National Commentary

Nick Benton’s Gay Science, Part 77: 2 Same-Sex Bonds That Saved America

It is a critical realization that same-sex erotic attraction is a variant within the role that nature has assigned for its organic survival and evolutionary self-sustenance to the altruistic impulse among persons. A recent scientific discovery is revolutionary, that species survival and evolution are not driven only by self-preservation, reproduction and accidental mutation, but also by an altruistic impulse.

Until this discovery, modern Darwinian evolutionary science has dismissed notions of altruism, selfless behavior or love as, effectively, chimeras or extensions of behaviors defined within narrow confinements of “survival of the fittest” and “natural selection” dogma.

Within that, the only explanation for same-sex erotic attraction has been as a corruption or deviation from the reproductive impulse. All modern “sexology” theory over the last 150 years has adopted this core assumption.

As such, this flawed epistemology of “sexology” theory was associated with a current of thought developed in the 19th century as the rise of modern industrialism and imperialism compelled ruling elites to design sociological means to maintain their advantage against much larger bodies of workers and subject peoples and prevent, for example, something like the American revolution from ever happening again.

They sought to isolate persons from each other by promoting theories of anarchy and nihilism, reshaping self-perceptions and individual behaviors away from tendencies to bond together and act on the basis of common interests in social development. A seminal influence for this was German philosopher Max Stirner (1806-1856), a founder of nihilism, existentialism, post-modernism, anarchism and post-structuralists like Michel Foucault.

Stirner’s “The Ego and His Own: The Case of the Individual Against Authority” (1844) shaped similar theories espoused later by the nihilist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) and the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini (1883-1945), demonstrating the cohesion between radical anarchy and fascist dictatorships that represses popular will through totalitarian force.

The psychologist Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), the most influential figure in the “sexology” movement, developed his theories under the umbrella of the same flawed constructs as Stirner and Nietzsche. In his thought, they took the form of a tension between between the Id (in terms taken by Nietzsche from Greek mythology, Dionoysian) and the Ego (Apollonian), or between raw hedonistic selfish impulse and socially-acceptable identity.

But as I established earlier, in terms of Greek mythology, there is a third current, the Promethean, which corresponds to the critical bonding, altruistic influences associated with same-sex attraction that Stirner, Nietzsche, Freud, Mussolini and Foucault denied exists.

Still, our current in fact does exist, and always has, as a substantial reality. In the last century, two powerful manifestations – at least one of a non-erotic variety – can be credited with no less than saving America, defeating tyrannies on two global war fronts and preventing the impact of two world wars and a depression from resulting in tyranny at home.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) and Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962), in tandem the most powerful, unitary influence for good during the entire 20th century, each were beneficiaries of highly influential same-sex bonding experiences.

In H. W. Brands’ “Traitor to His Class: the Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt” (2008), writings by Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels (1862-1948) state that when Daniels first met Roosevelt in 1912 “I thought he was as handsome a figure of an attractive young man as I had ever seen…Franklin and I became friends – a case of love at first sight – for when men are attracted to each other there is born a feeling that Mexicans call ‘simpatica,’ a word that has no counterpart in English.”

Daniels adopted Roosevelt as his Assistant Secretary of the Navy and became his first political sponsor. There is no doubt that Daniels’ self-declared intense emotional attachment with FDR played an indispensable role in the launch of FDR’s career toward the presidency. Daniels stuck with Roosevelt all the way, while also continuing a successful newspaper publishing career in North Carolina and growing a large family.

In Eleanor Roosevelt’s case, the critical same-sex relationship was with Lorena Hickok (1893-1968) during FDR’s 1932 campaign for president and in the touchy years of his first term, including a period when Wall Street sought a fascist military coup against them (Sally Denton, “The Plots Against the President: FDR, a Nation in Crisis and the Rise of the American Right,” 2012).

The intense bond between Eleanor and Lorena, a known lesbian, propelled Eleanor to overcome her shyness and step forward as a revolutionary first lady, as documented by Maurine H. Beasley in her “Eleanor Roosevelt: Transformative First Lady” (2010). Their relationship faded by 1935, but in 1954, Eleanor helped a destitute Lorena financially by co-authoring a book with her, “Ladies of Courage” (1954).

Living on after FDR’s death in 1945, Eleanor spearheaded adoption at the United Nations in 1948 of its “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” perhaps the most important political document in history.

Despite abstentions from the Soviet Bloc countries at the time, it passed all the nations of the world, unanimously.