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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Who We Really Are

My blog inbox is getting stagnant. A new post is made once every couple of days, and I'm convinced that everyone else has gotten just as slammed with life as I have. So I decided that I would at least contribute to everyone else's inbox with a new post. It was either that, or read the book I keep putting off for literature class.

Problem is that I'm not quite sure what I want to write about. I've had a couple things pop into my head in the last few days, but I don't really feel like writing about those things right now. 

School has been going well. It's busy, but good. My gender class has been interesting. We've spent the last few weeks talking about gender roles and the way they play a huge role in life. In the midst of this I realized that one of the nice things about being gay is that we are completely exempt from the Nazi-like rules of the male gender stereotype. By my mere nature, I defy it. As a child I liked dolls and the Little Mermaid. In elementary I liked make believe on the big toy, not sports. And now, I like Lady Gaga and artsy movies. Being an average guy I would be completely ridiculed by this. I would be a disgrace to the male gender. But by being gay I am excused from the macho male table and allowed to sit at a table that actually celebrates my love of dance club music and spending way too much money at the mall. The things that would make me an outcast in the male gender stereotype actually elevate me in the gay role. Kinda nice.

So a couple weeks ago I came across some notes made by one of the professors in the department I work for called "Homosexual Notes." (Funny, I didn't know that notes had an orientation.) My curiosity got the best of me, and I took a look. I really didn't find anything I hadn't heard before, but it was interesting how the tone of these notes was almost novice. It was clear that he had little literal understanding of my situation. His notes are based on theories discussed by Joe Dallas, and detail the common theory that homosexuality is the result of "sexualized needs for same-gender acceptance." That kind of bothered me. 

Don't get me wrong, I completely understand the logic of it all. Many of us felt like we didn't fit in as we grew up. And so it is easy to say that because we were never accepted we sought for that acceptance, and then sexualized it as we got older. However, while the logic may be sound, I feel like there are some holes in it. 

For example, at the end of his notes it said that "not all boys who don’t get their need for same-sex emotional bonding sexualize these needs however." For the sexualization of unmet needs to be the cause of homosexuality, that means that it has to be present in every case of homosexuality, and that it is the only cause of homosexuality. It also means, at least to my understanding, that this would have to cause homosexuality in every single case where those same-sex needs are not met. But his very statement says that not all boys sexualize it. That seems inconsistent to me.

He later makes the comment, while jotting notes on reparative therapy, that complete homosexuals do not always become complete heterosexuals through that therapy. That also seems to contradict the theory. If these unmet needs were the only true cause of homosexuality, then would not satisfying those needs cause the complete and utter cessation of homosexual feelings? Apparently not.

And what about all those boys who are completely rejected by their peers. They are not accepted by other boys. They are outcasts. Yet, they are not gay. How can you say one boy in this situation will sexualize those unmet needs and another won't? I'm sorry, but it seems to me that those things are determined well before adolescence. In fact, isn't that when most of us realized that we were different than other boys? 

In fact, there is no way whatsoever to prove that it was not the homosexual nature that caused the rejection by the rest of the peer group. It's the proverbial chicken and the egg, and unfortunately, because we cannot manipulate gender nor orientation, it can never be proved. So it thus remains theory, and only a theory. 

These things were going through my head as I was supposed to be studying for my Gender Studies class, and I took a break and wrote my thoughts out on the back of my study guide.

I was thinking about our nature. Not our sexual orientation, but rather those personality traits that set us apart from the general male population. The previously stated theory was going through my head, and here is what I wrote:

Common ideas among conservative psychologists is that rejection by the same gender, or lack of identification with the same gender, leads to unfulfilled same-sex needs which are sexualized later in life. 

Following this theory, rejection of this would lead to embracing opposite gender traits and roles, because one does not "belong" in the other gender. Had the behavior that caused the rejection been simply due to a mix-up of gender traits/roles, the behavior would change so as to meet the approval of the same gender group, and acceptance would occur, and homosexuality would not happen.

However, children as young as two or three show opposite gender traits, including favoritism for opposite-gender toys (the most reliable predictor of future homosexual orientation for men (Bailey & Zucker, 1995)). They are not forced to develop opposite-gender traits (children have not even recognized the existence of gender roles at this time). The traits are simply there. So irregardless of the same-gender group, the child develops traits that commonly belong to the opposite gender. And at rejection they cannot change them, because they are inherent in the personality. 

