Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Larry Craig Phenomenon: Homosexual but not gay!

An article today by Rick Leggio in the Dallas Voice
Gay? No. Homosexual? Maybe

He is homosexual, by his own guilty plea after being arrested for public loo trolling on June 11, 2007 (Craig’s Waterloo, this scandal’s basis). But being gay requires, at the barest minimum, self-identification and acceptance of a same-sex orientation.

This is what Straight Guise is all about.

Homosexual is a sexual orientation. Gay is an affirmative identity.

Plenty of men--and women for that matter--understand that their sexual orientation is homosexual. However, how they self-identify can be very different.

The reason this is so controversial is twofold. Gay men--such as myself--would never dream of not fulfilling their core authentic selves and they shouldn't.

However, in my practice I see many men and women who understand that they are homosexual and do not want to live as a gay man or lesbian. Who am I or anyone else to tell them they "should" live that way.

For many their religious beliefs, ethnicity, personal values, family ethics are too strong for them to go against. For these folks, living an out gay or lesbian life would mean depression even though most psychology would predict a life of depression not doing so.

But we are talking about two different things--being in the closet and being out. The homosexual men and women I treat who do not want to be self-identified as gay or lesbian are not in the closet. They recognize and accept that they have homosexual urges, feelings and desires and that if they choose to do so they would be gay or lesbian but they choose not to do so.

This is different than reparative therapies or any other program which tells its members they can change from gay to straight--turn their homosexuality into heterosexuality. This is hogwash!

Organizations such as the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Social Workers have all denounced these reparative attempts.

These reparative therapies only lead to a life of depression not because they are suppressing their core selves but because they are being taught to hate and reject who they are at their core and lied to that change is possible.

Living heterosexually and being homosexual is possible as long as shame and self-hate are not part of the equation.

Those reading this would say, "Well, isn't that living in shame if you are homosexual but choose not to live that way?"

Try telling that to the man who is 62, married and loves his wife and does not wish to live a lifestyle of gayness. Or tell that to a women who was raped repeatedly and sexually molested by men throughout her childhood who decides to self-identify as a lesbian even though she knows she is straight.

These folks may, through therapy or other means, come out and work through their issues. But perhaps they won't, don't, or do not wish to?

Historically I would have said yes to this but have treated too many men and women who would suffer living out as gay men and lesbians. They would lose their families, marriages, children, religious groups, jobs, and other factors which for them the stakes are too high and would ruin their lives.

I am not condoning secret lives or living on the downlow.

The answer is not to shame these folks so that like Larry Craig they go to bathrooms or get on the internet and have anonymous sex. The answer is to understand them and help them understand themselves and to make the best decision they can for themselves and for their loved ones.

Politics, personal agendas, religious beliefs, reparative therapy camps aside, people should have the right to self-identify as they wish without putting other sexual and romantic orientations down as a result.

1 comment:

Mark from Pennsylvania said...

In this world of political correctness, I prefer to keep an eye on roundabout point of views such as what your own opinions seem to be. However, I do suppose that it is possible we prefer to label sexuality and sexual identity because if we do not do so, then trust and honesty become so much more paramount in our everyday lives when trying to create faithful relationships, whether platonic or romantic. Sadly, we find trusting so hard to do, that we go back to the very labels that might result in the behaviors which cause distrust. What a tangled web we weave...