Sheila S. Kennedy

It's Not Gay Sex, It's ALL Sex

Filed By Sheila S. Kennedy | January 21, 2007 3:44 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement
Tags: fundamentalists, legislation, LGBT community, Michigan, sex, sin, Ted Haggard, women

I'm not the first person to notice that Americans as a whole are profoundly uncomfortable with sex. Our Puritan heritage is alive and surprisingly well, and it crops up in all sorts of weird places. Michigan, for example.

As Ed Brayton's Dispatches from the Culture Wars recently reported, a Michigan appeals court has ruled that anyone involved in an extramarital affair in that state can be prosecuted for "first-degree criminal sexual conduct"--a transgression that can be punished not just by prison time--but by as much as life in prison! (To their credit, the judges questioned whether the legislature had really intended this result, but the language of the statute they were interpreting left them no choice. Where are those "activist" judges when you need them?)

If you believe that all of the legislators who voted for this statute have been pure and faithful to their own marital vows, I have some swampland in Florida you might be interested in purchasing. Ironically, the Attorney General whose office had prosecuted the case had just publicly admitted to his own marital infidelity.

Scratch a prude, and a hypocrite bleeds. Ted Haggard, anyone?

Puritans evidently never stop thinking about sex. Which makes sense, in a way--healthy people, who accept sexual desire as part of human nature, are unlikely to be obsessed with it. It's like going on a diet--suddenly food is all you can think about. It's the folks who are battling their own desires who are most likely to believe that everyone else is as consumed as they are. The syndrome has been especially visible to the gay community, because people who are publicly and vocally homophobic often turn out to be deeply closeted themselves.

Our contemporary Puritans may have to concede the necessity of marital sex (presumably in the missionary position and for procreation only--don't enjoy it!), but beyond that, they remain certain sex and sin are synonomous. That leads to the belief that women should be submissive to men, dress demurely, and preferably stay in the home, because women have a mysterious power to seduce, to arouse "unChristian" thoughts. And gays? Gays and lesbians are the worst sinners of all, because their sex can't produce children. Gays and lesbians are coupling because they like it! What could be more depraved?

It does no good to tell a Puritan that gay partners make love for the same reasons straight people do--because sex is enjoyable, yes, but also to express love and intimacy. It does no good to try to explain that being a gay man or lesbian involves a lot more than the gender of ones partner, that sexual behavior is not the sum total of sexual orientation. They won't believe it, because they are obsessed with sex to a degree that is difficult for emotionally healthy people to understand. That's why they spend enormous amounts of time and energy trying to censor books, movies and the internet, marginalize gay people, and outlaw infidelity.

As a friend of mine once explained, they go through life terrified that someone, somewhere, might be having a good time.

I'd feel sorry for them if they didn't do so much harm.


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I think the legislature is the first place they should start the investigations for offenders.