That Crazy Singles Lifestyle

25 May

I recently read a very interesting and well-written article by Joshua Gonnerman called Why I Call Myself a Gay Christian. It has me thinking about a lot of things, and I want to talk about one of them today.

The concept of lifestyle.

First of all, I should point out that the article itself is more about identity and self-identification, though he does, in passing, mention the concept of lifestyle. What troubled me, though, was that in a huge number of comments on that article, straight readers couldn’t seem to get past the notion of lifestyle. If someone self-identifies as gay, they seem to say, that person must be engaging in risky sexual encounters with multiple partners of the same sex. That person must be wearing rainbows, marching in parades, in-your-face, out and proud. That person must be the embodiment of all that is other.

It begs the question: are lifestyle and identity the same thing?

First of all, let me state that I’m coming to this blog post as a straight girl. I’ve never experienced same-sex attraction. So I can’t tell you what gay identity is. I can’t tell you what gay lifestyle is.

I can tell you what single identity and lifestyle is.

I identify as single. That means I check the “never married” on survey forms. I count the number of people in my household as “one adult”. I have a single income. I don’t have kids (though many single people do).

Now let me tell you about my lifestyle. Because if you watch TV, you probably think singles go out clubbing four nights a week, show up at work hungover, glitz off on weekend trips to Vegas or the Virgin Islands or whatever, and spend countless hours in coffee houses alternating between angsting over their single status or gloating about their most recent hook-up.

My life is…well, not as seen on TV.

I’m a member of a church, where I used to be much more involved than I am now. I used to serve in youth ministry and attend every week. At the church before that, where I grew up, I served in various leadership positions and sang in the worship band.

I don’t drink coffee or hang out in coffee houses. I don’t really like clubs, either, though if there’s an Irish pub in the vicinity, I’ll be more than happy to hang out there, drinking Smithwick’s and singing along with the live band. I’m more likely to be playing Warcraft or reading than going out all the time.

I have several good friends, but unfortunately a lot of them live in different parts of the US. A lot of us went to university about thirty miles from here, but I was the only one who stayed local. Other friends I’ve met online and have formed real-life friendships with as a result.

I have two cats, and I freely admit they rule my life. I suppose I might be a geeky cat-lady, if you want to pin a stereotype on me. Does my self-identification inform my lifestyle? Sure. If I had a husband and kids to take care of, I probably couldn’t spend as much time on Warcraft or playing with the cats. Is my self-identification the sum-total of who I am? No way.

So my challenge to you is this: think about how you self-identify. Does your identity automatically equal lifestyle? Or is it just one of many factors that go into who you are and how you live?

I have to think that it’s no different, regardless of orientation, marital status, financial class, or denomination.

How do you identify?

2 Responses to “That Crazy Singles Lifestyle”

  1. edarnut May 25, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

    First: My mental image of the single lifestyle is basically you. Mainly because I don’t watch TV, and the only singles I know personally are “church singles”.

    If I had to put a name to it, I guess I’d identify as a Nerdy Christian, and that flavors all the other things I am. For example, musician/mom. From college up to when X was born, I guess you could call my lifestyle that of a classical musician: practicing for hours, auditioning, giving lessons, etc. And now my lifestyle is pretty typical SAHM. My college friends seem surprised by my housewifery, and mom friends I’ve met outside of church can’t picture me as a musician. Two different lifestyles, and yet I don’t think my identity has changed. As a nerdy Christian musician, I am far more interested in theory and church music history than in performance. As a nerdy Christian mom, my kids have a far more geeky upbringing than any of their peers, and I try to raise them with a Biblical worldview.

    Not sure if any of that makes as much sense as it does in my mind. It’s hard to keep a train of thought while typing on a phone.

    • SWC May 25, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

      This is fascinating. I’ve seen some of my high school and college friends seem to change when they get married and start having kids. Oddly enough, despite having given the identity/lifestyle question thought from my own perspective, I hadn’t considered the way it affects a wife & mom. Your comment makes me realize that my friends have changed their lifestyle without changing who they are.

      And I know that who you are will definitely affect your kids. My mom is a nature nerd and big-time reader, and she stayed at home with me until I was in middle school. I definitely grew up a nature nerd and big-time reader too. 🙂

      And I know what you mean about typing on a phone! I have a hard time answering long emails or comments on my phone. But you made perfect sense.

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