Jacob Woods writes at his blog Good as Gay about lgbt and related social science topics that interest him. He is a psychology student and the president of the Gay Straight Alliance at Itasca Community College in Northern Minnesota (I’ve got nothing to hide.) Here are his thoughts, stemming from his experience with psychology.
I have held firmly that the lgbt community is highly promiscuous. More promiscuous than the heterosexual community. My first encounter with this was an anecdotal one. When I first started realizing I was gay, long before coming out of the closet, I would go online to find other gays to try to hook up with. There was gay porn online, pictures to be shared via e mail and soon for me, sexting on phones. Boys on Espin the Bottle and naked images of cute guys on Myspace flourished my mind. I felt internally guilty for being attracted to the same sex. I wrote extensively about my guilt in my journals often threatening suicide while praying to God to save me from the sin’s I was committing. It is a common story for many folks identifying as lgbt.
The guilt in me was largely a part of my family where some were openly anti-lgbt because of the Bible. My brother was more just afraid of the idea and my mom’s side of the family had a Biblical perspective. Every time I shared a picture with someone, or got someone to send a nude picture to me, I felt I was getting away with wrong. And largely, my actions, were immoral to me as none of those relationships were real. My actions were a detrimental process of trading pics, getting off, feeling good for a moment, and quickly feeling deathly uneasy.
What I was originally looking for was someone to talk to about my sexuality. But instead of finding discussion, I found sexual promiscuity because so many other people were socialized to do exactly what I was exposed to, trade pics. I had multiple people tell me that I wasn’t truly gay if I didn’t trade nudes with them. I was considered a phony if I didn’t trade. Being fourteen, I started telling other gay guys that they weren’t truly gay if they didn’t trade pics with me. If they didn’t trade, I knew that they weren’t truly gay and I could move on to the next sixteen year old male exposing himself on Myspace. But I was fourteen.
Six years later I understand the mechanism of guilt and learned helplessness. First there is guilt. If you search on Google you will see that finding information on guilt and an increase in a specific behavior is difficult. This is especially true with regards to sex and guilt correlated to an increase in sexual promiscuity. People don’t think guilt and sex in Google is that exciting, and there aren’t a whole lot of people talking about it when Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga exist. There are better things to talk about apparently. But I can attest to the fact that guilt in sexual behavior increases the amount people have sex. It first came up in my intro to chemical dependency class. My instructor for the class said that users are more likely to continue using if they are made to feel guilty about their behavior. I approached him after class and asked him if it was applicable for more than just drug users. He said surely. Just because it isn’t online doesn’t mean it isn’t out there! The instructor is Bob Gephart who is a licensed psychologist. I’ll take his word on it.
When it comes to the HIV epidemic, the issue is partially guilt. There are however, other mechanisms at play which I won’t cover. There is guilt for being gay, guilt for not being able to maintain a long lasting relationship, guilt for not being able to succeed, guilt for smoking and drinking the night away, and guilt for being alive. A lot of the lgbt community feels guilty for being. That shows in the suicide statistics, the drug statistics, and the disproportionate amount of depression the lgbt community among other negatives.
That is where learned helplessness comes into effect. Hypothetical situation below.
A son gets kicked out of his Minneapolis home after coming out of the closet. He is seventeen and still discovering much about life on his own. He is now homeless because his Evangelical parents do not tolerate their gay son. The son is lucky enough to have a cell phone on him and finds a library. He gets in contact with a gay guy in his thirties willing to take care of him. They hook up and begin going to parties, the gay 90′s, raves, and gang bangs. There is full access to drugs, full access to sex, and full access to a whole lot of trouble. One bad thing happens after another.
After awhile, the seventeen year old teen is now twenty working at McDonald’s living in an apartment. He has AIDs, but doesn’t know yet, and has pretty much gave up on pursuing anything else. He has been rejected his whole life, and in homelessness, he was never able to maintain a stable relationship. He has learned how to be helpless because he was helpless his whole life. He was rejected by parents, (social rejection runs the same neural pathways as physical abuse, Dr. Jackie MacPherson, Itasca Community College), rejected by multiple boyfriends, and often discriminated against when applying for some jobs and places to live around the city.
He has given up and will probably continue the same promiscuous lifestyle of hooking up and having sex with multiple partners throughout the years. This is all he knows.
It is difficult to grasp onto the hypothetical, but this is a very real situation. There is a high risk for all of these factors and the cycle is dangerous. Feeling guilty while also doing nothing to better ones situation is a mathematical equation for trouble. It is seen with many minorities including African Americans with IQ’s and Native Americans with alcohol. It only becomes a stereotype when one generalizes all minorities as dumb or all gays and lesbians as promiscuous, or all Native Americans as heavy drinkers.
I am fortunate as I was not kicked out of my home or rejected by family after coming out. Most of my issues were a result of knowing my brothers stance and most of my families stance before thoroughly talking about it. My cousin, who is gay and living with HIV, was always talked about as a bad person. He isn’t a bad person. He just made some interesting decisions. But most of what was available to him was because of the oppression. The gay bars, the gay clubs, the gay exclusive places where mostly gay people go and etc. If there was an orientation blind society, the gay exclusive bars wouldn’t be as necessary as they are now as they make hookups “safer” and more available. This also makes HIV, drugs, and trouble, more available.
Whether or not one agrees with these statements in regards to promiscuity in the gay male community is futile to me. I fight to rid the oppression as anyone else does as this will surely deplete the HIV epidemic faced by gay males.
My only advice is this, educate yourself on lgbt issues before going out on the town. Know the statistics, know who you are hanging out with, avoid risky sexual behavior, avoid extensive drug use, seek help if you are in need of it, and please, in the least, wear a condom. That and you are capable of anything you set your mind to. Don’t let any obstacle stop you from pursuing yourself. If you are living with HIV, there is still more you can do! Don’t give up!
Jacob Woods (http://twitter.com/#!/TheJacobWoods )
For more of Jacob’s stances on lgbt, minority issues, and much more please visit his blog at Good as Gay!