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A few weeks ago, I wrote a Mother’s Day tribute to women who, aside from my mother, have had pivotal, maternal influence on me. I also guessed in that column that there would be some ”ex-gay” backlash since I wrote about being closer to my mother than to my father.
Sure enough, local ex-gay champion Sharon Kass felt a need to reach out: ”Your article, ‘I Want My Mommy,’ in the May 15 issue of Metro Weekly describes the classic family triangle that produces homosexual sons. … Ex-gay is the way, Mr. O’Bryan.”
Kass’ note brought me back to that question that many gay people likely ask themselves, particularly when they’re still finding their gay footing: If I could press a magic button and be straight, would I? We’re curious animals and we tend to enjoy the hypothetical. Would I rather be dumber, but happier? Better looking, but vain? Of course I’d rather be the hot, stupid, happy guy who keeps looking in the mirror. Who wouldn’t?
As for the gay question, I look first to my father and older brother. Both straight — even if my father may have once muttered something about guys giving better hand-jobs. My father was something of a philanderer, but also a very charming ”life of the party” sort. My brother is a devoted husband and father who tries not to miss Mass on Sunday, yet is very socially progressive. They’re both mad for baseball.
Were I straight, would I be like them? To a degree, certainly. Would I be similar to my own gay self? Perhaps a bit.
Overall, though, I’ve got to admit that I don’t think the world would be better off with Straight Will. The last time I tried to pass as hetero was in high school. Lord, was I an arrogant fucker. Granted, lots of boys in high school cannot help but see themselves as hot shit. Though that level of hubris would surely have abated — no energy source on earth is powerful enough to keep teen smugness glowing hot forever — my personality would’ve been on a much different trajectory had I been straight. I think I would’ve ended up cocky, somewhat mean, insecure and too serious. I quite likely would’ve stuck with journalism, but I would demand war-zone assignments and hazard pay. I’d smoke cigars and tell sexy bartenders (just the women, of course) about some weekend I hung out with Matthew McConaughey. Rather than walking to work, I’d be driving my mid-life-crisis Hummer or Porsche.
Maybe I would’ve turned out okay. I’ve met plenty of terrific straight guys, men I genuinely admire. But except for a couple straight porn stars, I’m not admiring them for where they stick it. Inversely and accordingly, I shouldn’t expect anyone, Ms. Kass included, to disdain me for where I stick it — presuming we’re talking consensual sex between adults, of course.
So with Capital Pride upon us, what better time than now to say, ”Hell no, I wouldn’t push that button.” If for no other reason, I’m the ”D.C. domestic partner” equivalent of married. It’s one thing to end a relationship by being honest: ”Honey, I’m gay.” It would be quite another to end one out of magic-button convenience.
While we’re at it, I’m still baffled that anyone cares. With myriad interpretations of the Bible, holy pronouncements from various religions about what to eat or how to wear one’s hair, and at least one openly gay imam, the damnation argument holds little weight. Really, if you’re playing the God card against gay people, you’re just being a jerk and using religion as an excuse. I doubt seriously that there can be many people who really want to advocate for equality for gay people, but stop themselves for fear of God’s wrath. I’m more inclined to think they just find same-sex fornication icky. Well, who asked you?
It all becomes more obvious when you look at trans-phobia. The Iranian religious establishment has issued fatwas endorsing gender-reassignment surgery, and they’re just about the bottom of the barrel when it comes to tolerance. It’s painful watching right-wing Christians come up with excuses to oppose transgender people being … well, just being, actually. Sodomy may be an action, but a transsexual, sexually active or not, is still an abomination to some. Where’s the ”sin”?
I’ve also heard some screwy arguments about civilizations falling when gay people are accepted. But what goes up must come down; every civilization ”falls” in one way or another eventually. Being oppressive doesn’t guarantee continuity — ask the Soviets.
I am gay. I am not only proud to be gay, but grateful. To my gay peers who wish they were otherwise: Don’t go thinking that heterosexuality is some magic elixir for eternal happiness. To straight people who wish we would play straight or go away: Stop obsessing about gay people having sex — it’s not a healthy fixation! Get another hobby! I can assure you that letting your guard down will not increase your chances of being gang raped by a pack of your own gender.
We’ve said it before, and as long as Ms. Kass and her peers are out there, it must be reiterated: ”We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it.” And if you can’t get used to it, keep it to yourself.
Will O’Bryan, Metro Weekly‘s managing editor, was born as the Stonewall Riots ended, making him a Stonewall Baby, he insists. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.