Heteronormativity and the Myth of the ‘Gay Lifestyle’

“…the gay lifestyle is incompatible with happiness and fidelity in human relations.” British broadcast journalist Simon Fanschawe.

How many times have we heard that expression, the “gay lifestyle”. What, exactly, is it? We know what our detractors say, we’re promiscuous and immoral and obsessed with sex and youth. We’re all fundamentally flawed, broken; the gay lifestyle is incompatible with happiness. We’re deeply, deeply miserable (excuses for) human beings who adopt a happy, campy air in order to sucker the next generation into our vast whirlpool of misery and self-loathing. The gay lifestyle is nothing if not self-propagating.

“Family Research Council believes that homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed.  It is by definition unnatural, and as such is associated with negative physical and psychological health effects.” Family Research Council

Not only are the people within the “gay lifestyle” harming themselves, they are harming society at large.

In what ways, exactly, are we harming society? The FRC claims that:

the evidence indicates that “committed” homosexual relationships are radically different from married couples in several key respects:

·  relationship duration
·  monogamy vs. promiscuity
·  relationship commitment
·  number of children being raised
·  health risks
·  rates of intimate partner violence

Gay couples, they claim, have shorter relationships; do not practice fidelity within the relationships they do have; have less children; contract and spread more diseases; and as the icing on the cake, batter their partners.

Now, call me crazy, but infidelity, promiscuity and spousal abuse aren’t the sole preserve of gay people, nor have they ever been. For every heterosexual couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, there’s a single parent raising a brood of children by different fathers; there’s a man beating his wife; there’s someone cheating on their partner or living in an open relationship.

If there is such a thing as the “gay lifestyle” then, it stands to reason, there’s also a corresponding “straight lifestyle”. What, exactly, is that? Well according to the FRC, straight people don’t have sex outside wedlock, they marry and stay married, the husband goes out to work and provides for his family while the wife stays at home and raises their brood of rosy-cheeked (straight) children. They don’t drink to excess, take drugs, cheat, abuse each other or catch any nasty diseases. They pay their taxes and they go to church.They’re the Waltons, basically.

There are, of course, families all over the world living that rose-tinted 1950s ideal. There are also families all over the world who don’t conform to that paradigm at all: single people living alone; single parent families; people in open or polyamorous relationships; unmarried, co-habiting couples; gay people both single and settled. There’s also the darker side of human existence: substance abusers; spouse abusers; children living in state-run homes; people living in cardboard boxes under the subway. What lifestyle do they belong to? Are a straight couple in an open relationship part of the “gay lifestyle”?

“I don’t believe kids are born gay. I don’t have all the answers, but I believe there’s a spirit of immorality involved at the root level. I believe it often enters in through some sort of abuse and the lies of the enemy that follow. I believe it involves emotional and spiritual brokenness.” Charisma Magazine editor Jennifer LeClaire

The truth is that hate groups such as the FRC, and even those on the less-radical political right, wave an outdated and often unobtainable ideal in front of the queer community and proclaim it to be the norm of straight existence. They use their cookie-cutter image to belittle and demean our relationships, to deny our emotional lives and to propagate the lie that we are somehow lesser human beings – less moral, less fulfilled and less happy; that our acts of love are sinful and disgusting; that our attempts to build lives for ourselves – homes, families – are but a poor imitation of what straight people enjoy as a matter of routine, and are ultimately doomed to failure.

And yet, and yet, when we do strive to emulate their experience, when we form monogamous relationships and want to marry our partners and raise children and go to church, we are denied at every opportunity. Our participation in those hallowed institutes would damage them irreparably. Allegedly.

The truth is there is no such thing as a “gay lifestyle”, any more than there is a “straight lifestyle”, but we can’t win. Groups like the FRC compare statistics about elements such as relationship longevity, citing the far greater number of heterosexual couples celebrating their twentieth or thirtieth or fiftieth anniversary as some kind of “proof” that us queers are incapable of sustaining a life-long attachment to a single partner. What they don’t consider, of course, is the fact that twenty or thirty or fifty years ago such relationships were not only not recognised, but illegal and actively prosecuted. They say that we’re promiscuous, but the way we have been hunted in the past virtually guarantees promiscuity as the only way to avoid detection. If a partner doesn’t know your name or address, they can’t grass you in to the police to save their own skin.

That any gay couples at all get to celebrate fifty years together is a bloody miracle, and yet many do. Would all those smug marrieds have gone through what those gay couples did in order to be together?

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Kate Aaron is the bestselling author of contemporary and fantasy gay romances.
Find all her books on AmazonAReB&N,  iTunesSWSony & Kobo

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