Tuesday, January 25, 2011

SGA: A sin against nature...

One of the things that impresses me most about the Moho blogging community is our mutual respect and unstinted civility. When we disagree, we usually politely agree that disagreement is good, that we all have to find our own way, and that it is better to be polite than to ensure everyone knows we are right.

It must have something to do with our genes. It comes with the CK's, the limp wrists, and our devotion to Madonna. We just love to be nice.

Overall, this approach has done us well. Many of us continue to be associates, friends and even lovers despite that fact that we despise the positions of those whose hearts we value.

I agree without argument (I'm trying to be nice here) that there is a time to bite ones tongue and I honestly wish civility was more generally inculcated into the arena of public discourse. (I nearly swoon thinking of the days when two good natured gentlemen would solve their disagreements respectfully by standing at opposite ends of an alley, raising their arms firmly while politely exclaiming, "Do your best, good man," before blowing each other to kingdom come with pistols designed just for that purpose. Very civilized. Very cultured. Very nice.)

Well, fellow Mohos, there is one issue about which I am tired of being nice. Today I've decided for good or ill to let it roll! And here goes....

If I hear a homo say he or she is afflicted, beset, bothered, burdened, distressed, grieved, harrowed, oppressed, pained, pestered, plagued, racked, tormented, or even tortured by SGA one more time, I think I'm going to take my purse and beat the bonehead like bread dough.

Brethren and sisters of the fold, understand here and now, today, this moment, from this time forward (if, unfortunately, you haven't figured it out already)--THERE IS NOT NOR HAS THERE EVER BEEN A PHYSICAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL OR SPIRITUAL CONDITION CALLED SGA (OR SSA FOR THAT MATTER)! NEVER, NADA, NO WAY.

The term is an obscene euphemism used by certain institutions and individuals to ensure that homosexuals stay squarely in their place--out of sight and out of mind. It is demeaning and misleading. It perpetuates the myth that homosexuality is a deviant condition on the same level as child molestation and pornography addiction. It is intended to make us feel worthless and unworthy, and by the comments of many, it does a pretty good job of doing just that.

The fact is that I'm not suffering from anything--especially from some salacious, smutty condition whose name is so despicable it cannot be said in good company. As a GAY man who recently came out to the world, I HAVE NEVER BEEN PHYSICALLY, PSYCHOLOGICALLY, OR SPIRITUALLY HEALTHIER. I am a happy man who has finally found peace.

How many of you "SGA sufferers" can make the same claim?

As I have blogged before, words mean things. If I am going to have a place in the world at large, I must be allowed to say what I am so that others may know who I am. So long as the word “gay” or "homosexual" remains the ultimate obscenity and we are forced to use bemeaning euphemisms in their place, ignorance about gay people will continue to proliferate and hate will inevitably abound.

I just have one more thing to say before I crawl back into my "nice" little hole. In my view, members of the Family should be the last to perpetuate by use, this despicable profanity of affliction and victimhood which in good company, like the "n" word, should never be uttered.

Okay,(deep breath), I'm nice again.


  1. Thank you so much for this post! I have always hated the terms SSA and SGA. I tried to use them at first, out of respect to the people I was talking to. But then I decided that I deserved respect as well and started using "gay" and "lesbian" to describe myself. It feels much better this way! I appreciate your thoughts, Clive!

  2. I HATE the terms SSa an SGA. ALWAYS have, ALWAYS will. And, they sound more like a Geometry formula than how we should be denoting one's sexuality.

    Love and respect, always.

  3. Agree. Call it what it is, not some "alternative", "soft" made-up label. And I don't 'struggle' with anything. I hate that term combined with 'SSA' even more than the acronymn alone.

  4. I'm not sure who concocted those two terms but I never felt comfortable with them. It is what it is and once I was able to say "I'm gay" it was much simpler and clearer to me than saying anything else. Thanks for talking about it!

  5. I think that the terms "same-sex attracted" or "same-gender attracted" have their place... They allow people who are having difficulty accepting their sexuality to take an intermediate position before declaring themselves completely "gay".

    Non-religious types often use "bisexual" or "bi-curious" in the same way. In a society that still normalizes heterosexuality and stigmatizes homosexuality (to some extent) it's easier to admit same-sex attraction if you can hold on to a bit of that "normal" (as in "I'm a [normal] man who's attracted to other men", or "I'm a mostly [normal/straight] man who's "curious" about same-sex intimacy").

