How Do We Sustain Gay Relationships?

Meet the Gossfields : 02/21/2014 5:08 am : ADVICE, DEAR Q&D, LOVE


How Do We Sustain Gay Relationships?

Q: First and foremost, I believe that we, as Gay individuals, haven’t had the time to nurture our relationships the way straights have.  We haven’t even had the opportunity to nurture who we are as same sex loving people.  The straight community has certainly had an unfair advantage, but we must now begin to address the social disparities and emotional baggage we have developed as a result of our sexuality being oppressed and suppressed before we can enter into a healthy union and maintain it.  We have to begin to accept ourselves and love ourselves as Gay men first. There’s so much suppression, self-hate, and self-condemnation that we act out in unhealthy ways that aren’t always conducive to our emotional health let alone a relationship.

We are not ones to sit on a pedestal as “greater than thou”.  However, we speak from personal experience.  We have been fortunate to have worked through many of our changes while in the relationship.  Relationships are not for everybody but for those who desire them, anything worth having is worth fighting for.

D: Well said, baby.  (Q smiles) 

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Are Gays Less Committed?

Meet the Gossfields : 02/21/2014 5:01 am : ADVICE, DEAR Q&D, LOVE


Are Gays Less Committed?

Q: Due to the intolerance of homosexuality in our society, LGBT individuals have not been able to live openly and form relationships in the past.  LGBT couples haven’t had a model to base their relationships after, except those of heterosexuals.  The problem with this lies in the inequity between gays and straights.  Straights have the support of the community and the society to encourage and maintain relationships. There are cultural structures and institutions set in place to support heterosexual relationships that don’t exits for gay relationships such as the institution of marriage, financial security, gender roles, children, etc.

Religion also plays a role in the traditional view of monogamy and divorce, which contributes to the success rates of heterosexual relationships – at least the appearance of.  So there are more extrinsic reward for straights to stay together.  Yes, they often last longer, but does time earned equate time spent healthy, happy, and fulfilled? Not always the case.

Does this mean that we can’t forge sustainable and committed relationships?  No, we absolutely can.

D: As the nation’s acceptance of LGBT people slowly increases (at a snail’s pace), we as a community have to also do our part in creating an atmosphere that is nurturing to gay relationships.  It’s time for a new face, a new philosophy. Far too long have we accepted the notion of serial-monogamy, which is only a nice term for ‘sleeping around with people you know’. I will get a lot of critics with this one, but when will the gay sexual revolution be over? It has proven to serve no real purpose, but to drive HIV infection rates through the roof.  It’s time the community grew up.  It was a phase.  When will we mature?  How long are we going to keep behaving like pre-pubescent teens?

I’m not telling people not to get their freak on, heaven knows our views and definition of monogamy are very unorthodox, but can’t we be doing it more often with the intent to settle down? The widely-accepted gay hyper-sexual culture is no longer benefiting us. It served its purpose in the 60′s and 70′s when we were rebelling against homophobia and anti-gay sentiment.  And though those oppositions still exist, we are losing our numbers to the outbreak of the AIDS pandemic.

Sex and sexuality are part of who we are, and to deny that would be foolish, but we need to own it and accept the huge responsibility that comes along with it.  We are killing each other.

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Is Conflict Inevitable?

Meet the Gossfields : 02/21/2014 4:52 am : ADVICE, DEAR Q&D, LOVE


Is conflict inevitable?

Q: Opposition working together creates forward motion. It’s a law of nature, Yin and Yang in equal balance creates harmony.  It’s the imbalance of opposing forces that causes relationships to fail.  The occasional bumps and bruises are a mere indicator that you have come to a turning point or a learning break-through in your relationship due to personal changes.  This happens to us all regardless of our orientation. We must reconcile that new self with our partner to keep our relationships tight or else we create discord and dysfunction.

D: Relationships, gay, straight, best-friends, mother-child, will never evolve if you always play nice.  It is human nature to assert individualism, and this sometimes means conflicting with someone else’s opinion or category system for you. They key is to never stop listening and always be malleable.  Let the people close to you evolve, and make them aware of your own evolution. Never try to box them in with your own ideals of who/what you want or imagined them to be, nor let them impose their ideals on you; this will always bring about disappointment.  This is not to say that you don’t have to bend and pull sometimes out of respect for the ones you love, i.e., calling home when you’re running late.  There is a certain amount of reciprocity required and expected when you’re in a relationship of any kind; however, never bend or pull when it compromises your ethical code or self-respect.  Also be realistic about your expectations.

Maya Angelou says (paraphrasing), “When someone shows you themselves the first time, believe them.”  Don’t try to change pumpkins into radishes.  And on the opposite side of that coin, don’t remain in relationships that are toxic to your self worth. Everything that you believe may not always be the same philosophy of the ones you love, but be intelligent enough to recognize when you’re being inflexible or when the relationship is no longer mutually beneficial.

Q: Most couples fight against their expectations in the face of constant change.  So we will always have conflict as long as we hold onto our inflexible belief systems and expectations, gay or straight.

 Functional vs Dysfunctional Relationships. 

