It all started with “Orange Is the New Black” the prison-based Netflix show about a privileged white lady (Piper) going to prison for a crime she committed many years earlier while traveling with her drug smuggling girlfriend (Alex).
For me, I see OITNB as a trailblazer, all of a sudden I notice same-sex relationships in all sorts of shows; Orphan Black, Sense8, Wynonna Earp, I’m not okay with this, Dead to Me, Away and The Haunting of Bly Manor to name but a few… But then of course the real trailblazer might have been “The L word” although I’m not sure how much of an impact it made outside of the community.
In OITNB Piper and Alex meet again in prison, and eventually become girlfriends, and even more eventually, are engaged and “prison married”.
This is, to some people, for reasons best known to themselves, too bizarre. These people severely condemn two consenting adults loving each other.
Or, as a worst-case scenario, a mix of all of them.
This is the rough context of the first objection. It is the ancient town of Baalbek in what is now Lebanon. It is known since c 300 BC. The state of the remains are a good comparison to the relationship between the moral values of the time and our modern society. That anyone still relates to what people of that age held as morally right (or wrong) is – in many cases – absurd. And even in the ancient world there were, quite possibly, opposing views on same-sex relationships.
The most well-known example in this context is probably that of Sappho (c 630 BC) from the Greek island of Lesbos. Her surviving poetry has often been interpreted as portraying homosexual relationships, and from what is known about her personal life – some, but not all, have concluded that she herself was, in fact, attracted to women. Hence Nicky in Orange is the new Black, asks Piper when the latter arrives in prison if she is into women, because “she senses Sapphic vibes coming off her [Piper]”. And also, derived from Sappho – the term Lesbian for women who love other women.
While there are contemporary examples statements to the effect that ” the description of Sapphos relationships being “slanderous” ” there are other sources confirming the existence of female same-sex relationships, for example, Plato’s Symposium mentions women who “do not care for men, but have female attachments”. To quote Wikipedia “The ancient Greeks did not conceive of sexual orientation as a social identifier as modern Western societies have done. Greek society did not distinguish sexual desire or behavior by the gender of the participants, but rather by the role that each participant played in the sex act …”.
It seems, then, that same-sex relations were, if controversial in some cultures and times, something that definitely existed. It was oftentimes accepted by various cultures even way back when the Bible was written. That a single opinion of the writer(s) of these texts should be considered the only valid opinion is, indeed, bizarre.
Utterly unholy, odious-to-the-gods and ugliest of ugly things
Plato, "The Laws"
Utterly unholy, odious-to-the-gods and ugliest of ugly things
One may wonder what so totally changed Plao’s opinion on same-sex relationships; to quote Wikiedia again “In his ideal city, he says in his last, posthumously published work known as The Laws, homosexual sex will be treated the same way as incest. It is something contrary to nature, he insists, calling it “utterly unholy, odious-to-the-gods and ugliest of ugly things”.” This is oftentimes an argument put forward by conservatives and/or rightwing writers and politicians. You can often hear it combined with references to the Bible, especially the old testament.
Imagine yourself coming into puberty and discovering that you are attracted to people of your own gender, or any gender for that matter. And then hearing that, that is unnatural, unholy and ugly. How would that make you feel? Do you start wondering if there siomething wrong with you? Or there is something wrong with your community? Do you question yourself? Your identity? Who you fundamentaly are?
If nature has decided that boys must be attracted to girls, and girls must be attracted to boys – then obviously you are in the wrong and therefore broken.
But is this true? Is homosexual relations totally unnatural to the animal world? The writer of these lines had a vague recollection of other species engaging in homosexual relations – specifically among one species of monkey or another. So again, let’s quote Wikipedia “
The true extent of homosexuality in animals is not known. While studies have demonstrated homosexual behavior in a number of species, Petter Bøckman, the scientific advisor of the exhibition “Against Nature?” in 2007, speculated that the true extent of the phenomenon may be much larger than was then recognized:
It simply seems that same-sex relations are not necessarily against nature, and so, the argument is false and must be dismissed.
It seems that family values, and fear of disappointment is a major obstacle on the path of personal freedom in this respect. Often it seems family objections can be a mix of religion, emphasis on marriage, emphasis on having children add a strong emphasis on traditional values. Traditional values that makes LGBT people feel like a deviant “other”. Not that marriage and having children necesasarily is a problem even for same-sex relationships – but this can according to recent research be a spontaneous obstacle and something that makes it harder for some to “come out”.
The idea of a timeless, unchanging tradition is particularly powerful in these times of social uncertainty, political instability, and economic pressure and make society center in on itself, renouncing everything that is “other”; as a leading politician put it “These [homosexual relations] are not traditional things; they are psychiatrically abnormal things. We don’t understand them.” Not that failure to understand something should result in people being classified as pariah, but there you have it.
I kissed a girl
and I liked it
Katy Perry – ‘I kissed a girl’
And when family adheres to these thoughts, or are thought to adhere to them, you will not easily come out as an “other”. You need a safe place, a safe social network close to yourself. Homosexuality (or bi-, or pan-, or whatever), when revealed to the family, can cause problems in the relationships.
As a recent study says “For the young people who decide to come out, there can be great frustration due to the impact caused for the family members, who, in many cases, cannot create a welcoming environment, in the way that is expected of this institution.”. And there is not only the issue of the LGBT-person him or herself, “The difficulty for parents and family members to deal with these issues must also be considered, as they are often surrounded by fears themselves and do not feel comfortable talking about and dealing with issues of sexuality in general.”
It felt so wrong
It felt so right
So, no wonder there are problems, in an issue that fundamentally only concerns the two consenting adults themselves. Love is love, is love (Laura Prepon), and in an ideal world, no one else should publicly bother the two. Unfortnately we don’t live in an ideal world – it is tragic that so much focus is put on an issue that really shouldn’t exist. At all.
We let adults vote for who they want in power, study to be doctors or lawyers, or archaeologists, or whatever else they are interested in …
People are allowed to live wherever they want. Or buy whatever car (or not) they wish. And travel freely.
But some refuse others to love and marry whoever they want – it is a tragedy.