    The problem, of course, is the pairing of "SSA" or "SGA" with "struggling". It's not nearly as healthy (IMHO) to declare yourself "a [normal] man who struggles (or suffers, etc.) with attractions to other men". It's the struggle (against what's normal and natural for him) that leads to problems.

    Using SSA/SGA as adjectives to describe oneself is okay (though still perhaps not as healthy as outright admitting that one is gay / a homosexual / etc.). Using them as terms for a non-existent "condition" that one "struggles" with is not.

    (My two cents)

  6. Amen.

    Although I agree with Scott to a great extent, I'd say that these terms do more harm than good overall.

    When first coming into contact with this idea, it made sense on the level of a spectrum. One had to pass through an SGA of a bi phase to be comfortable with terms like gay or lesbian.

    Well, in a rhetorical sense, the terms are loaded with unhealthy stigmas of guilt and struggle. Something noteworthy is the debate over SGA vs. SSA. SGA is a de-sexualized version, but what does that do to the idea? It removes the condition from "sinful" ideas and behaviors. The meaning is then tied to that struggle with those behaviors as a result, loading it with guilt and struggle. For that very reason I favor the term gay. I am not suffering. I am not unhappy. I am quite the opposite of what SGA/SSA proponents insist I should be.

    I completely agree, Clive, that these are terms with meanings that can ultimately enslave our feelings and keep us from happiness. It is up to us to escape these terms and empower the words "gay" and "homosexual" to have their true meanings and not allow others to make them synonyms of "pedophile," "sin," or "unhappy."

  7. I love Scott's comment on intermediate position. Frankly, he's right, but its just a place on the tight rope. Either you hang with one end, or the other, since being inbetween is quite tenuous.

  8. Okay, guys, I'm taking off my nice hat again and I apologize right up front. In my mind SGA and SSA have NO place in decent discourse. They are meaningless euphemisms. They demean. They perpetuate myth. They support false reality and give credibility to notions that have been destroyed by science and common sense. "Bi" or "bi-curious" or "I haven't quite figured things out yet," carry meaning. SGA carries nothing but self-loathing and bigotry. Scott argues that we need to provide those coming out some kind of cover. If we're going to give them a fig leaf, let's give them a real fig leaf and not one made of rice paper.

    Why am I so sensitive? Because I am tired of being corrected by the Brethren when the term "Gay" is used in connection with a person. Inevitably one of them will shout out, "There is no such thing as a gay member of the Church. He/she is just suffering from SGA."

    Words mean things. To change prejudice you change language. We must stop being apologists for language that denotes hate and bigotry.

  9. Ok, I'll take off my nice hat for a while, too.

    I don't know why we let some of these fringe groups get away with making up their own terms or redefining things. Prior to 1820 there was no such thing as a Mormon. Consider the difference between Mormon and Catholic bishops, deacons, priests and saints. How can "these people" say that a 12-year-old boy is a deacon? Why is it that in their parishes their elders are younger not older. How can teenagers with no theological training be "ordained" to the "priesthood" by laymen in business suits who thinking divinity school is where you learn to make candy for Christmas? These people are misusing language and it is wrong and offensive. Why don't we call these people what they really are? They are confused. They are really just Protestants with Restorationist Tendencies and they can fight these tendencies, if we don't empower them by allowing them to use make up their own meanings for words. I say we cease calling them Mormons or LDS and start calling them PRTs.

    Why am I writing like a mad man? I'm kind of pissed. And I too am tired of being so nice. I consider myself to be a bisexual man who is married to a woman but attracted to both men and women. But, oh no, you can't define yourself that way. You're gay. Don't kid yourself that you like making love to your wife and you like hanging out with your male friends, too. Who are you to define your own feelings and put a name on them? Are you LDS, too? I mean, PRT? There will be sanctions to pay. We will define what is politically correct and you will conform, you savvy?

    Whew, it is nice to vent a bit. Ok, nice hat back on again. ;)

  10. To be clear, I don't think that everyone who identifies as bisexual is only using that label as a waypoint on the road to authentic gaydom. I know people (like Ned) who are genuinely attracted to both genders.

    But I also know a lot of guys who tried on "bi" for a while until they were comfortable enough with it to accept that they are actually exclusively attracted to guys.

