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#13: Grow Up and Open Up Australia

Jacqueline Hellyer - Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I opened up the morning’s paper to see yet another political ‘scandal’. In this case the parliamentary Minister was caught going to a gay sex club. In disgrace the Minister steps down, his professional and private life in ruins as his despicable behaviour is plastered across the front pages of the country’s newspapers.

His heinous sin? Liking to watch men have sex. Possibly even liking to have sex with men.

Gosh, he couldn’t possibly function in his role as a politician with this dreadful tendency...

Now, I might be a little biased here, because my life is devoted to helping people have a happy and fulfilling sex life. I’ve spent thousands of hours talking to people about their sex lives, so I am well aware of people’s broad range of tastes and interests. Just like food really. Some like simple food, others are gourmets, some like to try new and exotic foods and some prefer good old fashioned meat and three vegetables.

In working with people, one of the main issues is helping people know and understand their interests, and helping couples reconcile differing levels and types of interests.

Given that our society is still so pre-pubescent in it’s attitude to sex, all titter and giggle, most people are extremely confused about what’s normal, acceptable, moral, etc. “Am I normal?” is the repeated question. “Yes!” I almost inevitably reply. “I like girls, am I normal?” “I like boys, am I normal?” “I like boys and girls. Am I normal?” “Yes, yes yes!” As long as it’s between consenting adult living humans it’s ok! (There can be problematic issues around obsessiveness and compulsion, which is a different issue, although this is often exacerbated by repression stemming from our limited prurient social attitudes.)

One thing that we all have in common, and which is not accepted socially, is that we are on a continuum of bisexuality. Some of us are completely heterosexual and some completely homosexual with the vast majority somewhere in-between, from mild curiosity to a desire for active engagement with both sexes. There is little space in our society for people who like it both ways. Even the gay community is wary of bisexuals and they often choose to pretend they are completely gay for better acceptance.

Yet there are plenty of married men having sex with men, and many more who struggle with the desire. If you’ve ever read the heart-rending stories of men who’ve tried to suppress their desires for other men, you’ll know how deep and challenging this goes. 

So in a society where monogamy rules, if you have bisexual tendencies (or any sexual interests that don’t match your partners), then what do you do? Suppress those desires? That never solved anything. Open up to your partner and hope that he or she allows you to explore? Possible, and does happen, but is too threatening for most people. Or do it anyway and hope you don’t get caught? For many people, this is the only option, with devastating consequences when they are caught. Then it becomes an issues of breach of trust and all the associated relationship impacts. I’ve certainly spent many many hours working with couples around issues of infidelity and broken trust and it’s not easy.

So it’s a tough one! The food analogy breaks down here. For while a vegetarian and a meat-eater can live and eat happily side by side without one needing to force the other to eat their way, sex generally requires someone else involved.

Which is possibly why the internet has become so popular, because there you can engage in your sexual interests on your own. It’s interesting to speculate as to whether there would have been such a scandal if the Minister in question had been caught watching gay porn? 

But if real life gay sex, or gay sex watching by a married Minster is such a crime, then surely watching gay porn by a married Minister should be an equal crime? So should we therefore tap parliamentary Ministers’ computers to check on their sexual proclivities and make sure they are only engaging in ‘acceptable’ sexual activities?

But who would decide on those acceptable activities? A parliamentary standing committee perhaps, and new Ministers would have to agree to abide by those sexual standards. How would we monitor their compliance? Closed circuit TV to their bedrooms? Perhaps their bodyguards could double as chaperones and report on any questionable behaviour?

Or perhaps that’s all too hard and we should simply request that parliamentary members cease sexual activity all together while they are in office so that they put their focus completely on their public duties. After all, it worked for the Catholic Church…not.


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