Sunday, May 20, 2012

Practice...makes perfect?

The term 'practicing homosexual' has always kind of bothered me. It's an evangelical thing (which I grew up with)--the good-faithish but still misguided attempt to pin 'the problem with homosexuality' (which I hardly need state is not a problem) not on same-sex desires or same-sex fantasies, or even necessarily same-sex romance, but rather on the very concrete act of two women or two men making sweet, sweet love. Because obviously what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedrooms...or hot tubs...or dining room tables (I'm not judging) is the church's business. Because it's not like there are other more pressing humanitarian concerns in the world. AHEM.
But--PRACTICING? It's just bizarre, clunky phrasing. It's a shitty euphemism, not because it doesn't 'cover up' what it's actually referring to--it does--but rather because it draws more attention to itself than simply stating the obvious would. 'Practicing' calls to mind images of schoolkids slaving away at pianos, or of a faithful congregation diligently attending worship. There's debate in the Anglican church, for instance, over whether 'practicing' homosexuals should be allowed to serve as clergy. Also--pro-tip--no one even remotely familiar with LGBT culture has used the word 'homosexual' since about 1970. It's wince-inducing. When I hear it I assume the speaker is either a beehive-haired televangelist or an old-school patriarchal psychoanalyst who was somehow cryogenically frozen in 1955 and has just now been thawed out, tweed jacket, pipe and all ("Bipolar disorder? What's that? No, no, the problem stems from the patient's latent homosexual urges towards his father. And that woman who complains that her office is a sexist environment--she must be sublimating her desire for a baby into aggression in the work force, specifically against her innocent male coworkers. Probably homosexual too, now that I think about it. Now, who hid my Rorschach booklet, and--what do you mean my supervisor is a woman?").

And now onto 'practicing.' I'm a practicing Episcopalian--I go to Mass twice a week, I'm part of the choir, I take communion. There isn't anything to 'practice' with homosexuality, really. I don't go to weekly homo meetups. There is no homosexual Mass (though, to be honest, it'd be hard to get much more fastidious and fancy than a high church Catholic Mass--just saying). Or am I supposed to be practicing like someone practices an instrument? What's the lesbian equivalent of running through scales and arpeggios? And what SORT of instrument? When I played the flute, it took me a while to get my tonguing right. Then I moved on to guitar and it was more a matter of fingering. Huh? Oh, well. You know what they say...practice makes perfect.

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