Alex Blaze

Being boring, bored, and gay

Filed By Alex Blaze | September 11, 2010 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Media
Tags: iowa, marriage, study, yukio mishima

If I believed this, I'd be sad. Boredom is a problem to be solved, not a moral value.

boredom.jpgIn sharp contrast, married gays often depict a lifestyle and relationship that seems suburban stable, only now they have a marriage license like other couples.

"Not much has changed," said Ledon Sweeney of Iowa City, who married his partner of 12 years. "We live pretty boring lives. We go to work; we mow our lawn, we pay our mortgage, and we go on vacation if we can save enough money."

The linked article is about how marriage in Iowa, one year after same-sex marriage was legalized, is pretty much the same as it was before. Fine.

But why do gays need to always stress how boring our lives are? Who do we think we're helping?

This sort of talk gives me nothing but vicarious existential angst; if being bored is the most one can aspire to, then I think someone has a serious problem with finding meaning. It reminds me of this quotation from Yukio Mishima's Sailor who Fell from Grace with the Sea that bothered me a lot when I first read it but is making more and more sense now:

I asked my old man a question: "Dad, is there any purpose in life?" You know what I was getting at, don't you, what I really meant? Father, can you give me one single reason why you go on living? Wouldn't it be better to just fade away as quickly as possible? But a first-class insinuation never reaches a man like that. He just looked surprised and his eyes bugged and he stared at me. I hate that kind of ridiculous adult surprise. And when he finally answered, what do you think he said? "Son, nobody is going to provide you with a purpose in life; you've got to make one for yourself."

How's that for a stupid, hackneyed moral! He just pressed a button and out came one of the things fathers are supposed to say. And did you ever look at a father's eyes at a time like that? They're suspicious of anything creative, anxious to whittle the world down to something puny they can handle. A father is a reality-concealing machine, a machine for dishing up lies to kids, and that isn't even the worst of it: secretly he believes that he represents reality.

I said it used to bother me. I'm beginning to understand it and know that while Mishima's answer (study, revolution, then public self-disembowelment) isn't mine, it's a question definitely worth posing.

Life's short and we should try to live it to the fullest. While some boredom is to be expected, I just don't get people who love being bored so much that they'll tell a researcher they're constantly bored and a researcher who'd then publish it as a validation of public policy. If anything, someone should equate the boredom with deep suffering and realize that the public policy in question has negative consequences.

Perhaps that's not what the couple meant when they said their lives are boring, that maybe they're having a grand ol' time doing all sorts of crazy things and just told the researcher that they're bored because they think it advances an agenda. Who knows. But I don't think that's the best message to be sending to the youth who are just coming to terms with their sexuality: The most you can hope for is an uneventful life that will soon be forgotten. That makes me choke, my throat constrict with the realization that there there may be nothing to live for.

Why aren't we giving each other something to live for? An exciting life doesn't have to be violence or partying all the time or sex sex sex. A salad made from vegetables you grew yourself is pretty damn exciting to me: the miracles of life and energy and flavor all in a bowl, for you man, for you! Get your head stuck in the books to live in someone else's world for a while, intimately knowing another human being's world according to them.

Because we're free, being gay is freedom. Coming out should be like taking the redpill - you don't have to live like common people.

What if we replace the boredom message with: Being gay will take you places you can't even imagine now, forces you to take your life into your own hands. You'll be introduced to an intimacy, a pleasure, an excitement, and an intellectualism that heterosexuals will never know.

I would have loved for someone to have told me that when I was younger, instead of figuring out that it's entirely true on my own.


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Alex, it's pretty obvious to me why they stress the boredom factor - they don't want to make straight people envious of us ;-)

There have been times in my life that were too exciting for my taste, and I have often prayed: let me live in boring times.
But I agree with you about the vegetables, I'm growing tomatoes.

Don't worry, I get that. I've been reading sentiment like that from all sorts of people for years, but there was just something about this one article that just made me finally post about it here.

While they're saying that to advance an agenda, that doesn't make it OK. Either:

1. They're have incredibly exciting lives doing things like solving mysteries and flying all over the world, and they just lied to a researcher to skew the results in their favor, which would still mean that they were pushing boredom as a value,

2. They aren't bored all the time, watching the paint dry and/or the grass grow, but they're trying to conform to what they see as a boring life, which still means they see boredom as a value, or

3. They actually do have boring lives like they said, they work, and eventually they'll keel over and thank god nothing exciting happened.

There are options out of "boring" and "bad kind of exciting." Why can't we talk about those? The good kind of exciting doesn't necessarily lead to the bad kind, even though that's taken as a given in our Puritan culture.

I think life is only boring if we allow it to be. We define our limits or we surrender them to outside beliefs or influences. Design your life (as interesting/exciting as you want) and then live it.

Life is a buffet - enjoy.

The linked article was about married gays, not gays in general. By stating the mundaneness of his married life, Mr. Sweeney was essentially saying that his marriage was no different from that of any heterosexual couple. This is the polar opposite of what the religious right would have everyone believe.

Long-term relationships, state-sanctioned or not, can be full of meaning. All of those boring things we do on a day-to-day basis--- mowing the lawn, washing dishes, doing housework, running errands--- can be full of meaning if we remember why we're doing them. We're doing them out of love, out of an unswerving belief in the essential goodness and rightness of that relationship.

Meaning, not excitement? I dunno, Brad. Especially since I do all those things too - housework, errands, dishes, I don't have a lawn - but they don't take up all my time and I don't find them particularly boring since they're mixed in with other stuff.

I get that people have to work and there are boring things people have to do, but to say that one's entire life is boring? People who have meaning in their lives can answer: doesn't meaning cancel out boredom?

Fortunately, you did remind me that I'm safe if I don't get married. That Mishima passage above is part of his longer discourse on his hatred of fathers (not biological fathers, but fathers who are domesticated and spend time with their kids).

Thanks for your response, Alex. I agree: if life was all work and no play, it definitely wouldn't be worth living.

That song is 20 years old next month... one of my all time favorites "Some are here and some are missing in the 1990s..."

I think that folks have a right to live boring lives. Believe it or not, that appeals to many many folks--to live quiet, unassuming, unremarkable lives and share every day with the folks you care with the most. Not everyone is cut out for the fast lane. Not everyone wants the lime light. The idea of either is absolutely revolting to some.

God knows I'm not ONE of those people, but you can bet I respect and celebrate their decision to be happily boring for their lives.

I think that folks have a right to live boring lives

I don't disagree! I'm not going to be suing anyone for being boring.

But I would make a distinction between "quiet" and "boring." If someone can find excitement/meaning/purpose in solitude or meditation or living apart from others, more power to them.

I think those gay couples are just using the wrong word. I would say it's ordinary or typical rather than boring.

I would describe my life as quiet and slow. We live in a rural area, and we have an pretty big plot of land to take care of. And we enjoy it. We have blackberries, apple trees and even a few redwood trees.

I've seen some gay couples describe it as "conservative." Which makes my head hurt because we still have liberal values...that still clash with some of the folks with conservative values in the area.

Alex, have you ever read any Albert Camus? Especially The Myth of Sisyphus.