Teh Gay as First World Issue

Toying with an idea…

  1. Same sex attraction seems to be a universal human and other-species event – not that all species or all humans have it, but it seems common enough to need no special comment. It seems it may be a natural part of  life events, a dysfunction, a mutation or a part of something we’ve not yet discerned.
  2. Throughout most of human history you got married and you raised kids to preserve the family, to care for you in old age, to work the farm, to hunt the woolly mammoth. Sexual attraction, per se, wasn’t an issue. Seemingly – likewise by tradition – same-sex action was used as punishment or pleasure, as venting or whatever, but as a secondary reality.
  3. People were not “Gay or Straight” but rather sexual. Sex did some things (legal/good/social) and some other things (illegal/not good/anti-social) and even some other things (commercial/military/social+anti-social).  In some cultures there were roles for what we might consider as “sexual transgressors” such as effeminate men cross dressing and living as women, but in other cultures these roles did not exist.  These were not sexual identities as we have now, but rather functions of sex.
  4. Marriage, as an institution, preserved so much of society in its very self that the idea of not participating was unthinkable. Until very recently not participating in marriage (unless you were a monastic) also meant that you were become a burden on the family or else alone – totally alone. The spinster aunt in the garret, the bachelor farmer, the crazy cousin who always needs family support.
  5. Only in very wealthy societies do we have the wherewithal to imagine that just because we feel something we must act on it.  Only in wealthy societies can we take a feeling and require it to become our identity – and cause others to develop identities either with us or in opposition to us.
  6. Only in wealthier societies focused on individualism do we have the finances – and the leisure – to explore such things. Wealth alone is not enough: as in many wealthy societies (ancient and modern Empires, including Ancient Rome and the British Empire in the 17th-Early 20th Centuries) heterosexual marriage was not only the norm but de rigueur even for those who were same-sex attracted as a component of social identity and mobility, as a quality of class standing and economic stability. It’s leisure: the time to say ‘I don’t have to grow my own food, care for my parents/children, work-all-day-and-sleep-all-night, so I can explore my feelings’.
  7. In the modern world we have decided that wealth, individualism and freedom of choice/action are supreme moral imperatives. When we “liberate” another society or make economic contact with another society and say things like “wealth and personal freedom” they catch our morals too. Even in “First World” countries poorer communities do not have the same issues because the family is such an important part of fiscal viability that opting out is not considered until one leaves the community.
  8. The choice to be sexual active or not is a freedom granted by our wealth and leisure. It would not be a valid choice, even in a more liberal culture, 150 years ago neither in a less-wealthy culture now.
  9. The idea that we are right and therefore everyone must yield to our desires/cultural choices is as solidly as based on mere personal and/or cultural bias as any religious claim that we are wrong. 

Author: Huw Raphael

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He feeds the homeless and is studying to be a Roman Catholic Deacon. He enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.

%d bloggers like this: