A Gay Manifesto (for straight people)
by Michael Robin Cooke.
Permission granted to "Reprint at will"
How is it possible to interact with a Gay person and not offend them? - Or be their friend? This is an important issue for family of Gay people and employers and co-workers of Gay people. It certainly has been okay in our culture to tell jokes about Gay people and to otherwise demean Gay people. How can you be expected to simply let all that go? Is it even possible?
If you don't now know any Gay people, this is still for you. Among your friends, co-workers and family are people who may feel they cannot become close to you because they are Gay.
You can never know if your own Son or Daughter may be Gay - will you be prepared to accept them and let them know your love is unconditional? The alternative is often to never hear from them again once they enter adulthood.
This document exists to help you relate with Gay people well.
The Golden Rule
The best part is that all you have to remember is "treat others as you would like to be treated yourself". It really is as simple as that. Anti-Gay bigotry doesn't exist for people who fully live inside that Golden rule.
It is not easy. Few people are self aware enough to realize their rudeness. Homophobic comments don't culturally seem wrong compared to racist comments. You can be offensive to Gay people and not know it, the bias is so common. If you must recover with "well, you have no sense of humor" -you've already lost. A possibly demeaning joke only works if it's in an already supportive context, (as a Black people can joke about Black people in a way that could seem racist coming from a White person).
The blind spots relating to homophobia are so common it may be necessary to address them independently:
Remember the "Golden Rule" and avoid questions you wouldn't answer yourself - or that you would be reluctant to ask any straight person. Sex is no less taboo to Gay people than it is to straight people.
Gay men very often enjoy anal sex. Some Gay men never have anal sex. Who does what is not your business. You may enjoy some aspect of anal sex yourself - it's unlikely you want to broadcast the fact, let alone the specifics. Bringing up personal sexual practices in inappropriate contexts - it has a name: 'Sexual harassment'. Avoid it. Unless you are also Gay, are a doctor or you are requesting advice - the subject is never relevant.
Some Gay people are very comfortable and open about their sexuality. Allow the Gay person to create his or her own context and boundaries and you'll always be appropriate.
Gay people are not promiscuous. Some Gay people are promiscuous as are some straight people. Some of Earths most promiscuous people are heterosexual married couples that 'swing'. Many Gay people are in life long monogamous relationships despite having no marriage institution available to them.
Realize that there is a general assumption that any single person is potentially promiscuous. The mere fact that Gay people are denied the option of marriage is as responsible for a sexually predatory reputation as any actual behavior on the part of some Gay people.
Gayness as a 'Choice'
Some people believe homosexuality reflects a conscious decision. Most Gay people feel their sexual orientation is intrinsic to who they are and not a decision at all. It's best to keep this opinion private if you cannot relinquish it and wish to have good relations with Gay people.
Please consider these facts.
Most Straight people didn't choose to not be Gay to be able to be Straight. Romantic love itself is widely accepted as being beyond the domain of 'choice'. The Bi-sexual person is defined by the fact of their ability to enjoy romance or sexual relations with people of either gender; Gay people are not Bi-sexual.
Science has made various attempts at solving the mystery of why anyone is Gay or Straight and has yet to find a conclusive answer. Proper scientific method would consider the people's personal experience to be relevant in the absence of more conclusive data: Gay and straight people agree that their own sexual orientation is part of who they are, beyond their conscious control.
Many Gay people want the right to marry. If you cannot agree Gay people should have that right, know your position is a volatile one and expect to offend should you have reason to express it. Please reconsider your position.
There are essentially two primary arguments against Gay marriage:
Argument.1: Gayness is wrong or immoral according to my religious faith.
Rebuttal (a): There is (or should be) a distinction between Church and State. What a religion teaches is not necessarily relevant to civil law.
Rebuttal (b): A religious dictate against promiscuity and wanton behavior does not apply to any couple, of any gender combination, entering a commitment to lifelong monogamy. There are many Churches and religious institutions that reflect this idea and welcome Gay parishioners and perform Gay commitment ceremonies.
Argument.2: Marriage exists for couples to raise families. Gay couples cannot procreate and therefore should not be allowed to marry.
Rebuttal: Many straight married couples do not 'procreate' either by choice or from physical infertility. Procreation is not the defining fact of marriage. No one is invalidating the marriage of straight people for lack of baby producing or child rearing.
Marriage exists for couples to express their love for one another with a legal commitment to a lifelong monogamous partnership. Denying Gay people the right to express their love for one another with a legal marriage seems prejudiced to us.
The lack of a marriage option bars Gay couples from many longstanding cultural institutions and makes many aspects of a lifelong committed relationship extremely difficult. If our culture values the committed relationships and families of Straight people why not value the committed relationships and families of all people?
Yes, Gay people can and do raise families and procreate. Lesbians bear their own children. Often women are willing bear the genetic child of a close Gay male friend. Committed Gay couples can provide excellent loving homes for adopted children. Gay parents may be more likely to adopt the less 'ideal' older child.
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