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Wednesday 08 October 2008

Proclamations of the Red Queen

28th July 2008

Piety and Sexuality

Posted by: Craig Young

How does one explain the contradictory existence of the conservative Christian gay erotomaniac?

Put simply, in today’s New Zealand, there is an increased prospect of strongly compartmentalised lives for both personal identities within the same person. One can be an open fundamentalist husband and father, or Catholic priest by day, and then resort to gay saunas and sex on site venues during the night hours, or on the way home from work, or when one is supposed to be ‘working late at the shop or office.’

If one is a notorious local fundamentalist activist in one’s own city, like Ted Haggard was, or Senator Larry Craig, for instance, then one may have to wait until one is in another city to indulge the desires one carefully keeps in the closet. Sex on site venues are noted for their privacy and confidentiality, and low profile churchmembers are likelier to get away with ‘doing the down low.’

To avert suspicion, the fundamentalist closeted gay or bisexual man may not have other relationships with women, or with a female sex worker, perhaps because he married too young. Using the workplace time excuse, especially during hard economic times, he will then doff his clothes at the local gay recreational sex venue, and close down his public or surface persona, and then makes out for lost time.

This facade is probably “easier” for fundamentalist closeted gay or bisexual men than for conservative Catholic closeted gay men. Catholics have to contend with the existence of confession, and the prospect of “having” to describe one’s gay sexual activities to a priest- unless, that is, one simply omits to mention it in the confessional. However, nagging ‘guilt’ may then dog one’s sexuality, leading to warped emotional and personality development.

I’m not sure how this would work out for lesbians. Compared to married male breadwinning roles, single or childless married fundamentalist women may be best able to lead a similar compartmentalised life, with their own careers outside the home, and able to frequent lesbian pubs, women’s bookshops, female band gigs and other potential lesbian social networking and social interaction sites. Lesbian feminist community building was more intense in the seventies and eighties, but the passage of anti-discrimination reforms under the Human Rights Act 1993 may have led to diminished strong boundaries, given occupational feminism and LGBT workplace activism.  At the same time, conservative Christian anti-feminist activism has almost completely disappeared, apart from the elderly male dominated tiny and shrivelled anti-abortion movement.

Sooner or later, these carefully compromised lives may begin to destabilise. Prolonged female unmarried status may lead to suspicion or active surveillance, or other church members may spot a married man entering the foyer of a gay sauna or cruise club, or stray phone messages or pocket cards and advertisements may alert one’s partner. Moreover, while we’d have scruples about outing someone who isn’t a public fundamentalist antigay activist, fundamentalist ministers have no similar inhibitions against destroying privacy and confidentiality.

Once the closet door opens, though, New Zealand ex-fundamentalist lesbians and gay men may benefit from the virtual absence of exgay groups in New Zealand, apart from “Exodus,” which mostly only caters to elderly men experiencing sexual identity conflict but mired within their fundamentalist churches. There must be something we can do to help them- perhaps we need a far stronger emphasis on gay male senior citizens organisations within our communities than has previously been the case, given the ageism that often confronts older men within many commercial gay venues.

And with this blog, I reach Blog #300! Okay- that’s weird. According to the URL, this is actually Blog #303, having skipped four…

Tags: Politics · Religion

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