Are you sure you’re gay?

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Bi now, gay later. At least when it comes to boys. Boys try things on for size and pleasure, and then they slide over to the dark side or the fun side, however you see it. In Greek culture, sex between men and boys was considered a normal rite of passage. For our culture, it’s considered taboo. Boys who are attracted to other boys often feel that they can’t act on those desires because of religion or family. However, culturally, the prejudice against homosexuality is much more pronounced in this country against males than against females.

For many parents, having a queer daughter is easier than having a queer son. Girl Scouts might experiment with cuddling and sex play, but Boy Scouts won’t allow gays. Gay women can have families more easily, and gay women don’t seem as “other,” as gay men. Gay women athletes can come out, but gay male athletes have to keep it under wraps. The main reason for this doesn’t have to do with religion, families or “queerness,” but with fear. You might think that two gay women would challenge a man who is insecure, but quite the opposite. Gay women are seen as erotic rather than threatening. The absence of a penis is more acceptable than being presented with two of them. For a man who is comfortable with his own sexuality, a homosexual man would not seem threatening, but for many American men, that is not the case. The fear of homosexual men comes from either sexual insecurity or from a fear of being in the role of a woman. The straight man with a dose of misogyny fears gay men because being in such a relationship would imply the possibility that he would in the position he considers women to be in, the position of powerlessness, being somebody’s bitch.

Although as adults, gay male couples far out earn lesbian couples, as young girls, the line continues to be that girls might “outgrow it.” What starts with play with other girls sometimes evolves into a full blown passion for women, sometimes burns itself out as youthful experimentation. Lesbians call them “LUGS, Lesbians until Graduation.” Life is long, and it’s more fluid now; people are free to move from one gender preference to another. But it isn’t easy in many families and in many parts of this country.

So what do you do with your gay daughter? Ah, the double standard. Keep in mind these rules were started to protect our daughters’ virginity. Most parents are much more lenient with their daughters’ sleepovers with other girls than they would be if their daughter was having a teenage boy sleep over. The great thing about having a lesbian daughter is that your daughter is not going to get pregnant. At least not until she really wants to and either pays a good deal of money or gets cozy with a turkey baster.

When my daughter came out, she was playing softball. There were a lot of sleepovers among the softball girls. It all went downhill from there. Or uphill, depending on your point of view. Girls like sleepovers, but hers escalated in high school. It was a busy time. Both Tobi and her brother had girls “climbing in the bedroom windows.” I was more concerned about her brother than about my daughter. As they say, when you have a son, you only have to worry about one penis, when you have a daughter, you have to worry about every penis in town. But with a lesbian daughter, you don’t have to worry about those dangerous penises, so I let the girls come and go from my daughter’s bedroom and made sure my son was supplied with condoms.

I wanted my children to learn to govern their own passions, to be happy, and not to get pregnant or get anyone else pregnant until they get married, but I don’t think underage sex is wrong, and whether I think it’s wrong or not is irrelevant. Kids have been having sex as teenagers since the dawn of time; you are not going to change it. What you can teach your children is how to live with integrity and compassion and how to understand that there are consequences to actions so that they act wisely.

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Published in: on July 8, 2014 at 2:35 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. I appreciate your perceptive comments in this post, Kate. Having a gay brother, lived in San Francisco for thirty years, and for a while done therapy with gay, lesbian and trans individuals and couples, I know your words ring true. We need to change our culture’s often ignorant and confusing, repressive as well as harmful attitudes around not just homosexuality but sexuality in general–let’s face it, we’re screwed up, a bit “schizo” on the subject. Coming-of-age as healthy sexual beings, with sexuality positively integrated into our sense of self as who we are, mind, body and spirit, is a special concern of mine–in fact, the theme of a novel I am completing as well as a fledgling (very) blog I’m creating. (How do you find the time to post so well and so often?!)

    I look forward to reading more of your posts, on this subject, your travels, and all that inspires you and your poetry. I had the good fortune of being introduced to your work at your recent reading with Ursula Le Guin in Portland (I’m the woman with the book) and I’m so glad!

    Martta Karol


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