Saturday, October 18, 2008

Turning Gay

Sometimes I find myself in the midst or even on the edge of conversations where it becomes nearly impossible not to jump in and share. I usually refrain, but not without sometimes having to do something physically painful, like biting off a finger.

One such "conversation starter" that I hear repeatedly here in the great state of Oklahoma is "he turned gay". ????? Ok, I realize that not everyone has had the luxury of living in Gay Boot-Camp 101 the way I did for 7 years. But, come on...."turned gay"? And these are not religiously fundamentalist folks who are spouting this little turn of words. For the most part, these are reasonably educated people who just haven't taken the time to really think about the implications of their words.

Many of the religiously fundamentalist folks (even the educated ones) don't believe there's any such thing as a gay person to begin with. They've all ready got big banners printed up with the words "I TOLD YA SO" ready to take to the streets the next time there's a big earthquake in San Francisco. I won't even address that kettle of rotten fish.

I'll speak from my own experience which has been enhanced with a great deal of research, relationship with actual gay people (Christian ones, *gasp*), and actual time spent contemplating this stuff.

Tdub (Todd) didn't TURN gay. He was gay when I married him. In fact, he was gay during his first marriage-yes, the one where he fathered two sons. Apparently, the fact that he hadn't admitted to anyone, most importantly HIMSELF, that he was gay makes it appear to the very casual observer that he "turned" gay.

I went out with this guy a few weeks ago who, upon hearing a few scant details of my marriage history responded with "Well, you aren't going to turn me gay." There was a pause in the conversation big enough to drive a semi through, and in an act of grace almost as big as the one it took to stay married to Tdub, I simply let that go. Sometimes it's just not worth it, not to mention the fact that we had a really awesome dessert coming.

Tdub "came out", he didn't "turn gay". He did make choices that were different than the ones I was hoping for upon that decision. For him, coming to terms with the way that he had always been meant divorcing me and tearing our family apart. I'll not mince words here. However, I believe it was, for him, a matter of integrity and I choose to respect that decision and live with integrity in my own life. Love is patient, love is kind, love NEVER fails....even if others make decisions that hurt me.

Another really bothersome aspect of the whole "turned gay" opinion is that many times the people speak with great authority yet have nothing more than having watched TV to back up their belief. The closest many of them get to actually having any sort of relationship with a living, breathing gay person is some lady at work who had a son who "turned gay". You don't have to talk to them very long to figure this out. Nevermind that there's been scholarly research done on the subject as well as an internet chocked full of articles, studies, and anecdotal information of the sort I offer here. It would be like me giving you my opinion of the Vietnam War based on nothing more than having watched M*A*S*H reruns....and yes, I realize that show was set in Korea!

The bottom line is this; I could no more "turn gay" than I could turn into a purple bunny rabbit. And if I WERE a purple bunny rabbit, I would hope that the other bunnies would allow me to live among them free of shame and able to make decisions about my bunniness that did not include trying to "turn" me into something I never was.

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Iain said...

Great post, Pam, which says a lot of things that really need saying.

Let's see some more posts with the label "bunniness" - evidently this label brings out the best in you :-D

Anonymous said...

Hi Pam, we communicated briefly almost 1 year. At that time I was using the name Sacho, and if you can't remember it's not important. I read this post yesterday (Oct. 18) and I've been thinking about what you said on the subject of "turning" gay. Most people on here seem to speak in terms of gay and straight, and I was curious if the thought ever crossed your mind Pam, that some men might be bisexual on some level while being married to a woman before choosing to come out as gay?

I don't want to label people or anything, but sometimes, much like today, I wonder if anyone else out there has had similar thoughts.

grace said...


I do remember visiting with you! How have you been?

I don't talk much (or any) about bisexuality because it's not part of my experience. I do know that it exists. seems to me that if a man has made the commitment to his wife and he IS bisexual...well...that would be just too bad for him. He's made the commitment to his wife and he should honor it. Does that sound harsh? If he comes out as "gay" then he's "gay"...right?

Because of my Christian worldview, I must insist that people live with integrity towards one another they gay, straight, or bi.

Anonymous said...

OK, so I'm not alone on this one, few. I've came across some very complicated and sometimes harsh opinions on bisexuality. Like any sexual oreintation it is difficult to define.

Sometimes, I have to wonder if men who were once married to women and had sexual relations with them weren't bisexual and just simply wanted to be with a man for a change. In this instance, not a moment of being true to themselves by admitting they've been hiding a part of themselves, but a self-centred desire to have something different.

Once again I would agree that anyone defining themselves as bisexual ought to hounour the commitment they've made to their spouse. I don't believe that you're being harsh Pam. Once again it's one of those condition of the heart momments that each inidividual must account for in this life or the next.

As for myself I'm doing very well. I'm as happy as a pig in mud. I just had my first wedding anniversary yesterday (Oct. 19) and we have a little one the way, due Dec. 10.

I've been reading your blog quietly, not having much to add or ask and I read this post and I was aching to comment. Thank you for your response Pam.

Norm! said...

Wow. "Turned gay" is so often used as a joke that I can't imagine anyone taking it seriously - let alone the mean implication that a spouse could turn their partner gay.

Curlz said...

First of all - I would like to smack that guy in the face! How completely insensitive!! You shared a very tender part of your life experience and he said just about the stupidest thing I can imagine anyone saying. I hope you enjoyed your dessert!! You deserve it.

As usual, you make some wonderful and valid points. People do not have a clue because they don't know the human being, only the stigma.

Hoping the best for you in all things ~ Curlz

Carol said...

Dear Pam - there are so many misconceptions about someone who comes out, and some of the people believe that one "turns gay." Still others assume only that there is only one "gay lifestyle," defined by wild and crazy, frequent, indiscreet same-sex activity. These same people never consider that although sexual orientation is a given for each individual, behavior can be loving and committed, monogamous and long-lasting, whether it is gay or straight.

Still, although the natural attractions stay the same for most people, some gay men who have been married to women explain that although one is gay, and has always been gay, that during their marriages, they participated in and demonstrated love. This does not mean someone is bisexual, but rather that love can prevail for a time, but the orientation is still constant.

Queers United said...

great post

grace said...

HCT: Congratulations on the new addition to your family! I'd love to see pictures after the arrival!

Norm!: I wish now I'd had my wits about me to have responded with "oh...just give me some time to work my magic...."

Curlz: You are right in that I'm finding that many people in this part of the country don't consider gay people as real, live human beings. They are like an enigma or's odd and very unsettling.

Carol: Right. I did happen to meet someone a few weeks ago ( SULPHUR), who said he was bisexual. He shared this with me only because he was with a girl at this gathering, and he knew that I recognized him as being gay. It would be difficult to fully explain the way the conversation went so I won't attempt it. And it is difficult to wrap my mind around it but then, I don't really need to...I guess. I personally would not be comfortable dating someone who was bisexual...but maybe that's just me.

QU: thanks!

Norm! said...

"...just give me some time to work my magic...."


David said...

It's amazing the assumptions that go behind these sorts of things, isn't it? Love ya, Pam!

grace said...

David: Hey guy!! YES....assumptions. That's it right there. Assumptions with absolutely no basis in fact OR reality. I'm the first to admit that there's so much we don't know about how and why some people are gay.....but surely we've come further than THIS.

Iain said...

Just meant to say Pam,

Please don't bite off ALL your fingers in attempting to stop jumping in when someone says "turned gay".

If you bite off all your fingers, you won't be able to blog any more & that would be a great loss :-D

Robert said...

I am now turning in my office chair -- and I am gay. I am turning gay. ;-D