Dear Religious Right Homophobes

Dear Religious Right Homophobes,

“Methinks the lady doth protest too much,” said a good fictional friend of mine five hundred years ago. It’s no secret that people project their own self loathing onto others. Everyone knew that one guy in high school who wore lumberjack boots, flannel, and Budweiser hats; who had a sultry, fifteen-minute story for every one of the five hundred sexy women he supposedly fucked; who taunted the quiet gay kid in the locker room after gym class, and who then showed up at the ten-year reunion in full, high-heeled drag queen glory; a dainty little thing on the arm of some 40-year-old bear. And who could forget the family values, anti-gay-marriage warrior, Republican representative from the state of Florida Mark Foley, who could no longer suppress his lust for fresh, young, 17-year-old-pageboy ass; or pastor Ted Haggard, who preached on the evils of homosexuality in between meth-fueled sex binges with male prostitutes in Mexican motel rooms.

But hypocritical, projected self-loathing can’t account for all the residual anti-gay sentiment that still lingers over from our parent’s generation… can it?

My parents believe homosexuality is a sin that will be punished by God via eternal damnation in a fiery hell. They, and the rest of you Religious Righters believe that homosexuality signals the decadent decay and ultimate demise of our particular Puritan brand of Western Civilization, and that gay marriage is determined to destroy heterosexual marriage like Megatron was set on killing Optimus Prime. Bedtime stories with the kids will be replaced by gaytime stories. First graders’ Hello Kitty and Bob the Builder lunchboxes will be packed with two bananas or with two beef tacos, instead of one banana and one beef taco, the nutritionally-balanced way Jesus intended. High school wrestling… will continue to be a sport.

But all this homo-sin-ending-the-world talk rests on a couple of assumptions. One of these assumptions is that everyone is born straight, and homosexuality is only a sinful choice that some of the more flamboyant among us choose to make. That’s a viewpoint I never understood. You can’t look me in the eyes and recite the phrase, “Liberace was born straight” with a straight face. It's like a tongue twister for the mind.

Heterosexuality certainly wasn’t a choice I made. I never decided to get a hard-on in the presence of boobs, or decided that I wouldn’t while the shiny bronzed gods of the Mr. Universe contest flexed on stage. I remember being four years old and getting a boner while watching a women’s shampoo commercial. I was completely baffled at the time. No one who had had the childhood sexual development that I had could possibly come to the conclusion that sexual orientation is a choice. And that’s when it hit me- maybe everyone hadn’t had the same experience that I had.

I was eating lunch with my best friends in a diner one Saturday at the age of seventeen. The five of us sat around a table and ate fries and chicken fingers, sucked down Mountain Dew, and talked about what we were going to do after high school. At some point the conversation turned to the topic of embarrassing things we had done as children. I don’t know how Harris had the balls to admit this- but suddenly he says, “I let a boy give me a blow job when I was nine.” We all looked at him for a few seconds in utter silence. “And Rick let him give him a blow job too.” We all turned to Harris’ younger brother Rick, who was also at the table. Rick shrugged his shoulders. “What? I was like seven. I didn’t really know what the hell was going on.” I was bewildered. I also had no idea what the hell was going on. Then Travis spoke out on my left, sounding like an old fugitive who was finally turning himself in, “My neighbor and I used to jack each other off when I was like ten.” From the five of us now, only Daniel and I were left staunchly entrenched in the fortress of unimpeachable heterosexuality. Life had suddenly taken a turn for the surreal. I felt like Luke Skywalker after he found out his father had been dabbling with the darkside. I had experienced being in the sexually-oriented minority before, most notably on that one awkward afternoon at Disney World that my parents hadn’t researched enough before simultaneously booking with Gay Days. But this was different. These were my best friends. Regular high school dudes with girlfriends. People I’d known since middle school. I’d always assumed we had just about everything in common.
“That’s actually pretty normal,” Daniel said. “I’ve read that almost all boys go through a homoerotic phase before puberty.” My last straight friend at the table continued, “In fact, one year at summer camp when I was ten…”
I once heard someone say that ten percent of the general population is absolutely gay, about ten percent is unconditionally straight, and the remaining eighty percent is somewhere on a sliding scale of bisexuality, and how they identify themselves and how they act on their sexual desires is mostly a product of the cultural values in which they live. I thought that was ridiculous the first time I heard it. But then I had conversations like the one described above. And I also started to think- especially about history; Greek history in particular- the gayest civilization of them all. Here was a society in which bisexuality was the norm instead of the exception. It was no big deal for a philosopher to sketch out a few golden ratios, propose a primitive atomic theory, kiss his wife goodbye for the evening, and then head on down to the baths for some gay-pubescent-boy sex and a couple bottles of mead with the buds.
I began to wonder whether the homosexuality-is-a-choice argument might be more true for more people than I had thought. If it is, it’s somewhat revealing for those of you who make that argument. If you assume homosexuality is a choice for others, it can only be because homosexuality is also a choice for yourself. No one who had heterosexuality biologically imposed upon them would have come to that conclusion. But if you had the “option of being gay,” that means you have or at least have had homoerotic urges, and are therefore not in the strictest sense of the term, absolutely “straight.”
How is the marriage of an absolutely straight person affected by gay marriage? I don’t have a choice. Marrying a man isn’t an option for me, regardless of how many constitutional amendments ban or protect it. The only sanctity of marriage that is endangered by a wider acceptance of homosexuality is the sanctity of the marriage in which one or both partners is a latent bisexual waiting to spring to life as soon as the peer pressure lets off. And here I might just agree with you Religious Righters a little bit. Bisexuality excludes monogamy, and marriage without monogamy seems like it always turns into a weird thing, even when both partners agree to it… or rather, especially when both partners agree to it. So maybe bisexuality does threaten the sanctity of marriage. But this threat isn’t coming from the ten percent of people who are unabashedly gay- the people you homophobes project your fears onto. The threat comes from you happily married family-values types who are harboring a bisexual time-bomb that you would no longer be able to keep under wraps without the aid of public disapproval and private religious shame.
If you really want to identify the threat to the sanctity of marriage, and the downfall of Western Civilization, then it’s time to find a mirror and look the devil in the eyes. But I wouldn’t sweat it too much. The Greeks seem to have done alright; especially seeing as a bunch of "gays" pretty much founded Western Civilization.

Sebastian Braff

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