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Monday, September 29, 2014

Faith, Less, Faith Lost: Fake People (Last in a series)

Who's the "real" Dad?
When my husband I were raising our son we often were referred to as the "gay" Dads.   Which is fine because I am proud to be both. What always amazed me was the curiosity that people had as for which one of us was the "real" parent.  Very often after we introduced ourselves people would make this remark.  Of course if there is a "real" parent, then by order of elimination there would have to be a "fake parent" as well. If there is a "fake" parent, does that mean they get a free pass from PTA? Does the "fake" parent just do the fun stuff regarding parenting like Christmas and Birthday cake? Are they exempt from having to sit at the pediatrician's office or worse, the principal?

I find this to be a recurring theme about gay "acceptance" as well. This idea of real and fake.  I mean in asking about relationships people commonly ask: "who is the woman in your relationship?"  Which of course implies that there needs to be some dynamic regarding penetration, dominance, and some other hetero-normative values. Of course gay culture doesn't diffuse these questions either because gay men (like some straight men) can take Halloween drag to extremes. Then of course are the gender-bending sensibilities that gay men embrace with gusto such as decorating, arts, fashion which until recently were strictly the domain of women and a few effete hetero men.

Those gay boys, so "plastic"
So that brings me to the idea that in general, society sees gay men to some degree as "fake" men. Too often gay men and their female allies address gay men as "boys" or "gay boys" regardless of age and accomplishment.  Too often people can't understand how homosexual men arrange their lives to suit their penises which is probably different for everyone else, I'm not sure.  What I am sure of is that outside of our professional endeavors we are often seen as a bit two dimensional, one of those dimensions being our sexuality the other being our "immaturity." I mean in America, work is work and you're usually judged on how much, or the quality of your work. I work in sales, I make quota, who cares who I sleep with, it's the one place where I'm not "fake". That is a huge advantage we have as Americans. If it's an issue for you, take it up with the Human Resources Dept.

I think where we are considered "fake" is in our new marriages. I remember when I was sixteen and got my new driver's license, my older brother said "what you think you can just take the car a drive around now?"  Yes, that's exactly what it meant. However in his eyes, I was still his little brother he had to drive around.  I think to some degree straight people might still have that attitude. "What, you've been legally married for six months and you think you know about marriage?" is an attitude I'm encountering. Granted we've been together for 19 years and raised a son but those years "in sin" don't count do they? I remember when my former church had a big "gay" wedding and a church member asked me when I would have a "real" wedding at the church? At that point I had been legally married for six years.

Earlier this month I decided to leave my "progressive" church, Coral Gables Congregational.  The Church Council decided the best course of action was to discuss with my husband, the church moderator, that he take away my internet privileges and take down my blog....without my consent. He was asked to "distance himself from me publicly but support me privately". Words like "proper contrition" and "denunciation"were suggested as possible measures. All this from a church that claims "An Extravagant Welcome." I have seen the emails. The senior pastor was copied on several days of emails, and even after my husband resigned as leader of the church, the demands continued.  At several points that week we asked ourselves if this would happen to a straight couple. I mean could a wife or husband in 21st century America really deny their spouse access to the internet or "distance themselves publicly, while supporting them privately". At this point I realized that to the heterosexual council members we were "fake" people.  That somehow we were not whole or real and our relationship and marriage were not real either. Or the council members who proposed this were just douche-bags which I feel is another, very real, possibility.

So, in conclusion. Gay men, don't sell yourselves short. Being called and calling each other "boy" is really demeaning on so many levels that if you think about it, should make you angry. It adds to our "fake" identity as men.  As for everyone else you might think what I have in terms of love and relationships as some kind of(fake) pale imitation of what you have. That gay men are somehow people with "special needs" who want coddling in some kind of "open and affirming" program.  May be, maybe not....but we're not fake. Our struggles are very real, and in a lot of ways, more "real" that what any straight relationships might go through.