Sunday, July 30, 2006

Gay... ish

If scientists can't actually come to a consensus about what homosexuality is, I figure I can use the relevant terminology however I like. I call myself gay, but that description may mean something different to you than it does to me. To be clear, you should recognize what I mean when I say "gay": strongly attracted to the same sex.

But I've never actually had sex with the same sex. I never had sex before my wedding night. Depending on your definition of sex, it actually took quite a while after that. :)

A 1994 University of Chicago study by Edward Laumann et al measured 7.1% of men as having had same sex behaviors, 7.7% as having had same sex desires, and 2.8% as self identifying as gay. I can understand why folks don't want to think of themselves as gay. Society does that to us. Other scientists like to break down sexual identity into constituent parts: gender identity, sex role, and sexual orientation (I think they mean preference of attraction by that last term, but it's hard to say). The LDS church, on the other hand, prefers the term "same sex attraction" over "gay" to avoid the implication of immutability that comes with accepting a gay identity for one's self. Joseph Nicolosi distinguishes between "homosexual" and "gay" by accepting the former term as a description of sexual preference and the latter as a declaration of a chosen lifestyle.

Does this seem overly complicated to anyone else? I like guys. So I call myself gay.

So, there it is on the record. That's what I mean when I say gay. But I've never been with a guy and never intend to be. I don't accept any particular political philosophy that using the terminology may or may not imply. Maybe a better term is "gay-ish." Regardless, you know where I stand!


Beck said...

I'd say it's about time you finally described what you meant when you use the word 'gay' to identify yourself. I've been using 'gay' to describe myself for the very same reasons you've articulated here. SSA always seems so technical and fake somehow, even though I understand the Church is trying to avoid the 'lifestyle' or non-changeable viewpoint.

Anyway, gay-ish works as well, but I think 'gay' works the best in the context you've set forth.

Chris (hurricane) said...

Ironically, I tend to lean toward Nicolosi here, though probably for different reasons when closely examined. I identify as gay, but didn't until about a year ago. I was homosexual, but not gay. Now I'm both.

But the labels get tiresome and I have no problem with people using the words in the way that works for them. And it seems to me that "gay" is just shorthand for homosexual as much as anything else.