Or, So Don't Think About It!

By An Anonymous BBBR Resistance Fighter

April 6, 2001


"...there are many, many people of the heterosexual persuasion

that I don't want to picture having sex.  Did you all see the

George W. Bush erotica contest that the Adam Clymer Fanclub linked to?

I saw the challenge, in which they asked writers to "capture the eroticism

that is the essence of George W. Bush" or somesuch,

but I fled in terror without reading any of the contest entries."


{{{shudder}}}  {{{shudder}}}  {{{shudder}}}



One thing some straight people say when homosexuality comes up in conversation is that they don't want to imagine two men having sex, or two women having sex.  (Straight men seem as a group to be less grossed-out by the idea of two women having sex, but never mind.) 


I've got a suggestion for you guys: so, don't think about it.




For one thing, I don't think simple squeamishness is a solid foundation for forming a moral judgment.  I, for one, find the idea of swallowing a raw oyster repulsive, but I'm not about to go picketing seafood restaurants or inwardly cheering when they get burned to the ground.  The idea of pregnancy and childbirth creeps me out, (it may be the early exposure to the Alien movies), but it does seem to be the standard method for the continuance of the species, and as long as I'm not doing it, I don't have to worry, do I?  There are many things I would not like to do, would never voluntarily do, from running a marathon to skydiving to being an accountant.  You go right ahead, though.  I wouldn't dream of stopping you.


For another thing, there are many, many people of the heterosexual persuasion that I don't want to picture having sex.  Did you all see the George W. Bush erotica contest that The Adam Clymer Fanclub linked to?  I saw the challenge, in which they asked writers to "capture the eroticism that is the essence of George W. Bush" or somesuch, but I fled in terror without reading any of the contest entries.


{{{shudder}}}  {{{shudder}}}  {{{shudder}}}


Here's an exercise: picture your parents having sex. 


Okay, now stop, before we need to summon a Freudian psychologist.


I can guess your reaction.  You didn't want to imagine it, you squirmed, you went, "eewwww."  Or you just flat out refused to bring that mental image to mind.  (That's what I did.  Congratulations on a good choice!)  And yet, unless you were the product of artificial insemination of a single woman, you know that your parents did do the horizontal mambo, because here you are.  They possibly even did it within the context of a heterosexual marriage.  So what's wrong?  I mean, if you don't want to think about it, it must surely be a sin, right?


No, of course not.


Other than it being true, I believe that there are several reasons why heterosexual people make the statement that they "don't want to think about it."  For some people, it's what their upbringing has taught them is the appropriate response, for religious or moral reasons.  It can be a way of declaring a prejudice while cloaking it in a visceral response that can't really be objected to or argued with.  Also, there is the issue of macho posturing.  Many men feel the need to establish their heterosexuality, to prove it.  Other than actually having sex with a woman, one of the ways for them to do this is to talk about liking male/female sex, and being put off by male/male sex.  It's a way for straight men to distance themselves from gay men and any suspicions that they themselves might be gay.  Maybe some people use "not wanting to think about it" as an excuse for themselves not to think about gay rights issues in general.


However, there is another reason, one that doesn't suppose the people to be anti-gay or the men to be overly concerned with the external manifestations of their own heterosexual masculinity.  Simply, some people think about gay sex when gay issues are mentioned because gay sex is "weird."  It's not the standard.  It isn't usually seen in mainstream R-rated movies as the natural end result of a courtship.  You probably didn't learn about it in health class.  It probably wasn't mentioned in "the talk" you got from your mom or dad.  (Actually, homosexuality wasn't discussed in my facts of life talk either, but AIDS was.  A sign of the times.) 


Unless you live in a gay mecca or were raised by gay parents, by the time you met one openly gay person, or openly gay couple, you'd probably met thousands of straight people.  Hell, when my mother came out of the closet when I was a teenager, gay people were still something of an oddity to me, and I went through the whole ickiness of gay sex phase combined with the ickiness of parents having sex (at all, with anyone) issue.  Even if you can't help thinking about it when you first meet gay people, the more gay people you know, the more they become normal to you, the more it won't even cross your mind. 


The default presumption of a person's sexuality is "straight" in this society.  You don't think about the sex lives of the straight couples you meet, guess who's on top when they make love, wonder about their HIV status. (Incidentally, in the U.S. the fastest growing group of people getting infected with HIV is heterosexual women.  Worldwide, AIDS was never a predominantly gay disease.  If you still think AIDS is God's retribution against gays, please escape to a conservative website, and as you go, ponder what God has against hemophiliacs, and why, in the U.S., lesbians are currently at the lowest risk of contracting HIV of any group.)


You don't have to be "comfortable" with the idea of two men or two women making love to be an ally of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals.  It's not a sign of being a homophobe if the idea of male/male or female/female sex is unappealing to you.  But consider why you fixate on the sex aspect of a gay relationship rather than the companionship, the friendship, the joint checking accounts.  Ask yourself why you need to approve or disapprove of what consenting adults do in private.  Remember that, despite your uneasiness with the idea, your parents had sex with one another, and if they were straight (and the same ethnicity and religion), they did so without fearing physical or verbal assault, losing their jobs, houses, friends, or children, because someone else didn't like the idea.


Recognize that the "special rights" the homophobes howl about are the rights straight people take for granted, like the right not to be fired without just cause, the right to raise one's children unless proven to be an unfit parent, or the right to rent an apartment.  And if you get annoyed with a gay couple "flaunting it" by daring to hug or hold hands in public, ask yourself if the same level of PDA by a straight couple would even catch your attention.


And if you don't know any gay people?


Trust me, you probably do.


If you are willing to tell others you support gay causes, if you object when a homophobic joke is told, if you comment positively on gay or lesbian public figures, you can help create safe spaces for lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.  Some teachers and professors even use stickers that say "LGBTQ Safe Space" in their classrooms and offices.  I know such declarations are scary to make, and not without risk.  But I saw a button today that said, "I'd rather a bigot think I'm a homosexual than a homosexual think I'm a bigot."  If you agree and act accordingly, you'll be a straight ally. 


You may even find that some of your friends come out to you.


And if they do, it's okay.  They probably don't have any interest in having sex with you.