It is only recently
that I have started thinking radically about 'homosexuality'.
Partly because of my own history: I was never attracted by men
as such, yet ended up hanging about urinals, simply because it
was the most exciting thing I could find to do at the time. Some
sexual behaviour (especially in societies where masturbation
is devalued) is less a pleasure and more a seeking of relief of
My first and probably
only love was for a woman who electrified my nipples - yet I decided
to 'come out' at the age of 39, just after I dumped a man who
had imposed himself upon me (living in a bubble of unknowing)
for 7 years, whom I did not 'fancy', and with whom I had only
the curtest kind of sensual activity - what the French call sexual
hygiene. I then discovered that there were men (all far away,
in London and Paris), who haunted pubs and bars rather than bleak
urinals, and who attracted me with their beards and body hair
- because I have always loved furry animals! To my astonishment,
I found that some of them fancied me for my John-the-Baptist thinness.
Since I had had certain autistic traits (including headbanging)
and had known neither father nor siblings, this sudden and late
exposure to the mysterious masculine proved heady indeed. It was
at the time that 'gay' people were leaping out of 'the closet'
to parade arrogantly down the high streets of Europe and North
America, waving bundles of pink dollars. (Needless to say, I never
joined them. How can one be proud to be 'gay' if one is ashamed
to be human ?)
I was never easy
with the term 'homosexual'. For a start, I have never felt easy
with 'gay' men, apart from one or two whom I like(d) as people.
Indeed, not with men in general, with whom I seem to have so little
in common, hating sport and bars and gossip, and being anti-competitive.
But I do feel easy with women. I like their conversation. Before
'coming out' I approached a Gay/Lesbian Help-line wondering if
I could somehow meet sympathetic 'lesbians' with whom I would
not be required to play the games that 'straight' men are expected
to play with women. My query was met with utter incomprehension
and some merriment.
My only female pin-up
was (and is) a beautiful portrait of George Eliot, sneered at
as 'horsey' in her time. But, to me, almost any horse is more
beautiful than almost any human!
corrupt our lives, along with false memories, false national histories/myths,
false emotions and identities invented for us - or for us to fill.
But even false categories might usefully be split into categories
in order to invalidate the original category. Thus 'homosexuality'
might be split into emotional and physical. I, for
example, could, on the basis of my long-term behaviour, be labelled
physically 'homosexual' and emotionally 'heterosexual'. Or, to
put it crudely: men for physical pleasure and women for conversational
main problem with the terms homo- and hetero-sexual is that they
ride rough-shod over one of Freud's only true aperçus:
that humans are polymorphous-perverse, and have innate
access to a spectrum of sexu-sensuality, rather than being pre-destined
to fixed 'normal' or 'abnormal' behaviour. Our sexual and sensual
tastes are formed by a number of influences, most of them cultural.
This is most obvious in the sense of smell. What to modern middle-class
noses smells unpleasant may to mine or a camel-herder's smell
homely or delicious.
From my own early
personal history, I feel easy with women, especially older women,
but I don't want to penetrate their pussies or even suck their
nipples - even though cunnilingus might be even tastier than having
a sweaty scrotum pressed against my lips.
Neither do I want
to penetrate any man's rectum (the very sight of an anal sphincter
would guarantee deflation); nor, indeed, be penetrated - except
(rarely) by my own prostate massager, a late and rarely-used discovery
in my life. (Best bought via eBay.) Anal penetration used
to be called buggery, from the French bougre, an
old word for Bulgar. Bulgaria was one of the early centres of
Manichæan 'Catharism', a very un-Catholic quasi-Christian
religion which spread westwards most especially to Lombardy and
The perverse, catch-all
term 'homosexual', which is no more useful than the words 'foreigner',
'stranger' or 'beyond the Pale', has come to imply and include
buggery. Thus it has influenced or encouraged men to think that
male-for-male affection = anal penetration, and so seems almost
designed to destroy wholesome and widespread male to male sensuality.
