Three stories appeared in my news feed recently that may appear to have nothing to do with each other on the surface, but display how any failure to broaden the discourse surrounding the Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, and Queer community is harming the potential for a future of real equality and respect for all. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that those within the LGBTQ rainbow coalition who keep talking about sexual orientation as if people are “straight or gay” are helping those on the Far Right who talk about sexual acts  as if it defined who we are as people.

Post #1 The Inclusivity Closet

John Aravosis over at AmericaBlog decries the growing rainbow alphabet used as short hand for the whole of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, and Queer community. I wouldn’t be surprised if the very act of writing out those five descriptors would make him cringe. He wonders all the letters now being used to help everyone feel included is a new kind of closet. He writes:

She says she was just getting used to the abbreviation LGBT (meaning, “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender”) — though she still doesn’t quite get how those four letters go together — My friend’s confusion reinforced a point I’ve raised before about the ever-changing, every-lengthening, terminology used to describe and define what was once the “gay community.”<snip> The new breed of abbreviations ensure that no one ever need mention any of our names (gay, trans, bi, etc.) again. I’ve seen corporate press releases about gay issues that don’t even use the word “gay” anywhere. We’ve unwittingly created an all-inclusive verbal closet. And considering how powerful coming out has been over the decades, I worry that “coming in” might not be the wisest strategy moving forward.

Please check out Jon’s post to better understand his full concern just in case my encapsulating of it doesn’t do it justice. His big concern is over the letters often tagged on at the end and produce a string like “LGBTQIA,”  but I don’t think it is a stretch that his real focus is all about how “gay” isn’t either prominent nor the only descriptor anymore.

I have a ton for respect for Jon overall– he has done great things as a blogger, but I think he is dead wrong regarding this issue. But my point today isn’t to argue with him, but link this to two other posts.

Post #2 My Husband’s Not Gay

The entertainment channel TLC is now advertising it’s newest reality show c called “My Husband’s Not Gay,” to be aired beginning in January. The show follows a small group of Mormon men who admit their attraction to other men, but who choose to ignore it and are either married or seeking to marry a woman. In other words, if these men don’t have sex with other men, then they aren’t gay.  This links to the story posted to about the show. It s a very good read. I like this post from The Daily Beast as well. This show demonstrates (or will it?) the never ending mantra of the Far Right religious conservatives that having homosexual feelings is all right as long as you don’t act upon them. The crucial phrase is act upon them.

Post #3 Temporarily Gay

Here was the post which for me bring this all together. It seems that there are guys (women too? I don’t know) who generally identify as straight, but when they are high on pot, they experience desires and are “temporarily gay.” Here’s a story about it that gives a more full explanation.  Here, like Post#2 above focuses identity upon behavior. A guy doesn’t have to come to terms with his sexual orientation whatever it is, if he compartmentalizes himself based on his behavior or his acts and acts temporarily gay.

What are all three posts missing and failing to talk about?

The fact that Sexual Orientation and Sexual Expression are not perfectly aligned and the fluidity of sexuality. These temporary gays might identify as bisexual, except that culturally, there has been such an emphasis placed upon labeling people gay or straight. Indeed, the inclusivity closet Aravosis worries so much about is designed precisely to break down this false dichotomy, and see sexual minorities and those who are supportive of diversity as a better type of discourse that is both more accurate and respectful. Heck, these Mormon guys may be bisexual too, if they are attracted to both men and women. But no one is talking about that aspect of it. The LGBTQ community is simply outraged at the way these men are sublimating their true selves (as if we know what that is, right? These guys are really gay! Haha, aren’t we brilliant?)

I’m sure Aravosis doesn’t mean to, or see himself supporting the Far Right which demonizes sexual acts between same sex partners, but any ongoing discourse which perpetuates the false notion of sexual orientation as being about gay or straight does exactly that. Those who experience same-sex attraction when they are high don’t have to create a new and false identity of high sexual, if we perpetuated the notion that more men are actually bisexual than either exclusively straight or exclusively  gay. And those who choose to act in a way associated with there religious beliefs are free to do so without it suggesting everyone should do the same.

We must quit talking about Gay Rights as if it is an all inclusive term. We have to stop talking about Gay Marriage as if it is a good descriptor, and we must do everything we can to prompt all of culture to talk more broadly about sexual orientation and identity, as well as gender identity and expression.


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