully engage" during gay orgies can either be read as a delicious insight into a revered philosopher, a normalization of homosexuality, or a mark against same. One takes one's pick here.
In many tribal societies, powerful men had as many women as they could afford. (In fewer societies, but still enough for comment, one finds women with multiple husbands.) This of course leads to two scenarios: groups of women TECHNICALLY sexually available only to one man. It would seem natural for lonely women to find comfort in each other's arms. Also, you get large numbers of young men without access to wives. similar comforts can easily be imagined--in fact, homosexuality would seem a socially stablizing factor under those circumstances. Of course, there was always a lot of back-door creeping going on, especially as the old leader grew...well, infirm, shall we say. Ahem. As one of my first girlfriends put it, "there are a lot of old men who THINK they're fathers."
At any rate, looking at the vast variety of human engagement, what it really boils down to for me is that I think love is unutterably precious, and any way that adults find to experience it is fine with me. I feel sorry for people who feel that the joy or sexuality experienced in the house down the street has direct bearing on their own happiness.
But are the rules the same? Don't know. It seems to me that gay male relationships display the strengths and weaknesses of the male animal, while gay female relationships display the strengths and weaknesses of the female animal.
A joke I heard from a lesbian:
Q: What does a lesbian bring on her second date?
A: A moving van.
There is no lesbian equivilency of the baths, that notorious gay male sex-as-an-extreme-sport venue with glory holes and all kinda yummy back rooms. Many, many times in my youth I wished I had the gene, or the inclination, to allow me to enjoy such a thing. It just seemed so damned convenient. Of course, the fact that such behavior is an absolute forcing-ground for disease is an inevitable truth. Men don't like anything like facts to get in the way of their boffing. If anything, I suspect that much heterosexual male aversion to gays is and was a bit of jealousy--that gays were behaving the way hetero males would, if they could get women to play along. Sigh.
At any rate, because I've only been an observer here, I can't claim to have any deep knowledge of this area, and would love to ask readers to add comments. How do they see gay relationships as different from straight? Are there different rules of courting, living together, breaking up? Gays are of course most encouraged to post to these effects, but anyone with very close friends or family might have good observations. Similarities and differences, people. And no nastiness. Unpleasant posts might well be left up, just so that we can see who is an asshole. Fair warning.


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