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Hey, we all know it is stressful living with lies. But a new study suggests coming out of the closet can actually improve your health!
NBC News has a discussion based on Carlo Joyce’s story.
“After I came out at 19, things got better with my family,” he recalled. But then he joined the Marines and had to hide his sexuality all over again.
He had to go to strip bars to fit in, and when the other guys talked about sex, or dating, he had to be sure he changed the gender in his stories. “It was very stressful to live that double life,” he explained. “I always had to watch what I said.”
Now, in a study released today in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, a team of psychologists and neurologists from McGill University and the University of Montreal has found that leading that double life affects physical and mental health. Gays, bisexuals and lesbians who disclosed their sexuality to family, friends and co-workers were psychologically healthier and had lower levels of a key stress-related hormone than those who were still “in the closet.”
That finding could help explain a remarkable study published last year by a group of researchers from Columbia University in the American Journal of Public Health. They found that after Massachusetts enacted its same-sex marriage law in 2003, there was a significant drop in medical and mental health care visits — and therefore costs – incurred by gay men.
Read the rest at NBC News.
What do banning sex toys, being fired for an off-hours affair, or losing custody of a child because of sexual orientation have in common?
They’re all the result of legal rulings, thanks in part to narrow interpretations of a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that eliminated criminal prohibitions against sodomy according to Laura Rosenbury, JD, professor of law, at Washington University in St. Louis.
In the landmark case Lawrence v. Texas, the high court ruled 6-3 that Texas’ criminal ban on sodomy between consenting adults was unconstitutional. The decision, which overturned similar laws in other states, was expected to broaden, not restrict, sexual rights.
The petitioners in Lawrence, two men who had been arrested for engaging in sodomy in a private home, were not in a committed, romantic relationship with each other. (It was a jealous partner who called police.) But since the ruling was handed down, scores of lower court cases have held that the case applies only to sexual activity involving emotional intimacy.
These subsequent rulings stem from Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s wording of the decision, according to Rosenbury, who co-authored “Sex In and Out of Intimacy,” published in July in the Emory Law Journal.
“Justice Kennedy actually overlooked the actual facts of the case and instead reasoned that consensual sexual activity should be constitutionally protected because it’s an important part of relationships,” Rosenbury says. “And the lower courts have used that language, not the facts of the case, to protect sex only when it’s in this relationship context.”
LONG HISTORY OF CORRALLING SEX, RELATIONSHIPS
States have long protected sexual activity only when it serves the states’ own interests, typically marriage and procreation. While Lawrence has reined in that effort in some cases, the ruling has reinforced the link between sex and relationships in others by suggesting the protection of sexual activity should occur only in long-lasting, intimate associations.
“States used to be much more coercive, punishing sex outside of marriage, and have gradually become less coercive but they still maintain this idea that sex is only valuable in relationships,” Rosenbury says. “We’re trying to highlight how such practices remain to this day, and to provide arguments for really letting go of the channeling of sex into marriage or other relationships that have the potential of long-term intimacy.”
States’ constant linking of sex and intimacy diminishes not only sex outside of relationships but also intimate relationships that are not sexual. Rosenbury’s article asks: Why shouldn’t states allow people to divide the rights and obligations currently attached to marriage among a variety of others: spouses, friends, siblings and sexual partners.
The sex-intimacy connection also reinforces gender stereotypes, assuming that that men achieve intimacy primarily through sex and that women desire intimacy over sex, according to Rosenbury.
“There have long been sexual double standards, and protecting sex only when it is in the service of intimacy does nothing to change those standards,” Rosenbury says. “Although Lawrence acknowledged that emotional intimacy need not involve women, it did nothing to disrupt the idea that sexual pleasure is a male domain.”
Rosenbury, whose research and teaching focuses on sex, family, work and other everyday issues, is committed to examining ways that the law influences seemingly private relationships and conduct. “Sex In and Out of Intimacy” is her most recent examination of that phenomenon.
Men4Men.com® is pleased to announce the Bart Greaton Scholarship for Gay History studies. This annual grant will be given to qualifying students of any gender or age who are pursuing a degree in gay studies, gay history or men’s studies at an accredited secondary institution.
Applicants will be judged on essays submitted for publication in Men4Men™ Magazine on the related topic that most inspires them and must also fill out an application by the August 1, 2010 deadline. This year’s scholarship will be $500 and the winner will be selected on August 31, 2010.
