Thursday, June 25, 2009

The "Ick" factor

A friend of mine recently told me of a conversation she had with relatives regarding homosexuality. More specifically, her trouble reconciling her desire to be what she considers a good Christian (she is a life-long Catholic) and be tolerant of all types of people with her dislike of even the idea of gay sex. She's aware of the evidence that it may be genetic or at least a natural condition, but she just can't get past her distaste for the sexual part. Her relatives called her a homophobe, and she wondered if they might be right.

At this point I should say that this discussion was pretty much theoretical to her, as she has led what she called a sheltered life; to her knowledge she doesn't know any gay people and has only ever met very few in her life. She has lived most of her life here in South Dakota, where there aren't that many people to start with, and diversity of any sort is pretty limited. Combine that with a fairly high level of religious participation and you don't have the ingredients for a thriving gay community. I'm also not certain why she mentioned this to me. She's aware of my general skepticism and libertarianism; perhaps she wanted input from someone with those inclinations.

I told her that I had happened upon this topic a few years ago in an internet chat room where a couple of people were decrying lack of acceptance of gays while professing devotion to a Bible-literalist religion. I was met with disbelief when I pointed out to them that the Bible they hold to be literally true and inerrant specifically disagrees with them about this. I said to them then and to her now that this is something with which any fundamentalist believer has to deal. I then suggested that if it's just the sex that bothers her so much (she's also been a bit sheltered in that regard), she should try to look at it as she would any other sexual behavior between consenting adults that may not be to her taste; as long as it doesn't involve her, there's no need to care.

Later I thought about this a bit more and wondered how many people feel that way. How much anti-gay feeling is just an "ick" factor with gay sex? Would a celibate gay couple be perfectly fine? I may have to revisit this topic with her.

Not surprisingly, given the way my mind works, silliness also popped into this. At some point during their conversation one of her relatives mentioned that the Bible "was written by men". It occurred to me that,as I recall, male homosexual acts are called an abomination, but female homosexuality isn't mentioned. Perhaps the mentality that accounts for the popularity among men of various types of girl-on-girl action has deeper roots than I thought.