National Commentary

Nick Benton’s Gay Science Part 12 This Week: ‘Gay Sensibility’ as a Gift of Nature

I have introduced two novel, reasonably grounded concepts over the course of these columns, the notions of “gay sensibility” and “sensual perspective,” that harbor the potential to elevate the gay movement beyond the tenacious clutches of sexual hedonism that has dogged it for 40 years or more.

I have introduced two novel, reasonably grounded concepts over the course of these columns, the notions of “gay sensibility” and “sensual perspective,” that harbor the potential to elevate the gay movement beyond the tenacious clutches of sexual hedonism that has dogged it for 40 years or more.

In the YouTube video of White House staff members encouraging young gay and lesbian people that “It Gets Better,” in the wake of last fall’s spate of bully-driven student suicides, all of them testify about how they felt themselves to be “different” at very early stages in their lives, even before they were aware of how such differences should be defined.

This corresponds with my own childhood experience and those of countless other homosexuals I have talked with and read about over the years.

That “difference” is what I call a “gay sensibility,” and it is more pervasive for one’s personality than sexual orientation, usually preceding it. This, and not sexual orientation alone, is the central, defining feature of homosexuals.

From a scientific perspective, “gay sensibility” shows up routinely in human societies as dominant among a minority of persons. Indeed, it is an outgrowth of nature’s creative process that has dissymmetry, not symmetry, as its core.

As symmetry, or equilibrium, leads to stasis, or idleness, it cannot account for the dynamic unfolding of creation. So, there must be a basic dissymmetric element to creation, which energizes a binary universe to grow, expand and develop. In philosophical terms, it is analogous to the active communicating component of a dialectic form of reasoning that advances knowledge.

The binary system of human species development is the distinction between its male (testosterone-based) and female (estrogen-based) components. But this system requires a dynamic bridge element to progress, and this element is comparable to the notion of “gay sentiment.”

It is the component that tempers the otherwise stark distinction between the pure male and pure female parts, allowing for nurture and growth, fending off the extremes of dominance and submission otherwise inherent. It is a vital, indispensable component of creation, itself.

Therefore, the person who finds him or herself to harbor a rich, defining portion of “gay sensibility” actually bears a special role in creation, and as such is the bearer of a special gift, not only in terms of one’s own identity, but to society, as a whole.

“Gay sensibility” is a special gift. It is a gift that cannot be returned, as much as many may wish it could. It can be squandered, erased or almost destroyed, but remains a natural gift, nonetheless.

We with a “gay sensibility” are not only capable of loving and caring for persons of our own gender in ways that those without it can’t match, but we also have a unique capacity to love and care for persons of the opposite sex, because we do not measure such persons from the standpoint of dominion, procreation and society’s structures for perpetuating these. “Gay sensibility” empowers us with a unique capacity to love all persons regardless of gender, in a compassionate, empathetic way.

Naturally, such sentiments become co-mingled with the complex mysteries of erotic arousal, but for the self-actualized person, while these are powerful, legitimate and drive a longing and pursual of reciprocal romantic relationships, they do not overwhelm a positive sense of personhood to fundamentally interfere with the creative vocations pursued to put a “gay sentiment” to best use in the world.

It was fitting that in his remarks on the occasion of signing the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” into law last week, President Obama cited the case of a gay World War II soldier’s life-saving bravery.

During a firefight in the Battle of the Bulge, Obama recounted, “a private named Lloyd Corwin tumbled 40 feet down the deep side of a ravine. Dazed and trapped, he was as good as dead. But one soldier, a friend, turned back. With shells landing around him, amid smoke and chaos and the screams of wounded men, this soldier, this friend, scaled down the icy slope, risking his own life to bring Private Corwin to safer ground.”

Obama went on, “For the rest of his years, Lloyd credited this soldier, this friend, named Andy Lee, with saving his life, knowing he would never have made it out alone.”

Forty years later, he added, Corwin learned that Andy Lee was gay. “Lloyd has no idea,” he reported, “And he didn’t much care. Lloyd knew what had kept him alive; what made it possible for him to come home and start a family and live the rest of his life. It was his friend.”

This was a beautiful, real life account of “gay sensibility” in action. Clearly, it is not only those with that great gift who can perform such selfless acts of courage and love, but for us, it is our signature, it’s why we’re here.

(To be continued)