Wednesday, Aug. 1 is the day that some religious right-wingers have dedicated to honor Chick-fil-A for their bold stance against us. I drive by one twice a day, and frankly, I'd like something more positive to think about. I told a friend I wanted to connect all this uproar to sexual intimacy for same-sex couples. She said, "That's quite a stretch... "
Maybe not so much. These attacks reflect the very judgmental, anti-gay attitudes shared by a lot of people. Beneath their fascination with same-sex marriage is the core belief that it is sinful/perverted/pathological to seek sexual contact with someone of the same sex. This is the very negative, anti-gay-sex messages we've all heard, to varying degrees, all our lives.
And there's a big deficit on the positive messages. "Within the sanctity of holy matrimony," sex is a gift of pleasure, divinely intended to strengthen the marital bond. This is a very positive, pro-sexual message, but it isn't directed to us. Few of us have heard, "Sex is wonderful when you're married to the right man, or woman," or "when you're in love with the right boy, or girl." There's not much positive to counteract the impact of all that negativity from the anti-sex forces.
So how to fight back? Re-visit our coming out stories. Remember the challenges faced, and the intimacy discovered when you let yourself orient toward the object of your attraction. Just like plants become stronger and fuller as they turn toward the sun. Remember the amazement, and the sense of finally coming home. And when you listen to your partner's and friends' stories, respect the challenges we've all faced, and the support we need to continue being our best selves.
Most of us understand that intimate relationships call for teamwork. But when you hit typical, long-term couple sexual intimacy "issues," teamwork goes out the window. It's easier to go negative, about oneself or other. You're not sexual enough. I've got a low sex drive. You're obsessed with sex. You don't act sexy. You pressure me too much. I don't like my body. You don't like my body. Maybe we'd have more sex if you weren't so neurotic. Or if I weren't. Resentment and hurt get focused between the two of you, turning you against each other.
This isn't good teamwork. It's more like team members shoving each other back and forth, and forgetting to move the ball down the field. But this is exactly how many couples talk about sex. So how do you turn toward each other, get back on the same game plan?
It helps to remember the real anti-sex forces, the barrage of criticism and contempt expressed toward same-sex intimacy. The absence of positive social and family support for a romantic/sexual relationship between two women, or two men. The overt and covert messages that our form of love is inferior, or unhealthy, or abominable. These are forces we once overcame together, and we can do that again.
Focusing on the real anti-sexual forces makes it easier to pull together and figure out a game plan. How do we preserve the kind of sex life we both want? How do I respect your wishes, and also mine? How do I give enough without giving too much? How do I hold onto you, and me, at the same time? These questions are front and center in the sexual arena. It takes courage and persistence to actually work through these, together.
Let's don't forget the very positive view of sex implied "within the sanctity of holy matrimony." Sex really can be a gift of pleasure, a wonderful bonding glue that holds a couple together, that's worth the effort to sustain through the ordinary travails of intimate relationships. We need to remember the courage it took to express our sexuality, and the grace to share this with another.
So I want the Chick-fil-A sign to remind me to practice compassion toward myself, my partner, my loved ones. To celebrate the wonder of sexual intimacy with someone I love. And to express respect for our courage under pressure, grace under fire.
I think that will help me feel better as I go driving by.