Monday, 22 November 2010

Sexual improprieties...

People confuse me.

Many of them are violently homophobic. From schoolboys who think that if you're ''gay'' you have some hideous and highly contagious disease, you're not to be taken at all seriously, and they're better off if you're avoided; to grown men (mostly of the lower echelons of society) who think (at least inasmuch as what goes on inside their heads is ''thinking'') along similar lines...surprisingly even some women I know are of this ignorant disposition (one going so far as saying that homosexual men should be shipped off to some island commune in the back of beyond, that is before she spat on the ground - this is a woman who is so full of herself that she mistakes sullen fear for respect). Now I am quite used to being universally despised; I'm just unfortunate enough to have been grievously afflicted in my life with people who don't like me very much. One of the tokens of my condition is the ability to say things as I see them, to express unreservedly what I think, in a not-very-diplomatic way (in fact one of the first essays I submitted at University was described by my tutor as ''highly conservative and militant''). I have long ceased to care what people think. There was a time, when I was growing up (and before I knew about autism), when I did, and it distressed me. It was my inability to cope with new situations, the fact that I ran out of things to say so very quickly (and trying to think of ''small talk'' just made me tired, literally) that people avoided me. I very often didn't hear about birthday parties in primary school etc. So many failed social attempts have just served to blunt me to humanity as a whole. One could call this tragic if I actually cared.

I digress. My point here is that homosexuality, while being ''officially'' acceptable in secular circles (indeed promoted, ''shoved down our throats'' as the saying goes - that is by propaganda and social custom) is still seen by most people as something risible, or funny. Why is this? Why do men froth at the mouth about homosexuality (let us disregard any other sexual ''aberration'' for argument's sake) when they can scarcely claim anything but perversion and incontinence in their own lives? I fail to see how someone who unrepentantly uses condoms, has promiscuous extra-marital sex with a series of partners, masturbates frequently, reads pornographic material etc has any right to pass judgement or ridicule someone for homosexuality - indeed I would fain suggest that such an individual is more seriously at fault in his own life. Or anyone. How can a woman who 50 years ago would have been sent to a home for fallen women (for having pre-marital sex) dare to suggest that homosexual men should be sent to a commune? Does anybody else see Christ in this ludicrous suggestion? How is it in any way more natural to have extra-marital sex than for two men whatever it is they do? Public perception of sexual propriety just seems so imbalanced to me.

I expect that there is small comfort for homosexual men in the Roman Church; the official position being something rather patronising like: ''you have an awful cross to bear, be assured of our prayers (and raised eyebrows)'' rather than ''try to channel or direct your inclination to something chaste and fruitful, and put on Christ.'' What was it that Gandalf said about cold counsel...? Of course the trouble with being thought of as a heretic is people suspect that everything you say is a lie.


  1. Brave heart, chum! What you say about sexually immoral heterosexuals' looking down on gays is certainly true. In my opinion though it's "scapegoating", pure and simple. They need to judge others because they fear to be judged themselves. I wouldn't be so hard on what you call the "Roman" Church though. From those Catholics to whom I have been open about my sexuality I have had nothing but support and warmth and friendship. The only persecution I have ever received, on the other hand, has been from other gays - but then I have found that gays have a need to scapegoat others just as much as most people. Proper tolerance in the context of genuine Christian charity is a rare and wonderful thing.

  2. I too, found this post moving; I see many of my own faults here, and am sorry for them. But you say you have long ago ceased to care what people think, although when you did, it distressed you. You end by saying that people suspect everything you say is a lie.

    There is the pain, which is with you continually. You do not lie deliberately, I am certain; you write too honestly for that. But you do still care; you want to be taken seriously, and your views challenged rationally or respected as true. Best of all would be to be loved as you are now, and as you want to be. You know that God does that. I pray that He will always provide someone in your life who will assure you of this. God bless you.

  3. It has nothing to do with morality. It's all about manhood status and how masculinity is constructed in our culture. Homophobia has little to do with moral beliefs (though some homophobes use the religious right as a convenient cloak) and everything to do with the heterosexualization of manhood and formerly male spaces.

    I can't agree with everything this site says, but they've got a lot of good stuff:

    It has nothing to do with morality and everything to do with the modern construction of "sexual orientation," conflating of homoeroticism with effeminacy and failed manhood. HETEROsexual conquest is considered PROOF of manhood and thus positive under such a model. To them it is no contradiction at all.

  4. Get thee to the army. Together with religion, this gives real perspective and meaning to life. The real stuff's on the battlefield. Believe me.

