Sunday, May 08, 2005

Dear Colin

I commiserate you on your recent lack of success with the 70 year-old ladies. While congratulating you on your open-mindedness, I feel emboldened to point out the considerably greater likelihood of success that your amatory advances would have with 47 year-old gay men (such as, incidentally, myself). In fact, I can confirm on behalf of 47 year-old gay men just about everywhere that should you require an evening's intimate relaxation, or even just a "quickie" blow-job, we would be more than delighted to help out.

Yours, any way you want me,

Gorgeous Irish heartthrob actor Colin Farrell, 28, tried for two and a half hours to get Dame Eileen Atkins into bed on her 70th birthday. Though considerably flattered, Atkins denied the request since she felt her body really wasn't going to give him pleasure.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Cocteau's beautiful description of a man's body

In Le livre blanc Cocteau writes of:

a perfect body, rigged out with muscles like a ship with ropes, its limbs appearing to open out like a star around that fleece where there rises, in contrast to woman, who is built for concealment, the only thing about a man which cannot lie.

I must read the French, but the English is very good. The trouble is, you can pick several holes in it: from its old-fashioned idea that womens' sexual parts are concealed to the very dodgy assertion that a man's penis tells the truth. You know what he means: the penis can neither conceal its desire nor fake it. But pity those who mistake its fleeting interest for anything "more".

Still, it has that amazing simile, "rigged out with muscles like a ship with ropes" which alone is worth an evening's awestruck contemplation, and the star, and the fleece. It may not be perfect, but it is still very, very good.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Gay histories — more personal notes

While reading The Light Of Reason I found this posting. Arthur's story is one that every gay man over a certain age, and many younger ones, can identify with.

It starts with the horrified realisation, when you are nine, ten, eleven or so, that you are somehow — you're not quite sure how — different from everybody else, and that things are going to be very bad for you from now on.

It continues when, an innocent little child, you receive a series of small shocks, maybe one or two every day, as people you've always known and liked, even respected, talk about gays, or queers, or faggots, and how they are disgusting, how God hates them, how they deserve to be killed. “That's me they're talking about,” you think, and realise that you've got to hide if you're going to survive.

So you develop a finely honed set of reflexes, not unlike those acquired by small, furry creatures without much in the way of teeth or claws, who live in fields and are preyed upon by hawks with terrible beaks and sharp claws: to fall into their grasp is death. You learn to make an excuse and leave, any time the conversation turns, however remotely, towards gays: you can't afford to stick around and be asked what you are, because you haven't yet learned how to lie with a straight face, and because you know that an affirmative answer may be met with abuse, perhaps even physical harm, from the other kids and even from the authorities. You learn to take your time when changing after games, so that you can go to the communal showers after the others, to avoid the terrible possibility that you might accidentally see the other boys' bodies and get visibly turned on. Of course, since you're the only one not comparing dicks, they know anyway, and the taunts, and the jeers, and the punches start. You learn, in a thousand different ways, how to pretend not to be who you are, and how to appear to be someone acceptable to your tormentors: the “normal” kids. If you're really good at deception, you may even end up not being a loner.

Some time later, maybe at 14 or 15, you fall in love with one of your classmates. It's funny, very, very funny, how the heterosexual literature is replete with tales of how awful teen years are, how much pain kids go through. You're spotty and you're in love, maybe with someone a little older, a little cooler, a little better looking. Do you tell them and risk rejection? Or do you hide your feelings and be sad? Of course, you're supposed to tell them and learn that risk can be followed by reward, and that if it isn't, then at least the downside may not be as bad as you feared. You conquer your fears and grow! Hurrah! But what if the risk isn't just a "no" and a little laughter, but being punched to the floor and then kicked around until your head is bleeding, your glasses broken, and you can't breathe for the pain in your chest? And when your beloved has finally finished teaching you a lesson, his friends join in. And then they spit on you. And then the teacher arrives and you have to explain it all to him. And so you get expelled because your school is Christian and you're a scandal. Sounds silly doesn't it? Did I make it up? No. Things like that really did happen. And the fear of things like that happening to you was crippling. You didn't ever think of telling the one you had that teen crush on that you were sweet on him. You just prayed that he wouldn't notice the way you blushed when he looked at you. You wanted to hide. You wanted the feelings to go away. You wanted to be dead.

At some point, maybe, you meet someone, an adult, who seems to be a little more reasonable than the rest. They are clever. People admire them for their intellectual honesty. You think, maybe, just possibly, that you can tell them what you're going through, and that through sheer force of intellect they may understand. Arthur tried that, and the result was an offer of electro-shock (aversion) therapy.

* * *

Enough generalities. Here is my story.

