Last week people wanted John Travolta to come out, and he wouldn’t, and then writers retracted their requests, ending up with statements like, “Nobody’s personal life is my business.” We think very badly about sex in our culture.
Mary Elizabeth Williams, writing in Salon, says “frankly, if being a guy who regularly has sex with other guys doesn’t make you gay, I’m not sure what does.” She gets close to the heart of the confusion here. She would have “being gay” defined by the man’s actions. It’s not. Sucking cock does not make you gay. Even enjoying sucking cock, does not make you gay. Sleeping with women does not make you straight either. In our culture, during my whole life, we have told ourselves that a series of actions made us a certain kind of person. That is emphatically not so. A man’s sexuality is defined by how a man thinks and feels. I have only to look at the humanity around me to see that this is so.
Consider these things: There are more than two genders and gradations of each one, with no clear bright line separating anything, as each story of a transgender person tells us. And how do we find out what gender a person is? That person will tell us. My desire may likewise take many forms—life-long for one gender and for one person or for several people for a shorter period or for many people. I may, in fact, have two or more different kinds of relationships simultaneously—a long-term, permanent relationship based on the totality of the way humans can connect and a series of short impermanent relationships based on sex, or vice versa. In and Out don’t describe anything real. I am what I am. I don’t need coming out as a gateway to myself nor do I need coming out to tell other people about such a private thing as my sex. In short, I can be a major Hollywood star, in a long-term marriage, and can have sex occasionally with men, and it’s nobody’s business but my own. (What I can’t do, of course, is be publicly homophobic while sucking cock.)
In these matters, one size does not fit all. The Christian church did humanity in the West a huge disservice by trying to impose one set of vows on all people in the Christian marriage liturgy. Some people wanted monogamy, some didn’t. The agreements people arrive at to give structure to their relationships should be open to occasional renegotiation by the people involved. No one else can know the factors that are brought to bear upon any person’s choices. The choice is private.
I have nothing to say about John Travolta’s sex. On the other hand, no public figure has anything to say about my sex, either. I seek what is right for me, with one great commandment governing all—do no harm and allow no harm to be done to us or our children.