Being gay is one of the most important parts of my life. It defines virtually every aspect of what I do, from my home life right through to my work, my appearance, the way I relate to others.
I don’t understand why some people have the difficulty they do with homosexuality. The prejudice seems to me to be completely irrational, as do most prejudices.
It’s not easy growing up gay: to suspect that there is something ‘wrong’ with you, not to be able to join in with your friends as they talk about fancying girls, to have the whole world telling you that you ought to want a woman, marry her and have children – all this contrives to destroy your self esteem. The people who think that being gay is a ‘lifestyle choice’ should think about this. If we could choose our sexuality, we’d choose the easy way out and breed. The fact that a certain number of us don’t ought to show everyone that we don’t have a choice, that we are following our natures.
The ‘sickness’ question is more difficult to argue against. That doesn’t mean that those who call us sick aren’t wrong: they are. Sicknesses can be cured. Despite all those who claim that there are cures, there aren’t. I’m one of those who spent his late teens dating girls, basically using them because I had been led to believe that I just hadn’t found the right woman. This is dangerous rubbish. I was encouraged by society to exploit women (now there’s a surprise!) because I had been led to believe that it would eventually cure me of my ‘problem’.
What ‘cured’ me was the realisation that there was no problem. Sleeping with another guy when I was 20 was so natural, so right, so easy! It was like a revelation. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops, to tell the world that it wasn't just OK to be gay, it was actually great. It’s left me with a slightly evangelistic attitude which I've brought into my professional life by actively researching archaeological evidence for sexuality and presenting conference papers with an explicitly Queer agenda.
I bristle whenever I hear the word “queer”. It was used as a taunt at school and because I knew it was true, it made me feel ashamed. The word still has also those associations of guilty secrets, of being a bad person, being someone who would lose all his friends if anyone ever found out what was going on in his mind... This is exactly why radical gay activists decided to ‘reclaim the word. The reasons I can understand, but unfortunately, I can’t escape all these horrible and deeply-seated thoughts. I am quite happy to describe aspects of my work as “Queer Archaeology”, but I cannot bring myself to say that I am “queer”: I am gay, first and foremost.
I can’t accept the view of some people within Queer Theory that the term has to be all-inclusive. We are not all queer: “queer” is what is defined as being the “other” against which the “norm” sets itself. I know that in our post-modern world, we have discovered that there is no “norm”, that it is a chimaera: try telling that to those who see themselves as “normal”! They are in no doubt about their own normality, the correctness of their ways of life and find it equally easy to point out who is “queer” and who is not. They are the ones who are first to use the word as a taunt; they will never understand how it can be ‘reclaimed’.