Joy Behar | News

Joy Behar: Gays Take Monogamy Less Seriously Than Straights


Folks are talking about a recent episode of The View in which Joy Behar basically says that gays take monogamy less seriously than straights, and an act of infidelity is less likely to lead to the break-up of a relationship.

Writes Jeremy Hooper at Good as You: "It's astounding that anyone, especially a progressive from New York City's media world, would still have such an uninformed opinion about gay relationships as a whole. Regardless of one's personal views on monogamy, it's downright weird to hear gay couples put in this "other" category that is monolithically one thing. Especially in a world where one can't shake a Tiger without hitting ten straight Jon & Kates!"

Dan Savage, whose conversation with Behar on HLN led to the remarks, says Joy's right: "Gay male couples generally don't view monogamy as the defining characteristic of a loving, committed relationship. Studies of male couples in long-term relationships have found that most gay male couples do allow for some "outside sexual contact," as they say, contacts that I wouldn't characterize as "affairs" or "cheating." If there are no lies, if there is no betrayal, if neither partner is doing anything that violates the commitment he made to the other, then no one cheated and no one was cheated on. Which is not to say that there aren't monogamous gay couples out there."

There are more facets to the argument than that, so watch the whole segment. What do you think?

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

Feed This post's comment feed


  1. Two things:

    1. Men are different than women.

    2. Gay couples aren't afforded the right to marriage. How can you compare a married couple to a couple not allowed by law to become married? Give gay couples stronger tools for commitment and THEN make the call about monogamy.

    Posted by: Dusty | Jan 27, 2010 2:54:45 PM

  2. I know a monogamous couple. About a week after they got home from Provincetown, one of 'em was driving a brand new Mercedes. Just sayin.

    Posted by: crispy | Jan 27, 2010 2:55:08 PM

  3. I told my partner of 10yrs this...IF we were younger we're 50/54 - and IF we were raising kids...I'd want to be married/and HAVE a monogomous relationship,period! But since we are older,no children...and not getting married...IF we both agree..on occassion to "have sex" outside our relationship - then its fine with 50,Im way over the jealousy game.

    Posted by: Disgusted American | Jan 27, 2010 2:55:19 PM

  4. I have bad news for Marc. EVERY couple my partner and I have known in our 16 wonderful years together that have not made it have broken up because of the "NO IF"S, ANDS, OR BUTS"! Attitude you have. Play it that way if you like, but you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of heartache.

    Posted by: Michael J. Harrity | Jan 27, 2010 2:55:46 PM

  5. I have been in open relationships before it is not the monogamy that is the key it is the communication and the openess.

    Even among gay couples who are mongamous and committed and take it seriously. I notice that most of them allow for looking at cute guys, even porn of others, and they do it rather openly. You don't find that openness on the straight side of things.

    Men who look at other women while out with their wife get a slap and dirty looks. I usually nudge my guy and say take a look at him and we appreciate him together.

    I agree it is more a man's attitude towards thigns then gay vs. straight. That is the benefit of haivng two men in a relationship

    Posted by: kujhawker | Jan 27, 2010 2:57:13 PM

  6. Just to clarify a few things:

    1) I didn't get on any "high horse" about monogamy. I made no value judgment in the post, simply saying I was surprised that Joy would make such a generalization. And I stand by that.

    2) I was careful to note that Joy is a longtime LGBT ally, and that these comments change nothing. So there is no "Joy bashing" from my end. Just answering her call for other views.

    Dan and I have discussed this. There is respect for both views.


    Posted by: Jeremy | Jan 27, 2010 2:57:57 PM

  7. The old saw that men can separate love and sex needs to be retired. This stereotype that men are emotionally vacuous is a bunch of baloney. (Notice too their assumptions: multiple partners=absence of love)

    Posted by: maxx40 | Jan 27, 2010 2:58:13 PM

  8. Why do monogamists seem to think monogamy is the only way considering the divorce rate for straights and the open gay couples they probably know?

    Craigslist isn't only filled with "straight" men seeking a bj, you know.

