Behavior and Not a Person (May 11, 2005)
www.banap.net (behavior and not a person): This is a web site by Larry Houston. Some of my writings on homosexuality and society are presented here. The subject of homosexuality is personal to me. Up until about ten years ago I believed I was a homosexual.
The majority of the information presented here is from the books and articles written and published by those advocating for homosexuality and homosexuals themselves. Included on this website is my story, that also includes discrimination I faced at Harvard University for being ex-gay. But I choose to self-identify myself as a former homosexual. I am employed at Harvard University in Harvard University Dining Services cooking in the freshman-dining hall, Annenberg Hall. Most of the information I have presented here comes from Harvard University Libraries. I have much more information on homosexuality that I hope to present in the future as a book. What one does, homosexuality or who one is, a homosexual. The case for the first statement is much stronger.
There are many things we can do. Can I do this? may be the wrong question to ask. The better question to ask is Should I do this? Also, to be taken into consideration besides the consequence of a particular action is will this act be repeated to the extent that it becomes detrimental to our well-being or the well-being of others. Many things done once or in moderation may be acceptable resulting in little harm to ourselves or to others. But today there are many behaviors or addictions that have resulted from what was intended to be a singular act or acts done in moderation.
Homosexuality certainly may be included in this discussion. When we understand, what homosexuality is all about in a meaningful, open and honest discussion everyone will benefit. Just because our bodies will respond to same-sex sexual stimuli, should we repeatedly allow it to do so. This quote used by many including the German theologian Martin Luther I found very helpful in overcoming my struggle with homosexuality. These may not be the exact words, but the ideal is captured.
You cannot stop the birds from flying over your head. But you can stop them from building a nest in your hair.
Homosexuality is a relationship issue. We all have a desire to love and be loved, to know and to be known, and a longing for belonging. I also speak of illegitimate and legitimate ways of meeting our need for relationship with one another. So, when we are speaking in terms of relationships, in addition to homosexuality there are many other behaviors and addictions that may be better understood. But I am addressing homosexuality here and what my struggle with homosexuality means to me. I hope that you may gain insights that are helpful to you. Today my life reflected in terms of my relationship to myself and to others has been radically transformed as I have overcome the relationship issues involved in homosexuality. It is this transformed life that is seen by others.
I often speak of the lie of homosexuality. This lie is that through homosexuality I thought I could have some of my emotional and relationship needs for same-sex intimacy met. But homosexuality is an illegitimate way of meaning a legitimate relationship need for same-sex intimacy. The substitution of physical sexual acts with another person of the same sex will not completely fulfill or meet our needs for same-sex intimacy. Yet in some instances they may partially do so. Intimacy is more than the sum total of emotional and physical acts.
We all change physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and sexually over time. The terms often used are growth and maturity. So, one way of understanding homosexuality is as sexual immaturity, and not as change. Although there is change involved, with homosexuality the changes are in homosexual behaviors, what one does and not who one is, a homosexual. What may be applicable here is thinking of childhood. Everyone goes through relationship developmental growth stages in relating to members of both sexes. There is a stage in most people’s lives where for a boy the girls have cooties and are to be avoided. The same is seen from a girls’ perspective. This stage may be generalized around the age of ten. In this stage relationships are centralized between members of the same sex. This is shortly followed by the relationship developmental growth stage where it is cool to have a boyfriend or girlfriend. This may be seen around twelve years of age.
Another growth or maturity milestone is also marked around this time, puberty. The effects of puberty upon our physical bodies and emotions are perhaps the most dramatic changes that we go through in such a relative short span during our lifetime. At this time in our lives things may take on a greater sexual aspect to them. For some individuals, they will continue to be more comfortable to centralize their relationships among same-sex peers. But to begin framing them in a homosexual context requires great caution. Greater concern is with the addition of same-sex physical sexual acts to some of these relationships. Doing so will only the increase confusion of these relationships. For many individuals, it may begin to re-enforce the ideal that they are homosexual. But rather it is best to understand them as illegitimate attempts for same-sex intimacy. In doing so there will be many helpful and constructive ways for supporting individuals and for preventing them from developing behaviors and patterns of relationships that result in what today we call homosexuality.
For various reasons, historically non-gender conforming behavior is often equated with homosexuality. So, labeling others as homosexuals only encourages the adoption of homosexuality that may include behaviors and acts. Once again, we are adding a sexual aspect for which in many individuals it is not necessarily so.
