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Views & Voices

The illusion of the ‘Gay Lifestyle’ — Setting it straight

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Just under 11,000 athletes from around the world have arrived in London to partake in the Olympic Games. As I understand it, at least 23 of these athletes are openly gay. These sport-stars include Megan Rapinoe, Matthew Mitcham, Jessica Landström, Lisa Raymond and Seimone Augustus — household names.

These remarkable people are to be commended. Not only for their athletic ability and for representing their countries on the world stage, but also for representing themselves, in full. These people are role models. They are setting a fine example for the young and old alike.

They are perfect examples that illustrate how being gay comes with no disability, no disadvantage — you could even say it doesn’t matter in life. But for now it does matter. It’s an honorable thing these sporting heroes have done and they deserve to be honored for it.

I certainly feel that it’s cause for celebration and so I went about sharing in the joy and marking what I see as a triumph for the gay community. I posted much the same sentiment as I’ve just expressed here on one of the many news articles covering the topic. I received a response. It was negative and disapproving.

It’s best to paraphrase, but essentially the opposing comment centered on the notion of sex, and how people don’t want to know about, or even disapprove of, what gay people do in the bedroom.

Who said anything about sex? It wasn’t me. It wasn’t the news article. This, however, was not an isolated incident. I’ve seen it before. I hear about this “gay lifestyle.”

Is that what the “gay lifestyle” is? Sex, sex and more sex? That’s all we gay people do? Seriously?

This mentality obviously exists in 2012, but it certainly does not belong in the 21st century. A wealth of education is freely available in our world. Why are people depriving themselves of it? These unrealistic views represent misinformed, ill-educated, fearful, naïve and narrowly minded beliefs.

They’re harmful. Even more surprisingly, it’s an admission some people are willing to make openly.

It cannot be beyond comprehension that gay people also have jobs and careers, play and watch sports, socialize, walk our dogs, take exams, celebrate holidays, save for a house, pay the bills, eat, sleep and drink. That gay people live everyday lives too. What is there to misunderstand? Where is this naivety coming from? Too much TV?

We can thank television and film for attempts at bringing LGBT lives into mainstream media, though entertaining as they were, they’ve clearly left the unenlightened under a misguided, exaggerated illusion. It’s not all Broke Back Mountain and dancing in the Blue Oyster bar. Leather and glitter don’t feature in my world.

I note that the dictionary defines heterosexuality as “sexual feeling or behavior directed toward a person or persons of the opposite sex.” The same dictionary defines homosexuality as “sexual desire or behavior directed toward a person or persons of one’s own sex.” I see little difference apart from a gender reference, which both specify equally. There was no mention of this “gay lifestyle.”

Clearly some need to get their head out of the clouds — and even their mind out of the gutter, for that matter — and keep up with the real world. Being gay has no more to do with sex than being heterosexual does. There is nothing unique to the gay community in that regard, we’re just like everyone else.

There is a fear in operation. There is no doubt, especially in recent months, that there is more and more mounting evidence and examples to suggest that gay people are and always have been “normal” and ordinary people, too, just like our heterosexual counterparts.

The evidence is so much so that long-held beliefs are being challenged, dashed and proved otherwise. Essentially, some people will have to admit to themselves that they’ve been wrong all along. Is that the hold up? Nobody likes to admit that they’re wrong. Ironically, is their pride trying to obstruct ours?

President Obama declared June to be Pride Month. The world caught that announcement. If July has shown the world anything, it’s that some people, who happen to be gay, are not only ordinary but they’re extraordinary people too.

Gay people are also capable of making history and indeed have already done so on a very great and admirable scale. Plenty of gay people are currently representing their countries in sporting fields competing in the Olympic Games and as we’ve learned recently, one even flew to space. Is Dr. Sally Ride any less of a hero? Of course not. She broke barriers during her lifetime. She continues her contribution toward education in death too.

It’s no great secret: some people are gay. What difference does that make to anybody? What impact does it have on anyone else’s life?

These narrow and harmful views are motivated by fear, not understanding. They’re driven by intolerance, not empathy. Nevertheless they are beliefs held strongly by some, but it would appear they’re on shaky ground. It’s time for change, and change is coming. And it’s not gay people that need to change. Gay people are not the problem. Being gay isn’t a problem. How those who are gay are perceived and, indeed, treated — that’s the problem.

Education will correct these misconceptions and that’s why I feel it’s important that these 23 Olympians are out and proud.

It’s important that those in need of this knowledge become aware that not only are some gay people world-class athletes, but indeed, some are doctors, teachers, nurses, politicians, actors, veterinarians, judges, shopkeepers, singers, police officers and even astronauts. The list goes on. We, too, have passion, we, too earn livelihoods, some of us are very career-orientated, and some of us excel in our chosen fields. Again, there’s nothing unique to the gay community in that regard, we’re just like everyone else.

