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Monday, July 05, 2010

 
Gay Email Circle. Billy Glover is an elderly gay man (75?) from Louisiana (LA) who moved to Los Angeles (L.A.) in the days when the first modern gay-rights groups were forming, breaking up, and breaking up again. Mattachine, founded in 1950 in L.A., broke up into Mattachine (which relocated to San Francisco) and One, Inc., and then One broke up into One and the Homosexual Information Center — if I have the sequence right. After decades in L.A., Billy moved back to LA, and moderates a gay email discussion group in which I have at least sometimes been included.
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I, however, am far more militant than the bulk of the other participants in that group, some of whom do insane things like call themselves "princess", and insist on seeing gay men as effectively male lesbians. So I have ticked off some of those loons with my insistence that gay men are not straight, not lesbians, not less than men, but full, natural and normal men who need to find their manhood and make their future with gay men, and preferably one in particular.
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I don't care if I offend gender-confused loons. There is such a thing as madness, and pretending that insane "ideas" are valid points of view does no one any good; not the loon in question, and certainly not society at large and vulnerable young people who might accept lunacy as a valid "alternative" life choice.
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A few days ago, Billy's topic was "How ONE homosexual American feels about supporting/celebrating the 4th of July". His main concern generally is with preserving gay history, and making the young appreciate what was done for them, over how long, and at what personal cost. I don't presume to use his words here, but will merely post my reply, from which you can infer what I am replying to.
[A]s regards what to tell kids, you completely left out the European and American predecessors of the modern gay-rights movement. I don't know if the founders of Mattachine knew of that movement. Do you know if they were aware of it? A lot of what those few Europeans, and even fewer Americans, wrote, and apparently actually thought, is "Uranian", "third sex" nonsense, but at least they were talking openly and trying to understand their nature, why they were as they were. Walt Whitman had a lot of largely open homosexual or homoerotic passages in his writings, tho toward the end of life, when confronted, he denied that interpretation, probably to keep his life's work from being burned after his death, when he could no longer publish his works anew, in replacement copies. Heterosexual sexologists raised some of the issues of actual behavior, and frequency of homosexual behavior.
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And of course the phrases "all men are created equal" and "pursuit of happiness" in the Declaration of Independence, and the rugged-individualist culture of the early United States, played a HUGE role in the development of liberation movements in the United States.
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Alas, we'd also have to tell young gay men, and teen boys, that progress is not inevitable, and things don't automatically get better with time. The European movement went out of people's consciousness with the death of its principal advocates and thinkers, and Walt Whitman's gay poetry was recast as 'brotherly love'. Texas Republicans are now proposing to reinstate sodomy laws and criminalize same-sex marriage, and urging Congress to forbid courts from voiding such laws (under the authority of Article III, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution). Tho it seems unlikely, at this moment, that they would succeed in getting Congress to do that, who knows what will happen in the future?
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Elsewhere than the U.S., the Taliban, which got its big start from executing homosexuals, was ousted by a U.S. invasion after 9/11 but is fiting desperately, and all too effectively, to try to regain control of Afghanistan — and resume the executions. Some foolish and impatient Americans are tired of the war in Afghanistan so are willing to give the country back to the Taliban if that's what withdrawal of U.S. forces would mean. And then the Taliban reign of terror over gay men would resume.
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The point is that we have to create institutions capable of facing future challenges and prevailing.
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Most human progress is of the two-steps-forward-one-step-back variety. Or it is patchy, entailing progress in one area that doesn't touch other areas, be it a geographic area (different countries or different regions of the same country) or a subject area.
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Whereas in the 50s-70s gay men felt it very important to be gay, today's kids are attracted to the idea that it is most important for them to be "human", "just people", rather than gay. That is an old trick of heterosexual intolerance: divide gay men in two, and defeat the gay half. The saddest — and most contemptible — part of this is the implied assertion that gay men are NOT human, NOT people, as long as they insist on being homosexual.
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There has been enormous loss of gay institutions to this assimilationist drive by straight society, just as tens of thousands of black businesses were destroyed by integration. Cities that used to have a thriving gay scene have experienced the disappearance of gay institutions (bars, coffeehouses, bathhouses, cruising areas, sex areas in parks, etc.), replaced very inadequately by "gay friendly" places where you can ALMOST be yourself, but can't really be intent on getting together sexually with another man because there is too much heterosexual CRAP in the way. Straight men have an expression for when they can't get to a desired woman because of things thrown in their way: "cock-blocked". This is the rule rather than the exception for gay men in "gay friendly" places, where explicit cruising is nearly impossible. It is little short of amazing that anybody gets laid at all anymore. And [young] gay men now are almost certainly getting no more than a small fraction the sex we used to get at their age.
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So progress is neither automatic nor irreversible; there are always people trying to separate gay men from homosexuality; and it is important that gay men develop and retain a gay identity, by knowing something about their history and involving themselves in a gay culture, not straight.
There were many other exchanges before that, that I did not put up here, for lack of time and energy. I'll look thru them to see what else might usefully appear here.



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