Indeed, the word homosexual was invented at just the moment
that wholesomeness (a word almost unused today) began to vanish
from the 'Anglosphere' with the Second Wave of Puritanism of the
mid-19th century, which coincided with the rise of Prussia and
the hideous militarism of the British Empire.
is simply an unscientific category which hints at almost any kind
of perverse behaviour from mutual masturbation to the penetration
of animals. It is a 'weasel-word' implying much but defining nothing,
rather like 'paganism', 'heresy' or 'un-American Activity'. Indeed
the German term 'vom anderen Ufer' (from the other side)
is just as adequate a term, but more poetic and down-to-earth.
The great Gore Vidal
(the most godlike member of my own 'endangered species' of philosophical
polemicists) favoured the term 'same-sexist' which is certainly
an improvement, but still a term of limitation, a category.
Like another catch-all
term - 'love' - it cannot be projected backwards into time, or
sideways into other cultures, because within the vagueness of
the term is a plethora of modern attitudes and assumptions. (To
say that Ancient Greek men were 'homosexual' (or 'same-sexist')
is completely anachronistic and shows utter ignorance of the structure
of ancient Hellenic society, a society permanently at war.)
According to Wikipedia,
"the first known appearance of homosexual in print
is found in an 1869 German pamphlet by the Austrian-born novelist
Karl-Maria Kertbeny, published anonymously, and arguing against
a Prussian anti-'sodomy' law. Ten years later, Gustav Jäger
used Kertbeny's terms in his book, Discovery of the Soul
(1880). In 1886, Richard von Krafft-Ebing used the terms 'homosexual'
and 'heterosexual' in his book Psychopathia Sexualis, probably
borrowing them from Jäger. Krafft-Ebing's book was so popular
among both layman and doctors (everyone loves to read about Strange
Behaviour!) that this categorisation became widely accepted despite
being (or more likely because it is) an extremely crude Manichæan
division of humanity which still, ludicrously, holds sway, despite
the obviousness of a whole spectrum of sexual, meta-sexual, para-sexual
and asexual behaviour and tendencies revealed by sociologists,
anthropologists, biographers and auto-biographers.
Worse still, the term
'homosexual' is often used in European and American cultures to
encompass a person's entire social identity, which includes
self and personality, in a sad little solipsistic package. Happily,
however, Michel Foucault started a ball rolling by arguing that
'homosexual' as a quasi-identity did not exist before the 19th century;
that people instead spoke of "sodomy", which referred
to buggery and probably not fellatio - even though the 'Sin
of Sodom' was patently that of inhospitality (such as is
widely practised in Western Europe today). People spoke of acts
rather than behavioural category - or, as it has now become, categorical
behaviour. Buggery was a crime that was of course usually ignored
when performed by a man on a woman, but sometimes punished severely
when performed by a man on another man, consentingly or otherwise.
(The matter of consent, interestingly, is not reported historically,
though male-on-male rape must have been pretty common in times of
war and Crusade.)
The important 'homosexual'
sub-text or sub-strate in Roman society has been discussed by
Boswell. He reveals that all sorts of 'homosexual' and homosensual
behaviour went on in Imperial times (at least), without requiring
a finger-pointing adjective to define it or those who indulged
In most discussions
about 'homosexuality' even now, the elephant in the room is prudishly
ignored: who does what to whom, and who gets what from doing
or, on occasion, being done to ? With a wholesome term like
'buggery' (despite the smear on Bulgarians) you know where you
are. Those who suffer from the categorisation 'bi-polar' or 'Asperger'
or 'immigrant' know exactly what I mean. As do those who bridle
at being referred to as a 'community' - e.g. The Gay Community
- which simply means a group of people on whom are slapped a label,
like Jew, Gypsy, Anti-social, Atheist, Unbeliever, Young Person
- or immigrant. Who or what is served by lumping people from Colombia,
Cambodia, Kurdistan, Croatia and Canton altogether as immigrants
- or homosexuals ? Michel de Montaigne
had similar feelings:
Nous sommes Chrestiens à
mesme titre que nous sommes Périgordins ou Alémans.
We are Christians only in the same way that we are Perigordians
We like categories.
