Global Gay Nation => Separatism vs. Assimilation => Topic started by: Feral on September 24, 2006, 10:26:02 PM

Title: Gay Essence
Post by: Feral on September 24, 2006, 10:26:02 PM
Gay Essence (http://gayspecies.blogspot.com/2006/09/gay-essence_24.html)

From its nascent days in the Seventies, gay liberation has been divided by those who are "assimilationists" and those who are "anti-integration." The assimilationists want full expression within the mainstreams of society, while the anti-integrationists want as little to do with mainstram society as possible. About a year ago, Andrew Sullivan, writing in the New Republic, argued gays were inexorably evolving toward "the end of gay culture" and inevitably toward assimilation. Sullivan may have been premature, even way off base.

Aaron Hicklin, editor of Out magazine (another PlanetOut franchise), has entered the fray, claiming gays have sacrificed "the attitude, flamboyance, and outrageousness that once defined us" in order to win approval from mainstream society, and those values are too great a compromise for general acceptance. He's also peeved over Lance Bass's statement, when asked if he was gay, responded, "No, I am also gay." The reason Bass's comments raise ire among those opposed to assimilation is that Bass and gays like him do not think being gay is all-defining.

Rather, they believe that sexual orientation and the object of one's affections is but one component of their life, important to be sure, but not the alpha-and-omega of all existence. Clearly, the anti-integrationists hold the opposite view: Sexual orientation defines one's entire being, which is radically different from the heterosexual paradigm, and colors one's queer life in remarkably distinct ways. That Hicklin believes flamboyance and outrageousness are intrinsic to being gay exemplifies this attitude.

Stephen Heersink thinks both sides are wrong and launches into a lengthy explanation of his position, which is worth reading. Mr. Hicklin's remarks, which I believe Heersink has misinterpreted, can be read here (http://www2.out.com/notes_from_editor.asp?id=20182).

Out Magazine and Aaron Hicklin might not be the best arbiters of what the anti-integrationist view is on the "gay essence." Indeed, they may well be wrong about a great many things without affecting the validity of an essential difference between gays and str8s.

Anyone care to take a shot at it?
Title: Gay Essence
Post by: vanrozenheim on September 26, 2006, 01:57:13 AM
Certainly, it was a welcome occasion to kick someone's buttom and bring some ideas to paper. :b I have a lengthy comment to the article on http://gayspecies.blogspot.com/2006/09/gay-essence_24.html (http://gayspecies.blogspot.com/2006/09/gay-essence_24.html), this reads as follows:

It seems a serious mistake to to me to reduce homosexuality and gay identity to the physiological aspects, neglecting the social aspects of a relationship. It's not like humans were concealing their sexual orientation during the day, their sexuality finding expression solely by secretly "having sex with men" or "having sex with women" and having no imact on their otherwise life. The entire social life is rotating about human sexuality – beginning with the talks on the school yards and finishing with invitations to the Vienna Ball. Sex and love has inspired much of the mankind’s culture, and both are indeed the central issue not only with gays, but with humans in general whereby the „boy meets girl“ being exclusively teached in schools and springing into your eye every 30 seconds from the television screen. How can you seriously claim that gays „will see their being "gay" as all-defining“ instead of seeing „their being "gay" as one of many features“, apparently implying that heterosexuals are not as single-minded? Good man, it is simply in the nature of a human being to prefere stories reflecting his own sexuality – that’s why gays are reading about same-sex love, and straights get nuts about heterosexual romances.  

The political agenda of the gay people is reaching from the „assimilationists“ on one side, and the „isolationists“ on the other side. Somewhere in between the „integrationalists“ and the „separatists“ can be found. One shall not confuse these rather moderate dirictions in the gay thinking with more extreme ones – however comfortable it might appear in a debate to discredit the opponent. Therefore it is downright misleading when, as it happened in your valued article, the gay separatists are wrongly ear-marked as „anti-integrationalists“.

