by Dan Savage
on Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 6:37 AM
Good As You's Jeremy Hooper—a gay man in a monogamous relationship—is a bit annoyed with Joy Behar. When I was on Joy's show on Monday night, we were talking about Tiger Woods and I tossed out my position on monogamy (it's not natural, and people are going to want to sleep with others, even if they don't, men can be monogamous but it's long, hard slog). I made these comments to Joy about men generally...
I believe men can be monogamous. But I believe that it's a difficult struggle. You know, when you're in love with someone and you make a monogamous commitment, it's not that you don't want to sleep with other people; it's that you refrain from sleeping with other people.
The culture says if there is love there is no desire for others and that makes people—essentially puts them at war with their own instincts and leads to lies and deceit because you're lying and deceiving yourself.
Joy recounted the conversation on The View...
...and Joy said that I was talking about gay men and gay couples in particular, and that I said gay men placed less value on monogamy, and that I said affairs were much less likely to lead to the breakup of a male couple. But the transcript shows that I was talking about monogamy being difficult for all men, gay and straight, not just gay men, and we didn't get around to talking about gay male couples on the show (we talked through the breaks though, and it's entirely possible we talked about gay male couples during a commercial—I don't recall).
But here's the funny thing: Joy's right. Gay male couples generally don't view monogamy as the defining characteristic of a loving, committed relationship. Studies of male couples in long-term relationships have found that most gay male couples do allow for some "outside sexual contact," as they say, contacts that I wouldn't characterize as "affairs" or "cheating." If there are no lies, if there is no betrayal, if neither partner is doing anything that violates the commitment he made to the other, then no one cheated and no one was cheated on.
Which is not to say that there aren't monogamous gay couples out there. And all gay male couples—monogamous or not—value love, honesty, trust, respect, and commitment just highly as straight couples do. But it is generally true that gay male couples place less emphasis on sexual exclusivity over the multi-decade course of a relationship. I can see why this generalization might annoy a gay man like Hooper—a guy in monogamous relationship—but Hooper's annoyance doesn't make this particular generalization incorrect.