We all have a choice to make, in forging a life for ourselves as sexual beings. It is a choice both simple and complex, both conscious and unconscious. To put it simply, do we get with the program or do we live out our authentic nature?
At the most basic, primitive level, we have to make a choice of whether or not we will subscribe to the heterosexual fantasy. I call it a fantasy because I do not believe that there is such a thing as a heterosexual orientation. Gay history shows that the typical masculine man, the world over, as far back as we can see, enjoyed males and females without discrimination. Thus the chimera of a natural state in which “normal” men only like the female form is nothing but a self-perpetuating mass delusion. That which blinds us men to the physical beauty of another male, that which kills our spontaneous erotic response towards that person, and that cripples any manifestation of that response be it as muted as the glance of an eye or a smile or the touch of a hand, cannot be called an orientation. It would be more accurate to call it a panic state.
So, if we are among the fortunate who have escaped the trap of heterosexual panic, either because our feelings are too strong to be denied, or our love for truth is too strong to permit us to live a lie, or our contrary nature rebels against following the herd, any herd . . . and probably it is the case that our escape from banality is due to some combination of these factors . . . then we still have a number of programs that could trip us up. They have varied over time. It used to be, not so long ago, that the beloved had to be younger – a lot younger. Now the requirement is that the beloved not be younger, and certainly not a lot younger. But when did love ever seek symmetry – or asymmetry? No, love seeks beauty wherever it is found, whether in someone younger, or the same age, or older than oneself. Yes, follow the law (unless you live in some barbarian land where people are executed for loving others of the same sex) but then, if you want to live free of programs, follow your heart.
Then there is the what. There runs this modern mania, based not a little on internalized Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Old Testament dogma, that real male sex means butt sex. But that is another fiction, dreamt up by those who are busy doing exactly that to women but who are in need of a foil. If we look at the numbers, even in these days when anything goes, only about half the men who love other men go for butt sex. That is not very different from the percentage of men who have done that with a woman. Historically, if we look at other civilizations we see that the path to male+male pleasure has been whatever a given culture is accustomed to. Distill that history, and you are left with the essence – real sex is anything that elevates you and your partner to orgasm. There is no identity between butt sex and male homosexuality.
Anthropology and history have clearly shown that sexuality is socially constructed. What that means is that people tend to desire what they are trained from earliest childhood to desire, and perform the sex acts they are told are normal, and find repugnant the behaviors they are programmed to see as abnormal. But we can opt out of the program, and many do. Many men who find males beautiful understand that anal sex is a practice likely to give one partner pleasure at the cost of causing the other to suffer pain (more than 60% of those who receive it complain of pain as their biggest lifetime sexual problem, and of these almost half always find it painful), and that carries with it the risks of physical damage, incontinence, and disease, to say nothing about the aesthetics of the act. They want nothing to do with the activity and would not dream of inflicting it on someone they loved. So for those not benumbed by religion or the rejection of religion (they are still in the river, who swim against the stream) and who are possessed of a modicum of imagination, the modern program to turn your partner upside down holds little sway.
Enshrining anal penetration as the primary form of gay sex to the detriment of all the other forms of sexual pleasure between males can lead to real aberrations. Witness the recent attempt of the board of education in the town of Helena, in Montana, USA, to draw up a curriculum which, in a benighted effort to teach tolerance for same-sex love, instead taught eleven year old children that anal sex was a valid sexual choice. Not surprisingly, the parents rose up in arms. They might still have rejected a curriculum that affirmed the beauty and rightness of loving whomever you happen to fall in love with, but at least that would have been an ethical message imbued with emotional truth, and one that young children could and should hear. It is also a message that has a chance to be accepted by reasonable people, unlike one peddling anal sex to fifth graders.
I would not want to convey the impression that, were they a few years older, those children would be ripe for being stampeded towards each others’ anuses. Regardless of age, it seems a sad betrayal of our gay youth, and a fundamentally homophobic posture, to mislead and brainwash boys into thinking that if they fall in love with another boy then they must end up sooner or later performing an act that goes against one of their strongest instinctive distastes, and that puts them at risk of disability, disease and death. The best that can be said of the current situation is that we are still at the dawn of this homosexual renaissance, and after almost 2000 years of scorched earth policy by the Abrahamic creeds we have been thrust back to a very primitive stage in the work of evolving a mature homosexual ethic and aesthetic.
What of those few men who actually enjoy being penetrated? Certainly it is nobody’s business but their own, as long as they pay their own medical expenses. But the least we can ask of them is to admit that theirs is a minority preference that in no way defines or characterizes the love of one male for another.
The outer form our love should take has also been the plaything of authoritarian forces. Witness the “gay marriage” tug of war. There are, and always have been, those men who see themselves as wives to other men, and such couples should be free to marry. (See our article on the two-spirit tradition, as one example.) But what about everybody else who is drawn to male love and yet has not a shred of womanly identity, on the contrary. Would it not be useful to have other options? The Albanians had official brotherhood bonds. They called it vellameria, “brother-making” and consecrated it in their Orthodox churches. So did the Greeks – remember Boswell and adelphopoiesis? The two brothers, would have special privileges and obligations, in some ways the same and in others different from married couples. And how about legalizing adoptions of youths above the age of consent who already have good parents. Of course those parents would also have to agree to the adoption. One would become a kind of formal godparent, with rights and obligations, and the young man likewise would have obligations and rights, including the right to enjoy sexual play with his godparent.
Finally, let us not forget the very real pleasures of marrying someone of the opposite sex. We can enjoy male love yet not be exclusive. Examples of men with a taste for males taking a wife abound, and let’s not make the mistake of assuming that all of them were the result of succumbing to societal pressure. For example, Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts, after 55 years of avoiding female relationships and enjoying masculine ones, married a (boyish looking) woman of 23 and proceeded to have three children with her. And not long ago, a prominent gay advocate married a lesbian friend, and the two had children and raised a family. To enter into such a relationship with one’s eyes open is an expression of freedom, rather than submission to some program.
That brings to one last aspect, the current fascination of same-sex couples with adopting children. That is certainly better than having those children languish in institutions. However, who would deny that a child has a natural right to be brought up by a father AND a mother. Men and women are not interchangeable. They have different intellectual, emotional and psychological characteristics. They impart different teachings to their children, lessons that are mutually complementary. Thus a child brought up by two men or two women starts life with a void in its makeup. Let’s hope that same-sex parents will make sure to engage a third person, of the opposite sex, in the work of raising any child that they may adopt.
To conclude, I would like to propose a different structuring of sexuality, not one which divides people into homosexuals and heterosexuals, but one which divides them into those who are true to their inner erotic calling (I do not know what name to give them, any ideas?) and those who fall for one or another program, heterosexual or homosexual, whom I would like to call the conformosexuals.