  5. I could have written most of this posting myself and I am very grateful to you for sharing it. For what it is worth, you are not alone. The problem for me is that the two most important components of my character are that I am an Catholic Christian (now swum the Bosphorus) and a homosexual and I don't fit in either environment. I've often thought that if I'd lived in England in the '20s, I would have gravitated toward one of the Anglo-Catholic parishes in central London. I have the impression that Anglo Catholicism once provided a welcoming social environment for discreet (comme ci-comme ca), religiously inclined homosexuals. But now, the decline of Anglo Catholicism on the one hand and the vulgarity of modern post-Stonewall homosexual life on the other has pretty much killed that culture. I lived in London for a couple of years in the mid-'90s and tried to explore what remained of it. It's isn't dead entirely, but what survives is sort of like Cabaret with maniples, and like Christopher Isherwood in Weimar Berlin I eventually found it bewildering and exhausting. But despite all its problems it as close as I've ever come to belonging anywhere. Seven years ago, I met someone who is the conservative Calvinist counterpart to myself and we've been together ever since. I was past forty when we met, so anything is possible and at any time. But in any event PLEASE keep up this blog. It means a lot to some of us out here.

  6. Regardless of what other people say or do, our only worry is whether or not we are living in accordance with the Christian faith and in friendship with Jesus in the communion of his Holy Church. We cannot decide that just because someone else does not live in harmony with Christian faith, or even with basic human and moral sexuality, that somehow frees us to do as we please or to say so-and-so is more at fault for his or her sins than I am for mine. Much preferable to concentrate on perfecting one's self, through grace. In fact, thinking of people at all as "homosexual" and "heterosexual" or whatever is, it seems to me, an error in itself. The Catholic Church, in fact, does not make this mistake; instead she understands same sex attraction as a more or less strong tendency of misdirected psychosexual energy and does advise her children to "put on Christ" and to sublimate that energy into the direction of purity and the full expression of holiness in the Christian life. That is, in fact, the whole point of Catholic teaching on the matter.

    Although I do not like the use of the word "homophobic" I think galactictrain makes an excellent point. It also explains why increasingly "manhood" or "masculinity" is conflated with machismo and violence. However, "homosexuality" is often nothing more than the most basic male sexual drive unleashed from its humanising element which comes from woman. There is some basic biology and psychology at work in men when the female contribution to sexual dynamics is lost which can result in degradation and real perversion (viz. a lot of gay pornography, pride marches etc.). Well, that is at least how it seems to be to me.

    Tawser: quite frankly, I think that can still be found in little Anglo-Catholic niches here and there that aren't quite so extravagant as the London set which is, I don't think, all that representative really. I know this, because, before my Poping, I used to belong to one such wonderful parish and I may say I would not undo that association or that experience for anything.

  7. Ron Sider, of Evangelical Social Action, writes very similar things in the current issue (Dec. 2010) of First Things. He writes that the Evangelical theological opposition to gay marriage is tainted by poor sexual morality (e.g. divorce rate no better than the general population) and by actual bigotry against homosexuals on the part of Evangelicals. On the one hand, the collapse of sexual morality in the West makes the singling out of homosexuality somewhat curious, but on the other, I suppose it is at least heartening that there is still some standard out there, but upholding a standard with hateful means is ineffective at best. The problem is compounded by the fact that homosexuality has become an identity nowadays, and consequently is entangled in identity politics. Rather than being able to tolerate homosexuals, the creation of homosexuality as an identity almost seems to require a society to either approve or condemn them.

    But for the modern construction of homosexuality as a "sexual orientation" and the consequent identity politics of it, I think that we would be able to see habitual sodomites for what they really are--people who happen to have a sexual vice. If we could see this, then we could see that a practicing homosexual is no different morally from the adulterer, the chronic mastrubater or the fornicator. For that matter, I suppose the practicing homosexual would be no different from the habitual thief or the miser. It could be easier to think of homosexual acts in these terms if we abandoned this novel notion that homosexuality is an "orientation," and think of it more as a fetish.

    Getting back to the sexual morality and the Roman Church specifically, I think that a big problem with the way Catholics approach the issue is that sexual acts are analyzed through the lens of moral theology rather than through the lens of sacramental theology. This division of the sexual act into unitative and procreative components, necessarily leads to a situation where homosexual acts become a separate category of sexual sins. Rather than asking whether any particular sexual act fulfills both the unitative and procreative criteria for good Catholic sex, the real question is whether, in performing any sexual act, the couple is expressing the reality of their marriage. Looking at the question through the lens of sacramental theology, we can easily see that a homosexual act is really no different from an adulterous act, and our reactions to homosexuals should consequently be proportionate.

  8. One more comment which is actually a question. I am an American and it's been a more than a decade since I was able to visit Britain, but are British attitudes towards homosexuality so much different from ours? The subject arouses strong reactions, but no one is laughing. Homosexuals ceased being a figure of fun a long time ago. For conservatives, the gay rights movement is regarded as a serious threat to western civilization. (And personally I agree.) But that is distinct from the treatment of homosexuals as individuals. For liberals, homosexuals are the flavor of the month on the hit parade of fashionable martyrs. But it has been decades since I ever felt in danger of being ridiculed for being what I am and I make no attempt to conceal it. I am in much graver danger of being ridiculed for being a believing Christian. Is England so different?

  9. You are one hundred and ten per cent right about this.