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...

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  1. She's right, but it's unfortunate that the H8'rs will use her words out of context (they excel at that) to make us look bad.

    Joy, darling -- next time you want to help, don't.

    Posted by: Todd Rimes | Jan 27, 2010 3:53:10 PM

  2. This isn't about male/female, gay/straight, a system of belief, or about personal preference. Couples engage each other in the same ways, regardless of ALL of these things.
    It is a GROSS simplification to assume that women, men, gay or straight do ANYTHING differently in a relationship. There is such a varied expression of sexuality in love relationships that ANY attempt to classify behavior is a futile effort. We love, we lose, we move on. The ONLY thing that can be said of couples who DO explore sexually outside the relationship is that they are 1. cheating or 2.communicating about their sexual needs. I don't think you can make ANY generalizations about sexual behavior without stumbling onto a logical fallacy!

    Posted by: Mark | Jan 27, 2010 3:56:28 PM

  3. Dan Savage, as usual, is right. Period. A little fresh dick on the side shouldn't be a deal breaker. In fact, it should be a deal sweetener.

    Posted by: Snottyboy | Jan 27, 2010 4:05:31 PM

  4. Re: John

    That's some messed up sh*t and the kind of thing only some 70 year old queen who had grown up repressed would say. Choosing to be in a monogamous relationship because it's what someone wants for their own, personal emotional needs isn't an attempt to mimic straights to get them to like gays better. And one "slip up" would be a big deal.

    I'm nearly 30 and have been with the same guy since we were both 18. We went to college together, built our company together, and decided about two months into our relationship that we weren't going to see anyone else. No one - gay, straight, or bisexual - factored into that decision but us. The only thing I cared about was that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this man and based upon knowing myself (and he knowing himself), that was the arrangement that would bring us the most joy.

    There's nothing wrong with people who want to live in open relationships (I'm just not one of them). The difference between that healthy decision ("I'm going to live in an open relationship according to these rules...") and what you stated is that you are deriving your entire identity *relative* to what "straight" people do. Being opposed to something simply because some other group is for it is still a pathetic, derivative existence.

    Posted by: John | Jan 27, 2010 4:18:21 PM

  5. Can we stop fucking saying that we shouldn't generalize? Why the fuck shouldn't we? It doesn't make your 'unconventional' relationship any less valid, it just makes it different.

    Speaking in generalities is how we figure out what is going on in the world without having a stroke due to information overload. I'd rather not sit through the names of every gay couple that isn't hung up on monogamy, just tell me that there is a lot of them. Even anecdotal generalities are okay. I'm smart enough to know that there is an exception to every goddamn rule.

    Posted by: Scott | Jan 27, 2010 4:19:31 PM

  6. It's a lie to say that gays (or gay men) take monogamy "less seriously" than straights. Rather, we just handle it better. My partner and I have to my knowledge been monogamous for over 15 years. But the world would not end if one or the other (or both) of us had a fling, within certain boundaries. I think this reflects a level of maturity and respect for monogamy that it would do the straight world some good to pay attention to.

    Posted by: Randy | Jan 27, 2010 4:20:47 PM

  7. re: Scott

    That's fine. If you read what I wrote, there's no indignation because I didn't make any moral judgments. I really don't care (or see a problem) if you want to have orgies in truck stop bathrooms as long as it makes you happy and everyone is a willing participant.

    What I think is unhealthy is defining actions *relative to* those of an abstract group such as "the straights". In other words, "I'm for this because the straights are against it". That's how your original comment read. That sort of world view means that the entire value structure is a derivative of "the straights" and measured against, opposed to, or in support of what "they" do. That is not a rational way of looking at the world.

    Posted by: John | Jan 27, 2010 4:23:17 PM

  8. One commenter said gays "can separate emotion from screwing".

    Um, not so much.

    In my experience, I know so many guys who are torn up and in pain over having screwed and now feeling screwed...because they had feelings for the guy. This turns them temporarily cynical. Over the long term, if they aren't able to process this in a healthy manner, they will become negative nasty queens.

    Posted by: Ben | Jan 27, 2010 4:23:40 PM

  9. And as for the great topic of whether this is age-related too, the follow up commenter noted the true statistics about higher rates of seroconversation among the younger generation. But that's also including a whole mass of single people. I'd think that, sure, there are a lot of partnered people looking online--whether they're in open or monogamous relationships, whether they're cheating or not--but seroconversion rates apply to single as well as coupled partners, so you have to take that into account when you bring up the issue of seroconversion and the young generation. This topic has mostly centered on partnered couples, and hasn't really brought in the other concept of single people. So it may be like comparing apples to oranges when you decide to look at seroconversion rates, unless you only look at statistics on seroconversion rates among partnered young couples vs. partnered older couples.

    Posted by: Ben | Jan 27, 2010 4:27:11 PM

  10. Umm Zach and the rest of you, I posted about my personal experience and how I feel about monogamy.

    Do what you want, if it's what you want to do. If it differs from my take on it, you do not speak or represent me in any way.

