Saturday, August 03, 2019


Like "Indians", who are both a reality and a concept, "gays" are everywhere and nowhere except in people's minds.  Accuracy doesn't apply.  it is intensity of story value that keep the ideas alive.  But also the factor of "ubiquity" is a silent factor.  Someone explained the word to me by saying, "it's like chairs -- they're everywhere, but they're not the same."  (in French, "le chair" means flesh.)

So the story goes that when the management of the UUA had a meeting at which they decided to pay attention to the "gay" point of view, which they assumed meant someone "not them" because they were all standard successful USA people.  "We should look for someone who is gay to be on this committee," they said, assuming there would be a different point of view, an activist.  

"It's not necessary," mildly advised the competent manager of the book store.  "I'm gay."  UU's (the right kind anyway) love to catch themselves out and laugh about it.  When one of their youngest, most handsome, and brightest ministers -- a legacy from a much respected senior minister -- turned out to be gay and died of AIDS, they were quieter but there was no outcry against it one way or the other.  It was more sophisticated to be stoic.  Or maybe they thought that sorting and labeling ministers was devil's work.  More accurately, everything changed.

"Indians" are trying to point out their variousness across place and time as well as claiming assimilation that erases boundaries.  And then they turn around and try to find what is in common to them all, something to justify a common class demand for reparation.  Both are legitimate and vital concerns.  Some of it is genetic, but "being Indian" is not genetic or it would be simple to drop the "blood quantum" fractionating idea and go to DNA alleles in the blood.  They simply don't correlate.

"Gay" as defined genetically seems to be a vague socially described category but correlates to some degree to an innate gender identity (to the extent that sexuality is still binary rather than a range of fluid felt identity).  The problem is that sex identity has been taken as a function of the flesh, the apparent nature of the genitals, though that may not match the capacity to be fertile.  Sexual desire doesn't match genitals and fertility doesn't mean the internal apparatus and molecular ability to carry and support a conceptus for nine months so that it turns out to be a normal baby.

The binary of male/female in terms of sexual desire is imposed, not real.  Like gender roles, desire can come and go, be intense in one person and weak in the next, be affected by experience or necessity, and come up against the environment both in terms of social options and in terms of raw availability of the ingredients of hormonal responsiveness, the needed molecules.

But there are many other factors to think about than just how to group men who desire sex with other men.  (Sex is too fuzzy and mixed with love of children in women, though some "men" will contest that.)  Those who deal with body-fluid diseases go to behavior:  MSM instead of "gay."  But one's self-understanding has a lot to do with behavior.

When the category of "gay" was invented it was seen as world-wide and historically eternal.  But it plays out many ways and like any social monolith, it is full of splits along natural lines.  There are plate tectonics.  Age always creates differences.  Gender differences are seen differently, so that high class Brits of a certain age may see MSM as not just entitled but a privilege of status.  But others may link MSM to obscenity, degradation and practices not advised by promoters of good health.  To some it may seem futuristic and progressive and to others it may be proof of degeneracy.  Some may see gay as entitled to be as het-like as possible, while others see it as not just license but also near-obligation to be the opposite, free to be their own.

Gay people and those who think about gay men tend to preserve whatever  assumptions they had about gender roles, so that much of the outrage of fathers over gay sons is the loss of an inheriting generation -- which neglects the capacity of gay men to fertilize women.  In societies that oppress women and define them as owned by men, there is fear that the same het behavior will be imposed on a gay man.  Such attitudes justify the abuse and torture of gays, both because it's punishment and because women and children are considered proper targets for rage.

A continuum that is constantly forced into a binary that justifies criminalization is that of the older, more powerful man in relationship with a child.  (Michael Jackson is on trial again, though he is dead.)  One end of the continuum is the father, the physician or psychiatrist or minister who saves, the knight and his squire, the teacher and the student, and on the other end is another split between the lover and the oppressor.  Surely it is reasonable to think there are a multitude of possibilities, some named and some not.  They are as possible in the "het" context as in the "homo" one.

In fact, violence to the point of death is one end of another continuum.  The capacity of the human body to interpret pain as pleasure -- a continuum from popping pimples to fisting -- complicates everything even more, as does the element of secrecy at one end of the spectrum that ends in public humiliating torture death.  Some can hardly think of it and others can think of nothing else.  Our suppression of knowledge through the use of taboos means that we don't realize girlish presentation and a man's desire for a man are not the same thing.  Leather Lit ought to have put paid to the idea that to be gay is to be weak and foppish.

We may have a hunger for a plain, direct, simple being without all this drama, this operatic  -- wait.  Is this stuff the source of opera?  Would we want to be straight, vanilla, conventional?  Would we be so interested in stories if they weren't so intricate, so shaded, so mind-bending?  Can hets be as extravagant and creative as gays?

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