Wednesday, April 19, 2006


A blogger had some thought-provoking comments about monogamous gay relationships. I know it works for some, but I'm not sure that it works for every gay couple. I’m not even sure that it works for most gay couples. And I’m not sure it should be held up as an ideal.

If gay liberation of the 60's and 70's was about anything, it was about gays defining our own terms, our own relationships and our own sex-positive sexuality. It was about breaking the rules (THINK ABOUT IT - homosex, in this culture, was and still is to some degree, civil disobedience and a political act - see John Rechy, The Sexual Outlaw, Rushes; Rosa VonPraunheim, Army of Lovers). It was about shaking free from the oppressors.

Many gay couples rejected the heterosexual model with its exclusivity, possessiveness and insecurities and instead experimented with open relationships, group relationships, different forms of intimacy, friendship, sexuality, promiscuity and loving.

The issues of trust, communication, jealousy, betrayal, compassion, “cheating,” intimacy, sexual compatibility, love and caring were integral to these experiments. Many men worked through these various issues to arrive at mature, satisfying, respectful, loving and often, unconventional relationships. These gay men, lovers, ex-lovers, casual sex partners, and friends were pioneers, often forming caring communities. (David Nimmons, The Soul Beneath the Skin) It was a time of discovery, joy, friendship and bonding - And yes, it was a time of excess.

The AIDS crisis was (is) a many-edged sword: not only did it decimate the population of gay men in America and elsewhere, but it also effectively put an end to the experiment of gay liberation; it brought many men reluctantly “out of the closet” and inspired a host of care-givers, political organizers, protesters and legislators. It has left a new generation of gays resenting what they missed (the “free-love” generation) but lacking real knowledge of their gay history.

AIDS has created a subculture of despair in which drugs and sex are not experienced as liberating but as desperate and addictive. The fear of disease has, for some, led to self-destructive behavior - which is at once both an act of defiance and an attempt to defuse and neutralize the danger by a ritual baptism of “total submersion”. Promiscuous sex is no longer “civil disobedience” but more a compulsion or superstition. (Fortunately, for some it is still just fun).

For others, the fear of disease has caused a retreat into respectability. Homes in the suburbs, biological or adopted children, RVs, BMW’s, monogamy, civil unions and even marriage. Those of us with a foot in this camp should be vigilant because, despite the trappings of respectability, HOMOSEX WILL NEVER BE RESPECTABLE.

As long as religious fundamentalists of any kind have influence, as long as heterosexism is part of the fabric of society, as long as breeders believe in their own moral superiority, HOMOSEX WILL NEVER BE RESPECTABLE. No matter what you do or don’t do. No matter the trappings of respectability.

The big push for same-gender marriage has pre-empted whatever remained of the experiment of gay liberation, if AIDS hadn’t done so already. Marriage (and/or civil union) is a capitulation to heterosexism. Will it create a new class of respectability or just a smaller class of people “living in sin”? (As far as the morally superior are concerned, all homosexual couples, civil unioned, married or not are living in sin, always, forvever, PERIOD.) The eventual "main-streaming" of same gender marriage will serve to devalue the gay lib experiment as irrelevant, if not evil, and make conformity the only relevant value.

Is the intentional message conveyed by the advocacy for same gender marriage that those in a monogamous, legally “married” relationship will be less likely to get or spread those nasty “gay” diseases. This may be what is most likely to convince the hetero-power-elite to allow same-gender marriage after all: if those promiscuous gay boys and AIDS are to be stopped, we’ll make them get married and keep them in line (by imposing the monogamous structure of legal marriage). This is especially disturbing in light of years of gay activists promoting healthy sexuality and safe expression.

I think promoting same-gender marriage, civil unions and even monogamy should be done mindfully. I respect those who may choose marriage or civil union as a structure for their relationship or for their financial arrangements, or for other reasons; but we must continue to affirm and celebrate the many alternative choices that gays, couples, triads, groups, bi-sexuals, transpersons and others make to live with integrity and honesty.

Can we truly say that we celebrate diversity? Or are we just advocating another brand of conformity? Legal marriage has its benefits, for sure: health benefits, financial advantages, social acceptance and the respect of (some but not all of) your neighbors; but we must be careful not to paint ourselves into a corner with rainbow colors.

I mourn the untimely demise of gay liberation.


  1. In one single post, you've said more relevant commentary on the gay world than gay blogdom in general has, from what i've read over a long period of time. Thanks. I wish more had your perspective, and the balls to be out there and say it.

    I came across you from your comment on Bruce's (bruce in Venice; blog today. I have to say, I agree with his comment: too bad you don't write more.


  2. This is a fine point and relevant. I read your in depth comment on Geoff Farrow's blog. I sympathize with you completely in how the church ruins more lives than just clergy.

  3. Sam, thanks for the comment. Forgive my poor blogger etiquette for not responding sooner; I am now over at I will take a jaunt over to your domain and check you out.

    Tom, I also thank you for your comment. I've checked out your blog briefly and I'm not sure how to take it. Perhaps your sarcasm/humor is too obtuse for me. Granted, I've not read you thoroughly, so I will take another look.



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