    Posted by: Marc | Jan 27, 2010 4:28:39 PM

  11. I agree with Marc (pg. 1) and John (right above). The problem with what Joy said is it falls right into the playbook of people like Maggie Gallagher: Gays aren't like straights... they don't take their relationships seriously like straight couples... that's what makes heterosexual marriage so special... that's why they shouldn't be allowed to destroy the sanctity of marriage.

    Posted by: David in Houston | Jan 27, 2010 4:31:14 PM

  12. @tank, your point is well taken; but i fail to understand how it correlates to the discussion.

    are the newly, and disproportionately young seroconverted people all or mostly in relationships? (i ask b/c your point seems to be that b/c a disproportionate amount of the people who seroconvert are young, my proposition is wrong; can't single people also seroconvert?)

    and is it impossible for the newly, and disproportionately young seroconverted people to now be in relationships wherein they strive to be monogamous or conventional? (b/c if we don't know when they seroconvert and when they're in relationships, we can't really make a statement about a possible correlation, and even less causality; the fact that people come out and go through an extended, promiscuous and behaviorally possibly dangerous adolescence versus their views on monogamy and relationships are two different things)

    Posted by: daftpunkydavid | Jan 27, 2010 4:31:41 PM

  13. Perhaps. But keep in mind, the poster was talking about an attitude perceived to be widely held amongst the younger generation (wanting to be in a monogamous relationship, whether single or in one). So maybe in principle, but not in practice. ;)

    Posted by: TANK | Jan 27, 2010 4:31:41 PM

  14. "Do what you want, if it's what you want to do. If it differs from my take on it, you do not speak or represent me in any way."

    Funny, I don't remember making any claims of the sort. You stated that you had a problem with Behar/Savage's statement, and you're wrong in positive terms (because many many gay partners either practice open relationships). Savage never claimed to "speak" for all gay men, he argued that most gay men operate their relationships on different terms.

    Settle down and stop being so defensive.

    Posted by: Zach | Jan 27, 2010 4:38:16 PM

  15. Have many coupled gay friends: short and long term together, diff socioeconomic status, diff parts of the country, diff races: all of them are either in open relationships or frequently hook up with others together. Even know a guy in a stable 3way relationship.

    Posted by: Rolph | Jan 27, 2010 4:42:24 PM

  16. Ratings stunt.

    Opens with "My other show on (network) which is on a night...(time slot)..."

    Leads into controversial hearsay conversation, for which she supresses a smirk & Whoopi and Elisabeth look at her with "are you kidding me" eyes.

    Posted by: Bob | Jan 27, 2010 4:43:47 PM

  17. And of course you'll just get correlation. But there is a correlation between promiscuous MSM and seroconversion. Of course, there's more to that story like whether or not protected sex was practiced--though, there's also a correlation between rampant promiscuity and unprotected sex between MSM...and people have seroconverted who've used condoms.

    But the point is that if this desire for more traditional relationships was so broad based amongst young people who are coming out at increasingly younger ages (I'm 29, for full disclosure), that attitude seems at odds with the rampant promiscuity that is at least partly responsible for the spike in seroconversion (it's very plausible, anyway), don't you think? I think it's a classic case of cognitive dissonance...or sexual dissonance, anyway.

    Posted by: TANK | Jan 27, 2010 4:44:39 PM

  18. i think she only meant that we are less likely to break up over infidelity than straight couples (though she had a hard time articulating it) and i believe she's right

    i don't think it's because we take monogamy any less seriously than straight couples, i think it's because we realize that the "love" in our relationships is more valuable than the "sex" in our relationships

    Posted by: micheal | Jan 27, 2010 4:47:13 PM

  19. 75 percent of straight couples aren't monogamous. They just lie about it. And that's been documented. I've met one truly monogamous gay couple in the last ten years. All the other monogamous couples seem to have one monogamous partner and one who decides not to be but can't be honest because it wouldn't go over very well with the other.

    I've also found that those who have zero tolerance for indiscretions are usually the guiltier party and usually don't trust themselves very much (gay or straight).

    That being said I've been in both monogamous and open relationships. My current marriage (7 years in October, got married in Ontario) is open and the best one I've ever had. What works for one doesn't necessarily work for the other and we need to accept that. People who get all indignant should be shoved out a window.

    Posted by: Jonathan | Jan 27, 2010 4:49:42 PM

  20. It's very hard for me to make a call about generational differences until the generation below me ages a bit more. In my 20s I wanted to be in a completely monogamous relationship with all the trimmings of domesticity that filled my head. I'm 36 now and while my take on this whole thing is I tend to default to mostly monogamous behavior within LTRs, I have a less strict idea about what constitutes an ideal relationship for me (other than mutual interests, love, communication, and respect . . . and sex of course).

