What about Homosexuality?
The rhythms of life manifest themselves in many forms. Seasons have their tide of activity from one extreme to the next, weeks have their surge and fall, and finally, the mailbag swells and then it's empty. From a couple weeks ago, the question "What's your view on homosexuality?" caught my eye.
You know homosexuality has hit the big time when people start talking about it in the same euphemism reserved for "facts of life." When it was fully marginalized, people used words like "sodomy" and "bestiality" and "coprophagia" to describe it instead. So, gays, be thankful: you're now accepted enough to be denied in polite conversation.
There are now enough homosexuals in the West that they represent a powerful political force. The recent public circus over gay marriage shows us how socially and economically powerful the homosexual voting block is. As with most edge groups, they are being encouraged to take up political activism for a generalized ideal that "represents" their "rights," and here they may make a great error.
Our thousand-year tradition of equality in the West has created a culture of "empowerment," where every generation hands over the reigns in part to another group (lepers are next). The commonly-accepted attitude goes, "Why should I care what goes on behind closed bedroom doors?" As long as you pay for your house, it's your castle. This attitude makes partial sense, but denies indirect consequences, yet those are only a problem as long as we insist upon equality itself.
What a maze - let's take it step by step.
Joseph and Trent own a nice little house in a hip neighborhood in Philadelphia. They pay taxes, keep their property clean, and contribute to the local civic group. One day, into their idyllic paradise, moves a character we'll call "the evil Spinoza Ray Prozak." Ray, as his friends call him, has one thing alone on his agenda: chaos, namely the form brought about by heavy marijuana use.
Ray invested well in the dot-com boom and thus can afford a constant stream of high-quality pot. Discounting the illogical illegality of this drug, he's within his rights, much as homosexuals were back in the 1950s when "sodomy" was in most areas taboo. Pot smoking like sodomy is widespread but disproportionately harsh penalties awaited those discovered doing it. To stretch a bit, we can see pot use and homosexuality as analogues: whether voluntary or not, people find them to be important parts of their lives.
Ray is a terrible neighbor. He doesn't endorse crime, but the people who come to visit him are careless and leave waste on the street. He doesn't upkeep his house to community standards, so it sticks out like a grungy, patchouli-reeking, grease-smeared thumb. He's too stoned to find the local civic group meeting, much less participate. And clearly he doesn't share the community values of hard work and sobriety. But since he can pay for his house, he's within his rights.
None of the citizens see him smoking pot, but they seem him every day stumbling around, red-eyed, unable to find his newspaper or figure out how to start his car. You tell the kids, well, Ray's different, and we'll tell you more when you're 18. Thus this neighborhood, which exists only in our minds, receives its first taboo: can't talk about Ray even when he hauls off and heads to the local Shop'n'Sack and buys 40 boxes of day-old creme-filled donuts at half-price.
It's all behind closed doors, but Ray has changed the neighborhood in two ways. First, you have to make the decision to tolerate his legal but out of bounds behavior, or to make it a hush-hush taboo that will make your kids haul off to buy pot when they're old enough to find it. After all, behind taboo hide many secrets, and behind secrets often knowledge of great power, so kids by nature explore taboo. Second, you have to decide what to do when other people of Ray's persuasion arrive, since they now know the neighborhood will tolerate them.
Fast forward: sixteen years later, about 40% of the neighborhood are stoners. There is no outward effect, except for slightly dingy houses, but you now can't say "fuck the stoners!" in daylight as that will alienate 40% of your customers. If they boycott you, you're out of business when a competitor appears. So now we're stoner tolerant, and we all try to ignore the fact that 40% of our neighbors are in another world and won't notice violent crime, house fires, alien invasions or anything else taboo against the social order.
To veer back onto topic, most "normal" people can be called "normal" because their needs are normal. They like having a job where they're important. They want to have a wife and kids, and a nice little house or apartment where they can relax on weekends. They want a couple hobbies, and a safe retirement, but basically their needs aren't excessive, barring the occasional large 4x4 truck they buy in obliviousness to all reason. This is normalcy.
