Let’s Talk about Sex: 10 Common Misconceptions about Gay People, part 4

Three months ago, a very small percentage of the registered voters in North Carolina managed to pass an amendment to the state constitution that illegalized gay marriage. In the weeks leading up to the vote, I started a series of posts about some of the more common and frustrating myths about gay people. I got discouraged for a while and didn’t finish but I just got my second wind.

For those of you who missed the first 5 myths, here’s a quick recap:

1 – Being gay is a choice. Because somewhere between 2 and 10% of the general population so love being social pariahs, we’ve chosen to become lifelong targets of bigotry and hate.

2 – Lesbians want to be men. There are some people who are so enamored of their own exterior plumbing that they, and their followers, seem to believe that there are just 2 kinds of people in the world – men and the rest of us who are just sad that we don’t have a penis, too.

3 – Lesbians hate men. The rationale seems to go like this: Some women are so upset about not having a penis that they become angered with all men and sleep with women to spite the men. Or something like that. Bottom line is, women couldn’t possibly love other women. It must have something to do with the penis. (For the long version of the first 3 myths, see part 1 of this series, I Used to Be a Tomboy)

4 – Being gay is a mental illness. In spite the fact that the American Psychiatric Association defines homosexuality as a normal variant of human sexual behavior, there are a lot of people out there who just “know” that gay people are sick, just like they “know” the earth was created 6,000 years ago and all the fossils in the world are just an elaborate hoax and proof of a vast conspiracy against God-fearing, extremist Christians. (For the long version, see part 2, Who’s a Heretic?)

5- The Bible says that being gay is morally wrong or evil. To borrow a line from Shakespeare, “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose,” and it would appear that he does, every day, from the pulpits and altars of churches all over our country. (See part 3, The Bible Tells Me So)

So moving on. Here’s another of my favorite myths to hate:

6- Being gay is just about sex. Now doesn’t this seem a teensy bit like the pot calling the kettle black?One of the best ways to undermine an opponent, apart from demonizing them, is to minimize them, as this little myth tries to do. It separates sexuality and romantic, spiritual love. But only for gay people.

So when the subject is heterosexuality, sex and love are two sides of the same coin. And the fact that so many of straight people spend their single youth doing it like randy bunnies with anyone who will get into bed with them, that breaking faith with one’s wife or husband just to have sex with someone new is commonplace in our heterosexual culture, or that the huge pornography industry was built mostly on the desires of straight men – none of this refutes that notion that heterosexual sex is all about choosing and remaining dedicated to a spiritual soulmate? But being gay is just about sex. Gotcha.

7- Gay people are promiscuous. Yes we are. As a generalization, I accept this one. Now that I’ve just pissed off some of my fellow lesbians out there, let me explain why:  Because people in general are promiscuous. I know it. You know it. We all know it.

Really, Ted?! You’re talking to your children!

That’s why popular American culture is steeped in sex. That’s why these TV shows like Friends, Sex in the City, and Two and a Half Men were so popular. There’s even a popular show with the unabashed premise that the main character is telling his future children about the sexual exploits of he and his friends as a necessary preface to the story of how he fell in love with their mother. I’m not judging here. I loved Friends and I like How I Met Your Mother. (Well, except for that telling it to the kids part.)

But these shows aren’t really about friendship or love or family or the complexities of modern living. They’re about sex. (And call me a prude, but I can’t believe what they can say on prime time TV now.) Whatever else happens in each episode, sex is the tent pole that holds these shows up. (Who thinks that’s a phallic reference?) Without the pretty people having sex or talking about sex, the whole thing collapses.

Got to admit I love the irony of an actor who is gay and a committed family man playing a straight man whore.

My point is, human beings (especially young ones) are obsessed with sex. Our lives revolve around it. Except for maybe food, it seems to be the single most motivating force in our lives. And that makes sense. Nature designed it that way so we wouldn’t die off. But let’s get real here. Gay people are not any more (or less) promiscuous than straight people. We just prefer different partners.

A note for the romantics:  This generalized view of human promiscuity does not call attention to the inevitable exceptions. They’re called women. Okay, feminists, that was a joke. Kind of. I’m not trying to minimize the female libido. I’m sure there are plenty of randy women out there, too.

But there are still those of us who prefer the romantic notion that sex is just a part of the whole love thing. I am one of those. I was never promiscuous, am completely convinced that I’ve spent the last 12 years with my soulmate (a woman with whom I share much more than a sex life), and have no desire to sleep with anyone other than her for the rest of my life.

Falling Monkeys

I think every parent probably thinks that the cultural stew their impressionable kids are simmered in is stranger, more dangerous, or just more ridiculous than the popular culture of their own childhood. At least I do. When I’m not lamenting the lost world of my own youth (strange and flawed as it was), I especially like to grouse about the world my kids have inherited. So here are just a few trivial things about life in America in the 21st century that just vex the snot out of me:

1. Pseudo celebrities – A few weeks ago, I couldn’t turn on the TV or computer without being inundated with images of a bimbo sporting heavy make-up and an enormous pair of boobs that always appeared to be on the verge of bursting out of a low-cut dress or skimpy bikini. Her name was vaguely familiar but it didn’t seem to be associated with any talent, skill, ability, or accomplishment that I could remember. But that’s not unusual for me. I can hack my way through the jungle of American pop culture daily without ever noticing the monkeys in the trees unless one happens to fall on me.

So finally, after being virtually haunted the busty bimbo, I did what I usually do when I notice a monkey. I asked my partner.  “Who in the hell,” I asked, “is Kim Kardashian?” So she told me. Wow. I guess once Hollywood had to come up with programming for a gazillion cable channels, we had to expect some erosion of quality. But the Kardashian thing was a little tough to take. (And I was still recovering from watching The Jersey Shore satirized on Bones and finding out they were making fun of a real show. That people watch. On purpose.)

Only Elton John could pull these off.

2. Sagging pants – I’ve seen some strange “fashion” fads in my time that made the people who succumbed to them look pretty silly – pastel polyester leisure suits, leg warmers, platform shoes, any clothing that has been “pre-stressed,” the Don-Johnson-in-Miami-Vice-look, shoulder pads under anything except a football jersey, fingerless gloves (unless you’re a weight lifter or Madonna in the eighties), rainbow suspenders (unless you’re Mork from Ork), jeans so tight they make legs look like sausages, powered wigs. (Okay I missed that one by a couple hundred years, but how weird was that?)

But none of them quite compare to this vaguely obscene and ridiculous habit some young people adopted of wearing their britches around their thighs leaving their butt hanging out. It’s like a practical joke so transparent, so obviously ridiculous, that even the most gullible among us, our teenagers, would know better. Sadly, a lot of them didn’t (and still don’t), our oldest son among them.

3. Planking – Somehow, when I was a kid, sitting around with my friends on a long summer day trying to decide what to do, not one of all the kids I hung out with, no matter how bored we might be, ever stood up and said, “Hey, I know! Let’s each find an odd place to lie face down with our hands at our sides and then have someone take a picture and show it to complete strangers!” Not once. And if some kid had suggested it, I like to think the rest of us would have had the good sense to laugh at the idiot, climb on our bikes, and go find something fun to do.

English: Planking

So there’s my top three, or at least my top three, today. So what do you think? What about the culture of your kids’ (or your friends’ kids or your grandkids’) generation makes you want to stick a fork in your eye? Go ahead and vent a little, get it off your chest, preach it to the choir. It’s fun. It’s therapeutic. And I’ll be reading, ready and likely to agree.

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