Euripides said, “There is just one life for each of us: our own.”

Our lives are very much our own and every one of us deserves to act in accordance with not simply the desires of our bodies, but our hearts and minds too. We’re all here chasing after that one common goal in life, that of happiness. Needless and harmful obstructions benefit nobody, not even those creating them. At the end of it all, in our final days and hours, whose life will we look back on but our own?

If a “gay lifestyle” consists of getting out of bed in the mornings and trying to make the most of both ourselves and the day, then yes, it does it exist.

But we gay people like to call it what everyone else calls it: life.

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33 more reader comments:

  1. I never understood “the gay lifestyle” either. The only differences are the sexes of the couples. That is it!

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 12:04pm
  2. to the writer of this all i can say is bravo well said

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 12:05pm
  3. This couldn’t have been posted at a better time.

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 12:06pm
  4. I live in Oceanside, CA the city council has closed every gay bar gay men can only meet online(usually geared toward sex) or some other way also usually sex(bathrooms?)

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 12:06pm
  5. as long as it’s called a lifestyle, then it’s a choice, and fundies can keep denying we are all made in G-d’s image.

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 12:08pm
  6. @ Thomas…that’s crazy!

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 12:08pm
  7. people choose their religion, which is a life style, and most choose a straight life style which against their inner selves, and assume the same for the rest of us.

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 12:08pm
  8. >Thomas Steve Hendrix, that’s because too many marines were frequenting the bars during their time off.

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 12:10pm
  9. Thanks for this article! Aren´t we really boring? ;-) It is aways upsetting to me when the word “gay lifestyle” is used by certain parties, when really “gay being” is suppsed to be said. It is so wrong to mix these terms up since “being” is not a fashion thing to chose but is an inherent part of one`s personality since birth.

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 12:14pm
  10. gay reality.

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 12:18pm
  11. The problem is their imagination. If I were actually having sex as much(and with as many partners as some claim) as they assume, I wouldn’t have time to do anything else, including eat or sleep. I’m Gay, I live my life, if anything I bitch because of a Lack of Style. Oh to be as “Fabulous” as they claim I am…sheesh.

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 12:19pm
  12. The words “gay lifestyle” makes my skin crawl! A LIFESTYLE is like how much you shop for clothes, or enjoying ice cream. Being GAY is living a LIFE! And just like straight people, involves SO much more than the sexuality part. But of course, gay people are only limited to – and judged – by our sexuality. There would be rioting in the STREETS if straight people had their equal rights based on the kind of sex they had!!!

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 12:19pm
  13. Well said!

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 12:24pm
  14. How true!!!

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 12:37pm
  15. Religion is a choice. Period.

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 12:37pm
  16. Isn’t there a better way of expressing your opinion? One that doesn’t put shame on those who’s lives do feature glitter and leather? That’s not so sex negative?

    I understand what you’re trying to say, but it can’t be denied that there’s not an LGBTQ culture, there very much is, there’s news sites that cater to us. Since we’re all reading an article on one. However, there’s a lot of different cultures, not just one.

    I don’t support the normalization of gay, queer, LGBTQ whatever. We are different and it’s okay to be different, and although I to do not like the term ‘gay lifestyle’ because of how loaded in hate it is, this article leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 12:40pm
  17. I’m a transwoman, and if I sleep with a guy, that makes me gay, and if I sleep with a girl, I’m a faggot for dressing like one. If straight people were judged as I am, nobody would have any rights at all.

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 12:41pm
  18. To be honest… I’ve never seen myself all that different from some people, being gay. I play video games, hang out with friends on the weekend, go to work, eat cereal in them morning, do laundry, make my bed… I’m not seeing a difference between myself and anyone else… The only difference is who I love. -shrug-

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 12:45pm
  19. I always felt different because i like girls and guys like i never belong enywhere but im now with a man who execept that i like girls and have friends who dont mind but nt everyone execept it i recently got a tatoo with a horse with rainbow wing im tired of hiding myself alot of people im close too nows but i refuse to hide myself enymore

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 12:53pm
  20. @cid i totally agree omg

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 1:25pm
  21. Well that’s great Cid, I wish we were all as lucky as you, and to be honest these days my life doesn’t differ much from yours… Except, some of the events that’s shaped who I am, how I vote, centre around being gay. Coming out, being bullied, being gay bashed, getting kicked out of my home at 17. To say I’m just the same as a straight person, who never went through any of that is being disingenuous. Being gay helped shaped who I was, am and who I will become.