In the mindset these people have, stoners and homosexuals aren't welcome on their block. They'd like to raise their kids without having to either explain around homosexuality ("Trent's different") or de facto endorse it for their still-forming kids, more of whom will then likely end up at least experimenting with it. They'd also like to not have to tolerate more than a few stoners, for the same reasons. You don't raise your kids to see constant psychedelic drug use as normal, do you? That places them farther from normal reality, which is live, spawn, and die, and try to do it as ethically and comfortably as possible.
If we accept modern liberal democracies at face value, there are two ways this can go. Either society as a whole decides homosexuality and stonerism are not part of the plan, and makes them illegal along with fascism, heroin use, child molestation and nuclear weapons, or society the golden child of our collective wisdom opts to "tolerate" these behaviors, and them become de facto endorsed. It's a slippery slope. One year you tell kids Ray's just different, and two decades later the stoner lobby has "and it's OK to take psychedelic drugs as a life quest" inserted into your textbooks.
I feel for both parties here. Quite frankly, in the same way I've known some enlightened skinheads, I've known many cool gay people, many of whom were close friends whose memories are still sacred to me. I have been a stoner and known many cool stoners, although stoner "culture" is dogshit garbage for people of bored housewife mentality, empty and neurotic and looking for "profundity" in the Other. But ultimately, I don't blame normals for not wanting stoners or gays around. It's not in their plan, and they shouldn't be forced to "tolerate" (not act against, but not like it) either behavior.
In 1650s England, there was a popular saying, probably derived of medieval times and updated for the newly politicized language of the post-Christian neo-Industrial era, which was, "One law for the ox and the raven is tyranny." It doesn't get more clear than that to me; not all people are described by the same one-size-fits-all approach of modern society; while it's handy for Christianity, bureaucracy, and industry, this view destroys what makes humans in part beautiful: we operate chaotically, in parallel, attacking every question from many angles (including behind), and thus are able to solve problems we can't even yet describe. Or we can, when we're not neurotic as a culture.
Swing the camera to Houston, TX, perhaps the last place you expect mentioned in an essay about homosexuality. Cows, oil fields, and rabid conservative Christians. Before all of this, however, there was simple common sense. And starting in the 1950s, Houston found a solution to the gay situation which didn't injure either party. Back then, either by tolerance or tacit agreement, city elders allowed the Montrose neighborhood to become a gay mecca.
They did this so that in Katy, Texas, and Meyerland, and River Oaks and in Spring, the two percent of the population who are naturally gay in any group would not have to put up with discrimination, and so that anti-discrimination, one of the greatest forms of oppression ever devised, was not forced onto those same "normal" people requiring that they "tolerate" homosexuality or be jailed or shot. It was literally, a separate law for the ox and the raven.
You could drive, starting in Katy, TX, for nearly two hours through verdant, traditional, pious and orderly subdivisions without finding a stoner or a fag the entire time. Most of the people there were devout Christians, although the source of their spiritual wisdom came from something much earlier, a simple belief that life was worth living and that trusting in nature ("God") led to good things, so you didn't try to destroy nature and rebuild it, but you living it and gave praise each day for the holiness of life itself. You could even get me to read the Bible if that's what Christianity was about, but it's a religion with a foreign element that has absorbed the belief I describe above, and until that schism is resolved it will forever be equal parts poison and wisdom.
After your long, comfortable, pleasant drive, you'd think: what a nice, quiet, "conservative" town. And then you'd come to the Montrose. That subdivision, existing between downtown and the trendy arts and cosmopolitan communities serving as its outlying area, was a gay paradise. Ornate bars, restaurants, shops and saloons catered to gay people and were unabashed in their endorsement of that lifestyle ("Parking in front. Entry in rear."). There was no shame, nor any need; this was the place determined by leaders to be the area where being completely over the top gay was acceptable, and where being ultra-conservative and religious wasn't looked up favorably. If you wanted Joseph Smith's empire, you went elsewhere, just as gays in John Wesley's neighborhoods went to the Montrose.