They are easier to manage than actual people. Categorisation is
a prerequesite for modern state-supported capitalism in which
'the individual' is claimed to be paramount, but individuality
discouraged if it questions the all-penetrating system. Penetrative
sexuality is the capitalist, industrial model. If it is not consensual
through persuasion, it is forced, smash-and-grab. Capitalism hates
gentleness, douceur - which is why it hates cannabis. It
has mastered and subdued sensuality by making it almost entirely
sexual, and so we are all (but most especially women and homosexual
men) now considered to be providers of erotic capital as well
as erotic consumers .There is no money to be made out of happiness
- only through false promises. Businesses can make money by appealing
to testosterone and the promise of ill-defined orgasm - which
of course turns out to be disappointing, or ephemeral, or both.
In society at large,
two forces have been at work to veil what 'homosexuality' might
actually involve: Victorian prudery, and men's shame at being
either passionately affectionate and nuzzly, or passively used
as a female substitute by (mostly 'lower-class') men. Where ignorance
is the norm, misconceptions arise, conclusions are jumped to,
and 'homosexuality' was largely assumed necessarily to involve
'disgusting' behaviour, particularly buggery. This is still the
case, and is why men who define themselves as 'homosexual' in,
for example, Muslim countries, are severely penalised, even executed.
Yet male on male affection, meta-sexual mutual admiration, like
that of female for female, has been the norm in those societies
for hundreds if not thousands of years.
The Anal Assumption may well have been influenced by the masculinising
(investigative, penetrative) force of the Renaissance and Enlightenment,
with the Molly-houses of England and Europe where boys (adolescent
or younger) dressed as girls and were penetrated (a very new thing
in Europe), the mechanisation of the Industrial Revolution, and
the re-militarisation or aggressive masculinisation of Europe
along Prussian lines from the 1850s onward. This was the period
when men's dress changed from the gloriously extravagant to the
universally drab, and the British/Prussian Stiff Upper Lip was
adopted - to some extent even by the French. This is the period
when meat-eating became an obsession, necessitating abattoirs
as the ever-grasping and, if necessary, revolutionary bourgeoisie
began to establish its stranglehold of aspirational - and national
- uniformity. It is also the period when counter-tenors disappeared,
and when sensual intimacy amongst men turned ritually violent
(rugby) and ritually silly (freemasonry, stag-parties) - for men
bond by doing intimate and or silly things in what is perceived
as 'brotherhood'. Adolescent circumcision is the paramount example.
To back up this
assertion I would contrast Byron's To
Thyrza with Shakespeare's Sonnet
XX. Byron laments the loss of a male lover, and knowing
full well that public opinion condemns homosexuality, unbravely
chooses not to reveal the gender of his subject. Shakespeare displayed
affection for a "Master mistress", also a male, but
sublimates the desire. This was not necessarily due to disapproval
of his own homosexual urges and fear of public ridicule and exile
from society, since affection for male from male was celebrated
in Elizabethan society, and portraits of beautiful young(-ish)
men abounded throughout Western Europe, notably by Holbein, Cranach
and their Italian
contemporaries. Two flamboyant monarchs of the period - Henry
VIII of England and François I of France (they met with
great pomp and ceremony on the Field of the Cloth of Gold) were
renowned for their beauty. Crucially, Shakespeare's affection,
fictitious or genuine, unlike Byron's, does not seem to involve
a physical relationship but rather a strong emotional (or what
now might be described as 'spiritual') bond between two men.
Since the two-edged
sword of "gay liberation" was first wielded in the United
States, the militarisation of sensual male bonding has increased
alarmingly. "Gay" men now have the right to join the
military machine of the most aggressive empire in history, and
are proud to do so. This is not a return to the hand-to-hand combat
between Spartans and Athenians, but the incorporation of former
outcasts into totalitarian power. The military has always attracted
the aggressively feeble-minded, and man-loving men are now notable
for their mindlessness, when not so long ago they situated themselves
either among the intellectual élite (Wilde, Gide, Proust,
Verlaine, Genet, Lorca, Keynes, Cavafy, Strachey, etc.) or amongst
the sandalled anti-industrial protesters such as Edward Carpenter
and proletarian socialists. For "homosexuality" to be,
effectively, nationalised is a horrible irony, when manloving
men prided themselves on their cosmopolitanism, on their mutual
appreciation, affection, Elective Physical Affinity, not on their
desire to penetrate each other's anus.
