Super Snide Gay Remarks

Those of you who are super cool have probably already read them, but the rest of you should check out Eric Snider’s remarks about the new TLC show My Husband’s Not Gay. Here are few snippets for your thoughts, but you really should read the whole thing here.

reading about the show reminded me of two things. One, that the people on reality TV are pathetic attention whores who should be ignored, for their own good and the good of society. And two, that I don’t like the term “same-sex attraction.”

The unwieldy phrase was also useful because of the prevailing belief among religious leaders that homosexuality could be cured. So a Mormon man, for example, who was attracted to other men but wanted to live the gospel by not acting on those urges might be reluctant to label himself “gay” if he believed the condition was merely temporary. Better to say he’s “same-sex attracted.” As in: “I used to be same-sex attracted, but then I married LurLeen, and that cleared it right up!”

Things have changed, though.

Furthermore, as these issues have come to be discussed more openly, society has discovered new types of gays. People who identify as “gay” might be sexually active pride-parade organizers, or they might be closeted virgins. They might be as monogamous as a Puritan, or as slutty as a Unitarian. They might be only mostly gay, with some attraction to the opposite sex, but not enough to qualify as a registered bisexual. They might be faithfully and happily married to a woman despite being mostly gay. (They might also be unfaithfully and unhappily married to a woman.) They might be flamboyant, masculine, effeminate, macho, or none of the above. There are gays who, like me, are active, faithful religious adherents, gays who are atheists (gaytheists, they’re called), and gays everywhere in between.

There aren’t any gays who play sports, though. That’s just science.

Like I said, you should read the whole thing. The term “same sex attraction” is, like “gay”, a term laden with meaning and social agenda. We have no socially neutral way to refer to homosexuality — some even argue that the word “homosexual” is owned by the liberal left and that it necessarily implicates, well, sex, when the nicer term “same sex attraction” can be used for those lonely/homely enough* to not have any sex mixed up in their same-sexism. Eric’s effort to take the word “gay” back is a worthy cause. Heterosexuals don’t typically have to worry about the fraught social cues wrapped up in describing their sexual preference for the opposite sex; it would be a kind thing if we could afford others that same possibility of sexual self-determination without predefining their social milieu. It would be one less burden for homosexual Mormons to carry as they try to navigate the minefield of sexual identity in a religion that is scarcely sexually healthy towards heterosexuals, let alone anything else. We just might be able to keep more people from becoming disaffected and falling away from the Church. This is sort of a pipe dream, I guess, but even incremental ways of showing kindness, compassion and understanding towards LGBT Mormons have the potential to go a long way.

* Homelysexual?


  1. Read it earlier today, and loved it; I’m delighted to see it shared here at BCC. You don’t include my favorite paragraph, though, which was just above one of the one’s you include:

    [Edited so that we don’t duplicate the entire piece here, go click over to Eric’s pls thx]

    After all these years, Eric’s still got it.

  2. Well put.

    -A Biromantic demisexual and active Mormon ;) (bisexual if that’s easier) .

  3. Thanks for the laughs, guys! And by that, I mean thanks for the link to the latest posting of Snide Remarks, a watering-hole of nutritious lolz that I thought was in a dry spell.

  4. David Elliott says:

    Hilarious! But “slutty as a Unitarian”? Tsk, tsk.

  5. I much prefer J. Bryan Lowder’s more charitable take on Slate:

    “…my experience of watching the program, as I did late last week with my partner and another gay friend, was not the traumatic odyssey of repression and self-deception that all the rending of online garments had portended.
    …Does the lifestyle presented in My Husband’s Not Gay—one defined by a constant, rather manic cycle of “temptations” anxiously recognized, endlessly processed, and ultimately denied—appeal to me? Absolutely not. But just because I don’t get it doesn’t mean it’s an invalid way of being in the world. By all means, let’s continue to criticize churches that demean queer people and organizations (and quacks and parents) that bully vulnerable queer children. But when it comes to grown individuals who have made different choices about how to live based on their own value systems—choices that are doing no apparent harm to anyone else—let’s keep the infantilizing histrionics to a minimum.”

    I love Eric Snider and I mostly agree with what he wrote, but the tone was disappointing. I know the people on that show and they are some of the finest people I know. They were given an opportunity to tell their story, and even though the reality TV format is always contrived and doesn’t really allow much for the depth of discussion this issue deserves, I thought the show turned out very well.

  6. Dan, if someone really wants to tell their story, a reality TV show is about the single worst way to do so that I could name. I’m sure they’re good people (I have no reason to assume otherwise). And Eric hasn’t seen the show, you’ll note.

  7. Kevin Barney says:

    I did see the show, and the very frequent use of “same-sex attraction” in a clinical sense and the self-conscious avoidance of the word “gay” were definitely annoying.

    Thanks for pointing us to Eric’s essay.

  8. John Mansfield says:

    Edmonton writer Colby Cosh back in 2003:

    The Canadian Press, covering the federal Progressive Conservative caucus retreat, solicited some opinions on “same-sex marriage”. And by the way, didn’t we used to have a word “homosexual” in this language? Where did this “same-sex” horsecrap come from–caveman times? “Sorry, me not attracted to Urg. Urg of same sex as me. Not that anything wrong with Urg.”

