Ryan Lee

Ryan Lee: Surrendering secrets

I confess to having memberships with numerous websites that facilitate random gay sex between consenting strangers. I will not be enrolling into rehab or issuing any apologies – to my family, supporters or god.

I’ve also sent nude pics via Craigslist, offered my eclectic apartment as the set for a professional porn shoot, and participated in public sex. Hell, my first time penetrating a guy was when I was 15 years old, during a 45-second fling in the private-ish men’s room of a public library, which we both considered a safer space to explore our secret desires than our own bedrooms, a friend’s house or any other traditional setting for teenage hanky-panky.

While people who know me don’t know the particulars of these admissions, I don’t think any of the above would surprise anyone. Nor do I feel that people’s baseline perception of me is as unscrupulous, and therefore I am unable to surprise anyone with immorality.

Rather, I hope they trust my code – my character and judgment – and know I consider authenticity my chief moral duty. Simply, there is not a man or emotion, not a status or promotion, that is worth denying the truth about how I exist.

It’s easy for my candor to be mistaken for over-sharing, but knowing the gulf between my behavior and people’s knowledge of my behavior, yet the harmony between my public and private lives, I believe it is necessary representation. Discretion is good, even moral; deception is neither, and my secrets are not intended to mislead anyone about how I experience the world.

 As satisfying as it was to see Josh Duggar exposed for the predictable hypocrisy of those who constantly tell others they are wrong and evil, I felt bad for the hapless schmuck when he was exposed as an adulterer in the Ashley Madison hack. Of course he deserves to be humiliated for the mismatch between his professed mission and personal behavior, but he also deserves pity as someone reared in a value system with such a polluted understanding of human sexuality that he considered incest and adultery superior forms of sexual expression than homosexuality and female desire.

While the Duggar household may be supernaturally stifling, American culture gives barely more room for sexual exploration among consenting adults. The connotations attached to most sex beyond monogamy and military position creates the secrets that leave people feeling self-loathing and sinful, and make it easier for them to confuse pretense with morality.There is a good version of each of us that we present, and maintaining that “moral” facade is often more important than nurturing the total version of ourselves, and wondering whether that total version co-existing with the world might be lighter, healthier and more moral than the lies and pretension that shield us from judgment.

Even with the soul-searching required to come out of the closet, many LGBT people are as confined as horny evangelicals from authentically representing their sexual nature – possibly more, since it is instilled in us to downplay sexual honesty in exchange for social respectability. I learned that no one other than myself is responsible for my secrets, and no one can ascribe power to them without my surrender.