Throughout history there have been individuals who have committed same-sex physical sex acts, homosexuality. But the idea of a person being a homosexual may be historically traced to the 1860s in Germany. It was then within a medical and scientific discourse that behaviors, which one did and were see as sin or a crime, now began to define who one was. Individuals who committed these behaviors were seeking to legalize them, on the basis that there are some people who are homosexual, a different and distinct person. Within this medical and scientific discourse in the past 140 years it is still not possible to determine whether there is such a class of distinct individual, a homosexual. But what has resulted in modern western culture and society is an increased normalization and legitimatization of same-sex physical sexual acts. Resulting in greater numbers of individuals who commit these acts and behaviors and who suffer negative consequences. These consequences are rejection by the culture and society along with physical harm to their bodies brought about through the acts and behaviors they commit.
What I have attempted to say is that just because my body is able to respond to same-sex stimuli, my question is should I encourage this response. Intimacy is more than the sum total of emotional and physical acts. The substitution of physical sexual acts with another person of the same sex will not completely fulfill or meet my needs for same-sex intimacy. This is an illegitimate way of meeting a legitimate need for same-sex intimacy. For many others and myself we did this at an early age when we were unaware of what we were doing and unaware of the consequences that would result. And this is the core of homosexuality. I can, but should I?
The following three quotes are by individuals who choose to self-identify as homosexual. Duberman and D’Emilio are university professors, of the authors Kirk and Madsen, one graduated from Harvard University and the other was a professor at Harvard University. May it be concluded from their quotes that they too agree with the following? That is: Homosexuality is what one does, and not who one is, a homosexual.
It isn’t at all obvious why a gay rights movement should ever have arisen in the United States in the first place. And it’s profoundly puzzling why that movement should have become far and away the most powerful such political formation in the world. Same gender sexual acts have been commonplace throughout history and across cultures. Today, to speak with surety about a matter for which there is absolutely no statistical evidence, more adolescent male butts are being penetrated in the Arab world, Latin American, North Africa and Southeast Asia then in the west.
But the notion of a gay identity rarely accompanies such sexual acts, nor do political movements arise to make demands in the name of that identity. It’s still almost entirely in the Western world that the genders of one’s partner is considered a prime marker of personality, and among Western nations it is the United States - a country otherwise considered a bastion of conservatism - that the strongest political movement has arisen centered around that identity.
We’ve only begun to analyze why, and to date can say little more than that certain significant pre-requisites developed in this country, and to some degree everywhere in the western world, that weren’t present, or hadn’t achieved the necessary critical mass, elsewhere. Among such factors were the weakening of the traditional religious link between sexuality and procreation (one which had made non-procreative same gender desire an automatic candidate for denunciation as unnatural). Secondly, the rapid urbanization and industrialization of the United States, and the West in general, in the nineteen-century weakened the material (and moral) authority of the nuclear family, and allowed mavericks to escape into welcome anonymity of city life, where they could choose a previously unacceptable lifestyle of singleness and nonconformity without constantly worrying about parental or village busybodies pouncing on them. (Duberman, Left Out, 414-415.)
I have argued that lesbian and gay identity and communities are historically created, the result of a process of capitalist development that has spanned many generations. A corollary of this argument is that we are not a fixed social minority composed for all time of a certain percentage of the population. There are more of us than one hundred years ago, more of us than forty years ago. And there may very well be more gay men and lesbians in the future. Claims made by gays and nongays that sexual orientation is fixed at an early age, that large numbers of visible gay men and lesbians in society, the media, and schools will have no influence on the sexual identities of the young, are wrong. Capitalism has created the material conditions for homosexual desire to express itself as a central component of some individuals’ lives; now, our political movements are changing consciousness, creating the ideological conditions that make it easier for people to make that choice. (D’Emilio, Capitalism and Gay Identity, p. 473-474 in The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader by Henry Abelove, Michele Aine Barale and David M. Halperin)
In short, the gay lifestyle - if such a chaos can, after all, legitimately be called a lifestyle - it just doesn’t work: it doesn’t serve the two functions for which all social framework evolve: to constrain people’s natural impulses to behave badly and to meet their natural needs. While it’s impossible to provide an exhaustive analytic list of all the root causes and aggravants of this failure, we can assevervate at least some of the major causes. Many have been dissected, above, as elements of the Ten Misbehaviors; it only remains to discuss the failure of the gay community to provide a viable alternative to the heterosexual family. (Kirk and Madsen, After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of the Gay’s in the 90s, p.363)
This web site established by Larry a former homosexual, is to help others gain a greater understanding of homosexuality. The context is to lobby against the legalization of same-sex relationships in Massachusetts. There is more to Larry then as a former homosexual, who has become politically active and who helps others to overcome homosexuality. I would like to ask you to visit another web site, www.as4us.org where you may begin to know Larry who teaches English during the summer in the Ukraine.