Many years ago I lived next door to a young, born-again-Christian rock singer named Jason. (I know that sounds like the premise for a bad sitcom.) While he strongly disapproved of my being gay, he was also fascinated by it, and he constantly asked me questions.
One day I revealed to him that I had never had anal sex. His face brightened. "That's awesome!" he shouted.
"Why, pray tell, is it awesome?" I responded.
"Because maybe you'll try it and then realize you don't like it, and then you won't be gay."
For Jason, being gay meant liking anal sex. He found it odd that the equivalence had never occurred to me.
For me, being gay means that I like guys. It means that I like guys: I have crushes on them, I fall in love with them, I want to "get physical" with them. It doesn't specify how I should do this.
The obsession with anal sex isn't limited to born-again-Christian rock singers, or to religious conservatives more generally, although it's striking how many arguments against same-sex relationships focus almost exclusively on male homosexuality and anal sex. I've also seen it within the gay community itself, with the tendency to fit all gay men into neat "top" or "bottom" boxes. Here's a conversation I've had more than once:
Interested guy: "Are you a top or a bottom?"
Interested guy: "What do you mean by 'no'?"
Me: "I mean I'm neither a top nor a bottom."
Interested guy, now somewhat less interested: "That means you're a bottom."
That said, the obsession is particularly troubling when it's used to disguise negative visceral reactions as considered moral judgments -- in other words, when our opponents move from "that's yucky" to "that's wrong!"
I confront that tendency in the following video, one of a new series of 11 in the gay-rights debate.