    I don't know if 20somethings desire for a more "conventional" lifestyle is a generational trend or something born out of youthful idealism that will shift and adapt once life throws some hard knocks at them.

    My last relationship was technically open, but I never figured out how with the demands of my job and my artistic career and seeing friends, and spending time with my then boyfriend, anyone found the time to arrange for and have said extra-curricular sex? It really would have involved a lot of planning for me and then it really starts to feel really sneaky. And that makes me uncomfortable.

    I've also been single for a while now and for the past year I've pretty much mostly gotten hit on by attached guys in relationships (both online and off) and I often found the whole approach to be very sneaky as well--as in they would engage with me via conversation and we'd hit it off and see there was mutual attraction and talk about getting together and THEN they'd reveal they were taken. The last time that happened, I got very very very very angry.

    Lastly, even though men (and women too as many of my female friends keep insisting) can separate love and sex, I find that as I get older I have to at least be very fond of someone to have sex with them. Purely physical sex with no emotional connection starts to play nasty games with my self-esteem (as in I start objectifying everyone and myself in very superficial ways) . . . so I have no idea how I could enter an open relationship at this part of my life knowing that about myself . . . but I'll cross that bridge when I find someone to be in a relationship with.

    Posted by: Alex | Jan 27, 2010 4:51:45 PM

  21. "Do what you want, if it's what you want to do. If it differs from my take on it, you do not speak or represent me in any way."

    Also, I should reiterate: I take monogamy seriously; I have never been in an open relationship, have never contemplated one, and would break up with anyone (and have) who cheated on me.

    Posted by: Zach | Jan 27, 2010 4:53:04 PM

  22. at tank, lol, sexual dissonance indeed. and although i laugh about tit, it's pretty sad indeed that guys our age are oblivious to the threat posed by hiv/aids.

    but i would still argue that what guys do when they want to experiment their newly (or not so newly) found self (call it their gay puberty, or queer adolescence, whatever) includes sexual experimentation with other men, and such behavior can be dangerous and lead to seroconversion, especially if you think you're invulnerable, like adolescents are known to do.

    but your behavior then does not mean that you want to live in an open relationship. your behavior then does not translate into more indifference towards monogamy. which is why i disagree with what you wrote earlier, for the simple reason that i'm not sure that those young guys who seroconvert, do so while they are coupled, or even that their seroconversion tells us anything about what they'd like their relationship (if they had one) to be like.

    Posted by: daftpunkydavid | Jan 27, 2010 5:02:43 PM

  23. I'm inclined to side with Dan and Joy here, and think that every couple needs to work this out for themselves.

    Having been in an open relationship for twelve years now, what I've never understood is why so many gay men seem to be threatened by non-monogamy. We've seen a little bit of that right here in the comments.

    I've been told that my relationship isn't "real," that my partner is nothing more than a fuck buddy, that I'll never know love until I embrace strict monogamy. Verbal attacks worthy of our worst opponents.

    For a long time I couldn't figure out why anyone else would be so invested in my relationship. I finally came to the conclusion that they weren't, but simply needed to put down any relationship that doesn't conform to their ideal.

    Posted by: David in KC | Jan 27, 2010 5:04:30 PM

  24. I'm also in a happily monogamous same-sex relationship. Have been for 12 years. Neither being 2 men or being gay makes us or anyone "prone" to screwing around on each other. It's a choice that people make when they enter a relationship. Some hetero couple choose to have an open relationship. Some homo couples choose to have monogomous ones. I'm so sick of anyone telling anyone what is "normal". Nothing is normal. Everything is unique.

    Posted by: buno | Jan 27, 2010 5:33:06 PM

  25. Alright, that sounds pretty good (re: larry david). So to recap, what I understand is that you think that when we're dealing with a gay man who's just come out of the closet, or a newly minted gay, he experiments by having lots of casual sex without an interest in a relationship. That could be the norm, and I'll not dispute it. But you say it does not reflect his beliefs/desires about relationships he'd like to be in one way or the other. On that note, I dsagree, because you're bracketting beliefs/desires from behaviors (behaviors include talking and language), when I don't think that's possible. Instead, what we have is a person who doesn't want a monogamous relationship, an open relationship, or any kind of relationship. So such a person certainly doesn't want a more traditional relationship (whatever that could mean)...and he's young. So does he believe what he says? Maybe he wants to believe it, but doeson't. So, it seems that it is a front in that scenario, or a case of dissonance.

    But more to the point, I don't believe that the newly minted gays who are promiscuously experimenting with their sexuality are responsible for the spike in the seroconversion rate. I think that this is primarily coming from gay men in their early thirties/ late twenties, who largely aren't just out. Of course, I don't know this for a fact, but it's not an altogether unfounded hunch.

    But no, behavior does indicate belief, because all belief is is more behavior (very broadly defined).

    Posted by: TANK | Jan 27, 2010 5:33:53 PM

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