I watched the first part of Stephen Fry’s new project, going around the world & arguing with homophobes. His sourest interview was with a member of the Ugandan parliament, an ex-catholic priest, who now headed a directorate for public ethics; immediately he insisted he would be intolerant of any attempt by Fry to persuade him, a definite presumption of his own attractiveness, for starters. Nor was there any residue of christian loving kindness in his world view. In fact he reminded me of a Sydney lesbian minister of the Uniting Church, who insisted she would not engage in any discussion based on actual biblical quotations. I know, the devil quotes the good book to his own ends. But getting away from the stuff on which all this christian activity is based takes you so far away from anything tangible. Yes, it is easy to make nonsense of the passage in Leviticus that condemns same sex activity; I find it curious that this set of verses condemns adultery twice as often as gay sex, make of that what you will.
Stephen Fry attempted to use the argument that sodomy is practised more often by heteros than gays; I’ve heard that too. But the statistics would be fiendishly difficult to collect. Who would admit to bum fucking as a cottage method of contraception?
I like Sigmund Freud’s theory that all men are born gay but some develop away from it, while others stay in that mindset. It’s a theory for those fundamentalists who won’t accept it when gays say we were born gay.
The first thing I would say about the formation of sexual identity is that heterosexual men are curiously insecure in the presence of the other. I think there is a robust racial memory of ancient Graeco-Roman culture, when it was accepted that heroic, masculine men loved each other; their business with women was entirely domestic and only involved perpetuating the line. I’ve worked in lower middle class industries like rail transport, where men were male oriented socially; their jobs did not involve interacting with women. Ok, they were married to women but they would get alco-woosy at work on a Satee night and playfully grope each other. When we consider the hermetically isolated areas of male society: prison, sport, warfare. The rate at which men who previously were attracted to women are diverted to sexual relationships with other men, when women are no longer available, is a phenomenon worth serious study. Unfortunately, what it says about the strength of hetero equality is an unpalatable message.
The worst feature of this malleability of male desire is within marriage, when the wife having had several children, no longer wants to continue sexual relations with her husband; he, feeling betrayed by her refusal turns to his children and develops loving, sexual feelings for them, irrespective of their gender.
What I continue to return to, after being confronted with such unpleasant homophobes as those on Fry’s doco, is a realisation arrived at in the late 1990’s by queer theoreticians who met with Vatican and Islamic fundamentalists. These latter groups, in attempting to assert the primacy of the male-female paradigm, began to assert that gays and lesbians were really the third and forth genders, and transgendered folk were fifth and sixth and so forth; the only response to such an attempt at re-classification of the natural order, so-called, is to assert that the LBGT communities are in fact distinct and discreet species, agreed; on that basis, all the syndromes that Freud and Jung devised to structure hetero-sexual pathology such as oedipal complexes and so forth needed to be expanded. The relationship between a hetero male parent and his developing lesbian daughter needed an entirely new structure, different entirely from any hetero patterning. We as a community and a species were not merely a warped reflection of our hetero parents and their world. Now that we have stepped forward and declared the name of our love, our relationships and inevitably the occasional pathologies need their distinct taxonomy.
The other thing that was patently obvious from the frankly embarrassing spectacle of an immature ex catholic priest, minimally cloaking his prejudice with a rhetoric of public order and condemnation of propaganda, was that such a homophobe felt no need in his life to examine his own behaviour. He had no intention to listen to the enemy; there was little value in interacting with such immaturity. Even being confronted with the endemic African practise of “corrective rape”, where a hetero male rapes a lesbian to correct her sexual appetite, had little effect on his attitude.
That depends on whether he can be believed. Given the country’s poverty and lack of infrastructure, homophobia is simply an effective screen for political incompetence or insincerity. Next week’s interview with Vitaly, deacon of the Russian Orthodox church, member of parliament and public spokesman for neo-fascist groups who lure and physically victimise gay men, will be even more unpleasant.
Then Fry turned to the first world, to where gay rights began, in Los Angeles. Actually its beginnings were in Germany. In LA, he found a psychological counsellor who engaged with gays to reverse their orientation; in an unguarded moment he described the process as a “CURE”. Another, equally polite man was engaged in helping actors to “butch up”, my words. An English, ex-member of a boy band, now an actor, felt he needed help to americanise himself; I understand the process. In my mid 20’s I felt my voice was often too high; once in an anonymous encounter with a footballer who was demanding I be the “top” & he the bottom, thank you Cole Porter, my orgasmic noises were not grunts but high pitched squeals, which disconcerted him immensely. He was a man of iron-clad muscles, unpleasantly so, a man who exuded anger, sdoubtless because his sexual preference was the opposite of his physical and presumably self image. Irrational & strange. Finally my friends persuaded me that my voice was naturally boyish, when I managed to relax my vocal chords, that there was no need to artificially deepen my voice, but that I should lose the situational stress and anxiety of my internalised homophobia. Adjustment is a difficult process.