Closet - Pete Yorn (mp3)
Tony - Patty Griffin (mp3)
Last week was a very gay week for me. Over the weekend, I had a lengthy debate with a friend about homosexuality. Then my wife and I watched the latest episode of "30 Days," which focused on a woman vehemently opposed to gays adopting children living with two gay men and their four adopted children for a month.
The common realization in both is that beliefs about sexuality are tar babies (I use that in the sticky wicket sense, not the racial slur sense). I'm like the blissfully naive gay couple in the TV show, who sincerely believed if someone could just witness them -- their devotion to their adopted children, their love for one another that wasn't at all sleazy or bathhouse-inspired -- it would force a shift in prejudiced attitudes. But these beliefs rarely seem as malleable as we'd like to think they are.
The studies showing that homosexuality is linked to biology and genetics are piling up higher every year. Although there might be cultural or environmental factors, certain people are simply more inclined to be gay than others. To me these studies are simply confirming what I've anecdotally witnessed my whole life.
My friend disagrees. His argument is this, basically: (a) if it's hot and wet and you stick your dick in it, you will get off, so it's really a choice of which hot and wet places you find acceptable and which ones you don't. But it's a choice, regardless. And (b) just because studies show that some people are genetically inclined to find 7-year-olds sexually exciting doesn't make sex with children an acceptable lifestyle choice. We expect those people to either adjust themselves to our laws or suffer serious consequences. So why do we want to make it socially acceptable for one unnatural act and not another?
Considering that I don't get aroused at the thought of mounting a sheep, or at pictures of sheered sheep, or at videos of sheep doing it, and considering I don't get aroused looking at naked men, or the thought of a naked man mounting me or me him, or by watching naked men do it in any way, and considering that I get quite easily aroused when looking at an attractive woman in any number of stages of undress, and most definitely at the thought of sexual exploits with them... it doesn't feel much like a choice to me. (Not that, um, I look at pictures of women and stuff.)
I mostly think that "any hole will do" theory works only in prison or on deserted islands. But hell, even alone on that island Tom Hanks didn't try and rape Wilson. Or maybe they cut that part out of the final version.
An acquaintance of mine is most decidedly heterosexual by choice. Or, to put it another way, he's gay and in the closet. Let's call him Foster.
He in his 40s and has never been in a serious relationship. He will end his years on this earth as a single male, because the only choices in his mind are between Heaven & Hell. Foster could admit his homosexuality to himself, if not the rest of the planet, but to give that possibility any real estate in his thoughts would be sinful. So Foster will never know the love of a relationship based on sex and intimacy.
Maybe some people can joke to themselves, "What a lucky guy," 'cuz you think about all the crap and baggage we deal with in our intimate relationships. Just like Mariah Carey can talk about starving Somalians and say, "I'd love to be that thin, but not with all those flies and everything."
I'm calling him Foster because he is living an adopted life, a lie he hopes will keep his place in Heaven safe. Fortunately, he is so fanatically religious that sacrificing intimacy for his entire life isn't so bad. It's the much lesser of two evils, in his mind. A no-brainer.
But. If all we need, sexually speaking, is some place warm and damp and snug, then it would seem Foster has chosen the worst of all options. He has limited himself to warm locations in which he has no genuine interest. It's like me going to a Hummer dealer to buy parts for my scooter. And, when I realize they have no parts for my scooter, I just resign myself to not buying any scooter parts. Ever.
Except this is sex and intimacy. Which makes it a whole lot more fucking depressing than scooter parts.
Last week just made me kinda sad, because although gay rights are starting to make inroads, and progress is moving along slowly but surely, there are barriers that simply cannot be overcome in the perceptions of others. Most of them are religious, but not all. And although I used to believe that gay rights would be to the early 21st Century what civil rights were to the last 50 years, I'm starting to think gay rights won't get nearly the groundswell of protest or support, and the opposition won't fade into the shadows in quite the same fashion.
Some beliefs are so powerfully instilled in people that no amount of heartstring-tugging or anecdotal convincing or scientific research can sway them. We are a stubborn civilization in that regard, and it makes me sad.
"Closet" is from Pete Yorn's debut album Musicforthemorningafter. "Tony" is from Patty Griffin's rawkin' second album Flaming Red. "Rough Boys" is from Pete Townshend's 1980 album Empty Glass. The first two are available on iTunes or Amazon.com's mp3 site. "Rough Boys" is available only on iTunes.
Other songs I thought about but didn't include:
- Michael - Franz Ferdinand
- Mama I'm Strange - Melissa Etheridge
- Androgynous - Crash Test Dummies
- Androgyny - Garbage
Others that actually were hits:
- I Kissed a Girl - Jill Sobule
- We Are the Champions - Queen
- Lola - The Kinks
- Freedom - George Michael
- Stand By Your Man - Lyle Lovett
- Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover - Sophie B. Hawkins
- Relax - Frankie Goes to Hollywood