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[updated: 9/12/18] dindex

We’re setting our sights on #6 of the TOP10 Signs You’re on a Bad First Date: Your date keeps “whispering” inappropriate comments like “Do you think those guys are gay?” loud enough for the people at other tables to hear… including the gay guys in question.

Last week we addressed the problem of talking about others behind their back (or whispering about others in front of their face).

This week I want to answer the specific question (whispered), “Do you think those guys are gay?”

My answer: Who cares?

Now that I’ve either intrigued or offended you, please allow me to elaborate.

Why does sexual identity matter so much in our modern culture? Have you ever thought about that?

If you’re 30 or younger, probably not. Millennials generally take the significance of one’s sexual identity for granted, but…

If you’re my age or older you can clearly remember a time when the discussion of sexual identity seldom occurred, and not because it was thought taboo, but because it wasn’t thought of at all.

Unless you saw someone with unmistakable masculine features strolling down the street sporting flamboyant feminine attire and exhibiting effeminate mannerisms. Even then, we didn’t put the words “sexual” and “identity” together.

However, today “sexual identity” is not merely a hot topic. It is the hot topic. And one open for discussion to everyone about anyone.

Case in point 1:
Earlier this Summer I was driving a group of high school kids to a church youth function. As I listened quietly to the discussion going on behind me, the issue of sexual identity came up at least twice in the span of a 30 minute drive – once about a kid at school and once about a popular music group.

Would you agree that a topic that comes up once every quarter hour (in relation to anyone from shared acquaintances to superstars) must be significant?

Case in point 2:
Last year I was visiting a Taco Bell in a rural college town. The dialogue broke down like this…

Cashier: Like your shirt.

Me: Thanks.

(I began to place my order when he interrupted by adding thoughtfully…)

Cashier: I’d wear that.

(I took this as a sociable compliment and attempted to complete my order when he followed up matter-of-factly…)

Cashier: And I’m straight!

I was speechless. In retrospect, I wish I would have responded, “Really? You are? I was wondering that! Me TOO!”

How did we go from not even thinking in terms of our “sexual identity” to feeling compelled to declare it to a perfect stranger at a fast food restaurant?

“So what,” you say? “You’re just mad because the Taco Bell dude pegged you for a gay guy.”

No, I’m more bewildered that the Taco Bell man would be sizing me up in a sexual way at all. It’s not that he guessed I was gay, but that he felt free to guess in the first place, and then reveal his assessment to me (if only inadvertently).

What if he’d said, “I’d wear that. And I’m well-educated” or “And I’m frugal.” or “And I’m an atheist.”

It’s not the business of Mr. Taco Bell to judge my education, spending habits or religious affiliation. Those are private matters I choose to reveal to people I’m getting to know, but somehow my sexual preference (excuse me – identity) is up for public discourse. What could be more private than what kind of sex I enjoy, and why would a fast food cashier care?

And going back to those high school kids, what if they couldn’t let 15 minutes go by without judging someone else’s…

  • State identity (“He totally acts like a New Yorker.”)
  • Cultural identity (“Oh she’s Irish! You can just tell by looking at her.”)
  • Diet identity (see possible conversation I could have heard in my minivan below)

Person 1: I heard they’re a vegan.

Person 2: Well I saw them in a McDonald’s last week.

Person 1: NO WAY! Did you see what they ordered?

Person 2: YES! McNuggets!!!

Person 1: Well I suppose that’s not really an animal product.


Indeed, the topic of these other “identities” may come up from time to time, but none of them are bantered about four times an hour by anyone about everyone. Not even four times a week.

And so I wrap up this initial conversation on sexual identity, by repeating my initial question: Why does sexual identity matter so much in our modern culture? To rephrase: What does this preoccupation with our sexual identity say about us?

I ask this question, because I think the answer matters a lot.

Love to hear your thoughts and then continue the discussion next week.

Date Night Advice (DNA) series: TOP 10 Signs You’re on a Bad First Date
Sign #6b: “Do You Think Those Guys are Gay?” (Part 1)
Click here for the next post in the series.

DNA: It’s What’s For Dating

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The LoveEd discipleship series, Beyond Sex & Salvation, will empower you to prepare for relational success when it counts: BEFORE you fall in love!

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