[This essay first appeared at the old Palace Of Reason, on August 13, 2004. I chose to reprint it today in light of the unusual degree of attention Mark Butterworth's post A Distasteful Subject has been getting. As usual when sexual mores and conduct are the topics, I expect disagreement – but given the facts, I don't expect to be refuted -- FWP]
0. Foreword / Warning
I intend to tackle a contentious topic today. I expect that what I'm about to say will provoke a great deal of passionate disagreement, even though I can't see how there could be an honest argument about it. Even Palace readers who normally find themselves in agreement with me might be offended by much of what they read here -- not because it's factually incorrect, but because of the subject matter and the amount of acrimony that surrounds it.
The subject is male homosexuality, its objective characteristics, its current position in the national psyche, and the consequences of the historically recent changes in our attitudes toward it. The trigger for the essay was the resignation of New Jersey Governor James McGreevey yesterday, and the discussion swirling around it.
1. The McGreevey Announcement.
When Governor McGreevey announced his resignation yesterday, he simultaneously declared himself to be homosexual and an adulterer. His wife and two children were with him as he delivered his statement, which implies that in some sense or another he had their "support" in his decision. Yet it's plain from his statements that his decades as a married man were lived in a sham, and that his wife -- the second of two -- could not expect him to return to normal marital conditions of heterosexuality and fidelity, even if she wanted it.
Why did she choose to give him any support?
Not knowing Mrs. McGreevey or anything about her, it would be unfair for me to speculate. But many a wife in her position would feel an obligation to stand by her husband, not from loyalty to the marital bond he had sundered, but from the inculcated sense that homosexuals are somehow oppressed persons, not responsible for their condition, and are owed an unusual degree of acceptance and support for those two reasons, as a matter of right.
Later we will explore the legal and political usefulness of McGreevey's declaration in his particular circumstances. For the moment, it's enough to note that any woman in Mrs. McGreevey's position would be under a certain pressure to present an appearance of support for her husband, despite the callousness he'd shown her and her children by betraying them in this particular way.
2. Changes From Political Pressure.
Until about fifty years ago, homosexual behavior was absolutely illegal almost everywhere in the world. That had been the case throughout recorded history. It's never been a pleasant subject with heterosexuals. In particular, the practices of male homosexuals -- anal intercouse, sometimes called buggery -- have revulsed countless generations, whether the reasons were analytical, visceral, or religious.
The contrast between those earlier attitudes and today's posture of aseptic deference toward the "gay lifestyle" is almost too great to comprehend. What was once a felony offense is now a protected practice. Indeed, to be a homosexual is to have an array of special legal recourses to various occurrences -- "discriminations" -- that heterosexuals cannot use.
The change speaks eloquently of the tremendous persistence and efficacy of homosexual political activists. Despite a number of developments which, objectively, would have been expected to increase heterosexuals' revulsion toward them, they've achieved a superior, even a dominant position in American society. They exert exceptional influence in entertainment, communications, the arts, fashion, and other areas of enterprise. They also wield a heavy cudgel against anyone who dares to criticize them in any way, despite the pronounced gracelessness their leading lights show toward heterosexuals, their sensitivities, and their concerns.
3. Medical Considerations.
Yet what are the specific consequences of male homosexual sodomy?
Probably the least arguable consequences are the medical ones. Homosexuals suffer from an array of ailments which heterosexuals are largely spared. The most publicized one, AIDS, remains an incurable fatal disease that can be managed to some degree with drugs, but which will eventually claim every sufferer's life. Others range from a propensity toward hepatitis to bowel infections, dangerously delicate hemorrhoids, and anal incontinence.
The result of homosexuals' vulnerability to these maladies is a shortened average lifespan. The average age at death of those whose obituaries appear in homosexual periodicals with significant circulations is age 48 -- a twenty-six year deficit in comparison to the average male heterosexual. (In evaluating this statistic, one must remember that these data might not represent homosexuals in general.) Of course, conditions other than purely medical ones undoubtedly affect that statistic, but there can be little doubt that disease plays a large part.
