It’s encouraging to see the spate of recent articles like this opinion piece from the Palm Springs Desert Sun, talking honestly about certain kinds of reckless behavior in the gay community (in this case, use of crystal meth) and how we can combat them.
I question the emphasis on low self-esteem as the scapegoat for the gay community’s ills–I’d rather we emphasize self-control and personal responsibility–but we’re clearly going in the right direction in taking up this conversation.
I bet you’ve already guessed how I’ll link this back to the ex-gay question, right? If you read the testimonials of famous ex-gays (Steve Bennett, John Paulk, etc.) you can’t help but notice that when these people were out as gay they completely lost their sense of boundaries and of right and wrong. Later, as "ex-gays," they blame the various dysfuntions they indulged in (drug abuse, bulimia, prostitution) on the fact that they were gay.
Blaming the "gay community" sure seems like a convenient way for them to avoid taking responsibilty for their own behavior, dontcha think? Still, there’s probably a kernel of truth there… Chances are, their gay friends were not questioning their reckless behavior, and in fact may have been enabling it. Sometimes we out gays are reluctant to encourage responsible behavior in our friends because we don’t want to be viewed as another moralizing voice. While the "gay community" isn’t responsible for the bad choices of Paulk, Bennett, et al, it’s possilbe we did contribute to driving them into the arms of the ex-gay movement. If I thought my only options were to be a drug-addicted slut or ex-gay, I’d choose ex-gay every time.
I’m no prude, and I’m not saying that gay people need to hold to moral standards we find arbitrary–but I do think engaging in a dialogue about creating a more meaningful life is a great idea. Let’s have fun (life is fun! sex is fun!), while remembering to love ourselves, and each other, and act responsibly.