National Commentary

Nick Benton’s Gay Science, No. 58: Life, Liberation and Happiness, Pt. 3 – Innocence Armed

Thanks to a swift intervention by GLAAD, a PBS commentator quickly apologized for allowing bigoted comments on his show by a leader of the Family Forum that associated heinous child rape at Penn State with the issue of gay adoptions.

Our gay sensibility – a gay self-identity and new morality that are the focus of this series – is the polar opposite to the abuse charged in that case, which is similar to patterns of what has likely been eons of abuse in the Catholic Church.

Our identity is rooted in our heightened empathy, especially for women and children. Clearly, anyone with that attribute cannot tolerate the kind of cruel rape that is perpetrated by authoritative adults against helpless children, whose psyches are often shattered and crippled for life as a result.

Empathy and compassion have to be stripped away, if there in the first place, from the souls of any who become consumed by the ravenous and perverse passions that fuel relentless abuse.

Through history, since the time of Socrates and Plato, the special role in the natural order of creation that homosexuals play involves standing against the excessive abuses of straight male dominion in defense of women and children. We form the buffer that resists the brutality associated with unbridled rape-like behaviors of male supremacist practitioners. We set up institutions grounded in notions of virtue and compassion to not only protect, but to advance the self-empowerment of the downtrodden.

It is the moral and political enemies of our gay sensibility – our heightened empathy, alternate sensual perspective and constructive non-conformity – that have encouraged through history the kind of male chauvinist anarcho-hedonism that condones, sometimes encourages rape.

This was rampant in the right wing so-called “counterculture” that swept through the fledgling post-Stonewall gay movement in the late 1960s and 1970s, the perverse and twisted offspring of the 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s “superman” and his “will to power.”

Nietzsche’s cosmology involved man’s struggle between Appollonian and Dionysian opposites, between obedience to laws out of a sense of duty and the wanton abandonment of them in the pursuit of pure pleasure. The Nietzschean superman” conquers social convention on behalf of his true self, his Dionysian impulse, his “will to power.”

Such a system justified the worst, most brutal excesses of the 20th century, particularly the rise of fascism in Germany and its systematic genocide of innocents.
It also informed the “counterculture’s” efforts to undermine morally-grounded sensibility with a savage pursuit of relentless, lawless hedonism.

Systematic rape and child abuse were endemic to the so-called “sexual revolution” of that era. It was almost as if the whole movement had been precipitated by predators to alienate the young from their families and then to snare them when they headed to the urban centers for their “summers of love” and yearnings for freedom. I fought against it as long as I could.

In late 1971, I wrote about the German-born author Thomas Mann (1875-1955), who was trapped in the Nietzschean dichotomy when he wrote “Death in Venice” in 1912. It was about the attraction of an older, burnt-out composer to the beauty of Tadzio, a young adolescent Polish boy, during a summer on the beach of Venice. The composer, Aschenbach, became obsessed with the youth’s beauty and manner, and his coy acknowledgments of the older man’s admiration.

But Aschenbach uttered no words to the youth, because he was emotionally trapped between his Apollonean duty and, what he dreamed, a descent into the hellish world of Dionysus. The only resolution was death.

In 1971, when “Death in Venice” was produced as a film by Luchino Visconti, I wrote an essay in the Nov. 11, 1971 Berkeley Barb entitled, “Death in Venice: Plague of Silence.”

“The contradictions between root human feelings and a bondage to a way of speaking and a way of acting which do not represent those feelings is the contradiction of the male experience,” I wrote. “This (is)…the root of gay oppression.”

What Aschenbach “is not free do recognize is that his infatuation is actually subliminal recognition of the youth’s looking-and-not-speaking as the call for help of a fellow human creature falling into the same male-trap (conventional male dominated society-ed.) that has driven him to this point of existential despair.”

“He longs to break through to the youth with a language that doesn’t exist, to ‘save’ him…from being ‘turned under’ in the male world.”

The gay revolution, I wrote, “is now making possible the creation of a new language…a language of liberation, ultimately a language of self-determination, something really new…And with this new language, a genuine recreation of the world in its totality is occurring as the plague of silence is passing away.”

I hailed liberation through a new language of self-determination, against a destiny defined by male dominated culture. I saw gay liberation as empowerment, wielded as a weapon against the prevailing anarcho-hedonism.

To be continued.