05 December 2009

The Talk With Dad, Final Chapter

This is the last installment. Dad's in regular font, I'm in italics.

Something I haven't understood, taking the civil and the moral issues and trying to separate the two, because to me it's more of a moral issue than a civil one, but what civil rights or in the courts or whatever, what is it that the man/woman spouses have civilly that two people with a civil union don't have? Just give me some key ones.

On a federal level, I think the number is a little over 1000 legal benefits and advantages, for example, a married couple is entitled to certain federal deductions for medical expenses. I'd have to go look up more specifics for you.

Just give me a few when you get a chance. You see, I'm not aware of a single civil right or benefit that a traditional married couple has which a gay couple in a civil union also doesn't have. To me, that's been the big issue. That they don't have the same rights a man and woman have in a civil marriage. And I'm saying why not?

Well, would you support that equality then?

I would support the fact that if two guys want to live together in a civil union, they ought to be able to have the same civil rights that a man and a woman have. But it's not a marriage. Now I go to the moral side of it, and say a marriage under religious law is different than a civil union, morally. And it's all because of the sexual issue. I find oral and anal sex between two men to be one of the most disgusting things I can think of.

Men and women do it too.

Yes, but in that case, it's a recognized relationship in the church, and how their sexual life is together, that's a separate issue, and they can also procreate. Two men can't. And that's one of the biggest commandments. And one other thing, the phrase "coming out" is unusual for me. I don't go around telling people that I'm a heterosexual. I don't have to do that, I don't need to do that emotionally. I don't understand why people who are "homosexual" feel like they have to go around telling everybody about it. I don't understand why your sexual orientation is important in anything, why me knowing your sexual orientation is important.

Because it's such a fundamental part of someone and when you live for a long time in a society, especially the church, that tells you this fundamental part of who you are inside, and the way you love, is abnormal, is morally wrong, is going to be punished by God, when you live with that kind of negative reinforcement for a while, you don't feel like you can safely say anything about it to anybody, at some point you eventually say "I've had it, I'm not going to put up with this negative messaging anymore." And I push back.

Here's the second reason. Put the shoe on the other foot. Look at all the ways you probably aren't even aware of that every single day you actually do advertise the fact that you're heterosexual. You have your wife's picture on the wall. You talk about her to the clerk in the drugstore. You talk about your first wife. All this stuff. Every single day you are giving little cues to everyone all around you about your sexual orientation.


And it's never noticed because it's considered "normal." Yet when a gay person mentions their orientation to just one person, or talks about their boyfriend, or puts a picture up on their desk of them and their boyfriend, the "normal" world around them thinks that's being aggressive and in their face and flaunting their homosexuality when in fact, all they're doing is just the same things that everyone around them who's straight takes for granted and does without even thinking about it.

Well, that's very sensible. I can understand that.

It seems aggressive because it's different. But in fact it's the same thing.

It seems like lots of people as they work through some personal issues feel a need to tell everyone about intimate personal details because apparently it's part of working through the self-therapy of healing themselves. My impression is that a large number of people who've had the experience you've had, it's part of the way you deal with healing of the feelings.

Yeah, I think that's valid.

And over time, the more you're comfortable with where you are, you have more self-confidence, you realize that in building a relationship with someone else, you don't have to do all that disclosure anymore, you have to build trust first, and you don't do that by sharing everything about you when you've known them 10 minutes. So I think you need to be judicious about this.

Then you and I are on the same page. My approach has been "does it help? Does it help them to know? If I disclose this will it benefit our relationship mutually? And if it doesn't, what's the point? If it happens to come up, I don't mind, but I'm not going out of my way to advertise it."

That's very wise on your part.

I think one of the greatest disservices, the biggest faults of the "gay community" is these gender-bending promiscuity flaunting thong-wearing prancers in pride parades who perpetuate these myths that being gay is all about a wild promiscuous self-obsessed irresponsible party lifestyle. It's not.

Right. You understand that I don't and will not accept the behavior. But it doesn't mean that I don't love you and will not respect you. We all have our challenges, mine are different than yours.



J G-W said...

This is why American will change its views on this... Because of these kinds of gentle conversations happening in thousands of different families.

If your dad buys the notion that legal equality is appropriate, then all he really needs is information.

A Gay Mormon Boy said...

That's a really encouraging post. When you first started this series, I was worried (as I have a similar conversation with my father swiftly approaching). I really enjoyed reading this in depth and thoughtful conversation.

Frank Lee Scarlet said...

Thanks for sharing such a great series! I hope things (continue to) go well with your father. If only mine were as clear-headed and sensible!

I thought it was interesting when the two of you talked about equality: He mentioned his support of civil union equal rights, and you asked, "Well, would you support that equality then?"

His answer was, "I would support the fact that if two guys want to live together in a civil union, they ought to be able to have the same civil rights that a man and a woman have. But it's not a marriage."

And here you could bring up a lesson that we would hope America has learned: separate but equal is an inherent contradiction in terms! The notion of "equal" rights for a *separate* institution is frankly a throwback to the Plessy vs. Ferguson tradition.