    And I still stand by my assertion that "SSA" is another common (and acceptable) waypoint. It's a hell of a lot more honest than the complete denial I lived in for most of my life.

  11. Ned, great post, and thanks, Scott, for your comments.

    To me the point is that bisexuality is reality. While some might use it as a waypoint, others may feel comfortable as "bi-s" for their entire lives.

    Although SSA may be a so-called "acceptable" waypoint, in contrast to bisexuality, SSA/SGA does not exist. As a term or condition or place or whatever, it is make-believe, unreal, false; its an institutional euphemism used to degrade and demean.

    It is nothing more than the "n" word in suit and tie.

    In contrast to your assertion, I believe it is not and never should be "acceptable" in polite discourse regardless of how common it is.

    PS: Thanks everyone for your views! Don't you just love this kind of debate!!! It is healthy for all of us and for our cause!

  12. it's an institutional euphemism used to degrade and demean.

    I disagree. It's used to deny--which isn't good or healthy, but it's also not nearly the same thing as degradation.

    For whatever reason, you were able to admit that you were gay long before you decided to do anything about it.

    But for the typical young gay Mormon that's not an easy thing to do.

    The terms "SSA" and "SGA" focus on the attraction, and they are therefore much more palatable to our young gay Mormon who isn't ready to embrace his inner self. It's so much easier to admit "I'm attracted to guys... [but I'm not going to do anything about it]" than it is to outright admit "I'm gay".

    You an I both know that the word "gay" itself doesn't say anything about one's behavior, but to the typical religious conservative (including the typical TBM) it does imply that choices have been made that put one "over the line".

    This isn't right, and I'm all for doing whatever we can to eradicate the notion that "gay" means "having sex with men". If we are successful in doing so we will no longer have need of "SSA"/"SGA".

    But in the meantime, this is where we are, and for now there is value in at least being able to admit the attraction, even if at first it's only to see it as a struggle or a trial.

    I was 34 before I was able to even do that much, and those years of utter denial were regrettable. Thankfully I was able to progress almost immediately to the "I'm gay" phase, but for those who are unable to do so, it's nice to have "SSA"/"SGA" as a place to stop and catch their breath.

  13. I love you tons, Scott, and my life is great because you're part of it. But I still don't agree with you.

    SGA/SSA are institutional tools. Certain institutional websites prove that point clearly and unequivocally and through these obscene terms, reinforce the fact that we are afflicted, not quite normal, definitely not whole.

    What message does that send to young men and women trying to get their arms around lives that they recognize don't fit the "norm"?

    Admittedly, the terms may be used to deny, but make no mistake, they are also there to degrade and demean. They keep us in our place.

    My point is that we should be taking control of the language rather than allowing those who oppose our cause to do so. We would still be using Miss and Mrs. today instead of Ms if the feminists hadn't done just that.

    I want every man and woman struggling with their sexual identity to know unequivocally that regardless of what they are, they are good and whole and loved. The terms SSA/SGA do not send that message. In the end they say simply that we are not well, we are not whole, and we have only limited value in the sight of God.

  14. If we're going to "take control of the language" then why are we letting "institutional websites" "who oppose our cause" define the terms?

    They don't get to say that "gay" means "has sex with men", and they shouldn't get to impose any implied affliction on the term "SSA".

    The fact is, I am same-sex attracted. That term is unwieldy, and I much prefer the simpler and more universally understood "gay" myself, but I won't begrudge those who, for whatever reasons, are not (yet) comfortable applying that term to themselves.

    I want gay people to know that they are good and whole and loved, too. Perhaps "SSA" and "SGA" don't do a great job of portraying that. But we can get that message across without criticizing the poor soul who's at least taken that tentative first step to self-acceptance.

    Telling them "your use of the term 'SSA' to define yourself is 'unacceptable'" isn't the most positive approach, I don't think. :)

  15. Let's hot tub tonight, Scott. This would be a fun discussion to carry on in warm water. Let me know if you can do it. Anyone else who's up for a soak and a talk, let me know.

  16. Not everybody who is "same-sex attracted" is gay. I will continue to use that term because I don't drink the Kool-Aid the LDS church is serving about homosexuality.

  17. Not everybody who is "same-sex attracted" is gay.

    I'm curious about this statement... Everyone has their own definitions for these terms. Can you tell me what the distinction is in your mind?