Homophobes Aren’t Good Enough to be Called Gay

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Stop me if you’ve heard this joke: A raging homophobe with a clear history of animus and hatred toward gays really must be suppressing his own homosexual desires, because, apparently, the only “real” motive for homophobia must be self-hatred. I’ve heard this joke thousands of times. Mike Pence. Omar Mateen. Jerry Falwell. Tony Perkins. James Dobson. Vladimir Putin. Chris Cooper’s character in American Beauty. Backwoods Appalachian hillbillies raping grown men in Deliverance.

It’s an old one for sure, but this joke is total bullshit.

It’s also been around for longer than most of us have been alive: in reaction to the nonaggression pact agreed upon by Russia and Germany that year, a 1939 comic panel mockingly depicts Hitler and Stalin getting married with the caption “Wonder how long the honeymoon will last?” Yet, like any old, humorless joke, this one persists. In the wake of this week’s Helsinki Summit, the same tired imagery of two buffoonish leaders emerges calling upon homoerotic, Dom/sub imagery. The shaming of gay sex is alive and well, it being considered shameful enough to paint villainous world figures as repressed gays with kinky tastes.

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I can’t for the life of me figure out why gay men go along with these jokes. Somehow gay sex scandals such as those of Ted Haggard, Larry Craig, J. Edgar Hoover, Mark Foley, and their ilk remain an inexplicable source of vindication for gay men, who somehow believe that their repressed desires cast gays in a good light. These jokes often blur the line between homoerotic desire and child sexual abuse, subjecting abusive priests to the same punchline. This is not a good strategy in our public discourse, nor is it doing us any favors when it comes to learning how to deal with homophobia.

41000011The harsh reality these jokes seem to resist is that some people really, truly, thoroughly hate us. People really do want us gone, invisible, or even dead. This isn’t some pathology born out of repressed homoerotic desire but an honest, earnest, deadly serious belief that some people hold. Attempts to pathologize, displace, and distort the motives of homophobes in the end do us gays a disservice. It suggests that our own desires are capable of wrenching the soul into a murderous monstrosity. It performs the same logic as those who raise the specter of “black on black crime,” blaming gays for their own victimization. It deflects the responsibility of heteronormativity for the harm caused by its totalizing, violent, and insidious agenda.

Let’s instead put blame where it belongs, and call out the heteronormative bullshit that underwrites this rhetoric. Not only are homophobes not worthy to be called gay, they’re not worthy to unlace our boots. Being gay is magical. There are things that we know, things that we understand, things that we experience that these sentient bottles of Axe can never approach. Our sex is off limits to them – they’re not worthy of a fuck, not with us, and not even with each other in our jokes and our memes. They deserve the shame, isolation, celibacy, and fear that they’ve forced on us ever since they built us opposite their image. Calling Trump a fem sub bottom or a drag queen is blasphemy, because fem sub bottoms are the priests and drag queens are the prophets of our gay religion.

If we are to weaponize our sex, let us do it the right way. Let us take it back from those who gawk and gack about how “the parts don’t fit” and force them to approach it with the respect and reverence it deserves.

What’s funnier – anal sex, or not thoroughly wiping your own ass because you’re afraid it’s too gay?

Or, what’s funnier – sucking cocks, or telling your bros how you’re so straight, you eat your hot dogs from the middle?

And again, what’s funnier – being a sub in a BDSM relationship, or getting married and being so miserable you end up making endless, only half-joking references to your wife as your “warden” or “the old ball and chain”?

Our sex is not your punchline, but by God, your homophobic neuroses sure as hell are ours. And that’s exactly how it should be.

Some Books, a Bear, and a Lot of Bemusement

Every mind is a hodgepodge.

You can quote me on that, because I’m a mess. Thirty-one years of sorting through my own mingled yarn of faults, virtues, and jumbled cogitation has left me with the conviction that there’s not a single person alive whose mental coherence can long withstand the pressure to produce a fully cogent image of itself. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – that’s just how we humans as a lot are. What it does mean is that our obsessive desire for certainty, rationality, and mastery most often proves our own undoing. This is as true for us as individuals as it is of entire civilizations; pushed past its own feeble limits, the compulsion for order and stability often leads to chaos and downfall. The art of living deliberately – Socrates’s noble “examined life” – consists in navigating the poles of order and chaos: never avoiding, while never fully embracing, one or the other.

So, as from the hodgepodge responsible for the creation of this blog, such an effort is what I promise. This blog is born from the twin desires to make sense of and to make chaos of an astoundingly weird, complex, and confusing world, while being an astoundingly weird, complex, and confusing person.

The reason I’m such a mess – the reason no one person can ever fully present themselves in a fully cogent image – is because we live between vacillating, opposing forces pulling us in different ways at different times. We aim for authenticity, and we aim for integrity, which is to say we aim to choose the “right” impulses that express the best of who we are, and we aim to do this consistently in every circumstance. Authentic self-expression is tricky when you have multiple authentic selves. I’m at once a philosophizing, scholarly, cerebral (and sometimes insufferable) know-it-all and a red-blooded, queer, passionate gay man with a penchant for food, leather, and the bear scene. I’m bookish, and I’m a bear. I’m a bookish bear.

And unless I put these two sides of myself in conversation with one another, I’m not likely to attain either authenticity or integrity. This is a challenge, as these two personas don’t always care for one another. The bookworm likes quiet, needs space to think, craves time enough to get lost in an inner world of solitude and ideals, whereas the bear loves the company of others, the more salacious side of life, subverting norms, and taking enjoyment in the present. In the bookworm’s space, the bear often has to hide in the closet; in the bear’s space, the bookworm has to hide in that same closet. I am my own odd couple.

This blog is by and about a bookish bear. At times reflective, discursive, and autobiographical, my aim is present my thoughts, my work, and life to the outer world.

This blog is, like my mind, a hodgepodge, but one that weaves (okay, maybe tangles) culture with religion and the humanities. I have no interest in being merely abstract, abstract as I may be. I believe in thought as a means of entering into deeper relationship with the outside world in the search for wisdom, insight, and meaning. I’m a phenomenologist in training, experienced in practical theology and social-political theory. I’m also a butch queen vers who looks damn good in a harness and combat boots and knows the precise length to cut a pair of jeans to make an enticing pair of cutoffs (hint: you’ve got to reveal enough to get their attention, but keep enough covered to leave them wanting more).

Whatever rhetorical device I use to present the apparent contradictions of myself, I am at heart one person.

 

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