4. Psychological Considerations.
Several psychologists and psychiatrists of my acquaintance report an over-representation of male homosexuals among their patients. It would appear that homosexuals are far more frequently clinically depressed than heterosexuals. Suicide statistics controlled for sexual orientation are hard to get, but there are indicators that homosexuals are more prone to death by suicide than heterosexuals as well.
Why should this be, given the acceptance homosexuals have attained from society at large, and their relative success in various well remunerated and respected fields of endeavor?
Part of the answer might be low self-regard. Homosexuals appear to deal badly with the knowledge that they're outside the norm, can't reproduce naturally, and are prone to so many unusual ills. This is part of the reason for much outrageous homosexual camping and flaunting -- flamboyant dress and mannerisms, and unusual speech patterns -- which are forms of overcompensation for the sense of deviance. It also helps to explain the scorn and insult many homosexuals heap upon "breeders," a frequently used term for heterosexuals.
This makes for a stunning irony when juxtaposed to homosexual activists' loud, strident demands to be accepted as "normal," but that's a subject for another essay.
5. Identity And Bonding.
Though homosexuals routinely claim that they were "born that way" -- i.e., had no choice about being homosexual -- few would allow that, had they been given a choice, they would have preferred to be heterosexual. The statement would draw charges of "disloyalty" or "self-hatred." More, the suggestion that at least some homosexuals can have their orientations reversed through therapy is universally met with denunciation, and is routinely categorized as "hate speech."
Matters grow still more bizarre when we include the peripheral behavior that's prevalent among male homosexuals, but at least in theory ought to have nothing to do with sexual orientation or bonding. A substantial fraction of avowed homosexuals are obsessed with sex, with sexual promiscuity, and with sexual performance (consider the prevalent use of amyl nitrite "poppers" to boost orgasmic intensity). Bondage, sadomasochism, fisting and scatophilia correlate very strongly with homosexuality. All these things increase the risks associated with the homosexual orientation, and the revulsion felt toward them by heterosexuals.
Yet despite all this, homosexual activists promote the idea that homosexuality is an allegiance like unto an allegiance of nationality, deserving of loyalty beyond such attachments as conventional nationality or political alignment. They've demanded that we all accept that "gay is good."
But it is not good, at least if we judge by the medical and psychological consequences of homosexuality.
6. The Marriage Debate.
At this time, there's probably no more contentious issue in popular political discourse than that of same-sex marriage. The fury of the debate over it seems only to grow greater with each argument advanced, whether for or against...though, given the psychological milieu delineated above, perhaps that ought not to surprise us.
Marriage is the fundamental building block of any civilization. Society is not made up principally of individuals, but of families. The evidence for this proposition is all around us, yet its very ubiquity has somehow caused it to be ignored.
(A quick tangent: Here we see another of the reasons homosexuals are inherently marginal players in the social game. Homosexuality makes it extremely difficult to participate in the extension of one's family's forward influence, entirely because of reproductive considerations. The family tree tends not to extend through a homosexual node. The heterosexual lines always show more dynamism and forward extension. But this is properly the subject of a separate essay.)
The marriage contract is in no way relevant to homosexual relationships, which are formed by presumedly economic equals, involve no possibility of conception, and therefore appear to present no areas for contract enforcement. None of the natural motivators for the marital contract apply to same-sex couples. Despite that, homosexuals are agitating for access to the institution of marriage as if everything about their political movement depended on it. (Perhaps that's really the case; we'll get there shortly.)
Stanley Kurtz and others have gathered evidence to the effect that the legitimization of same-sex marriage does great harm to the institution among heterosexuals. In particular, it correlates strongly with a large increase in illegitimacies. Kurtz's thesis is that same-sex marriage is the final severance between marriage and reproduction; it gives rise to the conviction that child-bearing and child-rearing are entirely irrelevant to marriage. As a result, births out of wedlock, with all the instabilities that pertain thereto, have surged in those countries that have extended marital recognition to same-sex couples. The domestic stability and overall well-being of children has been substantially degraded as a result.
