The Benefits of Working on the Gay Policy

I've recently had some insights from discharging on the RC Gay policy. From my own work as a client, and from counseling other currently or formerly identified Lesbians and Bisexual women, it seems that:

1) For some of us, taking on a Lesbian or Bisexual identity had more to do with sexism than with sex. Many of us took on the identity in an attempt to escape from sexism, men's oppression, and lives defined by an unconscious acceptance of heterosexual identity.(*)

2) Choosing to permanently avoid dealing with any oppression is never a re-emergent choice. Deciding that it would be "okay" not to deal with men's oppression or sexism is no different from deciding it would be "okay" not to deal with racism or any other form of oppression.

I have known for some time that my deciding to have a primary relationship with a woman grew out of wanting closeness and connection. Knowing this made it hard to discharge from the angle of "the sexual behavior is based in distress"; I felt as though I was trying to manufacture feelings and discharge. Like many other women I know, sex never seemed to be the main point in my wanting to be close to a woman in a primary way. The attraction was the ease and depth of emotional connection I could find with a woman, not compulsive sexual feelings.

As client, I've looked at what was going on in my life when I began considering having a primary relationship with a woman. I'd had several long-term relationships with men during my teens and twenties. These were relationships that seemed to contain all the "right ingredients," yet I kept feeling, "Is this it? Is this all there is?" It wasn't those particular men I felt the need to turn away from, but rather the limitations of a life inside the "heterosexual box" -- a life defined by highly prescribed gender roles, isolation, impossible expectations of meeting each other's every need, and raising children with little help from outside the nuclear family.

In the 1970s, during the early days of the women's movement in the United States, I got the idea that I actually had a choice not to deal with sexism, and I adopted a Lesbian identity. I didn't realize I was taking on another oppression or an identity, or that I was running away from something. I believed, as many of us did, that I was moving toward my own liberation as a female. I can see now that what I was really after in taking on a Lesbian identity was a break from sexism and men's oppression. I also wanted the possibility of a deep, warm, caring relationship with a woman.

Other things also fed into my choice to identify as a Lesbian. Discharging on the Gay policy and my early sexual memories has helped me see more clearly how things were set up for me early on. My mother starved herself during her pregnancy with me to the extent that by the time I was born she had gained only five pounds. Immediately following my birth she became very sick, and she and I were separated for the first three weeks of my life. It seemed as though I never got her back. My father was sexually abusive and at the same time could express warmth and love. The combination of my parents' distresses set up a frozen need of wanting a woman who could express warmth, love, and caring, and a feeling of danger about seeking those things from a man. The frozen need isn't particularly attached to sex but to wanting deep human connection.

Because Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual people are targeted for our assumed sexual behavior, many of us have responded to the Gay policy only in terms of our sexuality. What the policy actually requires is:

1) That the RC Community oppose the oppression of Gay people as completely wrong and unjust and that we organize and carry out all possible activities to lift and to end that oppression;

2) That the entire RC Community become adept at respectfully counseling Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual people on all of the distresses that may be associated with these identities and sexualities;

3) That every Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual person, at some point in his or her counseling career, look at the possibility that the identity and/or the sexuality may be based in distress. If the person is already leading in RC, he or she is expected to do so now, as part of our commitment to hold all identities and behaviors up for examination by means of the discharge and re-evaluation process.

After discharging what have certainly been some of my most challenging distresses, I can now see that any identity that makes my life smaller in terms of who I can be close to is limiting. I would never make a decision to run away from taking on racism or classism. Therefore, I cannot leave in place a decision that lets me avoid taking on sexism or men's oppression. Not actively challenging these oppressions would mean having a smaller life than I am meant to have.

To decide that we can only be completely close with people of one gender is to live inside a perspective that is based in distress. Discharging on the Gay policy, in conjunction with discharging regularly on early sexual memories, has helped me see that much more is possible in the realm of closeness than I had dared to imagine.

"Fanny Brice"
Oakland, California, USA
with assistance from
"Jeanne D'Arc"
Seattle, Washington, USA and
"David Nijinksy"
Vallejo, California, USA

(*) Heterosexuality as a form of reproduction is inherent among humans. Heterosexual identity refers to a rigid set of characteristics and behaviors, based on societally-imposed distress patterns, that function to maintain sexism, men's oppression, and Gay oppression and to keep people separated from each other.


Last modified: 2017-05-06 23:35:41-07