    Posted by: Marco | Jan 27, 2010 2:58:28 PM

  9. In my 45 years of experience with many long term gay couples this has been true --- but of the long term couples who are still together monogamy is important or became more important at the relationship progressed.

    That said .... many committed MALE gay couples do swing.

    She just should not get on TV and make sweeping generalizations. I believe monogamy is much more important to gay female couples.

    Posted by: Walter | Jan 27, 2010 2:58:40 PM

  10. Well lets be honest here guys. You know as well as I that we are much more promiscious then heterosexuals (couples and singles). This is a known fact look at manhunt dudesnude etc all the hook up sites set up for gay men. But in saying this I think we as gay men really should look at how we use sex to meet some internal needs and or pains that we face inside. Not preaching for I am part of the issue as well. I think we should honestly look at the addictive situations we get into and learn how to deal more effectively with our issues. But due to how we have had to do things in the dark starting way long ago it is no surprise that secrecy and hiddeness runs strong among us. And yes I do know there are monogamous couples but they are few and far between when you factor in the internet.

    Posted by: Jeff | Jan 27, 2010 2:59:27 PM

  11. I think she's right. I was in a relationship, and we were communicating and had contact sexually with other people together. Then my partner became very possessive, jealous... but then was also dishonest. Had he communicated, it wouldn't have been "cheating." So she's wrong in the respect that it's not "cheating" or wouldn't end a relationship. I think the difference is, that it's two men that come from the same place. But there's still such a thing as being unfaithful, even if monogomy is never held up as an ideal.

    I'm friends with a super-open married gay couple that rarely have sex with each other anymore. When i told them my story they said "well, in a gay relationship, there's really no such thing as "cheating." Then I told them what happened and they said "yeah... that's cheating... especially for someone like you who didn't care about monogomy."

    I think to say that people just don't care about affairs is ridiculous, but i think that as a rule, gay couples are up front with eachother enough that monogomy can be negotiated by both together to some degree. It's simply because they come from the same place.

    Posted by: JoshEV | Jan 27, 2010 2:59:50 PM

  12. for myself, and my partner, monogamy is just not that important to us. we are married and we have a child (although he is an adult now).

    my husband and I are emotionally, socially, financially and intellectually committed to each other. but we both balk at the idea that we have to be everything to each other in terms of our sexuality.

    the fact is that we are not that sexually compatible. so we get some of our needs and desires met outside the relationship or through entertaining a third or another couple. big effin deal.

    I am Pagan and I know a lot of Paganfolk, striaght, gay, lesbian, bisexual and ambisexual who feel the same way. a lot goes into a commitment to partnership. getting a little - or a lot - on the side really is small when you compare it to the many other issues that couples must deal with.

    Posted by: WindReader | Jan 27, 2010 3:02:15 PM

  13. Let's run with the premise that people weren't "hardwired" for monogamy. Let's say that we can isolate the genes that we've evolved that are responsible for our inability to be monogamous, or at least the difficulty we have trying to be monogamous. The reason why ethics will never be absorbed by biology, is because even if were to do that, we THEN get to question whether or not that's right...because is shall never meet ought, and ought shall never meet is.

    Now, let's say that we had a similar problem with a murder. That we're hardwired to kill each other with malicious intent, etc. Some would argue that we are... Does that mean that we should make allowances for this reality, and not condemn the practice?

    I don't mean to imply that murder and nonmonogamy are ethical equivalents, for clearly they're not. By most people's metrics, anyway.

    Given that we're just as genetically similar to chimpanzees as we are to bonobos--and we're fairly similar to both-- and both are pretty promiscuous, it would seem that monogamy isn't just a female vs. male thing, or a gay vs. straight thing, or anything of that nature. But at the same time, it doesn't mean that we need to cast aside a desire for monogamy, either.

    That said, open relationships rarely last a long time...especially ones that are gay. I personally don't care for open relationships, but they're neutral from a moral perspective, and we don't need to justify it with biological imperatives that trade on stock cliches of men vs. women without even the slightest understanding of evolutionary biology and biological anthropology.

