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Not normal?

07 Mar

This was a phrase my Greek-Cypriot cousin used yesterday to describe homosexuality, saying she’d still support any son/daughter who was gay but it was ‘not normal’. This choice of phrasing carries the unfortunate implication that all homosexuals are ‘abnormal’. I would prefer the term ‘not usual’, with the implication that being gay was unusual. Not strictly true, as it is very common in both the human and animal kingdom, but at least it doesn’t imply that being gay is a negative thing.

One could, of course, remark that someone who has lived in this country for about 50 years and has a poor command of English is ‘abnormal’, as are her parents who lived here for 15/20 years and speak hardly any English at all. But I digress, save for the fact that her choice of words might have been wiser had she bothered to learn English better in the last 5 decades.

As to whether being gay is usual or not, well it depends on what circles you mix in, and also on the conventions of society. I know for a fact that many of a naturally gay orientation (and yes, it is perfectly natural for those individuals) because of the conventions of society felt obliged to marry or co-habit with someone of the opposite sex, or alternatively to live a secret gay life, or suppress their gay sexual desires and either remain asexual or have short-lived affairs with persons of the opposite sex.

Only now, as civil partnerships become more common, are these conventions slowly changing. Even so we are a long way from the day when parents do not just assume their offspring will settle down with someone from the opposite sex, or when gay partnerships are accepted as readily as heterosexual ones. Not until the day when most parents lead their children to believe when they grow up they will probably find a person of the same or opposite sex and settle down with them, with no distinction between the two possibilities except there is the possibility of biological offspring from a heterosexual pairing.

This brings us to the hoary old argument that sex is mainly for procreation. This is a gross exaggeration, since if every sexual act resulted in a pregnancy there would be even greater over-population of the world and more would die from famines as the world’s resources ran out.

It would also mean, if taken literally, that not only would all forms of birth control be banned, but that sex between couples during a woman’s pregnancy would be off-limits. Indeed all sex would be banned unless it was likely to lead to pregnancy, which would mean all infertile couples would also be banned from enjoying sexual relationships.

Animals who over-breed have to be culled to preserve the food-chain or many would starve to death, or over-run the countryside. Nobody seriously proposes such a solution for human over-breeding, but famines and wars for scarce resources would have the same effect.

Sex is not simply for producing children, and it cannot be prohibited or even frowned upon in cases where due to birth control, infertility, pregnancy, sexual oriention,  wrong time of the month, etc.  it cannot result in pregnancy.

Coming back to whether a gay orientation is ‘normal’ or ‘usual’, well it is certainly very common. You might as well ask whether co-habiting with or marrying one person for life is ‘normal’ or ‘usual’. It probably is not, either in the human or animal kingdom.

In some societies poligamy is ‘normal’, and indeed many humans of both sexes and also animals have sexual relations with several or even many partners, whether or not they eventually settle down with one (of the same or a different sex).

So making statements about what is ‘normal’ or ‘usual’ is very subjective and colored by one’s own prejudices.

For gay people, being attracted to people of the same sex is perfectly natural and normal, thank you very much.

Greece, and the Greek-Cypriot Republic of Cyprus, are notoriously homophobic societies largely due to their macho cultural traditions, the importance put on children and family, and the oppressive influence of the Greek-Orthodox Church. The ancient Greek traditions of homosexuality are not carried down into modern Greek/Greek-Cypriot society, where such relatonships are still taboo.

Until recently arranged marriages (naturally with a person of the opposite sex) were very common in Cyprus, and my father came to England to avoid one. His brother had to marry the woman in order for my dad’s family to obtain the large dowry which came with her. My father also told me that a neighbor in his village in Cyprus was gay as a young man, but under Greek-Cypriot tradition was forced to marry a woman.

I do not need to heed the opinions of people from such a homophobic society as to what they consider ‘normal’ or ‘abnormal’. Quite frankly I couldn’t give a tinker’s cuss what they think. Like it or lump it, we are all individuals and what is right, natural and ‘normal’ for some would be quite wrong, unnatural and ‘abnormal’ for others.

Diversity is what makes life interesting surely? Otherwise we’d all be fighting each other over the same would-be partners as we’d all be attracted to the same individuals, and billions of us would end up unable to attract a partner at all.

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