* * *

I was born my parents' fifth child, and the only one to survive. Three others had been stillborn. The fourth, a little girl, lived a few days. After I was born, apparently perfect, they decided not to try for any more. It was too painful.

When I was small I used to crawl around the legs of the men as they sat at the table. I actually have memories from those years: something about those mens' legs just smelled good. I remember — I must have been about four — hearing one of the men saying that there was something wrong with me, forever crawling about their legs; it wasn't right. My mother brushed the charge away: he's just a baby. What had I done? Had I held on to his leg, the way I find it so comforting to do now as an adult, thigh over my shoulder, knee by my head, my arms around the calf, my cheek just resting against a man's leg? Whatever it was, that was my first little shock. I knew I'd done something bad, although it had seemed the very opposite of bad to me. I never played around their legs again.

My early teen years were lived in a climate of fear and self-loathing much as I describe above. Just one small personal touch: I remember that at the age of eleven or so, how I used to wake up in the morning with the feeling that I'd had a very bad dream, something disastrous and terrible, that no matter how hard I ran I couldn't get away from. I used to be so relieved that it was all just a dream, that I could get up and go about my business and everything would be OK. And then it would hit me. It hadn't been a dream. I was a queer. That was the bad thing I hadn't been able to remember. My life was going to be different from everybody else's, and I would live, and die, alone.

I remember when I was about sixteen, my Mother took me to visit the S______ family. It was evening, and we were all conversing while watching TV, as is the fashion in the North of England. By this time my intellect was developing, and indeed I was somewhat precocious. I had started to think for myself, and I'd come up with the idea that in morals, some of the rules were more fundamental than others: 'don't hurt anyone' being the one I thought basic, and that the others (don't steal, don't kill, don't commit adultery etc.) could be derived from that one. I'd even managed to see that the prohibitions against homosexuality couldn't be derived from that one, and that they were in some sense one-off, ad hoc (I had a little Latin!) and possibly even false. In other words, I was just finding my feet, I had a little courage, and I thought that even if sticks and stones (and kicks and punches) could break my bones, I was armoured against mere words. The news came on the TV. Perhaps someone had been exposed as a homosexual. Or perhaps he was 'self-confessed'. Or maybe it was just the theme of some 'controversial' film. The conversation turned to the Big 'H', and to homosexuals in general; and Mrs. S______, a sweet little lady, who was always smiling, always doing good works in our (Catholic) community, opined that she hated them, and wished that they were all dead. It was just another little shock. But years later when I was watching a documentary about the Nazi extermination camps, when the narrator asked how it had happened that a civilised people had risen up, segregated out a small minority from their midst, and condemned its members to torture and death, — I knew how!

The worst one was when I was about seventeen, and my parents and I were watching an episode of M.A.S.H. on the TV. Some odd circumstance or other had all the characters thinking that Radar Riley was gay. My mother, taking on the role of Grand Inquisitor, said, “Oh, and he's such a good-looking man!” Then looked at me and said “Don't you think so?” I knew a loaded question when I heard one, so I denied that I thought he was handsome. She persisted: “Are you gay?” I denied it. “Good, because I would rather you had been born dead like the others.” I denied myself and my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters for a third time. We watched TV in silence for a few minutes, then I got up and went upstairs to 'do my homework'. I lay on the bed and cried, as quietly as I could.

I wish I could say I get some sense of catharsis from writing all this down. I don't. What I do feel, as I note the rise of the fundamentalist Christians in America, the Santorums, the DOMAs, the proposal to enshrine hatred of homosexuals in the very constitutional fabric of the country itself, and in Europe the election of a Pope whose first public pronouncement is to attack Spain for allowing gay marriage, and the growth of an Islam whose clerics go on television and actually scream with hatred for gays (one of them says that we should be dropped head first from tall buildings), is the old fear coming back, the old urge to bolt and hide, like a rabbit that senses a shadow growing in the bright sky.

Irreligious quotes

To my way of thinking, they are more against religion than against 'god'. Given the amazing weirdness of the universe as it is revealed to us by the sciences, I am not sure that god is that much more improbable. But the real fire of these is turned against human foolishness.

  • “The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.”
    —Benjamin Franklin.
  • “We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.”
    —Richard Dawkins.
  • “The foolish reject what they see and not what they think; the wise reject what they think and not what they see.”
    —Huang Po.
  • “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.”
    —Susan B. Anthony.
  • “We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.”
    —H.L. Mencken
  • “Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned.”

Saturday, April 23, 2005

At last my plan...

At last my plan for the great gay escape from planet Earth, and our subsequent domination of the cosmos, can be carried out! Once the techniques of human hibernation have been perfected and we have learned to reproduce homosexually, we shall build our spaceships and travel to the stars! There we will found an empire of peace, having left the last vestiges of heterosexual aggressiveness behind!

