The link below and this quote from it, are from an post to the Huffington Post that talks about the heterosexual marriages that may be affected by allowing same-sex marriage.

The consequence, of course, was that most lesbians and gay men married opposite-gender spouses and tried as best they could to fit into the heterosexual mould their society expected, not infrequently indulging in clandestine gay liaison

Abbott writes wonderfully about how, in the past (and I would say still presently) many gay men and lesbian women enter into heterosexual marriages out of either a desire to be straight or due to a sense that being gay is wrong and shameful. She suggests that as more young people are raised in a world where we are all free to love and have our loving relationships affirmed, these types of not-straight relationships will stop and fewer straight men and women will be harmed by finding that they are really married to a gay or lesbian.
I think we need better language to talk about this type of thing. On the one hand, it is easy to label it as homophobia- Society’s  collective homophobia. As Culture becomes more accepting and affirming for all people, including gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans, culture will also become less fearful and culture will be less likely to force everyone to fit the status quo of heterosexuality. But individual men and women find themselves trying to be straight even if they are not. Few of them would say that Culture is the reason. Culture’s collective homophobia is manifest in words and actions that result in the way these people feel. They feel shame? Is that the best language we have? We might call this internalized homophobia- a fear to accept oneself as one really is. But even this language seems to fall short I think.
Switch gears from the Huffington Post to Craigslist and take a look at the personals there. Even self-accepting gay men use language like “straight acting” and “straight appearing” to describe themselves. This internalized homophobia goes far beyond those men and women who try not to be gay or lesbian by entering a heterosexual marriage. While researching to write this blog post, I saw an ad by a 20 year old guy:
…I’m not your typical gay. I’m STR8 acting and just like sex with men…
But if these personals are any indication (and they may not be) he is totally typical! These ads also contain many by young guys who are married but want to fool around with guys. These are men in their 20’s and early 30’s (if the ads are to be believed). They are not the same men who grew in in the era that Abbott is writing about.
Abbott concludes:
For the first time in history, young people are growing up in the presence of legally sanctioned gay marriage (and divorce), an experience that will influence how they shape their lives in a world that is marching away from homophobia and allowing gays and lesbians to unite in marriage, to raise their children, and to expect to receive the same rights and to be subject to the same obligations as heterosexual spouses.
Truly, her purpose is to write about the way same-sex marriage will impact heterosexual marriage, and I do not mean to fault her at all. But missing from this evolution, is the more basic notion that being gay is OK and acceptable and dare I say it- normal. An individual doesn’t become acceptable through marriage (either a heterosexual or a sanctioned same-sex marriage. Their intrinsic sexual orientation is a natural part of them and is something to embrace rather than hide.

via Elizabeth Abbot/t: Gay Marriage Act’s Impact on Heterosexual Marriage.

2 Comments

  1. Tom,

    You’re the only person I know who can reference gay dating sites without sounding sleazy. Haha. But also good post.
    It might very well be that a lot of gays have their own brand of homophobia, the fear of being branded as “gay” even within the gay community.

    Good work!

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