For additional details please email firstname.lastname@example.org
I think my loved one might be gay.
Congratulations! Many people do not have the honor of knowing someone gay or at least don’t know they know someone.
You might be asking yourself – “well if he/she is gay, how to I treat them”? The answer to that is VERY simple and VERY important – you treat them like they are your loved one. Any other response is inappropriate and not loving.
You may not be pleased that your loved one is gay – or you may love it – either way – it is what it is and YOU need to deal with it – it will help your loved one deal with it. Trust me they will have plenty to deal with in the various forms of discrimination that we are forced to accept in the lack of equal rights: marriage, adoption, legal access, job and housing discrimination; the list goes on. If LOVED one is how you really refer to this person – do just that love them, support them, ask them questions, learn about them, care about their lives.
It may make you uncomfortable to talk about their life but ignoring it is very hurtful. Ask them if they have a significant other just as you would ask your straight loved one. Make sure invitations include “guest” or the person’s name, just as you would a straight friend. Introduce that person to others the way your gay friend would choose to have you do that – “this is Jason’s friend” can be very patronizing where “this is Jason’s partner” can be very freeing and respectful to everyone involved.
There may be a number of hurdles for you to get over – but in the end you and your loved one will both be much closer and respect will be the word used to describe how you feel about one another.
I am Gay, now what?
I so want to leave this answer at that one word but I am sure my editor needs and wants more so here goes.
You finally admit to yourself that you are gay. Good for you. You have thought about this for ages. You may have pondered the consequences of this realization with some fear – some excitement and certainly some hesitation. But you have come to the realization and now what do you do?
You behave the same way you would if you woke up one morning and discovered you were straight. You move on with your life WITH INTEGRITY.
Open up the box that our society seems to prefer we all live in and see what’s out there. There are so many parts of your life that you will explore, straight or gay, that you need to allow your life to take you places you might not have expected you would go. Be open. Pay attention to your head and your heart and you will be a joyfilled and happy gay person.
Learn from generations past. There are things out there that will hurt you. Know what they are and avoid them when you can. Pain will make you grow – so will mistakes and you will experiences both on your journey. You would experience the same things if you were not gay.
Embrace who you are. Cherish you life and the way you love.
Should Gay Marriage be legal?
Of course it should be and it should be called marriage and not some other name like commitment, holy union, domestic partners. It should be marriage and come with all the rights and responsibilities it affords to straight couples right now.
Why, you ask? Well let me address the most significant misconception about “gay marriage” i.e., the church doesn’t approve.
Marriage is not a religious issue in any way, shape, or form. It is not a church sponsored activity. It is a legal issue. Being a legal issue, marriage should be accessible to any couple regardless of the gender mix of the couple – end of discussion.
Churches should be in the business of blessing relationships in the name of God. Churches should not be an arm of the government in providing a legal relationship to couples. This would mean conservative churches would not be asked to do something they do not believe in – and thank God. After all it is America and those churches do not need to bless gay marriages. Liberal churches on the other hand, like the United Church of Christ, could go on blessing marriages of same gender couples as they currently do. But the legal aspect of a marriage would take place in city hall, the court house, the office of a justice of the peace. Then, and only if a couple wishes, the church would bless the union in the midst of family, friends, and the congregation.
This practice has been the method for marriages in Europe for centuries. A couple goes to city hall. The government marries them. They go across the square to the church and the church blesses the union and everyone is happy. It is one of the reasons that so many other countries allow gay marriages – they have evolved far beyond the idiocy of this country to understand the difference between the legal and religious definitions of marrage.
Is being gay a sin?
Ok Ok – so you want more than that. Being gay is how gay people were born – so if you are a religious person and believe that people are created in God’s image – God has no issue with gayness – in fact – God created it. Did God create sin? Well that is a conversation I am not going to have here – maybe another time.
There are those who will point to specific Bible verses and say – “see, Jesus thinks it’s a sin”. Well let me assure you that Jesus never said a thing about homosexuality. Nothing. Nada. There are passages, when read out of context and with little or no historical perspective, indicate that the writer of the book are less than thrilled with homosexuality but when read through the filter of historical truth one will find that those passages, in most cases, are about something else and not a condemnation of homosexuality.
The Bible tells us to do many things that we would never do; “sell teenage daughter into slavery”, kill those who work on the Sabbath, cut out our eye. So interpreting the Bible as infalable is a very slippery slope.