Returning to the stoner example, I'd like to see something similar, for the good of both stoners and the world at large. Call me a hypocrite, but I don't want to raise my kids around drugs that even I used regularly. Their path in life will be different than mine, and I don't want to brainwash them with anything except the basic philosophies and cultures of their tribe. To "tolerate" stoners would be to introduce an unnecessary secret into the lives of children, and to force them to have some mental process for "tolerating" stonerdom and the taboo that it causes.
Ultimately, this is my politics on homosexuality, because as far as my own opinions go, who cares? I'm not gay and wouldn't know dick (sorry) about it. If I had to give you a view from the het perspective, it'd be this: to most of us, what gays do seems repulsive, because for us to submit to sex or to have sex with another of our same gender would be a nullification. It's different for gays, in the same way that men and women have different views on sex. In my view, that's natural, and both groups can coexist provided they separate the activities that divide them.
This is why third-graders will always call each other "fag," and why there will always be jokes about unfavorable political leaders taking it in the ass from democratic candidates: if you're trying to be hetero, engaging in sodomy is failure. Note however that I said sodomy, and not homosexuality; they're separate. In my experience, homosexuality means literally loving the same gender, and not every homosexual is one of the promiscuous drug-addled club kids that sometimes stumble into 59 Diner late at night.
I've had several close friends who were homosexual in my life, and in my view, what they mostly craved was a loving relationship like everyone else - and, not surprisingly, they also sought serial monogamy and didn't engage in any extreme acts. There are also promiscuous queers. However, I think there are "fake queers" as well - people who are essentially addicted to sex, or what some might call "perverts," e.g. having an unnatural appetite for it. I see these as similar to swingers, prostitutes or other sexually out of control people, in that it's like heroin addiction: the drug takes over your life. People of this nature often opt for homosexuality because it's convenient, in their view.
There are also people who are obsessed with power, specifically the power one gets being a dominating force in the anus of another person. These are usually "bisexual" in that they don't care who it is as long as they make that person subservient. Prison sex might be a good example. It's violence translated into sexual form, and whether it's born of frustration as a Judeo-Christian psychologist might surmise, or an innate tendency, well, it doesn't matter now. This is separate from what I see as homosexuality, which is a desire for the same gender, which translates into loving and having sex with the same gender.
Homosexuality proper, or what I am referring to above as "real" homosexuality, is part of the grand design of nature, and generally occurs most frequently among animals that live in groups. Much as roughly half of all children born are male, and half female, it occurs mathematically in some percentage between 2-5% of each population, and in my view helps that population by creating individuals who are not sexually competitive. They thus gain in lieu of raising families a massive amount of time and energy they devote to the civilization around them, usually among humans in the form of art or cultural work. In other species, they tend to aid in childbearing. It's like surrogate parenting for all of humanity.
Some would argue that natures uses homosexuality to nullify some who have unworkable genetic combinations, perhaps including things like congenital organ defects, and this may be true, in some of the cases. But in others, it's like getting a brother and sister at once, and if you've ever been in a large family, you can imagine how helpful it is to have someone around to help everyone else instead of spending its time on its own offspring. This is a smart design.
In the linear Judeo-Christian worldview, one law applies to us all, and thus homosexuals have to be either 100% accepted or 100% classified as perverts. One law for us all is "equality," but my experience says that nature is rarely so absolute. There's a place for all types of people (but not everyone - we're overpopulated and should kill the 95% least capable in character, strength and intelligence) on this earth, although mixing the groups always causes internal division that results in compromise and degeneracy. One law for the ox, and one law for the raven; one neighborhood for stoners, and one for gays, and the rest for "normal" people living normal lives. Maybe this isn't a perfect solution, but it beats polite denial in conversation.
December 7, 2004