Friday, July 22, 2011

'Curing' the Gay--and the Straight

okay, the bachmanns are slimes.  no problem with that.  and from what i've seen, the 'pray away the gay' pseudo-counselors are all homophobes.  further, studies show that you can't 'change' sexual preferences through any form of psychological therapy.  but...

every time the discussion comes up, i feel the appropriate anger at people trying to 'cure' others of something totally reasonable. and each time, there's the little piece of my mind that says, yes, but there's a third story somewhere that isn't being talked about.

what if you are a homosexual man or woman who really hates their attraction, who really wants to be straight, or at least not gay?  of course one instantly thinks that any such emotion must stem from self-hatred, which itself stems from the constant emotional battering of a heterosexist society.  certainly that is one likely scenario.

yet i still wonder if sexual preference might work the same way gender identification does: that is, some people might simply -- or not-so-simply---feel a strong alienation from what their bodies seem to be telling them they are.  we have come to realize that there are people who are genetically male or female and are so tormented in their gender that they have drastic surgery to transform themselves into the gender they deeply feel to be their real one.  might it not work with sexual attraction as well?

and if so, what we need is not only a rejection of the homophobic efforts to 'cure' people, but also to an effort to envision a decent, non-judgemental mode of helping people with these needs, as we have found models to help people with the process of transgendering.

one starting point might be to consider it a question of anyone who might wish to change sexual orientation. this means the assumption, given the great variety of human needs in every area, that some heterosexuals might truly need to be homosexual.  in the women's movement in the 70s, i knew straight women who wished they were gay--to an extent, i was one of them.  'to an extent' only because it didn't go deep enough for me to really explore it or pursue any possible means of changing my sexuality.  i know i was a little overly romantic about the logical extension of 'sisterhood is powerful' --since relationships with men were pretty ridiculous, relationships with women would be great [' one of your own kind, stick to your own kind'].

not a little overly romantic, come to think of it--a lot overly romantic.   the more lesbian couples i knew, the more i saw the duh factor.  lesbian relationships were as varied as straight ones were, and women weren't always warm and fluffy with each other.  so my rose-colored yearning to be gay faded into a general disgruntlement and allowed me to grow into a nice curmudgeonly old spinster, as i'd wished to be when i was a kid.  then again, i saw the damage that so=-called 'political lesbians' could do to themselves and their newfound mates.  the ones who were able to change comfortably tended to already be bisexual, and it wasn't so much a change in orientation as a choice within an expansive orientation.  the others eventually went back to sleeping with the enemy.

but i know there were other women whose attraction to lesbianism was far stronger than mine, and perfectly real. they were attracted to lesbianism, but not to women.  looking back, it seems likely to me that there were more such women, and men in a comparable position, but with no vocabulary, no context, even to define what they felt.  and if that's the case, there must always have been such people. there must be such people now. and there must be people who are attracted to their own gender and yearn not to be, for reasons far too deep and complex to define away,  as homosexuality itself is too deep to define away; as transgender needs are too deep to define away.  i fear that if we don't somehow look to that possibility, expand our comprehension to include them, we leave them no resources but the bachmann types, and we leave the straight people who want to be gay with no resources at all, except perhaps confusion and hypocrisy.   those, of course, are always in abundant supply.  compassion, acceptance of complexity, the willingness to envision things beyond what we know or experience--they're a little harder to find.

No comments: