The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘sex’ Category

THE SWOOSH LAW

The other day I was thinking about our law-making process and for some reason Moses popped into my head.  I’m sure that the prophet had no idea how grateful he should have been that God knew what he wanted to convey to mankind and was able to do so quite succinctly.  What would Moses have had to endure had the Creator crafted his commandments to the children of Israel in the same way as our modern legislators promulgate new laws?

There’s Moses, curious to find the source of the bright light on the top of Mount Sinai.  He experiences his encounter with the Lord and obeys God’s order to bring his commandments to his people.  So Moses takes the tablets, “written with the finger of God” and goes down the mountain to deliver them to the Israelites.  And he goes back to retrieve more … and more … and more.

After the forty-third trip his brother Aaron says, “Is that it?”

Moses, wearied from all the trudging and schlepping he’s done, wipes his brow and says, “Well, actually, there are nine more.”

Perhaps the reason that those who pass voluminous laws that no one really understands, themselves included, can be attributed to the way we were taught to do things in High School.  Maybe, like me, you had an English or history teacher who handed out an assignment which included the requirement that the essay we were to compose had to be at least two thousand words long.  What made that number of words sacrosanct was never clear to me.  How in the world did laconic President Calvin Coolidge ever earn a diploma?

But let’s get back to the Ten Commandments.   Take Number Seven, as an example.  That’s that hairy one that says, “Thou shall not commit adultery.”  Notice how simple, straightforward and brief it is.  I had memorized this long before I knew what adultery actually was – but, of course, I asked – a little bit to the embarrassment of my Sunday School teacher.

Now those of us who believe that following that commandment is part of what I refer to as “normative” behavior, there is very little ambiguity – so it’s apparent that God knew precisely what he wanted people to do (or more exactly) to avoid doing.  But what if this commandment had been constructed by Congress?

The commandment comes out of the “Congressional Morality Committee,”  (wouldn’t it be remarkable if there were one – but then who would we be able to find who could with clear conscience become members?) and, like the original that the Divinity established, it’s a simple five word declarative sentence.

But then it moves forward in the process and has a hearing in the Economics Affairs Committee.  They recognize that this proposal could have serious implications and adverse impact on various business operations – specifically, those hotel/motel owners whose rooms rent out on an hourly basis.  And the members of that committee get lobbied by advocates for that industry.  So they amend the original commandment so that it reads, “Thou shall not commit adultery before six o’clock a.m. local time.”    (Since most of the commerce and congress at these hotels/motels occur in the afternoon, this effectively nullifies the original intent of the commandment).

But things don’t stop there.  Business is down at the hairstylists and beauty salons in America.  Because of the Obamacession, fewer customers have the money to spare to color their hair.  So the members of that profession press their association’s lobbyists to get something included in the law which will improve their business.  After considerable pressure, the law now reads, “Thou shall not commit adultery before six o’clock a.m. local time.  However, those whose hair has been dyed by a professional stylist are exempted from any and all provisions of this law.”

It might be well if it had ended there.  But, of course, it doesn’t.  The street prostitutes, straight, gay and transgendered can see that this might impact their business negatively.  An impassioned group of “sex workers” appear before Congress to make their case that this law is discriminatory – they being the recipients of that bias.  Of course, the Congressional committee which hears their testimony is quite respectful of this contingency since some members know those testifying on a first name, professional basis.

And then further testimony is given by several American mullahs who believe that their faith and their followers are “once again” being victimized and persecuted in what is supposed to be the ultimate land of freedom.  There can be no clearer evidence of that then that the law allows adultery to be engaged in on Fridays and during any day of Ramadan.  Furthermore, the law makes no mention of protections for virgins, quite a few of whom are required for those jihadists who die in the “holy war” against the infidel, particularly those in America.

Needless to say, “environmentalists” were outraged at this prospective law.  They commissioned a study that substantiated their belief that many of these adulterous trysts would be engaged in with one or both participants arriving at the site by using gasoline based automotive conveyances, thus contributing to the issue of “climate change”.  They demand that there be a stipulation in the law that only adulterous affairs in which both parties got to the rendezvous via public transportation will be “licit”.

Needless to say since the concept of adultery and its being wrong is based on religious moral concept, it was only reasonable to expect that members of the clergy weigh in on the subject, which they did.  A number of pastors who had fathered out of wedlock kids expressed their belief that we must view “ancient” rules in the context of the times; that times had changed and we must change with them.  Their testimony, offered in a brilliant Hip Hop style and recorded and released on MTV got more than four million hits within an hour of its release.

So in light of all this testimony, our legislators took the bill which had been introduced by Reps. Jack Mehoff and I. Fool Around and they reworked, rewrote and transformed it into The Swoosh Law with the subtitle, “Just Do It”.  This law confirmed that adultery was a highly overrated infraction of “morality” and that it was perfectly reasonable, in fact, healthy for people to engage in it in order to promote a strong, healthy marriage.

And a lot of public officials in America felt vindicated – and breathed a sigh of relief.  The bill, as it was finally presented to the full membership, got overwhelming bipartisan support.

SEX AND THE SINGLE COLLEGE STUDENT

Once upon a time the height of sexual titillation was the “strip tease.”  That was when we were sexually repressed, believed the normal order in which life proceeded was courtship, marriage and then children and generally confined our sexual activities to the bedroom with the person who was our life partner.  As one person put it – “The strip tease is intended to tantalize but not to reveal all.  It leaves that to the imagination of the viewer.”  Things have changed – and arguably not for the better.

When I was in college, the focus was on trying to get an education.  While this was in the rebellious ‘60’s, getting laid was probably something that some of my fellow students hoped for (and in some cases were able to achieve), but it was not something in which the school participated through “educational” curricula on the subject.  Well, officially the University of Chicago is a school founded by a Baptist – John D. Rockefeller.   Perhaps that’s the explanation.

The recent “Rolling Stones” now discredited story about the female rape victim, Jackie at the University of Virginia, brought this to mind.  Rape is a dreadful crime.  As we know, it’s not about engaging in sex so much as it is about overwhelming the unwilling person, forcing him or her into doing something in which they do not want to be involved.  It is, in essence, an act of bullying – which like all bullying can carry with it both physical and psychological damage.  And that is something which all of us should find offensive and reprehensible.

We might have fewer rapes on our college campuses or elsewhere throughout the country if people simply applied the rule of common sense to the way in which we conducted ourselves.  Some of the things we could do or advise our children to do is to avoid places where excessive partying is expected to be the order of the evening; avoid excessive amounts of alcohol; don’t accept beverages from people whom you don’t know; have a companion with you who is looking out for you and for whom you are looking out; don’t smoke dope or take any pills while you’re out at the party.  While that will not eliminate the possibility of rape, following those simple rules might reduce the likelihood that it would occur.

But part of the problem I suspect, at least in some cases, is there can be a fine line between rape and consensual sex.  Naturally, if the “victim” willingly over drank and engaged in sex, buyer’s remorse might set in the following morning and perhaps the recollection of the events of the previous night might be blurred.  And part of the problem might be that while our colleges and universities are busily involved in investigating incidences of alleged rape on their campuses, many of them are promoting an agenda in which the lines between propriety and libertine behavior are aggressively blurred.  Allow me to offer a few examples.

To my recollection, during my time in college, I don’t recall anyone “streaking” the campus.  That might be because the weather in Chicago is cold and is well-described as having two seasons – winter and August.  But in some of our finer universities, not only is streaking commonplace – it’s evolved to the point of being an athletic event.  Among the schools that have nude athletes competing are Rice University; Williams College; the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill); Dartmouth College, to name only a few.

Without making a value judgment about public nudity, I think it is safe to say that if you are wearing no clothing or other accoutrements, it becomes more difficult to carry your Pagan Symbolism in Native American Basket Weaving syllabus to class along with your cell phone, your change and your lunch.  But nudity is merely the tip of the sexberg which circles our colleges’ ivy walls.  There’s “Sex Week.”  I’ve posted the calendar for Harvard University’s recently concluded 2014 Fall program below:

Sunday, November 2

Brown Girlz Do it Well: a Queer Diaspora Remix

2:00 pm, Ticknor Lounge

Join Harvard South Asian Association and SHEATH for a creative workshop by Dark Matter and a discussion on explore our own narratives of family, queerness, and diaspora. The intention is to situate our personal narratives within broader systems of racism, casteism, classism, islamophobia, and imperialism.

DARKMATTER is a trans south asian art and activist collaboration comprised of Janani and Aloo. Using poetry & polemic, tweet & tirade DM is committed to an art practice of gender self(ie)determination, racial justice, and movement building. DM has been invited to perform and facilitate workshops across the world. you can follow their antics at www.darkmatterrage.com or @darkmatterrage.

Monday, November 3

SEXY AND I KNOW IT: Sex Ed 101

5:00 pm, Sever 202

What’s an internal condom? How about a dental dam? If you’re looking for a sex-ed primer, this is the place to be. Sex educator Shira Cahn-Lipman will interactively teach us about the do’s and dont’s of safer sex practices in an inclusive way. All genders and sexualities are encouraged to join us for a primer or a refresher on how to safely enjoy sex!

Losing Your (Concept of) Virginity

6:00 – 7:30 pm, Harvard College Women’s Center (Canaday B basement)

This event aims to explore the myths, stigmas, and popular ideas surrounding virginity. Through documentary clips, activities, and group discussions, we will consider the historical context of virginity and its different social, political, personal, and religious meanings. All are welcome to attend and share their thoughts, though no sharing of personal experience is required, and no identities are assumed. Does virginity matter? How does a person lose their virginity? What does virginity really mean? And what does it mean to you?

Tuesday, November 4

What What in the Butt: Anal Sex 101

5:00 pm, Sever 113

Come learn everything about anal sex from the experts of Good Vibrations, a sex-positive store located right in Brookline! They will dispel myths about anal sex and give you insight into why people do it and how to do it well. They will cover a wide variety of topics, including: anal anatomy and the potential for pleasure for all genders; how to talk about it with a partner; basic preparation and hygiene; lubes, anal toys, and safer sex; anal penetration for beginners, and much more! Learn the facts about this exciting yet often misunderstood form of pleasure, find out the common mistakes people make, and get all your questions answered!

#SellingSexy – How our social culture is shaping the future of entertainment

8:00 pm, Sever 113

Cosponsored by the Radcliffe Union of Students

Wednesday, November 5

#HearOurStories: A Digital Story Screening

7:00 pm, Fong Auditorium

An exciting event on sexual rights, social justice and young parenthood. In partnership with the UMass Amherst Hear Our Stories project, the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy and the Harvard College International Women’s Rights Collective are proud to host a youth-led screening of digital stories created by young mothers as part of Harvard Sex Week. This event will illuminate the multi-layered identities of young parents and intersection of issues faced by young people including violence, discrimination, and homelessness. Following the screening will be a panel with some of the young women who created the digital stories.

Cosponsored by the Harvard College International Women’s Rights Collective

Thursday, November 6

Sexual Health Career Panel

4:00 pm, Ticknor Lounge

The annual Sexual Health Career fair will highlight opportunities available to students for careers in sexual health, reproductive justice, BGLTQ advocacy, and other related fields. Come speak to representatives from a wide range of organizations, including the Aids Action Committee, the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, Planned Parenthood, and Global Protection Corps, and hear about summer internships and post-grad job opportunities. The event will feature a panel discussion on career paths in sexual health, followed by a meet & greet career fair. Hosted by SHARC (Sexual Health and Relationship Counselors) in partnership with Sex Week at Harvard.​

Cosponsored by Sexual Health And Relationship Counselors (SHARC)

Jungle Fever: On Exotification

6:00 pm, Ticknor Lounge

Have you ever said or heard the following?

I love [insert racial or ethnic group here] because they always [insert stereotype about said racial or ethnic group]!

If so, then you have either experienced or participated in exotification. Exotification means objectifying someone’s racial or ethnic identity, treating that identity–and that identity alone–as what defines them or makes them desirable. To learn more about exotification and its problematic nature, come to the exotification panel on November 6th from 6-8 pm in TIcknor Lounge.

Cosponsored by the Harvard Asian American Women’s Association, Latinas Unidas, and the Association of Black Harvard Women

Friday, November 7

Fifty Shades of False: Kink, Fantasy, and Fetish

4:30 pm, Sever 106

Fifty Shades of False: Kink, Fantasy, and Fetish will explore supposedly “taboo” topics in sexuality, namely the kinky. Munch, Harvard’s Kink and Alternative Sexuality group will run a presentation on kink through the lens of the ever popular Fifty Shades of Grey. This presentation will attempt to expose and attempt to correct inaccuracies in the book’s portrayal of kink.

Cosponsored by Harvard College Munch

Open Mic Night

8 pm, Dudley Co-Op

Join SHEATH and Speak Out Loud, Harvard’s only spoken word poetry group, at 8pm on Friday, November 7th for an open mic! Poetry, food, and friendly faces will populate this casual Sex Week event while providing an open and relaxed space to consider the other topics addressed throughout the week. Following the open mic will be the annual Sex Week party (more food!).

Cosponsored by Harvard College Speak Out Loud

Saturday, November 8

Love @ First Swipe: Online Hookup Culture

4:30 pm, Sever 113

Grindr? Tindr? whats the technique? whats the upside/downside?

Cosponsored by Harvard College Queer Students and Allies, CONTACT Peer Counseling, Response, and Sexual Health And Relationship Counselors (SHARC)

Given our younger generation’s liberation from society’s repressive view of healthy sexuality as evidenced in part by the contents of Harvard’s Sex Week program, it does give me pause to wonder why rape is such a problem for these kids.  After all, isn’t the rapist merely expressing her or himself in a way which is meaningful to that person?  Shouldn’t a permissive and inclusive society accept that person’s right to be that person?  Why all the noise about rape on campus – or elsewhere?  Bill Cosby, stand up and take a bow.

California has certainly got the vision since they are in the process of passing a law which would define a sexual relationship between a teacher and a student of at least fourteen years of age as being “consensual.”  Way to go California Teacher’s Union.  You certainly have the best interests of your young students at heart – preparing them well for a continuing education in our institutions of higher learning.

Now I realize some of my readers might consider our current views toward human sexual expression as being – may I use the word – perverted.  That just goes to show how old-fashioned you are – and you need to enroll in a class immediately which will help you evolve from your antediluvian views.  But even you, I think, will have to admit that there has been at least one positive development that has come out of our current sexual enlightenment.

We are all familiar with what was once considered a rather coarse expression,  “GO F*CK YOURSELF.”   Now there’s a college course that explains how to do that.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ROCK ‘N ROLL?

It’s been about two and one half years since I began this blog.  As someone new to the whole blogosphere I unfamiliar even with the basics.  How to write text and have it appear – how to respond to comments – all that stuff.  I learned through trial and error and made more than my fair share of mistakes along the way.

Months went by, I had settled into a regular routing of posting, I knew how to respond to comments and I was began to feel comfortable with my writing.  And then one day I noticed something on my home page which I had overlooked.  It was a statement from Word Press that “You have 55 comments in your spam queue.”  That was interesting as I was unaware I had a spam queue – or anyone would bother to send material to it where it would take its last breath.

So I went to my spam queue and began reviewing the comments which Word Press had diverted.  Several of them were obviously ads for a service which would improve the overall appearance of the blog and which promised greater visibility by helping to select key words that google would pick up.  Several were in foreign languages and I have no idea their subject matter.  So I deleted them all and went about my business.

As more readers left comments, I noticed that the number of spam comments was rapidly overtaking the number of actual comments and would soon surpass them.  That day came and went and now the “spam” comments, received and deleted, is about four times the number of real comments.

But there is something interesting in the more recent comments – other than that about twenty per day are regularly appearing.  That is the subject matter of these comments – which predominantly come in two varieties.

The first advertise a variety of porn sites where, should one have an interest, a person presumably can view a variety of “Eurasian shemales” and things of that sort.

The second of these advertise sites where drugs, (mostly pain medications but ED drugs are also a common theme), can be obtained.

For all his genius, Jefferson messed up.  He spoke of our right to, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” but omitted “privacy.”  It’s only fair to admit that he could certainly not have foreseen how the world would change a few centuries after his time.  But golly, it would have been nice if he had been that prescient and slipped it in, right after that liberty word.

But wait a minute.  Isn’t it essential to liberty to be free from spying (which implies intimidation) – whether that is from government or from fellow humans?  We’ve always had nosey neighbors and peeping Toms.  We’ve simply enhanced the tools of their trade and speeded up the process, enabling them to be even more intrusive.  And now, more than ever, we’ve gotten government in the game – in fact leading the charge.

I realize that the reason for the particular spam comments I’m receiving is that I’ve touched on drug companies and their products and written a few posts on human sexuality.  Obviously, that is sufficient to drive people through the google algorithm and allow them to send out their stuff.  So, as convenient as google is for doing useful research, it too has its downside, as my inbox will attest.

But as annoyed as I am by all this, I am most offended that from the original ‘60’s mantra, ‘Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll,” someone had the nerve to turn off the music.

THE MOUTH THAT ROARED

“Glad tidings of great joy.”  That is the message of the Nativvity, preached from a thousand pulpits this Christmas.  But for at least one of our clergy, Jesse Jackson, Sr. there is never a holiday so solemn that he can’t refrain from preaching about the ethereal to offer his opinion on the mundane.  In his most recent foray, the Rev. Mr. Jackson decided to express his outrage at the “racist and anti-gay comments” that “Duck Dynasty” star, Phil Robertson made in his GQ interview.

Thanks to the controversy of Mr. Robertson’s remarks, there may only be a handful of people in the United States who have not seen one or more episodes of “Duck Dynasty.”  I am one of them.   If I want to watch reality television, I have only to step out on the streets and observe those who pass by.  At least that is unscripted.

I’m not certain how many of us read the GQ interview.  I have and would agree with those who found Mr. Robertson’s remarks to have been phrased in a less than poetic way.  But those are the remarks he made and considering his background as a backwoodsman I’m sure that he expressed himself in the way which is familiar to him.  That is hardly a reason for condemning the man.  If it were, Vice President Biden would be under a gag order.

For those of us who subscribe to a Christian ethos,as I presume the Rev. Mr. Jackson does, there is no reason nor does any of us have the right to condemn anyone else.  We leave that job to a higher authority.  Subsequent to the interview, Mr. Robertson made it quite clear that he personally condemned no one personally.  That is not his job.

What Jesse Jackson categorized as “anti-gay” remarks actually related to sexual activity outside the traditional marital relationship.  Mr. Jackson should be aware that the Bible does condemn all sexual activity other than between a husband and wife, whether that is between two men or two women or a man and woman who are not married.  We all transgress.  The Rev. Mr. Jackson is no exception, having fathered a child outside his marriage.  Hopefully he has mended his former ways.  But it is hard to listen to his condemnation of another on this subject and not have some reservations about his sincerity or the worth of his words.

Then there is the second issue, Mr. Robertson’s “racist” remarks.  As far as I could tell from the interview, Mr. Robertson merely described the condition and the attitudes of those blacks with whom he worked in the field.  Whether his interpretation of their condition was accurate or not, none of us can truly say.  But to categorize his belief that those blacks never expressed outrage at their conditions as being racist seems to be an overreach.

Racism – or for that matter – any form of prejudice is a horrible thing.  All of us should pity those who make it the central point of their worldview.  That includes Mr. Jackson and all others who profiteer by pitting one race against another.  People who truly oppose racism, as Mr. Jackson did back in the ‘60’s should be equally outraged when anyone is attacked solely on the basis of that person’s skin color.  Of course, back then, Mr. Jackson would not have attacked Phil Robertson for his position on homosexuality since he espoused exactly the same view..

Have we heard Mr. Jackson speak out about the “Knockout Game” in which predominantly black young hoodlums attack innocent, defenseless people and try to knock them unconscious with a single punch?  Have we heard him protest the fact that most of the victims have been Jews?  Has he spoken out about the tragic shooting murder last week of Brian Friedland in the Short Hills, NJ mall at the hands of four black thugs?  Of course, this most recent murder might have been the unfortunate result of a car jacking, nothing more.  But whenever a black is attacked by a white person, Mr. Jackson assumes that the motivating factor behind the attack is racism.  Why doesn’t the same logic apply when the roles of assailant and victim are reversed?

Over the years I’ve watched Jesse Jackson morph from a committed advocate for the disadvantaged to a purveyor of racism for the sake of personal gain and prestige.  That is perhaps the greatest tragedy – watching his perversion from a crusader to a succubus.

While his words once had meaning and his message had value, they are now little more than the vitriolic output of a mouth that once roared and whose passion once soared.  And there are fewer people of conscience who  bother to listen to him any more and worse, are embarrassed for him..

A BIT MORE SPITZ-ER SPUTUM

Over the past several weeks, a number of my friends and I have discussed the moral bankruptcy which seems to abound in the America of 2013.  It doesn’t matter whether we turn to movie stars, professional athletes or politicians, it’s pretty much the same theme.

The good news is that I can (and do) ignore the movie stars and pro athletes who believe that they are God’s gift to mankind and refuse to patronize them by boycotting their product.  Let them carry on as they will – but they will not see a single cent of mine to support them by attending their films or going to or watching their games on television.  They are essentially irrelevant to me.

Now when it comes to politicians that is a horse of a different color – or in Mr. Spitzer’s case a whore of a different color.  This is not a statement of malevolence directed at those ladies of the evening – although one could certainly question their taste.  No this is directed personally toward Mr. Spitzer.

The genesis for this was a comment that I heard this evening at the dog park.  It was not specifically about Mr. Spitzer – in fact the conversation centered around a Hip Hop “artist” who had recently been arrested for a DUI.  But the principle is the same.

The commentator said, “Well, I still like his music.  I don’t care what he does in his personal life.  We shouldn’t worry about that because it’s none of our business.”  What a load of tripe!

I am going to ignore that in this case the fact that we have an impaired driver navigating a vehicle which causes about thirty-five thousand deaths each year in this country is or at least should be a concern for all of us – particularly for those who are in his vicinity.

And I am going to ignore the question of the morality of Mr. Spitzer’s hiring call girls.  I do not want to be part of the tribunal that determines standards of morality and tries to impose them on everyone else.  So my repulsion toward Mr. Spitzer strictly is a function of my view of his disregard for his office.

Whether or not prostitution is moral; whether or not it should be legalized; it is in virtually all jurisdictions currently illegal.  That’s the fact – plain and simple.

Because of my libertarian view, I might well be willing to sign a petition to change the status of that business.  But no one has yet presented me with one – so I believe that I will eschew the company of “escorts” (of either sex) and perhaps re-evaluate my position at a later date.

How a person could make the statement, as did the chap at the dog park, that “what a person does in his personal life is no one’s business” is beyond me, when the person in question happens to be a public servant.  And most especially, when that public servant happens to be the chief law enforcement officer of a state – as was Mr. Spitzer when he served as New York’s Attorney General.

It would be a remarkable thing if some of today’s total martial arts fighters left the ring and, to supplement their income until their next bout, taught a morning class in Origami and then spent their afternoons giving seminars in sensitivity training.  I don’t think that’s going to be happening anytime soon.

Over the years I have had the privilege of knowing several people in the business of politics who were men of great personal character and dignity and who took those qualities with them to work, representing their constituents in the most conscientious and ethical manner.  I would have expected no less from them.

It was, in fact, knowing them personally which convinced me that the same positive attributes they displayed as friends and neighbors would be the way in which they would discharge the positions to which the public had entrusted them.  I was not disappointed with my assessment in any of their cases.

Good character is hard to find.  If I could make one contribution to mankind it would be to invent a potion which, if taken regularly, would enable a person to acquire it.  If I were clever enough to invent such a tonic, I can think of several politicians including Mr. Spitzer to whom I would ship a free lifetime supply.

I only wonder if any of them would dare to try it.

FORBIDDEN LOVE

It was a Friday evening after a rough week and I had gotten home a bit late.  Tristan, my Irish Setter and Josh, my Belgian Shepherd/Newfoundland mix were waiting attentively at the door.  They really wanted to go for their walk.  So I dropped the mail on a table by the entryway, put on their collars and we hurried across the street to the park where the boys quickly relieved themselves.

When we returned to the condo I put their dinners together and sat down with an adult beverage for myself, kicking my shoes off and resting my tired feet on the coffee table in the living room.  I was just starting to get comfortable when the phone rang.

I debated for a moment whether I wanted to bother answering it or let Jeeves the Butler, the voice on my answering machine, pick it up.  But I was feeling a little more relaxed and I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to unwind on the couch as Tristan had finished his dinner and wanted me to play with him.  So I told him to stay on the couch and went into the library to grab the call, setting my scotch on a coaster on my desk.

The caller was a friend named Marty.  I could tell he was upset and the reason for that soon became clear.  His lover of three years, Ted had dumped him and told him he had to move out of Ted’s apartment.

I’m not quite sure why, but for virtually my entire life, people have always asked for my advice or looked to me to provide a shoulder to cry on when they needed one.  I guess that’s a sort of compliment.  But sometimes I feel like the proverbial pile to which flies are drawn.

Because I try to be a compassionate person, I normally acquiesce to their request to provide counsel.  Usually, this leaves the person making the request feel good – and me feeling rather drained.

