A while ago I posed a question to my friends on Facebook about the term ‘Gold Star Gay‘. The term refers to a gay man who has never had sex (however they define it) with a woman, or a lesbian who’s never had sex with a man. It’s a term that always seemed to be common knowledge around me, although plenty of FB friends did not know it when I asked. I was expecting a discussion of how the idea was ‘so last century’ as we approached a ‘post-gay world’ at least here in the ‘western world’.
Responses varied from “[w]here do I apply for mine?” to “I’m really worried that this term is only going to become MORE prominent” – the latter being just the first sentence of a thoughtful reply that outlined some negative aspects of the expression. I’ll go into more detail of those aspects in a minute, but first my own history with the expression.
As someone who Came Out at the age of 19, in the Spring of 1978, I identified with a friend’s comment that they liked that their partner (a GSG) “didn’t have to spend so much of his life hiding his true identity to the world.” But when I look back at it, I have to admit there’s plenty of judgement of others in my claim to GSG status. Feelings of moral superiority are not really loving and kind; those who ‘went through a bi phase on their way to gaytown’ were not engaging in self-discovery so much as being somehow weak. No, I don’t think that’s fair or accurate (at least, not in most cases); but this is how I now understand my earlier thoughts and behaviour.
40 years ago even openly gay folks generally saw gender as a binary; the terms we used (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual) are all predicated on that. Whether you supported our right to love who we love, or considered it a moral (or physiological) failing, we were all fighting within the binary paradigm. Now various scientific disciplines have shown that gender, sex, and sexuality reflect the wonderful diversity of existence. I abhor the scourge of fundamentalism in politics, religion and fiscal policy, and so I celebrate this expansion of awareness. I will no longer use the term ‘Gold Star Gay‘ as it perpetuates a paradigm I no longer consider valid, and because it too often expresses (perhaps subconscious) bi- and transphobia.
To make that point even more clear, witness ‘Double Gold Star Gay‘ – a GSG who was delivered via c-section. Or as a friend of mine put it, “is proud of literally being so distanced from a vagina that they didn’t even come out of one‘.
Although I’ve never considered GSG status relevant when considering potential playmates, I’ve been told some people do: “He’s not a real gay man, he’s not GSG.” or rejecting an otherwise attractive person because they’re trans and that would ‘jeopardize’ your GSG status. As we march forward to a better, kinder, more accepting world we have to be able to admit our own failings. It seems inherent, although perhaps merely some thousands of years of socialization, that we judge, divide and label everything more easily than we open up and accept the unknown or unusual.