Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Label

So, what exactly is this label I have identified with? What does it mean?

It is fairly common for many in the gay community to say that the ancient Greeks were gay friendly, or perhaps even a gay culture, but that is a fallacy. Ancient Culture was, for the most part, free of the labels we use to identify sexual preferences. There was no gay, bi, or lesbian community. Who you were attracted to, who you fucked, what sex parties you went to were a function of your life, not your politics, and were often strictly regulated by the cultural attitudes not toward who you were having sex with, but how.

So modern concepts of “Gay” did not really exist, although they surely understood that there were sexual preferences and that some people liked the boys, some liked the girls, some liked both, but these were not really categorized by a political or social label. But with the advent of the more “conservative”, dare I say “superstitious” forms of moral religion, like Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, the common sexual freedom of places like Greece were forced to move underground, and to this day there is clear evidence that homo and bisexuality were never reduced, just hidden from view by a moral authority that sought to control people through concepts of Hell and eternal punishment and the immorality and filth of sex.

But modern concepts of sexuality arose out of the need to come together and fight against the prejudices engendered by the intolerant religious and moral concepts of Christianity and Judaism in the Western world, with small movements in the Islamic world now beginning to show their faces. These labels are as much political as they are emotional, as much a function of political action as sexual activity. So, what does being gay mean?

Gay, in general, is a label used by men and women who are homosexual, meaning men and women who are attracted to, and who engage willingly in sexual and emotional relations with members of their own sex. The modern Gay Movement, of course, is one that attempts, sometimes a little too hard, to be inclusive, so the term has become somewhat watered down, but in general, when the word “Gay” is used, it is usually as a reference to men who are emotionally and sexually attracted to other men.

As a label, however, gay has limitations. Because it has taken on political and communal implications, many gay men are, like their straight brothers, unable to move beyond the label itself. It confines them and forces them to restrain their natural and healthy sexual urges. Many gay men find that they have an overwhelming attraction to other men, but that they are sometimes drawn to a woman, but they stop themselves from experiencing or exploring this because it goes contrary to their self imposed label.

I sometimes wonder if this is me, and I think that is a boundary that Hermes is forcing me to look at and explore. Not that I should run out and have sex with a woman, something I have never done, but to explore whether I am forcing myself not to do so in order to fit in to Gay Culture, a culture which can often be just as intolerant as any other.

The myths tell us that Hermes and Aphrodite produced a child who was beautiful, charming, and of both genders. An allegory for us to maybe study with more profound philosophical mindsets and perhaps come to terms with what it means not to be gay, or straight, or bi, or transgender, or male, or female, but, quite simply, human. To explore what it means to love a person not because they are male or female, beautiful or artistic, sexually pleasing or comforting, but simply for being human and having within them a spark of that thing we call life, a gift from the Gods.

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