Noah Michelson – the Editorial Director of The HuffingtonPost Voice – wrote an interesting piece yesterday with the same title as this post.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of some of the things I’d love to explore on this blog and have other people blog and comment about. In his opinion piece, Michelson laments the growing movement among gay men to play “sex police” – and no, that’s not a sexual roleplay activity. Michelson references articles in the New York Times and the Elite Daily where “policing” of non-monogamous sex, judging the objectification of men by other gay men, and demonizing sex shops in the New York City “gayborhood” of Chelsea. He point blank asks,
How about instead of demonizing sex and the people who are looking for it and having it, we demonize our society that labels the sight of a bulging crotch (plastic or otherwise) as indecent and embarrassing and threatening.
American society has had a long standing aversion to being open about sex (aside from a few decades here and there), owing largely to our puritanical roots and our continued insistence in some parts of our nation to limit discussions on sexual education. But Michelson delves deeper, making the claim that now that marriage is on the table for same sex couples, the community has forgotten that sexual liberation has always been a cornerstone of the gay rights movement, and the community feels that in order to obtain the same rights as our heteronormative counterparts, we must behave just like them as well. We must stop being promiscuous, join stable monogamous relationships and that promiscuous gay men are giving a bad name to the gay men who “are current in, or are actively pursuing, romantic relationships and revere notions of monogamy and family.”
Listen, I’m the first person to believe that monogamous relationships are the way to go, but I’m not about to tell the entire gay community that it’s my way or the highway. I may not agree with everything that Michelson says, in particular, I think he’s guilty of a little of the same rhetoric that he preaches against when he says,
Can you be queer and want a monogamous relationship and two kids and a chocolate labradoodle curled up at the end of your bed where you have sex once a week in the missionary position after the 10:30 rerun of “Seinfeld” has aired? Of course you can.
But I think he’s ultimately right in the end. Gay men who expect the rest of us to “strive to attach a different kind of value to sex, one that does not use it as the sole basis of our collective identify and mode of communication,” are essentially making the exact argument that our straight counterparts lobbed against us as reasons for defending “traditional marriage”. Because the gay rights movement wasn’t about becoming just like heterosexuals; it wasn’t about blending in to heteronormative society. It was (and still is) about obtaining the same rights as opposite-sex couples and being viewed as equals in the eyes of our government. That doesn’t mean we need to abandon ourselves in the process.
So, Michelson is right when he says,
Sexual liberation comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes and flavors and we should all be able to do whatever we want (as long as everyone involved is consenting and no one is being hurt — unless they are asking to be). But the second you start telling me that I’m a bad guy — and what’s more, a bad gay — if I don’t ‘revere notions of the family and monogamy,’ we’ve got a big problem.
So, let’s make a deal: I won’t ask you to have more sex with more people or have sex the same way that I have sex or wear a jockstrap in public or visit a sex shop or try Boy Butter. But you have to stop telling me and everyone else that it’s unsavory to want sex simply for sex’s sake or how it is or isn’t OK to find it or how often it’s OK to want it and with whom and where. When you do that, you’re buying into the same broken nightmare we’ve been fighting against for years.
Penny for your thoughts….