Amongst the vulgar,
solipsistic razzmatazz of 'Gay Pride', there is little mention
of how wonderful it is for a male lover of masculinity to be able
to sink into a receiving, happy, generous maleness. In the United
States "gay" militarists are, alas! now parading their
willingness and ability to be licensed and programmed killers.
act of buggery was certainly used throughout the ages as a form
of birth-control. But most 'heterosexuals' would balk at calling
it 'natural', especially now that much more sophisticated methods
are available, despite the robot-ravings of the Vatican.
Being an unbelievably
late developer, it wasn't until my 69th year, after decades of
wandering in what I can call only the dreary and depressing Gay
Wilderness of repressed affection and the Ejaculatory Imperative,
I discovered - if categorisation be demanded - homoseNSuality
- a natural proclivity for same-sex fondling and sensual affection
(or affectional sensuality) which surely existed from 'the dawn
of time' - a behaviour rather than a 'practice' which has been
overwhelmed by the false masculinisation of, and compulsory role-adoption
in, male-for-male affection, which surely involves kissing and
hugging and appreciating another's gentle masculinity.
HOLOsensuality) very definitely does not have to include penetration,
though it certainly does include fellatio, a perfectly natural
urge, and mutual nuzzling of the whole body from top to toe. Male
penetration of male cannot be called 'natural', because of - quite
simply - the Shit Factor. Most (if not all) mammals avoid their
own shit. Shit on your cock can be a turn-on for only a very few.
Despite the position of the prostate in men, the anus was designed
to excrete, not, like the vagina, both to receive and expel. (For
contrary views, read the comments on this.)
Nor has any culture has codified the eating of excrement, but
several have placed high value on the consumption of semen to
strengthen and invigorate.
seems to have passed pretty well definitively from crudely birth-controlling
'heterosexuals' to those who pride themselves in being 'homosexual'
- even though, on gay contact-sites, you will find a significant
number of men who classify themselves as Fellatio or J-O (=jerk-off=masturbation)
Are men who bugger
other men really attracted to their anal sphincters and buttocks,
or are they, in fact, somehow frightened or repelled by women,
and use other men as substitutes ?
Are these 'active'
men perhaps attracted by the sheer passivity of those they bugger,
feeling some kind of temporary empowerment as a result ? And what
of the passive partners ? Prostate and sphincter stimulation by
another man's penis can produce intense pleasure, and combines
powerfully with pleasure-in-passivity. But if only around 5% of
the population engages in 'homosexual activity', probably (from
my own experience) only half or less engage regularly or necessarily
in buggery, so it is best regarded as the activity of a very small
minority of the population, not as an automatic ingredient of
We have never learned
what Oscar Wilde and 'Bosie' (Lord Alfred Douglas) 'did' - the
very important legal detail of who did what to whom. Was it buggery
? His foolish slander suit was brought against the Marquess of
Queensberry because the latter stated publicly that he was a 'sodomite'.
If neither he nor the contemptible Bosie were involved in anal
penetration, then Wilde was a martyr - for a non-cause.
From his Diaries,
it would seem that Roger
Casement did little more than admire and probably fellate
the impressive organs that he notes. This was at the beginning
of the 20th century. It seems unlikely that Edward
Carpenter went in for buggery or being buggered, given his
general open, wholesome (if limited) attitude to the Good Life.
Jean Genet did not
go into details, either, but it is to be assumed that in the prisons
he was indeed buggered and got quite a kick out of it. Once he
became a celebrity, given his background and intelligence, who
knows what was done by whom to whom!
was more up-front, and was not buggered on the beach at Sousse,
but - like myself, on the same beach, 60 years later (not
yet having read L'Immoraliste ) - gently masturbated a
solitary fisherman on a balmy night by a quiet, silvery sea.
alcoholic, Paul Verlaine almost certainly was the physically-passive
partner in his relationship with Rimbaud. But Paul Verlaine was
also enthusiastically heterosexual. His two collections of poems
Femmes and Hombres are graphically revealing of
his feelings and actions in the sexual sphere, but not so much
in the sphere of affection.
