National Commentary

Nick Benton’s Gay Science, No. 29 This Week: A Recapitulation of My Argument

My argument in these installments is to establish that what primarily defines what society calls us as “homosexuals” lies beyond, or prior to, the domain or erotic same-sex attraction and behaviors, per se, and is found in those ubiquitous evidences in the chronicles of Western civilization as a unique “gay sensibility,” an alternate perspective and a constructive non-conformity.

My argument in these installments is to establish that what primarily defines what society calls us as “homosexuals” lies beyond, or prior to, the domain or erotic same-sex attraction and behaviors, per se, and is found in those ubiquitous evidences in the chronicles of Western civilization as a unique “gay sensibility,” an alternate perspective and a constructive non-conformity.

It is in the areas of creative contributions to all the arts and sciences, including the art of politics, that this unique identity’s stamp is seen most clearly.

It is also my argument, in this context, that “homosexuality” is not an aberration or chance of nature, but that it is built into the very fabric of the unfolding of the universe. It is a dissymmetry whose role is to shatter an inertia derived of the simple, dominant binary male-female-reproduction-survival nature of things in favor of not merely the survival, but the progress and advance of the species.

In other words, “homosexual” passion is directed toward a different kind of procreation, one which advances the pursuit of beauty, justice, knowledge and truth, which are different facets of the same thing.

The “poetic principle” at the core of this special role is reflected in Plato’s assertion, “Poetry is near to vital truth than history.”

Insofar as it is the inherent role of “homosexuals” to shatter the cultural status quo wherever their influence can be felt, they become easy targets of angry, brutal repression and isolation, especially when the status quo is a male dominated cultural model.

That’s because, among other things, to the extent it is the natural inclination of “homosexuals” to manifest thirst for justice and to affirm the essential humanity of all, they tend to side with the oppressed, including women, orphans and the downtrodden, those whose exploitation males in male domination cultures feed upon to buoy their social roles.

Therefore, just as “homosexuals” are defined by their DNA, so to speak, it is also true that heterosexual males defined in terms of domination over women and military enemies, have it built into their biological memories, their DNA, to hate and seek to hurt “homosexuals.”

Ultimately, the only way for “homosexuals” to be freed from this oppression, therefore, is for their influence to be felt in society, along with women and other oppressed groups, so strongly that the paradigm of male domination is overthrown in the culture once and for all.

It is not by receiving “equal rights” that this is accomplished, although gains on that front may reflect progress toward the ultimate liberation of “homosexuals” and all persons from the repressive male chauvinist social paradigm.

“Equal rights” and attitudes of “tolerance” can be reversed swiftly in any situation where male dominion still rules, and the most unfortunate approach “homosexuals” can take overall is to attempt assimilation and accommodation to that dominant culture by announcing things such as, “We’re just like you, except for who we sleep with.”

This is why, from the beginning of the modern gay liberation movement in the developments that surrounded the Stonewall Riots of 1969, I and others with me in the San Francisco area fought to forge alliances with avant garde feminist and civil rights activists to take on “The Man,” the culture that was resisting gains so ferociously of minority, labor, women’s and gay rights, and was sending its own young (mostly) sons to jungles halfway around the world where over 50,000 of them died for oil.

I lost two friends in Vietnam. I “came out” as a “homosexual” in part for that reason. Awakening to the consummate evil of militaristic male dominated culture marked the single the most important event in my life.

With the veil of secrecy lifted away from “homosexuals,” removing the crippling duplicity we were forced to internalize, liberated an internal integrity in us all and sprung a heretofore never-experienced potential for a full, unrestrained explosion of “gay sensibility” on society.

Unfortunately, that potential has not yet been realized. While the indestructible creative spirit of “homosexuals” has continued to stumble forward, an unabated descent into radical hedonistic behavior overwhelmed our infant liberation, diverting attention away from the many salutary ways in which “homosexuals” were better poised than ever to transform society, and instead causing careers and aspirations to be cast overboard in favor of gratuitous excesses of sex.

But as Oscar Wilde’s hedonistic character Dorian Gray came to learn, “Pleasure and happiness are not the same thing.”

The consequence of the wanton abandonment to sex was, unfortunately, the AIDS epidemic and the deaths of over 600,000 in the U.S. so far, and globally more like 33 million. The epidemic, and the rising death tolls, are far from over, here or abroad.

So, the “homosexual” cause still awaits a definition and call grounded in the unique gay sensibility, perspective and constructive non-conformity that are at the core of our being.

To be continued.