Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gender Confusion

Today in my Eternal Families class (because they have those at BYU schools, naturally) we started a new unit on gender and eternal identity.  I love gender studies.  I love learning about the chemical and anatomical differences between men's and women's brains.  I love the science behind it and I like postulating on the theories of people much smarter than I am about what, empirically, makes up that ethereal and seemingly unquantifiable difference between men and women.

In spite of that, I am not excited for this unit for several reasons.  I know it's going to lead to a lot of discussion on same-gender attraction and I tend to REALLY hate talking about that subject with students at BYU schools.  In spite of the professor's best intentions or, unfortunately, because of the professor's woeful misinformation, the discussions always lead to vilification of gay people, both latent and open.  I clench my fists, swear under my breath, contemplate storming out, etc., nearly every time the subject is brought up in church or class.

Today in our class meeting, we had a poll question to which we had to respond about what we felt was the Church's stance on same-gender attraction.  To my surprise and delight, only two percent of students said that same-gender attraction was sinful.  In fact, the majority said that they thought the Church encouraged all people of all different types to live the Gospel, regardless of their specific challenges.  I am impressed by their open-mindedness.  However, 19% felt like same-gender attraction was a choice, and for me and many of the other gay men I know, it's nothing of the kind.  Still, the polls make me feel a little more comfortable with this unit.

Now, the main concern in my mind is the discussion on gender confusion that will be forthcoming this week.  I feel like there is a lot of misinformation among members of the Church and the world at large about the gender identity of gay people.  I quote this week's hilarious episode of Modern Family:  "There's nothing gays hate more than when people treat us like women!"

I am gay, yes, but I am also a man.  Anatomically speaking, I have two testicles and a penis and my sex organs produce sperm, not eggs.  I am aggressive and impulsive.  I love cars and I love watching baseball on TV or going to any ball game.  I like rock music.  I want a big truck.  I love playing frisbee and going snowboarding.  I like fashion, but I choose clothes that show my masculinity, not muddy it.  There are few things I like more than barbecuing a red steak on a hot day.  And I'm not even very  "flaming."  By and large, looking at my personality and recreational activities, you'd see that I am a man and I have no desire to change that about myself.  In fact, just about the only thing not traditionally manly about me is my attraction to men.

So why, then, does homosexuality get lumped in with gender confusion all the time?  I am not gender confused.  I know who I am and I am not confused about it.  I don't want to be a girl, a boi, a twink, a mangina, a shemale, a crossdresser, etc.  I want to be a man.  While I admit that viewed through the looking glass of Church doctrine, which I believe, my desire to be emotionally and physically intimate with another man is a pretty serious case of misdirected affection, I don't see how it relates to my status as a male.  I'd really love if the discussions in this class don't lead to people thinking gays want to be more like women, but given the depth of the material we're working with and the fallible minds of the freshmen in my class, I don't have a lot of optimism that it won't happen.  (Note:  I don't consider myself infallible, as that previous statement makes me sound.)

I suppose time will tell.  At least they don't think I'm sinful for wanting what I do.

3 comments:

  1. 1) I completely understand the frustrations of being in a class (in my case Book of Mormon II via the Institute). It's not just a feeling of isolation because they don't understand. I felt as if they didn't want to understand it was something I had no control over. At that time, it was easy to feel bad about what I felt. Things are better now, fortunately.

    2) Your paragraph about what makes you unique is what I love most about our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. We are not a formula. We are diverse and different as the laws of genetics dictate. It's what makes us beautiful and able to love each other.

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  2. @A Gay Mormon Boy
    You said that things are better now. May I ask what made the difference? I've been lucky to have had some pretty interesting conversations in my families class since I posted this, but I'm curious about your experience.

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  3. Well, this might not be the answer you were hoping for, but it goes back to a simple truth I shared on my mission. I was low pressure and sincere with my converts (and successful as a result). I would simply say to them, "make one simple change in your life (like reading the BoM, Word of Wisdom, going to church) and then listen-- see what a difference that one change can make in your life." If we make small and simple improvements to our lives, we're bound to observe the differences. At that moment in my life, Institute was making me miserable, so I finished out the semester and then stopped attending, filling my life with things that were more fulfilling. I concentrated more on school and service opportunities and it made a difference. I simply had to find the things that lifted me up rather than brought me down. The answers aren't the same for everyone, so it was a lot of pondering and praying.

    ReplyDelete

Be nice, mmmmkay? I allow anonymous comments, but not anonymous (or even attributed) douchebaggery. The Gay Mormon Pioneer's tolerance for hate and venom are incredibly low, but his love of communication and debate are high, so have an opinion, but be kind and gentle when you share it.

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