Q: The difference between a functional and dysfunctional relationship is that the functional ones address the issue and forges a new understanding that is acceptable by both parties, thus restoring harmony.  The dysfunctional relationship ignores it, doesn’t address it, and never reaches an understanding about it which only allows problems to fester and resurface even stronger later down the line.  The functional relationship typically fights about fresh issues as a result of growth.  The dysfunctional relationship is stuck with repeated and escalating bouts of old issues.

The reality is that we all fall somewhere in between the two.  Personally, we have certainly been at the end of both spectrums over the last 11 years. We’ve been Ike and Tina and Romeo and Juliet. However, we eventually work our way back to the healthy middle. We have changed as people but we have been able to incorporate many of those changes into our commitment agreement.

D: Dysfunctional relationships are rigid, while functional relationships are malleable.  Dysfunctional relationships are in trouble if anything is written in ink, while functional relationships welcome the flick of the pencil.  ”Everything worth anything involves change.” – Deondray Gossett   ”Get the point?  Good, let’s dance.” – Janet Jackson

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Do Gay Men Need to Fight to Maintain Relationships…

Meet the Gossfields : 02/21/2014 4:47 am : DEAR Q&D, LOVE

Dear Q&D

Do gay men need to fight to maintain relationships more than straight couples?

Q: Discord and disharmony in a relationship is a natural occurrence. We are constantly growing, maturing, and finding ourselves on a day-to-day, moment-to-moment basis.  We are never the same person twice – even on the micro level, our very cellular structure is changing, nanosecond by nanosecond. Suffice it to say, we are also emotionally and psychologically metamorphosing.  Every encounter is an opportunity to learn and an opportunity to change.  So beginning with that nucleus of understanding we can better begin to explore relationships.

D:  There is no additional amount of fighting within gay relationships, nor is fighting necessary to sustain them.  When you see yelling matches that escalate into a physical confrontation within gay/lesbian relationships, you are actually witnessing a kind of caution thrown to the wind, where suddenly couples find themselves evenly matched with their partners.   They don’t think in the traditional sense of men and women being outmatched.  This thought process can sometimes (but not always) thwart the onset of physical fighting in straight relationships, but gay relationships tend to find themselves even-keeled, and when the disagreement mounts to yelling, and yelling  mounts to aggression, the sentiment can become, “Well bring it on!”

Long-term gay relationships are still relatively rare, so we haven’t had as much practice as our hetero counterparts on alternative ways to deal with anger or disagreements.  Is the amount of disagreements greater in gay relationships, though? No.  Do we fight (non-physically, i.e., yelling, slamming doors) more? No. Do we tend to get physical more often?  I’m not sure; no studies have been done to support this.  Is fighting necessary to sustain a gay/lesbian relationship?  Absolutely not! Have Quincy and I ever gotten into a physical altercation? Yes, but we’ve learned from those mistakes, and now seek alternative ways to deal with our anger and disagreements – the same as a straight couple who is trying to get it right.

Do we fight because we’re gay? No; it has more to do with how we modeled ourselves after the straight relationships that we witnessed while growing up.  Is this what keeps us together?  No; it was the thing that almost tore us apart.

Q: Relationships require two individuals to merge with differing life experiences and very specific filters in which we process and understand phenomenon.  It’s like wiring the black wire and the red wire to make, not a spark, but sustainable energy.  Not only does a synthesis need to occur, but a relationship also requires two constantly changing individuals to make a commitment based on ideals they held true when they first entered into the agreement.

Does this make relationships difficult?  In my opinion, yes.  Does this require constant maintenance and circumspection? Hell to the yeah.  Is it worth the trouble?  In my experience, without a doubt.

All Relationships Fight – Straight or Gay. 

Q: I was never exposed to Gay relationships as a child. The relationships that I modeled myself after and those that contributed to the formation of what I believed to be a relationship, was that of heterosexuals.  My first were those of immediate family, then those in my community, and finally those portrayed in the media.  I took bits and pieces from the healthiest of relationships to the most dysfunctional of relationships and even a little fantasy from the media – too much fantasy.

It’s been through straight relationships that I have witnessed more than my share of Make Up to Break Up, Cheatin’ in the Next Room, Burning Bed, Ike & Tina, Black Eyed, Hot Grits, Jerry Springer, Ricky Lake, Babies Mamma Drama.  Maybe, not to such extremes as described above, but I’ve even witnessed the healthiest of relationships have its fair share of rounds in the ring. And I have come to the understanding that relationships are volatile and antagonistic by nature, regardless of our sexual orientation.

D: I too have only witnessed the discord that takes place between heterosexual couples. There was fighting between men and women in my house all the time while I was growing up.   I have seen everything from fist fights between my uncles and their girlfriends, to my mother’s ex-boyfriend shooting up our house.  So when I speak on gay relationships, I speak only on the ones I’ve had, and the rare instances where my gay friends have shared their experiences with me.  And in either of those, I couldn’t say that anything that I had heard or experienced was nearly as dramatic as some of these altercations I had witnessed as a child.

Originally published in February 14, 2008 8:49 AM

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