has been a remarkable tendency for French males to turn "bi-"
because they feel they (as sexual consumers) have somehow 'missed
out' by never having been buggered. And so it goes
PORNOGRAPHY & PÆDOPHILIA
Until now, it is
only in pornography that we get detailed accounts and images of
sexual activity, usually in stereotypical form. Since they are
mostly fantastic and feed fantasy, sexuality becomes a grotesque
and literally depressing and/or addictive behaviour largely and
crudely devoid of individual inspiration. Fantasy, I believe,
has come to feed our behaviour, and this is why penetrative pædophilia
erupted in the 20th century. As Peter Brooke observed on his website
be so, because in all the diatribes and fantastical calumnies
against the Catholic church since the Reformation, there was no
mention of pædophilia.
Even before that,
the accusations of the Inquisition against Cathars and other 'heretics'
included fornication with devils (incubi and succubi) but not
with children. Roma have been accused of child-substitution, Jews
have for a thousand years been accused of the sacrificial murder
of Christian children, but neither group was accused of child-rape.
These calumnies have long ceased, but now pædophilia has
become a serious issue for the Vatican - perhaps because of an
historical process of "chickens coming home to roost",
perhaps because Catholic priests fit the current pædophilia-craze
just as lonely spinsters were the natural target for the similar
witch-craze of the 15th and 16th centuries. The theocracy does
not know how to handle it - not, I believe, because pædophilia
did not exist before, but because it was generally 'Platonic'
and did not involve penetration - except, of course, when it was
incestuous. (Or of course, unless all the little boys and girls
who were penetrated were murdered before they could speak out,
which seems unlikely.) Intra-familial rape has occurred since
the beginning of time, and continues to this day, but the bogeyman-image
of the pædophile is not the 'wicked uncle' or step-parent,
but the Lurking Stranger in the bushes or outside the school gates.
The image of the pædophile has at least partly merged with
that of the serial killer who prowls the Yorkshire moors or metropolitan
The word 'pædophile'
was adopted, perhaps even devised, precisely because it meant
something different to what we now picture. Etymologically it
simply means anyone who loves children (the Greek word paidi
usually refers to boys but could also be used for girls).
So everyone, one might like to think, is a pædophile - except
of course those who might get pleasure out of torturing or other
wise maltreating children. Specifically, though, the pædophiles
were using the term to refer to anyone who might find children
sexually attractive with no implication that they would be engaging
in actual sexual relations with them. The word 'pederast' (more
correctly pæderast) was reserved for those who were
engaged in actual sexual relations (the word used in the popular
press at the time was the perfectly adequate 'child molester').
French 'gays' are unhappy with the formerly-common word pédé,
which has largely been replaced by the English term. And the English
term has, appropriately, become a term of abuse in the Anglosphere,
meaning not sissy or pansy - but 'pathetic', 'contemptible'.
I had a friend in
Paris who was a self-confessed pædophile, who only ever
cuddled boys of a certain age - an unfortunate age for him - 13/14
- for they very quickly found girlfriends and left his arms -
or what would now be called his clutches. They exploited him shamelessly
- and not only them, but their conniving parents also! The last
I heard he was still living with the last of his 'victims' who
must now be in his late forties and has cost my friend very much
indeed, not just financially. It seems to me that this kind of
homosexual pædophile is driven more by affection (and affect)
than by sex. On the other hand, those who are driven by desire
(lust) see the young (even extremely young) as objects
of desire. All pædophiles have an arrested, frozen sexual-emotional
development. But to the preying, destructive type of pædophile
a very young child is not a 'real person'. Nor, indeed, are women
to millions of 'normal men', especially in Africa and Asia
'...mon premier amant sérieux, alors que j'étais
un jeune adolescent (14 ans)
Augiéras (70+ ans) -
puis après un séjour auprès de Lanza
del Vasto à L'Arche -
dans une vie cahotique/chaotique j'ai été ami de
tout ceci pour dire combien j'ai été empreint d'un
état d'esprit et d'un mode de vie...'
Sexual behaviour has surely been influenced by the Enlightenment
obsession with mechanisation. After all, the French still regard
sexual activity as 'hygiene' - i.e. clearing the tubes. The capitalism
which accompanies mechanisation learned from Freud that sexual
triggers sell goods. The same capitalism naturally sought to aggrandise
the triggers quite literally: breasts, penis size, volume of ejaculate.