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 1:30pm
  22. Waking up, going to work, coming back home, eat and sleep… that pretty sums up what I do much of the time. Sometimes I go out and enjoy an evening with friends. Yes, I can’t deny that there’s a subculture made up by marketing and TV shows, one that comes from the old school clubbing that used to exist and all the judgmental views which created the effeminated, emasculated, way of life that should have been ours and which is still demonstrated in advertizings, as if we were all hairdressers dancing to some Broadway comedies, but it’s only that, a subculture created to belittle our own personalities in order for the white straight male to feel superior to us. But is there really a gay culture, one that is practiced by a majority of members of our community, if such community exists? Not the least bit. I’m gay though it takes only a small part in my life, one that takes place in my desires for another man. The rest of the time, I don’t seek for musicals or shopping at DKNY. I listen to varied music, I watch movies, the same movies heteros watch, but most of all, I am a simple human being seeking for happiness. Fortunately, living in Montreal makes it all easier for me. I wish everybody the same freedom of being I can enjoy in my society which have reached equality for all.

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 1:32pm
  23. @David, who told you straight people never went through rough times? We’re all shaped out by what happened in our lives, especially the hard times. Some straight people are also bullied, kicked out of their homes for whatever reasons. We’re all human beings trying to build social links with others and some are not as fortunate as others. I’ve been bullied for what people thought they knew about me. There are straight kids who are bullied because they are not meeting the pseudo straight values of the society. Yes, you are shaped out by your own experience, though does that mean that your whole life is only directed by your homosexuality (choice of music, of clothes, etc.). Not me. Sorry.

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 1:43pm
  24. The same thing straight people do except they leave off the hate.

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 1:59pm
  25. Martin, I never said straight people didn’t go through rough times. I apologize if I wasn’t clear enough.

    To clarify, my point was, that none of those things would have happened to me if I wasn’t gay, because every single one of them centered around me being gay and dealing with the heteronormative values in our society.

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 2:31pm
  26. I hate that some people have really bad misconceptions about gay people. They’re not anything like what the anti-gays say about them – we are just like everyone else.

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 2:37pm
  27. They deprive themselves of the information because then their arguments AGAINST same-sex relationships would be baseless. In their ignorance they can stay comfortable in their bigoted beliefs. But they’re still ignorant people, at the end of the day.

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 2:38pm
  28. @David- The normalization of LGBTQ would mean that nobody would have to go through the hardship that you went through. I’m all for normalization because normalization means that you are no long an Other. When you are an Other, you are a group set apart to be treated differently. As long as you are an Other, you cannot gain equality.
    The older generation is afraid of losing the strength, safety, and solidarity of the gay identification, but a lot of the younger community doesn’t want to spend their lives fighting and arguing because of their Other status. To support perpetuity of that status is in turn to support the results of being the Other, which is all the discrimination that the LGBTQ community faces. Are you saying that you really want that to continue?
    It is not to say that there isn’t a part of the gay community that flaunts its sexuality, but I feel like saying that the gay lifestyle is just normal life is true and not sex negative. It’s saying that by being gay, people are not inherently prone to glitter and leather. Those who are into it are different – just not simply because they’re gay. Straight people take up leather, glitter, and PDA all the time, but that’s not because they’re straight. That’s a specific subculture, which is what you’re referring to, and is in no way inherently attached or exclusive to the LGBTQ community.

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 3:10pm
  29. Fascists; uneducated and backwards.

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 3:48pm
  30. The Q in LGBTQ stands for Queer. A word that many of us have reclaimed. A word that stands for different, and celebrates that differences.

    Are you telling me that wanting to continue to celebrate that I am different, that I am not the same, will continue the oppression if many? Are you telling me that because people can’t accept things that are different so we should stop trying to educate and all just buy house in the burbs, SUVS.

    Some of us don’t want that, but we don’t begrudge those that do. I like my Queer Community full of fabulous drag queens, dykes on bikes, femmes and butches of all gender, Leather Daddies, Lipstick Lesbians, and everything and anything inbetween. Glitter to Leather.

    You may want to just be a part of the status quo, but I think we’re much better and stronger standing outside of it, and teaching people it’s okay that we do.

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 3:53pm
  31. I just read the article. (I read all the comments first.) And she TOLD IT. I loved each and every single word. Everyone on earth, gay/straight/other needs to truly grasp what it’s saying.

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 5:06pm
  32. To David… I am pretty sure the Q in LGBTQ is QUESTIONING!!!!!…. (L) Lesbian, (G) Gay, (B) Bisexual, (T) Transgender, and (Q) Questioning.

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 7:26pm
  33. That depends on who you ask, but I am not getting into an argument about semantics.

    Posted on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 9:24pm