Look where the misunderstanding comes from: assimilation and integration are considered to be the same, whereas they are not. For example, white Americans have successfully assimilated native Americans with the effect that the former „Redskins“ now are enjoying all the achievements of modern science, technology and medicines, at the price of loosing their languages and their cultures being destroyed. Assimilation namely means adoption of the main-stream culture while surrendering one’s own identity. Therefore, whenever we hear suggestions to lay down „gay attitudes“ and „integrate ourselves into society“, we should be aware that the well-sounding „integration“ is indead meant to become the open-hearted assimilation. Lay down your gayness, do not kiss with men in public, open doors to women, avoid commenting on male youth’s good looks, play football, claim being „top“ in bed – then you still might be a faggot, but at least you are „acting straight“, perhapts a „real man“ honoris causa. The true integration means that society accepts the different cultural identity of the people in question and respects it as same-valued. Whereas the assimilating society is trying to eradicate any sign of the diviant culture, the integrating society is encouraging the cultural expression of minor cultures and is supporting it with financial and institutional means necessary. Now, guess how does it stand with gay „integration“?

I also have the impression that Mr. Hicklin’s remarks were slightly misinterpreted. His critique was rather pointing on the another passage in Mr. Bass’s interview describing himself as “one of the straight-acting gays…I love to watch football and drink beer”. Indeed, it is hard to disagree with Mr. Hicklin’s concerns about the obvious fact that „“straight-acting” remains some kind of honorable distinction“. When „straight-looking“ and „straight-acting“ is a positively-loaded self-description worth being mentioned not only in sex contact ads, but also inmids of an intellectual conversation, just what exactly is implied when somebody is „gay-looking“ or „gay-acting“?

For people who do not yet have grasped the outreach of the issue, certain analogies might help. What would we think of some wealthy African American back in the 1950’s describing himself as „white-looking“ and „white-acting“? What would we think of a jewish-born scientist or lawyer in Germany of the 1920’s, claiming having nothing to do with „the Jews“? Attending a university, putting on an expensive jacket and joining an opera performance didn’t make them less black or jewish, no matter how more distinguished they might have felt in comparison to their less fortunate brethren.

The learned and the wealthy of a people have the choice between joining the existing establishment, or forming their own elites. Those from the oppressed group who have managed to escape poverty and marginalization have the option to simply enjoy their newly gained social status, or to become leaders and interceders for others of their people. Forming gay elites would require certain degree of courage, and the readiness to take over responsibility for the fates of the large masses of our people.

In a controversy over the assimilation against isolation, perhaps we shall first agree over the notion that non of these alternatives is possible, nor are they expedient for the well-being of the gay people. Neither are straight people ever going to overlook the differnces between gays and straights, nor would it be smart for us to act as if the straight world were not existing. We are forced therefor to contemplate on how much of the integration and how much of the separation will serve the interests of the gay people the best. Assuming we actually are a people and we indeed do have common interests and values, it seems only naturally to me that we shall be able to take appropriate measures to pursue our common interests and to back up our common values. The best way to achieve enhancement of the situation for a distinctive group of people is to congregate closer, to organize themselves politically and economically and to establish a common public sphere worth of being mentioned. Without a strong group identity, and without effective organizatory structures no group ever was able to secure its interests.

The evil in the assimilationist approach (beyound its in-built impossibility) is that its apologets imply that our common interests are limited to a search for a fuck for the night. What else shall the statement „I am not only gay“ suggest? Of course one is not only gay, the same way as one is „not only black“, „not only a native French speaker“, „not only a diabetic“ and „not only a construction worker“! But being „not only“ is hardly a sufficient reason to refrain from black liberation movement, to stop supporting French-speaking film and literature, to stay away from health issues and to resign from the trade union. But only gays are that stupid to defame their likes for „one-dimensionality“ when they are going to address specifically gay issues.  