Thus, the emotional/personality traits of gay and lesbian people are not developed, but are there from birth. How many parents comment that their baby seems to have a personality all his own, even at just a few months old. And those traits follow the child through life. 

Based on the Proclamation on the Family, my gender (which in all technicality is not anatomy, but the emotional personality of a person) is eternal, thus my psychological/personality gender traits are pre-inborn and eternal.

Since we were children we felt different. Since we were toddlers we acted differently. We were more sensitive. We didn't like fighting or conflict. We seemed to be much more attuned to the emotions of other people. We saw beauty where other boys only saw something to smash. We had traits that simply weren't common for boys. But those traits are ours. Our personality is eternal. 

Now, I haven't said anything about actual attraction, because when you throw the body into the mix crazy things happen. (And I just haven't gotten that far in my own thought process). But I find great comfort in the fact that my personality traits, which are often the first things that make others believe one is gay, are not wrong. They cannot, and should not be changed. We are talking about trying to stifle God-given spiritual gifts. And I don't like that idea. :)

But let's look at a couple other things, straying from the scientific side of things. Let's make a list of classical male traits:

 - strong
 - independent
 - masculine
 - assertive
 - tough

Now a list of feminine traits:

 - affectionate
 - sentimental
 - submissive
 - nurturing
 - meek
 - emotional

Now ask yourself, which of these sounds more like the Savior, as we see him in the scriptures? Ironically enough, the feminine traits fit him better. However, from other parts of the scriptures we see that he can be strong, assertive, masculine, and tough when he needs to be. But the thing that surprises us the most (and evidently the writers of the scriptures) was that he possessed a strong amount of traditionally feminine traits.

Taking that a bit further, with the decree that we must become as Christ is, we can see that we must become a blend of male and female traits. In this light, the declaration that it is not good for man to be alone makes sense. A man and a woman coming together allows them to work on each other, like yin and yang, and to be complete people.

However, many of us are already endowed with the treasured feminine traits. (Sometimes it's the masculine ones we need to work on!) In her book No More Goodbyes, Carol Lynn Pearson makes an interesting comment. She talks about a two-piece sculpture of a man and a woman, beautifully intertwined. 

"The figures were so right. Trevor created male and female to be together, just like God did. Why couldn't Gerald (her husband) see that, know that, feel that? The response I'd heard from him so often: 'Of course. Male and female together. Only some of us find that wedding within ourselves instead of with another of the opposite sex.' It never made sense to me, but it did to Gerald. And to Trevor."

And to me. 

In this light, I see the traits I have been given as a marvelous gift. Last semester I took a class based on values and character, and one of the assignments was to go through a list of values and name our top eight. Without hesitation, my number one value was compassion. It is something I have been given, something I need so much more of, and a gift that I treasure as a priceless jewel. I would never give away the traits that make me an outlier. They make me who I am.

I don't know how things really all fit together. Maybe someday God will fill us in on the details. But I know for sure that he created me as a unique and beautiful creature. As that rare 5%, we have been given gifts that can change the world, if we use them. We can return hate with love, intolerance with compassion, and angry misunderstanding with acceptance and explanation. Of all people to have received these precious gifts, doesn't it make sense that it would be us?

It makes sense to me


BLB said...

I wouldn't say that masculinity is a bad thing. In my position, integrating masculine traits to myself has given me confidence to face life and its troubles.

Ty said...

I didn't mean to come across as demeaning masculinity. I actually very much agree with you. And I think it vital to our progression as people. I simply meant to support our innate sensitivity that some would discount or have us discard. I believe that to be a complete, divine creature we need both masculinity and femininity.

Horizon said...

For not knowing what to write about, you have composed a wonderful, lyrical, eloquent post. It makes sense to me too. It has taken me a while, but I understand how blessed we are, how beautiful we are and how much potential we have to do good and achieve great things. The qualities you wrote about make us who we are, and I wouldn't want that to change at all.

Rob said...

What Horizon said. And I agree with everything you wrote. I hope your BF realizes how lucky he is.

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