Anyway, Marty and I talked for a few minutes but I was really tired and the scotch was beginning to kick in.  So rather than go through the blow by blow, I invited Marty to dinner the following evening.  I had planned on making a roast and there would be more than enough for both of us and the two puppies who always expected to get some of whatever it was I was eating.

So the following night, Marty came to the apartment for dinner and he told me the whole story.

The two of them had met about four years earlier at a party which a mutual friend had hosted.  At the time Marty was 24 and working in a salon as a stylist (or in the parlance of the gay community was a “hair burner”).  Ted was 41 and worked in a corporate law department as an attorney.  About three months later they began dating and nine months after that, Ted asked Marty to move in with him.

Ted had an apartment in the Halsted Street area of Chicago’s near north side which was alternately known as the “Gay Ghetto” or “The Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”  I  was always incredulous that people who lived in this neighborhood could ever develop lasting relationships.  In a five block span there were at least 12 gay bars, each of which had a special night to attract revelers.  And the bars usually overflowed onto the street.  So many men – so much temptation.

And that is what ultimately did their relationship in.  Ted had gone out one night for a “walk”, met someone coming out of one of the bars; their eyes met and before you knew it the two of them were passionately in love and having sex in this new person’s apartment.

As Marty told me this story I tried not to show that I felt that was all rather sordid and shallow.  But that was a story not unlike many others that could be told in and of the gay community.  I learned that when I was first introduced to the phrase, “Your future ex-husband.”

Whether straight or gay, we’ve probably all had a relationship that ended – or hoped for one that never began.  So in that regard I could understand what Marty must have been experiencing.  But I realized how relationships were even more difficult within the gay community than in the straight world when Marty said, “You know, if I could choose to be, I would choose to be straight.”

I knew Marty better than I knew Ted.  And he always impressed me with his boyish good looks, but more than that with his romantic soul.  On several occasions he told me that he couldn’t be happier because he had met the man of his dreams and was deeply in love with him.  He looked forward to living out the rest of his life with the love of his life.  It just happened that the two of them were gay.  And because they were gay, there was no legal commitment into which they could enter.

I decided to stay up late tonight and write this piece (it’s nearly midnight) because I just read an article that gay marriage is going to become the law in the UK within a matter of days – although it won’t be implemented for a year.  And, of course, we all are familiar with the same issue being heavily debated in the U. S.

I have to admit that I can see both points of view on this issue and can’t say that I have really come down firmly on either side.  If I were on my high school debating team and the subject of gay marriage were the topic, I think I could advance arguments equally effectively either for the “Pro” or the “Con”.

As I think back thirty years to my conversation with Marty that Saturday night, I wonder, if gay people had the right to get married back in the ’80’s  and Marty and Ted had tied the knot, might that have provided some stability of which they were deprived and might that have resulted in their relationship continuing, even today?

On the other hand, I look at the failure rate of marriages among the straight community and wonder if having a contract “until death do us part” has any relevance in today’s world.

And let us not forget that there are any number of our Hollywood types who simply move in together, have some kids and years later decide to make it “official”.  Or not – as they deem fit.  No one seems to raise much of a stink over that.

Perhaps the solution, whether for the straight or gay community, is to enter into a “time limit” contract – for say, three or five years, renewable on expiration.  It’s only a thought – but it might save thousands in the fees for attorneys who specialize in divorce.

After dinner, I told Marty that I had an extra bedroom and he would be welcome to use it until he situated himself.  He thanked me for my offer – but Hyde Park was too far removed from his familiar stomping grounds and, to my knowledge, there was never a gay bar in the community.  So I think he felt that if he moved in he would be hampered in his search for the next love of his life.  He declined my offer and took an apartment with one of the female stylists from the salon.

He was involved in two more semi-long term relationships by the time I left Chicago.  I never did run into Ted again after the two of them broke up.

I believe that each of us has a need for love – both to give and receive it.  It’s hard enough to do that as a straight person.  And my heart goes out to our gay population who the straight world tells, even if they find that special someone, that relationship is forbidden.

THE PENN STATE SCANDAL

As the alleged cover-up of sexually inappropriate behavior on the part  of Penn State’s football coaching staff deepens and widens, one can only ask how could something like this happen at one of America’s premier public universities.

The answer comes to us from this song from the film version of the musical, “Cabaret” released in 1972.

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