Neither queer nor there
- Marelise van der Merwe
- 17 Jul 2010 12:37 (South Africa)
Gays these days! What’s up with all the hatin’ on Steven and Tiwonge? Sure, young love is fickle. One minute you’re all Romeo and Romeo, embracing lifelong incarceration for the man of your dreams. Next thing you’re hot-footing it back to your home village, trotting into the sunset with some hussy named Dorothy.
Jawellnofine, love hurts. But why is the rest of the world acting as if they’ve been slapped in the face? Let me tell you something: if I had the whole of Malawi threatening to give me a spanking – and not the fun kind – I’d also let Dorothy munch on my Mbatata cookie. And I don’t think that would delegitimise the relationship that came before.
There’s a funny trend going on here; the assumption that a) being gay is absolute and b) there’s no choice involved. That it’s some kind of biological finality made null and void the second someone displays any ambivalence or looks at their orientation from another vantage point. And the second they do, bam! There goes any claim to support. Because obviously they can help it, the little ingrates.
So personally, I’ve found a breed out there I hate far more than homophobes. And that’s the type who trumpets, righteously, that gays shouldn’t be judged because they can’t help it. Seriously? That’s the best defence you can come up with?
Every debate around homophobia has some do-gooder tacked on the end, bleating lamely that homosexuality appears in animals or that some chemical explanation has been found for it in humans. But intentions aside, are they any better than their homo-bashing brothers and sisters? Their logical process is both patronising and fundamentally flawed. I’ll rather take an honest-to-goodness conservative any day. At least they have the balls to nail their colours to a mast. But limply cooing that the poor gays can’t help their abnormality, and then patting yourself on the head for being such a stand-up, open-minded guy? Stick it, bru. We don’t need your pity.
People claiming gayness is a biological absolute belong in the same category as the so-called Caster Semenya supporters who kept snivelling that she was a “real girl”. Just take a moment and think about what you’re saying. That Caster would only be okay if she weren’t intersex? That being gay wouldn’t be okay if there were an element of choice?
Here’s another newsflash for you, my friend. There’s always a choice. Sexual bonding is fluid and many people the world over – regardless of orientation – are married to, or sleep with people they aren’t 100% in love with. It can be done. Whether they are in an arranged marriage or married for money or the romance died or perhaps they just made a poor choice of partner, staying there always boils down to free will. People prioritise what they need most. For some, this is status, morality, convenience, acceptance or even basic safety. For others, it’s love.
But that’s not the point. The point is we should be allowed to explore our options. We shouldn’t be open to dissection by either homophobes or homophiles. It’s nobody’s bloody business but our own.
Moreover, the idea of absolute sexual orientation – betrayed by any exception to a person’s general preference – is tripe. Many of us have the capacity to fall in love not with a gender, but an individual. I know many people – myself included – who have been attracted to both men and women in varying degrees, depending on who they were. I know many people with powerful attractions to the same sex, who manage, happily, to love partners of the opposite sex, and vice-versa. Being gay isn’t a physical abnormality that leaves you totally unable to connect with someone of the opposite sex. Ultimately it’s a sexual preference – what you prefer; an orientation, that is, where you place yourself. Yes, there are gay people who are attracted only to the same sex and straight people who are attracted only to the opposite sex. But they’re on two ends of a spectrum. The rest of us fall somewhere in between, and we shouldn’t have to hide behind “I can’t help it” to justify our choices. Or commit to one gender for life to validate public support.
Those who say gays should be accepted because they can’t help it – because the poor lambs just can’t bear someone of the opposite sex – are still reading from the same moral rulebook as any homophobe; they’re just on a different page. They still aren’t seeing that choice or no choice, no one has the right to tell others what to do.
Our legal system is here to prevent people and animals getting hurt. No more, no less. It prevents injustice, violence, and abuse of beings who can be overpowered into sex against their will. It is not here to make moral statements about private relationships between consenting adults.
So please, defenders, next time you’re feeling magnanimous and handing out badges for Pat a Gay Day, please remember that we are not ill and we are not children.
And then, for the love of Pete (and his partner Gerald), just shut the fuck up.
- Op-Ed: The grey areas of blackface
- Cape Town Recovery Film Festival: A Frank talk about addiction
- Worth a thousand words: Cape Town’s Month of Photography in full swing
- Bouncing back: Cape Town Recovery Film Festival 2014
- AgeWell: Growing old, with your soul intact
- Religious schools: What’s good for the goose…
- A womb with a view: Ectogenesis is coming
- By accident or by design: Cape Town’s festival of invention
- Embodiment of the quiet world
- Sound, fury and some stand-up comedy: Malema takes his road show to Cape Town
- Film review: 'The Ghosts in Our Machine'
- Analysis: Africa’s cities, crying out for re-imagination
- In tolerating Israel-Palestine prejudices, we re-enact our own divisions
- Gold dust in her hands: Tori Amos after all these years
- Elisa Lam: The mystery you should care about
- Oh, but you ANC nothing yet
- Film goes green: Cape Town’s newest documentary festival
- Let's bring back the art of playing nicely
- Imagine a world without unwanted children
- The wealth gap and inequality can and should be fixed
- Letter to my son: Let me cry for Madiba
- Poverty porn: Welcome to your five-star shack hotel
- Anonymous people no more: Cape Town Recovery Film Festival
- Orania to Jon Qwelane: You’ll fit right in
- Dear Mr President, help us to trust you
- Dear Mr Simpson: There is a future for whites in SA – just not whites like you
- Madiba, I let you go
- V-Day stands for… vapidity
- Cat's out of the bag: the metamorphosis of Chan Marshall
- Why I completely, categorically, absolutely do not support Women's Day
- Thin models, thinner ice
- What The Wire can teach us about entrepreneurship
- Analysis: The glass ceiling is smashable from the inside out
- 'Racist photo': the real story is us, not Sunday Times
- Neither queer nor there
- It’s been Reel: Local talent thrives at Recovery Film Fest
- Cape Town Recovery Film Festival: Race, drink and politics – a dangerous mix