    And yes, it seems like gay relationships are a lot more fragile than heterosexual relationships and tend not to last very long. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that gay relationships are deemed deviant by the culture at large, and there just aren't the same broad based support systems (e.g., marriage) for gay couples that there are for straight couples due to discrimination.

    Posted by: TANK | Jan 27, 2010 3:03:36 PM

  14. The generalizations in the comments here are as outlandish and astounding to me as the generalizations by both Behar and Savage.

    "Gay world" "We Gays" "The Gays" . . .

    My partner and I may be in the minority, but we don't base our relationship or behaviors on how others conduct theirs; conversely they don't speak for us. We've been monogamous for 15 years and for either of us to go outside of that would be a betrayal. We are two gay men who take monagamy more seriously than most of our straight friends over the years. They've all broken up, we're still together.

    My point being, none of these generalizations are productive in any way. We're men who are gay, not "a segment of the gay world" or any other nonsense. Not one of you reading or writing these comments has had an identical life experience to anyone else here, and your choices are your own. Own them; don't excuse them by saying "we" do this and "we" do that.

    Posted by: Jamie | Jan 27, 2010 3:05:46 PM

  15. I am SO TIRED of Dan Savage & his need to speak on and for the entirety of the gay experience. He is one guy, an expert by no means, full of opinions - that's it. Hurray for him if his views work in his life, but, I completely resent the public-at-large's notion that he speaks for me.

    Posted by: Mike | Jan 27, 2010 3:06:06 PM

  16. I agree w/Scott and Savage..why do we need to mimic the str8's? I have so many divorces in my circle of friends and the question I keep getting is how do you guys do it? How can you be friends with your ex? And do things socially with him? I tell them the same thing over and over, men are wired differently then women period. Women look at a man and feel emotionally, men look at women or men and respond sexually.....most of the time, its our dna. I know a lot of you will insist that we have evolved beyond that but you won't convince me.
    If str8's wanna bring their divorce rate down they would be more cautious jumping into marriage,discuss sexual pasts and futures, be open with one another and realize the other person is going to be attracted to other people during your marriage or relationship.

    I have been married, I have had 3 relationships with men, the first 2 were monogamus on their part, I tried it but as you know sex in a relationship dwindles, and that is not who I am.
    My current partner and I saw each other for about 3 yrs, I was up front with him. I said if you see someone you are sexually attracted to and you are safe go for long as its just lunch dates no meeting for a movie. Then its over..Lifes too short to deny yourself and I wasted a lot of years trying to conform. And keep the fu**ing church out of it, that is how this mess started. I can't believe in this day and age people still buy into that organized religion crap.

    The bottom line is do what works for you 2 but I would not be so cut and dried about the whole 1 on 1 relationship, you can miss out on some pretty great guys..

    Posted by: mnrocko | Jan 27, 2010 3:10:30 PM

  17. This is a vastly different world than it was when Jesus rode the dinosaurs and one of his daddies laid down the marriage law.

    Traditional marriage vows usually say something about "forsaking all others" or whatever. Gay relationships aren't weighed down by those archaic marriage rules since we're still not-quite-human in the eyes of the church that wrote those laws - they don't apply to us.

    Lots of gays have open relationships. There's even a lot of straight couples that agree to open relationships where both parties play with others - sometimes together, sometimes on their own. They're called "Swingers". When just the man is allowed to go out and play, that's called a "Mormon".

    I know gay couples that occasionally bring home playmates. Sometimes both of them play with the boytoy, sometimes just one. I also know two guys who brought a third into their relationship and all three have been going strong for quite a number of years.

    Basically what it boils down to is that the individuals involved have the right to define their own relationship, without any help from James Dobson or Maggie Gallagher or some imaginary puppet-master in the sky.

    And anyone who is having a hissy-fit over anything Joy said is just not being realistic. She may have used an overly-broad brush, but she spoke the truth for A LOT of gay men (and maybe some women?)

