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Life Arts    H4'ed 7/5/19

The end of gay liberation

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Did that wake him up? The Farewell Symphony was published in 1997, when the first 'cocktail' drugs were developed, and is peppered with ambivalent thoughts, boasting of over 3,000 sexual partners from 1962--1982, though his normal state is angst and loneliness.

None of our friends would have said we were 'obsessed'. That was a word heterosexuals used, or older, envious homosexuals. We thought having sex was a positive good, the more the better. ...

We believed that women held out to force guys into the servitude of marriage, that p*ssy was scarce so men would have to work for it, religion conspired to make men believe they were doing the right thing. We thought that if women were as disinterestedly horny as men, then everyone, straight or gay would be having sex on every street corner.

We were free. Christians had already assigned us to hell just for looking at men. Courtship was a con, again part of female culture. Even love was a suspect word.

If love was suspect, jealousy was foul. We were intent on dismantling all the old marital values, and the worst thing we could be accused of by one of our own was aping the heterosexual model.**

White is clearly of two minds on this Brave New Sexuality. Holleran and Kramer, writing in 1978, are more clearly negative in their assessment of gaylib. In a plea for celibacy, Malone, Holleran's hero in Dancer from the Dance, realized he had ceased to be a homosexual. He realized 'a young man's beauty was an impersonal fact, as impersonal as the beauty of a tree. He watched boys playing soccer and when the game ended he rose and walked away, a calm spirit.'

New/old role of homosexuality in society

Many of White's relationships were/are with younger men/ boys, and (if it's not fictional) his most touching relationship was not sexual at all. He informally adopted his nephew Gabriel, getting him out of an asylum and helping him get on his feet. The family 'instinct' kicked in, and this shows perhaps the most important role gays can play in society: helping broken individuals, casualties of bad marriages, poverty, social injustice.

Another instance of this mentoring/ fatherly role was White's befriending a lonely, slightly neurotic teen, Giovanni, in Venice during his many travels to Italy. He chummed around with Giovanni and his young friends. When Giovanni kept insisting White should have a girlfriend, White told him he preferred men, that he 'felt good with men,' not women.

Giovanni thought about it, then said, 'what a fine pair we make, you with your sickness, me with my mania.

White later reflects:

I never felt good with men; with a gay man I always felt something indefinable was missing, whereas with a woman I knew what was missing: a man.

I could see something had gone out of the friendship for him. I was no longer the simpatico guy who was also a real man, the sort he wanted to become.***

White's satisfaction in both those relationships was not in sex, but in the male friendship, the familial father-son relationship. This is the real, positive 'revolution' which can develop out of the gay personal-social conundrum, and it has more to do with not having sex than having as much as possible.

It helps mitigate the male homosexual's role as the Other. Male homosexuals were/are also a small minority (3-5%) of men, a social 'shadow' which threatens the sacredness of marriage and the character of manliness, just as Jews threaten Christian spirituality. They suffered side-by-side with Jews and witches under Christendom (much less so under Islamic rule) right up until the Nazis, who decided homosexuals were just as bad, in their own way, as Jews, and both should be wiped out. Their fate today-legality, tolerance, outsize prosperity and apartness-parallels that of Jews.

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Eric writes for Al-Ahram Weekly and PressTV. He specializes in Russian and Eurasian affairs. His "Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games", "From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization" and "Canada (more...)

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