The problem raised by the scientific revolution is that science
depends heavily on numbers and measurement. Human beings are very
bad at putting numbers into context, and so most areas of human
activity are now statistical matters - often using false or distorted
It seems to me that
serious genitalisation (and of course penetration generally) has
increased dramatically since the Enlightenment - and the ghastly
Marquis de Sade. Despite the protests of those who stand up for
freedom of expression, pornography (another vague term and difficult
topic), while it does not corrupt the young, can certainly corrupt
adolescents and adults in its more extreme forms. Pictures can
give ideas. Ideas can become desires. Desires can become urgent.
And urgent desires can be enacted according to the ideas and fantasies.
Hence the pornography of consumerism - though, obviously, all
pornography is consumable.
The young, on the
other hand, are increasingly corrupted by the sexualising (and
de-sensualising) of everything in the age of mass-communication,
and by the 'soft' pornography that is doled out daily in the gutter
press in picture and in text. It is this gutter press and advertisement-carrying
television which have hijacked our fake democracies in the name
of freedom of speech. It is one reason for Muslim conversion
in the West. If I, as an old, freethinking atheist, can be disgusted
by (for example) underwear advertising on billboards (not to mention
what I don't see since I have never had television), I can understand
that thousands of others also can.
that much worse than the sexualisation-through-product-advertising
of little girls by transnational corporations which can manipulate
not just governments but the European Union ?
But it is not only
the word 'homosexuality' that is vague. So also is the word 'orgasm'.
Whereas in women it happens (privately) or it doesn't (mostly
doesn't), men ejaculate - but still may not experience any kind
of mind-blowing orgasm. Ejaculation is not necessarily the same
as orgasm. Indeed, the Don Juan Condition may be due to precisely
this disjunction. I would go so far to say that the whole thrust
of civilisation depends on the discontinuity between ejaculation
and orgasm in men, and the consequent, contingent neuroses.
I am one of those
who have ejaculated without any orgasm. Indeed I have very rarely
achieved anything more than yet another feeling of "so what
?". This is why my ridiculously late discovery of another
man who feels like me - literally. Our 'only' activity is 'mere'
kissing, licking and mutual nuzzling of groins and perinea and
armpits, which lasts for hours, very pleasantly, with little drinks
and nibbles and spacious, flowy music. We have orgasms without
We both remarked
that we felt that we had been wanting to do this sort of thing
since we were little children. But it was of course taboo. And
is still taboo in this strange world. We do not ejaculate, and
the non-ejaculation is much better, indeed much more satisfying
than most of the ejaculations we have had. There is a psycho-socio-biological
lesson in this, which would be worth learning in the morass of
emotions, imperatives, goals and taboos that surround simple sensuality
in 'advanced' cultures, especially monotheistic ones.
is usually or actually a barrier to male sexual development.
The meta- or para-sexuality which
my friend and I share is what would have been called Chastity
in mediæval times, whether performed by both sexes or just
one. For the important thing was penetration - so anything else
was "just" affection. Maybe even Caritas + Castitas.
So monasteries had a lot of bed-hopping, for reasons of warmth,
comfort and gentle affection - plus a lot of mutual masturbation,
I'm sure. But even that would have been regarded as a minor sin
in the circumstances - more a lapse of discipline - until and
unless it got out of hand, so to speak.
As indeed it did,
to judge from the images of sin on 12th century churches. But
those carvings far more often feature acrobats and entertainers
as performers of 'unnatural' behaviour, along with animals playing
musical instruments, drunkards, calumniators and gluttons. Representations
of pædophilia do not exist at all. Images of buggery are
extremely rare, which strongly suggests that the practice was
rare. And male exhibitionists very often have simian features,
which is a slur against Muslims (from Barbary where the apes are)
as much as against concupiscence.
And so we return
to pornography - of a very curious kind: the illustration of sin
as sin, and not as titillation. Would that modern pornography
had this aim, and was as ingenuous and as ingenious as the sculptures
of the 12th century.