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We like sex, and that's OK.

The religious right would like the word heterosexual to conjure up demure married couples who have sex in locked bedrooms purely for the purpose of procreation. The word homosexual, however, they'd like to associate with two nasty guys having anal sex purely for the purpose of pleasure. Possibly in a public place, in front of the children.

Gays have long been defined by our sexual practices, and not just by those who seek to deny us our rights. But in truth, we are all sexual beings, straight, gay, bi, and otherwise. What makes gay people different is that we own up to it. We have been proud leaders in the sexual revolution that started in the 1960s, and we have rejected attempts by conservatives to demonize that part of who we are.

It's vital that we continue to do so.

We celebrate our identities and our bodies. Our fashions and our art are sexy, and yes, our parades include all kinds of people in various stages of undress. We've often championed nudity, and we aren't afraid to talk about sex in social settings.

After all, what's wrong with it? Safe sex between consenting adults is healthy and rewarding, and gay people are among the very few who proudly demand that America accept that.

As antigay evangelical Christians, with all of their hang-ups about sex and the body, have gained power in America, there have been calls by some gays and allies to tone down our sexual culture in a bid to get more people on our side. Acknowledge America's antisex culture and we'll get a lot further, they say.

That more Americans would support equality if LGBT people did a better job of hiding our sexuality is by no means a certainty, and even if it were, we must not renounce what we bring to the table in an effort to win equal seating. We've faced this question before: In the 1980s and '90s the AIDS epidemic threatened our sexual culture, but pioneering activists like the late Eric Rofes [see page 39] railed against sex panic. We can be both sexy and responsible, he argued, and we've made it to the present with our sexual freedom largely intact.

No matter what our enemies may say, we must not abandon our role as leaders for sexual liberation. That doesn't mean emulating the downtown New York public-sex culture of the '70s, but it does mean celebrating who we are, including the sexuality we enjoy responsibly. We're never going to win acceptance by pretending that we don't like sex.
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Title Annotation:FROM THE EDITORS
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 15, 2006
Words:426
Previous Article:Second opinions.
Next Article:Chance encounter.
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