One on One

By Woog, Dan; Stockwell, Anne | The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine), June 23, 1998 | Go to article overview

One on One


Woog, Dan, Stockwell, Anne, The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)


According to Merriam Webster's dictionary, "mo.nog.a.my" is the condition or practice of having a single mate during a period of time." How archaic or how hip is the concept for gay and lesbian couples today?

MONOGAMY Is it for us?

The Advocate examines the controversial subject of monogamy from many angles: by interviewing gay and lesbian couples all over the United States who embrace or reject it; by listening to the Eastern wisdom of spiritual guru Deepak Chopra; by excerpting Eric Marcus's new book, Together Forever; and by allowing novelist Edmund White to blast the living hell out of it.

One of the hottest debates in today's gay world involves the m word. Is it for us, we wonder, or is it just aping straight society? Is it a basic human drive or a dumb social construct? And, of course, each of us wonders, Is it for me?

But this m word is not marriage. It's monogamy. Etymologically, the word means "one marriage." So how can it possibly apply to a group of people who are not legally allowed to wed?

It applies because at least some of us want it to. "The fact that so many gay and lesbian couples settle down and nest despite the lack of societal support indicates it's an important need," says Aleta Fenceroy, a 49-year-old computer programmer in Omaha who has spent seven monogamous years with Jean Mayberry, a factory worker. "We just found ourselves and knew that we wanted to be together. It might not be for everybody, but it's always been around. We know couples who have been together and monogamous for 20, 30, even 40 years. Maybe it's more prevalent in the Midwest!"

"The fact that gays can't be married shouldn't change anything," adds Buff Carmichael, 50, editor of Prairie Flame, the gay newspaper in Springfield, Ill. He and Jerry Bowman, 43, who works for the state of Illinois, have been in a monogamous relationship for six years. "A commitment is something made by two people, not by a minister or license," Carmichael says.

But, in fact, two men or two women making a commitment is different from a man and a woman doing it. Evolutionary scientists say males and females set different standards for sexual partners. They argue that since sperm is cheap, males instinctively want to spread their seed among many partners, but eggs are precious, so females seek copulation with one mate who will be a good provider. Socially, that results in compromises--marriage and adultery--but what happens when two people of the same gender don't have to meet in the middle?

One result might be the old joke: What do two lesbians take on their second date? A U-Haul. What about two gay men? What second date?

Thus, says neuroscientist Simon LeVay, gays and straights can be seen as biologically similar: The males share an interest in casual sex, while the females want to settle down. He cites studies from San Francisco in the pre-AIDS 1970s showing that the average gay male had had 500 partners up to the time of the survey interview; the average lesbian, fewer than ten.

But those are averages, and Dean Hamer, a molecular geneticist at the National Institutes of Health, believes the reason some males are more monogamous, than others is genetic. His lab has discovered a gene for a dopamine receptor, which influences a personality, trait called "novelty seeking." Those with a strong tendency for novelty seeking are more apt to bungee jump, enjoy abstract art--and have multiple sexual partners--than those with a lesser tendency. (No comparable data exists for women.)

Yet life is more than genetics, and the monogamy debate is about more than getting off. The real issues says Betty Berzon, a Los Angeles-based psychotherapist who has written extensively on monogamy, are "intimacy, commitment, planning your life--things most gay people are not very good at." The reason, she believes, is that society does not provide gays with the same blueprints or models it gives straights. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

One on One
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.