But why do homosexuals want the legal status of marriage? The question is no sooner asked than answered. If society really is assembled from families rather than from individuals, marital recognition for homosexuals would imply full participation of homosexual couples in society, both in its perpetuation and its general enterprise. But don't expect to find those considerations among the arguments of same-sex marriage activists. Their arguments are all about "choosing your family" and access to irrelevancies such as hospital visiting privileges. Not one ever addresses the question of what marriage was really designed for, or why historically recent changes in family planning technology, family law, and social norms have caused it to weaken.
If admission of homosexual couples to marital status would have the consequences Kurtz proposes, we should take a long hard look at the matter before watering down the definition of marriage to admit homosexuals...but this is not generally happening.
Cowardice is the most important single factor in all public discussions of homosexuality. Otherwise fearless people have been intimidated out of giving their sincere opinions of homosexual behavior, its risks, and the costs it imposes on its practitioners. Heterosexuals have been inhibited against expressing their disgust over gay bathhouses, leather bars, fisting, bug chasing, and homosexual sadomasochism. They even fear to say that they find homosexuals threatening to their children, despite the mountains of evidence that homosexuals (NAMBLA, "Butterfly Kisses") actively try to draw the young into their world. This, despite the infinite opprobrium heaped upon heterosexual exploitation of children!
The engine of this fear for the private citizen is disapproval, cloaked in liberal political correctness. For the public citizen or politician, it's the fear of homosexual activists, inarguably the most vicious of all politically active communities.
Yet, despite the frequently heard public pieties and the general reluctance to criticize homosexual behavior for its objective hazards, no heterosexual parent would sincerely be glad to hear his 18 year old son announce that he was homosexual. The hypocrisy is near to smothering.
8. A Gathering Storm.
To return to the McGreevey episode, we have here a public figure, who has risen to high office, who will soon face serious charges of graft motivated by sexual nepotism and sexual blackmail. McGreevey's lover, Golan Cipel, used his personal relationship with the New Jersey Governor to attain a state position worth $110,000 per year in salary, plus numerous perquisites. It's been rumored that Cipel is about to introduce a sexual harassment suit against McGreevey, as well.
Despite all this, McGreevey chose to emphasize his sexual confusions as the reasons for his resignation from public office. Why?
The most plausible reason is exactly the same as the reason for Mrs. McGreevey's show of support for her husband: homosexuality has been granted so thick a blanket of protection from dispassionate analysis and criticism that it might even serve to shield McGreevey from the corruption and sexual nepotism charges he appears certain to face.
We live at a time when a dangerous deviance associated with several other dangerous deviances has become a putative shield against charges of corruption. If that doesn't scare you, quite likely nothing ever will.
Homosexual behavior ought not to be illegal; nothing that involves only competent adults who've given their informed consent is a fit subject for the law. But this does not preclude a sober attitude toward the easily observed consequences of male homosexual behavior. It certainly does not preclude an attempt to protect one's children from the negatives that accompany homosexuality.
No aspect of sexual freedom -- broadly speaking, the separation of Bedroom and State -- need bear on the desirability of speaking frankly about what homosexuality means to its practitioners in practical terms.
Homosexual activists' success at putting the medical, psychological and social outcroppings of their practices beyond all discussion, and their assault on marriage, the fundamental familial institution from which civilization draws the greater part of its stability, suggest that our overall unwillingness to confront them about their claims has been at great cost to society -- a cost that will become greater the longer their claims go unchallenged.
If the McGreevey matter bears on all of this in a substantial way, it's as an exclamation point: a stark depiction of how absurd our cognitive avoidance of the subject has become, when a high public figure can use a dangerous deviance as a partial shield against being found culpable for malfeasance. Bill Clinton's heterosexual affairs were no barrier to his retaining the Oval Office; Barney Frank's scandalous affair -- with a younger man who was running a house of prostitution out of Frank's Massachusetts home -- didn't bar him from office. Clearly, neither adultery nor buggery disqualify a man from high office, at least in the eyes of one major party. Therefore, what we have before us is the most shameless, most cynical use of sexual politics in American history -- sex as protection from legal liability -- and Governor McGreevey and his sexual compatriots expect that we will let him get away with it.