If human hibernation becomes a possibility, people — at least the richer, and the sicker ones — may choose to sleep for twenty or thirty years at a time, perhaps losing only one tenth of that from their actual lifespan, in bets that future technology will have a cure for their disease, or even better ways of extending their lives, or in order to enjoy the fruits of compound interest on their savings. What that would do to the pensions industry is anyone's guess. If someone entered hibernation at age 25, for 45 years, arranging for their pension contributions to be paid in annually, then awoke at chronological age 70 but biological age 30, expecting to be able to draw their pension for another 50 or 60 years, there'd pretty soon be a lot of bankrupt insurance companies.

What excuse will pope Benedict come up with when the first gay couple presents him with a baby conceived by both parents? If science removes the fig leaf that homosexual sex is necessarily childless, then the various religions will be left with only naked bigotry as justification for their strictures.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Vampirism at the heart of the Christian religion?

Jean Roche in his Les aventures du Diable 2003 relates the following regarding Tertullian:

Tertullien (v 155-v 220) découvrit un jour que la phrase "Qui ne mange pas mon corps et ne boit pas mon sang", avant d'être attribuée à Jésus par l'Evangile, figurait depuis des siècles dans la liturgie de Mithra. Il en conclut que c'était le Diable qui avait cherché ainsi à affaiblir par avance la révélation chrétienne.

If I remember correctly, one of the many bad things about vampirism is supposed to be that it is a blasphemous mockery of the sacrament of communion in the Mass. Interesting though, isn't it that the idea that eating the body and drinking the blood (of the god) makes you immortal is pre-Christian, Christian and post-Christian.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Blogger made me do this

So that I could comment on (the very wonderful) uadmin's blog.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Plato and Homosexuality

During a leisurely troll around Wikipedia I came across the following, fabulous, Plato quote:

Wherever it has been established that it is shameful to be involved with sexual relationships with men, that is due to evil on the part of the rulers, and to cowardice on the part of the governed.

Monday, March 21, 2005

The essence of religion is the desire NOT to understand

Over on MSNBC, Keith Olbermann has an amusing post on right-wing reaction to attempts to present homosexuals as human beings rather than as <put your worst nightmare here>. The thing that most struck a chord was one of the letters from outraged (or perhaps I should use one of their favourite mealy-mouthed euphemisms: 'concerned') gay-haters. It's so good, I'll quote the email and his comment:

-- With similar obliviousness, Frank from Albuquerque, New Mexico, has been good enough to reproach my “inappropriate toleration of pro-gay groups” by quoting one of America’s great writers:
“The genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislatures, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges, or churches, or parlors, nor even in its newspapers (media) or inventors, but always most in the common people. Walt Whitman 1819-1892, American Poet.”
Um, Frank - I have a historical tidbit about Walt Whitman’s dating habits I think might interest you.

Keith chides the writer rather lightly. In fact, this one short email sums up nicely what's wrong with this particular type of religiosity, and the devastating effects it's going to have on the world.

You see, it's not just that the writer didn't know that Walt Whitman was gay. The problem — the huge, overriding, sick-making problem — is that that particular information was suppressed when Frank from Albuquerque was learning about Whitman's poetry. After all, Walt Whitman is one of America's great poets, so he couldn't have been gay, right? And if he was... well, let's just ignore it. Don't talk about it. It'll go away.

This is the very basis of the construction of the fundamentalist world-view. Gays are odd, strange, diseased, because we are made invisible except when we are being criticised. Our history, our contribution, the parts we played in creating human civilisation, it's all ignored, forgotten, suppressed. Once that's done, we can safely be portrayed as freaks.

It's not just gays of course, the same process is at work with the 'controversy' about evolution. A pseudoscience, 'Creation Science', is manufactured just so that kids can be taught it as an alternative to real science — to the theory of evolution. But in the process, young people's understanding of what it is that makes a theory scientific gets trashed. The priceless jewel of conjecture and refutation is thrown away.

There's only so long that this process can go on before the disease — of not listening to reason, of not looking round at what's actually there rather than sturdily, and stupidly, reaffirming that what we want to be there is there right enough even though we can't actually see it with our eyes, of systematically purging 'controversial' ideas, institutions and people — wrecks our entire civilisation.

So what was the chord that this particular email struck? A few years ago, when I was working as a programmer for a large company, I was half-listening to a conversation amongst the other programmers as I was doing something. One of the people talking was a born-again Christian, and somehow the topic had got around to explaining to your children about gay friends and their partners.

“Oh, we haven't told our children about gays at all,” he said. “I don't want them to know that people like that exist.”

It was chilling, being written out of existence like that in the course of an everyday conversation. It made it quite obvious to me what the stakes were, what will happen to us if those people win.