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« First They Came For Bert and Ernie | Main | Taking Responsibility »

February 03, 2005



Nice article. Particularly this: "gay men should treat each other as sacred, not merely as disposable sex objects."

John Ballew

Well put, Joe.

The critics' concern about the self-esteem of gay men is interesting to me. Self-esteem is a byproduct of living life in accordance with one's values and seeing one's self as having power in the world. Responsibility itself increases self-esteem.


The above article seems very 1980s to me. History is repeating itself. The "sexual outlaw" philosophy is seeing a war with the supposed "anti-sex" majority, and failing to see a middle way.

FWIW, there was an interesting article in the most recent issue of Gay and Lesbian Review surveying why men "bareback". Intimacy and trust ranked high among the reasons. To an outsider, it seems there is something to work with here, a man giving that reason might respond well to an argument that using condom can be considered an act of love and respect in the appropriate setting.


"Lately I've been asking myself: where are the Bill Cosbys who are willing to speak just as courageously about the problems of the gay community?"

You know, Larry Kramer is quite the vocal critic of the "gay community" as is Andrew Sullivan and Camille Paglia is, well, very often angry at everyone. There seems to be many writers willing to deconstruct us and our motives at every turn. You can look in journals of science, psychology and even liberal theology and find article after article explaining how and why we need to "get our act together," "become less combative politically," and how to "focus more on our personal health and well-being."

Personally, I don't think the gay community has too few commentators about us-- I think we have too many. Honestly, whenever I go to PlanetOut or get their daily digest emails, I am struck by the articles about how sexually promiscous we are, how their is a new disease that we're responsible for spreading, or what new law has been inacted to prevent us from enjoying a quality of life afforded heterosexuals.

I'd like to see PlanetOut and other writers say something more affirming once in awhile. This month's Advocate cover talks about how Oklahoma Gay and Lesbians are "winning their neighbor's hearts and minds." I like that, and being from Oklahoma myself, I found it very encouraging to read.

I met David Nimmons, author of "Soul Beneath the Skin" a few months back at a discussion group where I thanked him for his contribution in his book lifting up the good that we fabulous homosexuals do and have done to each other and ourselves. Have you read his book? It's amazingly supportive and encouraging. We need more authors like Nimmon's once a while reminding us that we're not all sick pervs ('not that there is anything wrong with pervs,' in my best Seinfeld impersonation).

I would like to see less critique and more constructive criticism as well as some fun-loving affirmations thrown in to remind others and me how truly fabulous we all are.


I believe that the gay community's high level of sexual activity, much like its propensity for alcohol and drug use, is merely a symptom of deeper issues, rather than the route problem itself. Certainly, societal homophobia plays an important part in reinforcing those underlying issues. We need to continue to work toward societal acceptance. That being said, ultimately, the individual must decide to treat themselves with love and respect. Increased moralizing, however, won't get you there. Rather, it only serves to reinforce the shame that the larger society heaps upon us.

What's the alternative, then? We need to focus on creating healthy alternatives in our community -- where people can get support and guidance we need, interact in a safe space, develop meaningful relationships, etc. In short, we need to move beyond the gay community being a collection of bars into more of a real community.

Joe Perez

Bo -

I actually agree with you that there are plenty of commentators who are quick to attack or condemn "negative" aspects of gay culture. I don't think we need much more of that. My point is that almost always these attacks come from a perspective that simply advocates more individual responsibility without also simultaneously acknowledging the complex social and political dimensions of our community's problems. For instance, preaching against unsafe sex while refusing to see the need for public health funding for empowerment groups for gay men, condom distribution, interventions in bathhouses, and so forth. That's merely moralizing, and I don't think more moralizing is going to do any good.

Where there is clearly a void that I see is in folks taking a balanced perspective. In other words, we need more leaders who can encourage more complex perspectives, depth of analysis, and higher and deeper morality ... but without moralistic preaching. A tough order, for sure.



I wonder why it is so hard to avoid moralising and instead embrace spirit?

"Avoidance" is a figment of the imaginations of great men whose, work can take us as far backwards as it can take us forwards. Psychological concepts have their uses and misuses.

To me there is meaning in the utter unavoidability of responsbility. On the onther hand to imply volition in avoidance is to construct a moralistic framework.

Responsibility is what is. To suggest it may be avoided is to contruct a myth of the dimensions of the original sin myth, and about as helpful.

For me embracing the reality of responsbility is a life task, not a moral choice or a series of such choices, that bring us into line with some myopic vision of "betterness", no matter how well it is dressed in the language of balance.

I don't mean to be negative Joe but I suggest moralism may very well be a strong North American cultural thing which I must admit I find very hard to understand. My Australian culture has it too but we also have a very strong anti-wowser streak which I think gets tickled with these kinds of discussions.

The wedding banquet is everyone's calling and the clothes and the cleanliness are unimportant. The wedding banquet joins us with each other and with the all in all, it doesn't make any of us better, more mature, adult or any of those clothing related concepts. The banquet merges us into our responsbilities and as we participate we merge into each other.

I'm neither liberal nor conservative. In fact I'm not too sure what the hell I am but I know that I cannot feel free from moralism just because I seek some balance point between them. If you start with a moralistic dimension you end up with one, no matter where you put yourself on the imagined continuum.

Thank you for your work, you really make me think.


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