National Commentary

Nick Benton’s Gay Science, Part 10 This Week: ‘Gay Sensibility’ & Socrates On ‘The Science of Love’

The issue is how a notion of “gay sensibility” can replace or at least be elevated against sexual hedonism as the default paradigm that has prevailed in the gay movement from Stonewall to the present.

The issue is how a notion of “gay sensibility” can replace or at least be elevated against sexual hedonism as the default paradigm that has prevailed in the gay movement from Stonewall to the present.

It is important to consider, when positing that some rough percentage of human populations are naturally born as homosexual, the following: for the vast, vast majority of homosexuals throughout history on this planet, and all over it even at this time, acting out sexually is and has simply not been an option.

These countless souls have had to live out their lives resigned to no sexual component, at least in terms of same-sex, facing penalties of unbearable social ostracism, brutal punishment, torture and death. Only in the tiniest slivers of human history have there been brief exceptions to this, and of course there has never been a period in history comparable to the last 40 years since Stonewall.

But for all history, in what ways have homosexuals managed to manifest their unique identities to their societies?

I propose that, taking sex out of the equation, the term, “sexual orientation” can be substituted for with a valid alternative. The term “orientation” pertains to a disposition, or a vantage point, and can be replaced with “perspective.” The term “sexual,” with sex not an option, can be replaced with “sensual,” maintaining the qualities associated with attraction that leads to sexual desire.

So, we can suggest that homosexuals throughout history have expressed their unique natures not through “sexual orientation,” except rarely, but far more prominently through “sensual perspective,” instead.

Behold, this is completely valid and coherent with qualities of “gay sensibility” as I identified it in earlier segments. The unique “sensual perspective” of homosexuals has informed our poetry, art, music, governance, scientific method and sympathies for the downtrodden and oppressed throughout history.

Our rock-star “founder,” the homosexual Socrates, by way of Plato perhaps the most influential thinker and inventor of scientific method in the history of western civilization, spoke about the dual realities of “sensual perspective” and sexual appetite in the two of Plato’s works most directly addressing homosexuality, “The Symposium” and “Phaedrus.”

In particular, in his second speech in “Phaedrus,” where the allegory of the charioteer and his two conflicting horses is presented, Socrates articulated what he called “the science of love.”

The soul is composed of its winged charioteer and the two horses – one is good and one is not – that he describes as follows:

The first: “The horse that is harnessed on the senior side is up-right and clean-limbed; he holds his neck high, and has a somewhat hooked nose; his color is white, with black eyes; his thirst for honor is tempered by restraint and modesty; he is a friend of genuine renown and needs no whip, but is driven simply by the word of command.”

The second: “The other horse is crooked, lumbering, ill-made; stiff-necked, short-throated, snub-nosed; his coat is black and his eyes a bloodshot gray; wantonness and boastfulness are his companions, and he is hairy-eared and deaf, hardly controllable even with a whip and goad.”

So, said Socrates, “When the charioteer sees the vision of the loved one, so that a sensation of warmth spreads from him over the whole soul and he begins to feel an itching and the stings of desire,” the two horses act in an entirely different way. While the white horse and charioteer are “constrained by a sense of shame,” the black horse “utterly heedless now of the driver’s whip and goad, rushes forward, prancing, and to the great discomfiture of his yoke-fellow and the charioteer, drives them to approach the lad and make mention of the sweetness of physical love.”

Socrates continued the allegory, “At first the two indignantly resist the idea of being forced into such a monstrous wrong-doing, but finally, when they can get no peace, they yield to the importunity of the bad horse and agree to what he bids.”

“So, they draw near, and the vision of the beloved dazzles their eyes. When the driver beholds it the sight awakens in him the memory of absolute beauty…and in so doing inevitably tugs the reigns so violently that he brings both horses down upon their haunches; the good horse gives way willingly and does not struggle, but the lustful horse resists with all his strength.”

Socrates demonstrated that by the charioteer’s ability to restrain the “lustful horse,” he was able to honor the beloved and his beauty with a true and enduring love.

Socrates was pointing toward the kind of “gay sensibility” I have identified, as he contrasted “excellence” to “pleasure” as the foundation of love.

The post-Stonewall gay movement has had the black horse as it core paradigm. The challenge for our future is in our ability to start consciously pulling on its reigns.

(To be continued).