    Posted by: MikeInSanJose | Jan 27, 2010 3:10:30 PM

  18. If heterosexuals couldn't marry, how important would monogamy be to them? Comparing someone who is not allowed to marry to someone who sees it as a birthright is comparing apples to oranges. How many men would stay faithful if there were no marriage contract?

    Posted by: Jeff Atwood | Jan 27, 2010 3:13:40 PM

  19. You sexual outlaws! Keep that torch of sluttiness burning brightly for us gays! SLUT IT UP in your newfangled open relationships. It's so modern and progressive...breaking down b're radicals, what can i say? Each time you stick your peen in someone who isn't your partner, you're telling the man to go f himself! It's just hoc. Whatever works...except when it doesn't.

    Posted by: TANK | Jan 27, 2010 3:15:58 PM

  20. We are not less monogamous because we are gay, we are less monogamous because we're men. I'm sure lesbians are MORE monogamous than hetero couples. And let's not buy into the sex negativity of the larger culture. There is nothing wrong with maintaining an open relationship if that is what the two parties agree. If a gay couple wants to enter into a monogamous relationship - wonderful! But we have to be VERY VERY CAREFUL that the gay community not promote monogamy as a somehow morally superior relationship. That would be an incredible betrayal of our movement, which has always been 50% about rights and 50% about sexual liberation. It would be a tragic end to our movement if it became "see straight people, were just like you". I DON'T WANT TO BE JUST LIKE THEM. EVER.

    Posted by: JimSur212 | Jan 27, 2010 3:17:50 PM

  21. there are many issues at play here, and most of them have been evoked already (the fact that most gays cannot legally marry, with all the duties societies adjoins to that, and therefore comparing them to married heterosexuals is difficult; that homosexual men are, well, men, and that men are allegedly more sex positive than women; etc).

    i would like to add age. i haven't read many people mention it, but i think it's really important. i'm in my mid-20's, and my personal gay awakening has not been one of reaction against an oppressive heteronormative majority like that of so many of my elder gays; i thank them for that, for, without them, i could not be buying into the bourgeois and yet infinitely human desire of being "like everyone else" while at the same time claiming my individuality/originality.

    i do think that for many guys my age, it's more important to have a "conventional" relationship, one that fits with the mores, the customs, the rules, the imperatives dictated by a cultural framework, and by our family and friends, most of whom are not gay (well, in my case anyway). whether that's to be lauded is arguable, but that's the reality for many of us. and maybe it would be useful to look at this "monogamy" question through this lens as well.

    Posted by: daftpunkydavid | Jan 27, 2010 3:24:26 PM

  22. They always make blanket generalizations on The View.

    Posted by: bunker | Jan 27, 2010 3:24:32 PM

  23. "i do think that for many guys my age, it's more important to have a "conventional" relationship, one that fits with the mores, the customs, the rules, the imperatives dictated by a cultural framework, and by our family and friends, most of whom are not gay (well, in my case anyway)."

    I see that on the surface, but the biggest spike in seroconversion rates isn't coming from the "older" generations, but the younger. It's also useful to get the average age of men using online hookup sites before making this assessment (or even the age distributions).

    Posted by: TANK | Jan 27, 2010 3:35:23 PM

  24. @John

    Be careful that you don't pee yourself with all that righteous indignation. I hear hand wringing can be hell on the bladder.

    I'm not a slut. Compared to most of my straight friends I'm a fucking nun. My partner and I do not have an open relationship (Although I have no problem with people that do) and we consider ourselves monogamous.

    That being said, we have done the adult thing and talked about the fact that "things happen". We have rules in place, and limits placed on them. If he slips up, it won't be the end of the relationship because we're not a couple of fucking stupid little girls buying into the Cinderella fantasy.

    Posted by: Scott | Jan 27, 2010 3:36:42 PM

  25. Joy is right... for every monogamous couple out there, there's a bazillion others in "open" relationships (or not so open).
    She never said it was a BAD thing either... it's our own insecurities that put a negative twist on it.

    Posted by: SeaMonster | Jan 27, 2010 3:43:23 PM

  26. « | 1 2 3 4 5 »

Post a comment


« «First Photos of Apple iPad« «