  9. Well put. And Canadian.

  10. “I love Eric Snider and I mostly agree with what he wrote, but the tone was disappointing.”

    I do not think Snider and his tone can be separated. It is part of what makes him awesome.

  11. Steve Evans: “Dan, if someone really wants to tell their story, a reality TV show is about the single worst way to do so that I could name.”

    Could have sworn the worst way was knocking on people’s doors and asking if you could share a message.

  12. Interesting. Why is the show just focusing on Mormons? Because Mormons are fun to bash and there is no out cry when Mormons are criticized, caricatured

    TLC should do thle show using couples of diffetent religions.. Why not Catholic, Muslim (the “gay” person would have to go into hiding to keep from being beheaded), Protestant, whatever.

  13. Ok, 2nd worst.

  14. martha my love says:

    From a story linked to in “LDS Headlines” right on this page:

    ” Between 51 percent and 69 percent of mixed­-orientation Mormon marriages end in divorce, well above the roughly 25 percent of Mormon couples who split up.”

  15. Although that “study” means entirely nothing: they admit, upfront, that they didn’t use a random sample; as such, there’s no way there’s any statistical significance to anything they found. Intuitively I suspect they’re right that mixed-orientation marriages end in divorce more frequently than other marriages, but Dehlin & Bradshaw have utterly failed to provide any evidence at all of that.

    That said, thanks Steve! I probably wouldn’t have seen this for several more days, but it’s an absolutely wonderful—and hilarious—piece of writing.

  16. Thanks for the pointer, Steve. I love Eric’s post.

  17. Ditto to Ziff. You know how you follow a blog for awhile, and then you get out of the habit, and then you rediscover it again? What a great post with which to rediscover Eric Snider!

    I think I probably had the same take on the actual best paragraph in the post as RAF, too. :)

  18. I didn’t watch the show but saw the clips. I plan to go to my grave with the bisexual identity I carry, and am quite content to do so. Whether the terms be gay, homosexual, or same sex attraction, there is certainly enough variability in how an attraction registers within a soul and how an individual would choose to characterize themselves. In some ways all through of those terms could be used to describe me, and in others, none of them applies. There was a time in my life when I felt resigned that the advice given to me that I just needed to ‘come out’ was going to be my destiny. When I married and nurtured the opposite sex attraction and ceased flaming the fires of the same sex attraction, I was more happy than I had ever been in my life and angry that all of the intellectual opinion on dealing with homosexuality had not included the information that fluidity of opposite sex attraction can occur. I would never expose the family I have now to the scorn and ridicule that these individuals are facing. I don’t really feel the need to connect with other men with the same type of marriage, although occasionally I will read and respond to blogs. With a job, 5 busy children, and a wonderful partner, I really don’t have the time or interest to dwell on this debate now. I certainly wouldn’t feel healthy by getting together with men and rating other men’s sex appeal on a zero to ‘restraints required’ scale. I am not perfect individually in that arena, but try to follow the ‘move on’ advice, as would a married straight man who sees an attractive woman. In fact, I do this when I see an attractive woman as well. My children seem to be well-adjusted and, so far, heterosexually oriented. I hope for them to continue be in the majority as far as this orientation goes–life is just easier that way. But, if one or more of them is not, perhaps I will ‘come out’ to them one day as I continue to love and always accept them.

  19. MikeInWeHo says:

    Sam: Research doesn’t necessarily require random samples to show validity. Some topics simply cannot be studied via random sample. The key is the peer review process, which I believe the Dehlin & Bradshow paper has been successfully subjected to.

    BTW: Eric Snide is hysterical. I suppose it would help someone in his situation to maintain a sense of humor. Thanks for sharing this, Steve.

  20. Mike, it certainly doesn’t need a random sample. But they purport to state a percentage of those marriages that end in divorce and, without a random sample, that number (or rather, that range) is meaningless. (That is, they face a selection bias at best, something they acknowledge but, apparently, press on with anyway.)

    Like I said, I suspect that their intuition is correct, and their study may provide some information about the difficulties and obstacles in such marriages. But it cannot tell us what percentage of mixed-orientation marriages will end in divorce.

  21. Jaramiah: I just wanted to say that what you wrote is one of the best, most sane things I’ve read or heard on this topic. Thank you for sharing.

  22. Stating that anything short of a random sample is meaningless is sorta like stating that astrophysics are meaningless because you can’t conduct experiments in a lab.

  23. But Vin, astrophysics ARE meaningless (on a cosmic scale)

  24. You are welcome Laura.

  25. Wow, am I late commenting on this one. Eric is pretty funny, but he does make a good point. Personally, I’m jealous. The “SSA” community has co-opted an upbeat, positive word to describe themselves. Why can’t the hetero community (is there such a thing?) do the same? I nominate the word “exuberant.” So, for anyone who cares, I’m coming out of the closet. I’m exuberant.

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