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Ask Michael: What is Gay?
Ask Michael: What is Gay?
by Michael Raitt - SGN Contributing Writer

It occurred to me the other day that many people, including some in our own community, aren't clear on what it means to be Gay or Lesbian. A lot of straight people, and some Gay men and women as well, think it is just about having sex. It makes sense because we are labeled with the term "homosexual," which automatically makes it about the sex act: sex with the person of the same gender. Although this is true, there is so much more to being Gay than just sex.

A large component of being Gay is the emotional attachment that members of the same gender have for one another. Women fall in love with other women and men fall in love with men. Seems like a simple and obvious concept but I guess it is not. This is the romantic kind of love that makes your heart flip-flop and that sends huge rushes of adrenaline coursing through your body. It is the kind of love that acts as an anesthetic in your brain that allows you to experience great joys and excitement and to let your doubts and negativities fade away.

How this happens and from where it originates, scientists are still researching and speculating. Undoubtedly, it happens and it happens with same-sex as it does with heterosexuals. This is what being Gay is. I read a quote years ago and it stuck in my mind (and I don't remember the author). "Homosexuality is not the ability to make love to a man [woman], it is the ability to love a man [woman]." This captures it all for me.

These deep emotions and connections are the feelings that drive groups to want equal rights regarding the legal status of marriage. It is a deeper love than for a close friend or a certain family member. Dare I say, it is the depth of passion and love that can exist between a man and a woman - no different. There is no need to try to understand it or explain it, it just is! The rights that Gay men and women are asking for are an important extension of the deep feelings that they have for one another. When we love someone, we act in loving ways. In times of crisis, we can demonstrate our love by supporting our partners by being by their side and helping them make medical/legal decisions. After death, an act of love is to bequeath belongings and valuables to the one who is in grief. These are acts of love. It is loving to invite your partner into your family and to have your family embrace the person you love. It is about love when you share special moments, traditions, experiences, and friends with your partner. Love is building a home together. It is love when you grow more emotionally than you ever thought possible in the presence of another person.

This is important to write about and acknowledge to let anyone know that being Gay/Lesbian is not just about sex. If you are Gay/Lesbian, it is about who you want to have that deep emotional connection with, and it is not abnormal, disgusting, pathological, or wrong. It is wonderful, and that is why it feels so good. Don't be embarrassed by it or run from it. Accept it as a wonderful thing. Love is never wrong!

Michael Raitt, MA LMHC, writes a bi-monthly column in the SGN. If you would like to comment on this column, ask a question you'd like him to write about, or suggest another topic of interest, please contact him at askingmichael@comcast.net.

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