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Memories of an old college debate

A number of years ago, Newcastle University Students’ Union held a debate, the subject of which was This House believes that a homosexual lifestyle is not completely satisfactory. Arguing the point were a local councillor and a right-wing clergyman, who were facing an opposition comprising a lefter-then-left wing student activist and a gay clergyman. As a member of the audience in the debating chamber, I quickly came to the conclusion that the proposers of this motion believed they were right because they did not lead a homosexual lifestyle, and the opposers believed they were right because they did.

Looking back at this debate, which came to no sound conclusion, I think that the question still remains: is such a lifestyle completely satisfactory? At this point in time, I would argue that it is not.

To return to the events in the student debating chamber, a number of arguments were put forward by the supporters of the motion. The clergyman described homosexuality as a disease, something that would guarantee eternal damnation, and as something which could be cast aside in favour of a “righteous” path. The local-councillor, a fifty-something single man, still living with his mother, soon showed the extent of his deep-rooted attitude to the subject. In the mind of this man, a homosexual lifestyle was defined by disgusting physical encounters and the abuse of animals and children. Rather than bothering to argue against these preposterous arguments, I will, instead, use them as an example of the religious castigation and ignorant bigotry, which are unsatisfactory aspects of today’s homosexual lifestyle.

Looking at occasional debate in the letter pages of newspapers,  it would appear that many people believe that homosexuality is an unacceptable way of life, since a gay relationship cannot produce children, and our only reason for being on this earth is to be the parents of the next generation. This argument warrants consideration outside of the context of sexuality. Is it justified to define the meaning of life so glibly? I would like to think that, should my girlfriend and I decide not to have children, we could still lead productive and meaningful lives. However, assuming that we are both fertile, we do have the choice. The absence of the choice to have children must be another way that the gay lifestyle can be fairly judged unsatisfactory. Being childless is a heartache shared by both infertile heterosexual couples, and gay couples who wish to be parents. The fact that society favours the heterosexual couple is surely another problem.

Recent changes in the law are improving the situation. The age of consent for gay relationships is often under review. There is case law to recognise the status of children adopted by a gay couple. In general, gay people are being portrayed more sympathetically in the popular media. However, despite this tide of improved awareness and parity, there are still very many people who see only the label of homosexuality, rather than the person behind. Even though I live in an area with a thriving gay community, some people are unable to overcome their belief that homosexuals are perverted and predatory. Living with this must be another unsatisfactory aspect of the gay lifestyle.

Overall, it seems that the fact that gay people's way of life seems deserving of a distinction from heterosexuals' is indicative of a deep-rooted prejudice that will take a long time for society to rid itself of. Sadly, overall, I have to conclude that the lot of the gay community is less than satisfactory.

It is worthy of note that all of my reasons for believing the gay way of life to be unsatisfactory are a product of the attitude of today’s society. I would like to think, however, that matters will improve. There is no reason why, in a modern society, quality of life should be affected by one’s sexuality. Like all irrational fears, homophobia must be tackled bravely, and soon.

Written: 10 December 2000
Posted (edited): 29 October 2001
Ashley Frieze