They say you’re asking for trouble if you start a conversation about religion or politics, but these days the issue of monogamy in the gay community can cause just as much heated debate.
And that’s what happened when Mardi Gras and ACON gathered six public figures from the gay community and the media to battle it out at their annual Great Debate, with the topic: monogamy is monotony.
On the affirmative team were lawyer and community leader Bruce Meagher, comedian Sue-Ann Post and actor Gary Scale. Arguing for the negative were theatre manager Craig Hassall, journalist and Media Watch presenter David Marr, and comedian Jean Kitson.
Hosted by the very funny Meredith Burgmann, president of the NSW upper house, the night was informative and thought-provoking, but mostly just plain hilarious.
Leader for the affirmative team Bruce Meagher has been in a relationship with the same person for 16 years. He started the debate by defining monogamy.
The gay man’s definition of monogamy is not on, he said. You’re still monogamous if you don’t know his name. You’re still monogamous if you met him on Gaydar. And you’re certainly still monogamous if you did him with your boyfriend.
We prefer the lesbian definition of monogamy, which is if you so much as look at another woman, I’ll kill you.
The secret to a long-term relationship such as his own is very simple, Meagher explained: lower your standards.
When you’re in a monogamous relationship, you become boring and suburban, he said. You settle down, stop going out, you develop an obsession with white goods. You lose your personal identity -“ you all of a sudden become Greg And Bruce.
Not being monogamous means variety. It means five or six hours of excitement every Saturday night when you go out looking for sex. In a monogamous relationship, I know exactly when I’m going to get my weekly root. Instead of five hours of anticipation as to whether or not you’ll get a root, I’ve got five seconds of anticipation as to whether or not I should keep my socks on.
Leader of the negative team Craig Hassall argued that while monogamy might be boring, that’s why he likes it so much.
Now I’m in a monogamous relationship, the only thing I pick up these days is fresh organic produce. The only six-pack I see these days is a six-pack of Diet Sprite. Instead of going out, my partner and I sit down together and watch re-runs of old Australian miniseries. It doesn’t get much better than that, he argued.
For the affirmative, Sue-Ann Post asserted that there is nothing natural about monogamy at all. For the majority of people on this planet it is wrong, illogical, and unnatural. It is against everything evolution has been trying to do. It’s about variety, about diversity, about mixing up the gene pool. That’s why we have this incredible over-active sex drive, she said.
Look at divorce rates. It is creeping up to 50 percent. If marriage were to sit an exam it would barley scrape through with a pass.
I blame Aristotle. He came up with the ridiculous idea that originally we were all androgynous beings, half-man and half-women. And then God came and cut us in half, leaving us as limping half-people looking for our other half, so we could be whole.
What a load of fucking rubbish! Where does that leave gays and lesbians? Were there double-dicked men?
The other people I blame for monogamy is the Christians. They have always hated sex, especially for pleasure. They say sex is only to make babies. But I have proof that sex is not just for having babies, and that of course is the clitoris. It’s not there to help you get pregnant. It’s not there for anything except fun.
Post concluded by saying that not being monogamous is essentially unavoidable. What is the chance of people meeting neatly, and sequentially, and with absolutely no overlap?
David Marr spoke about the joys of monogamy, such as slowing down and enjoying life.
When you’re in a monogamous relationship, you’re no longer a renter, you’re a property owner, he enthused.
There’s no more demeaning conversations in parked cars about whether or not to stay the night. And it means no longer having to eat Thai in King Street on dates.
And he claimed there’s nothing more enjoyable than buying white goods with your partner. I saw these two blokes getting their first white goods together. And I tell you it was one of the most romantic things I’ve ever seen. They could hardly keep their hands off each other.
Gary Scale said he was a perfect example of the terrible effects monogamy can have on someone. My tragic life should be a lesson, he warned. If you are plain and tubby, go for monogamy. Embrace it. Find another like yourself. If you’re gorgeous like I was, look at what you see before you now. Don’t waste what you have. Share it and embrace it.
I was the opposite of Premier Jim Bacon. I gave up the fags and look at me.
Scale said he decided to become a monogamist after being a slut for years. I’d had more entries than Thursday night Powerball. I reasoned it was either monogamy, or nappies.
Jean Kitson was the last speaker for the negative. If life is really like a box of chocolates, promiscuity is like one of those expensive and disappointing boxes, where each individually wrapped chocolate is just the same, she reasoned.
Monogamy is the variety assortment of chocolates. It’s full of tastes and textures to be shared with someone else. A journey, a discovery. Chocolates that continue to surprise and excite both of you as the years go on.
You can’t have a fight on a first date, let along make up. Nobody picks up your clothes for you on a first date. Nobody knows your favourite food on a first date. One-night stands have no anniversaries.
Monogamy is liberating and suffocating. It’s tears and laughter, warmth and light, it’s silly and it’s serious. Monogamy is growth, it’s growing up.
The alternative is Groundhog Day.
But the crowd, mostly made up of gay men, didn’t agree with Kitson and her team-mates, and handed victory to the affirmative team.