A Look At Discretion

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When I am asked, when are you going to get married, my response tends to follow something along the line of, “I don’t know. Marriage isn’t something I think actively about.” One thing I never add, and I’ve realised no one bothers to ask, is why I don’t think actively about marriage.

I now occupy a life-space where the next sensible step, as perceived by my observers, is marriage. (Once you have a decent source of livelihood, the next thing is marriage.) And there has been a surge in the number of queries as to the time when I and another (of opposite sex) would tie the knot to become one. This has in some ways activated personal queries on the subject matter of marriage.

I remember being a child and believing grown ups knew best: that rules grown ups laid to us children were in place to keep us at our best. It took the pull to kiss men (over the course of growing from adolescence into adulthood) to cement my impression that the rules that dealt with my romantic life, were (at best) rubbish. That the promise of marital bliss with a person of opposite sex would be a source of agony for someone like me. Now an adult, given my homosexual orientation, I am burdened by the sense that I am lacking in the sensibilities required to get me from single to married to a person capable of pulling my romantic attraction.

Glowrite - love

As much as I hate to admit it, my romantic life has been somewhat non-existent. The environment I live in is characterised by a toxicity that kills everything homosexually romantic, exterminating gay romance like fumes of pesticides killing lady bugs. And the most damaging effect of the toxicity is, it impairs the one thing needed to experience a fulfilling love life: That is, the appropriate responsiveness of gay men to court in romantic ways.

One of the responses given off by gay men as a result of the impairment is dishonest engagement with society. It’s somewhat expected that gay men are to lie their way through society in exchange for safe-r navigation through it – an expectation that some ace and some fail. And in my experience, this expectation is pressured the most by a subset of gay men. Because of the toxicity that permeates the environment, this subset of gay men adopt an approach to attaining love I can call misguided, serving the approach using an otherwise nice sounding word: Discretion.

As it is demanded by (this subset of) gay men, discretion is to be understood as a collection of rules required to “safely” navigate a society toxic to homosexuality. Without being too procedural, here are its (primitive) rules:

  1. You must be masculine. If you happen not to be, you must stiffen your disposition to approximate masculinity as closely as possible.
  2. You must manifest love with your love-interest only in private spaces. Public displays of romantic love is forbidden.
  3. You must keep your families out of your romantic relationship. Possibilities of them accepting your romantic union is unthinkable.
  4. You and your partner must posit yourselves to the world as acquaintances, and at best, friends. Never are you to present yourselves to the world as lovers.

The wake of Valentine’s Day brought to fore of my mind the undeniably appealing nature of the celebration of romantic love. But it was a bit cumbersome to shake off the sense demanded from guardians of “discretion”: that love of homosexual kinds must be observed in hush tones, for the noble reason that discretion keeps you safe. Yet it’s one thing to posit safety’s importance and its quite another thing to propose a person remains concealed for safety’s sake. It’s important to note and remember that safety isn’t about generating pain in pursuit of the much desired – say love, it is about pursuing the much desired while minimising (the potential of) pain.

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As I have written in a previous post, concealment is often the requirement demanded when the call for discretion is made. But concealment is not discretion, at all. Concealment is about hiding. Discretion is about choice. Concealment offers one restrictive possibility. Discretion offers the freedom to decide (what should be done in a particular situation).

In my personal query for becoming sensible in the quest for navigating romantic homosexual love in pursuit of marital bliss, I have come to learn that there isn’t a one answer fits all. But discretion, in its truest sense (and not what closeted gay men posit to be discretion) offers everyone the modus operandi for navigation. In basic terms, it says (get to) know your situation and act accordingly.


Question(s) of the day: Should being a closeted homosexual be an option to anyone? Please let me know in comments.

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