There are many things perceived as sin. You are free to develop your own theory but the Biblical truth just might be that anything you don’t do with integrity, that does not enhance your life as a good person could be a sin.
Is Gayness a sin? Is drinking a sin? Is living a lavish lifestyle a sin? You can find people who will say yes to all or any of these questions. So it is really up to you to determine, in your life, what you feel is sin. But aside from your belief is reality. In reality is gayness a sin? Well your believe structure and the way life is and needs to be lived may be in conflict on this and many other things. Deal with it. Gayness is. That is what is important to remember “and the greatest of these is love”. THAT is far more important to remember.
I think I might be gay.
Well good for you! Now lets figure out if you really are. Do you have an overwhelming desire to decorate? Teach your female co-workers how to dress? Cut hair or scream “girlfriend”. Well who cares – none of those things indicate you are gay. Only your heart knows for sure and it will tell you when the time comes.
So have you had an encounter with a man? Did you like it? Well guess what – that doesn’t mean anything either. No matter what they tell you there are scads of straight men who have had sexual encounters with other men and are not gay. Homosexuality is an activity in my mind, not a lifestyle. A blow job in the park does not a gay man make.
Gayness is not determined by a list of actions or thoughts. Gayness is a way one is. A gay person was born this way (no matter what the Christian Wrong says) and there is no changing it. Did you hear that Exodus? You cannot change being gay. You can choose to live in the closet and not live a gay life style – that is the only choice you have in this – but you cannot change the basic fact that one is or is not gay.
But how do you know. Well although this may not seem helpful at first – but the answer to that is – you just know. It took me years to come out to myself after knowing that I found myself looking at men more than women – after wondering what a kiss from my best friend would be like – after being hugged by a man and feeling at home in his arms. I just knew.
The most important thing to realize is that there is nothing wrong with the fact that you might be gay. There have been famous, successful, wonderful gay people since the beginning of time. The days of society telling us we are perverts are over. (well they still tell us that but we now know they are wrong). We are created the way we are and have the right and possibility of living productive and happy lives out in the open.
My advice to you is to allow life to happen – don’t hold back – don’t lose your sense of wonder – be open to new people and new things – and never ever allow society, an employer, a family member, or anything else tell you what and how you should be. Be you – and one day soon – you will know – you just will.
Dear Dr. Know,
What (if any) special concerns should I have if I am a gay man?
Patient in PA
Yes, gay straight and bi men who have sex with men should observe the following health care screening:
HEALTH CARE SCREENING FOR MEN WHO HAVE SEX WITH MEN
- Physical exam: every 3 to 5 years
- Family history. This should be reviewed/updated at every physical exam.
- Lab screening: fasting glucose, cholesterol particularly
- Be honest about your sexual practices: are you top, bottom, versatile? Are you monogamous in your relationship? In what sexual practices do you engage? If your physician is uncomfortable with these issues, find another physician.
- HIV test every 3 to 6 months depending on your sexual practices. Do you practice safe sex? If not, get screened more often.
- Syphilis test every 3 to 6 months. Syphilis is rampant in this community, and condoms may not protect you. This goes for herpes and venereal warts.
- Venereal wart immunization. Unfortunately, this immunization is approved only for men up to the age of 26, and it is very expensive: $200 a shot for 3 shots. 60 to 75 % of men who have sex with men have venereal warts, and they can be anal, so you don’t necessarily know that you have them.
- Anal pap smear if you have ever bottomed, no matter how remotely. Anal cancer is more common in men who have sex with men than cervical cancer is in women.
- Venereal wart anal screening for exposure to the strains of the venereal wart virus that are known to cause cancer.
- Gonorrhea and Chlamydia screening: as needed based on symptoms and sexual practices
- Hepatitis A and B immunizations. Get screened first. Screening should also include hepatitis C. Many of my patients have had hepatitis A, B and/or C and never knew it. You don’t neeed the immunizations if you have already had the infection. If you are HIV positive, you should receive a double dose of hepatitis B vaccine. Ten percent of people infected with hepatitis B become chronic carriers, and can infect their partners; and a small percentage of the chronic carriers will develop liver cancer.
- Herpes 2 screening. Are you positive for exposure? A simple blood test will answer the question.
- Evaluation of nicotine use
- Evaluation of drug and/or alcohol use
- Screening for depression