So what exactly are our common interests and values? The first (and the most obvious) need of our people worldwide is the need for personal security. This issue will remain adherent to being gay at least for the duration of the existance of the three monoteistic Middle-East originated religions – not a single day passes by without gays being stoned, hanged or stabbed somewhere for no other reason than them being a homo. The second issue is the advancement of gay culture, which is still fundamentally underdeveloped and far from corresponding with out material and intellectual ressources. However greate the „Brokeback Mountain“ might have been, the hyperbolical enthusiasm over this single production is a telling testimonial for the generally sad state of our affairs. Third, there is the question of preservation and transmission of our history and knowledge across gay generations. As a people, we simply can’t afford anymore to let every gay generation re-invent the wheel anew. We have no consequently compiled gay history textbooks, no regular education programs for gay youth, and no research institutions worth mentioning. However noble-spirited the singular attempts in this direction certainly are, they are chronically underfinanced and thus rather limited in scope. Forth, the issue of gay youth suicide and homelessnes is still a serious one even in the progressive countries such as Canada, not to mention the many socially far more ruthless societies. And, last but not least, many of us are missing the simple joys of common activities and public celebrations, and by no way can the anonymous high-priced amusement etablissements be regarded as a sufficient substitute. Indeed, it is not a question of „being more than only gay“, but rather an issue of making more of being gay!

Beyond these solely pragmatic approaches, we shall ascertain that gay men are indeed very different from straight men. Of course, this is not fixed to the foolish prejudices about gay hair-dressers and straight airplane mechanics – no, I am talking here about the way how gay men treat treat eachother. There is one essential difference between gay and straight men, which apparently slipped your attention: Whereas the „real men“ are programmed for a never-ending competetive fight against each others with the aim to get hold of the most fertile female and provide their off-spring with better life chances than other children, we faggots completely lack this trait. The effects are dramatic: while straight men are benevolent towards females and latently aggressive towards other men, gay men are instinctively benevolent towards other males and rather indifferent to cooperative towards females. While straight men are pushing their own sons forwards at expenses of other kids, we are driven by our protective (and other) instincts to help them up. While straight men are instinctively oppressive towards any subordinate male youth, we are rather tempted to give them an extra hug.

It is clear therefore that our gay identity is determined not by the degree of „effiminacy“ or „masculinity“, but by the significantly differnt expression of social interaction. This is the reason why you could not find the „essence“ of gay identity – your were looking at the wrong place for it!

Do you know if the blog in question is popular? Otherwise, it might be the right time to write an article on rebirth of gay nationalism. Or does a vibrant gay culture somehow prevent anyone from watching football, drinking beer and spitting on the side-walk – all those elevating occupations, which apparently distinguish the „straight-acting“ MSM from common faggots?

P.S. Edited to repair broken link -- Vicky
Title: Gay Essence
Post by: Feral on September 26, 2006, 08:40:15 AM
Do you know if the blog in question is popular?

Based on the number of web logs that referrence (http://www.technorati.com/search/www.gayspecies.blogspot.com%2F) Mr. Heersink, I would have to estimate that the blog is not much read, which is unfortunate. He is a thoughtful and articulate writer -- something I find too little of these days.
Title: Gay Essence
Post by: vanrozenheim on September 26, 2006, 08:12:11 PM
I hope I was not overly rude by posting such an extended comment. :)
Title: Gay Essence
Post by: vanrozenheim on September 27, 2006, 06:16:16 AM
Mr. Heersink was so kind to reply followingly:

Granted, sexuality is not "just" another feature of our human dynamic, and how we react to our physical attractions affects more than our sexuality alone. Other than our non-aggressiveness, which I did mention, and the attraction between the same sex, I cannot find other properties or characteristics which are in any sense universal. Indeed, I know many gay men who are "straight-acting" without "acting," just as I know many who approximate a stereotype and many who are everywhere else on the human spectrum. Lastly, gay men often have interests other than the purely sexual, and those broad interests do not provide a meaningfully defining common identity.

I'm not sure I have seen "gay culture," except in the sense of gay social networks. Are there "gay" arts, and if so, how do they differ from "non-gay" arts? Is Forester's "Maurice" a part of an elusive gay culture, or ordinary culture with gay characters? Ditto Michaelangelo? If there is a "gay culture" beyond the gay social networks I encourage anyone to identify it with the appropriate examples.

I too appreciate "gay" history and believe it needs to be told and heralded, but even here we encounter "essential" difficulties. The man-boy relationships of Greek, Roman, and Arabic antiquity are very different from man-man relationships that seem to have a more recent past. Indeed, "homosexual" in the sense of man-man in our current linguistic use is only 200 years old. I have no doubt that man-man relationships existed in antiquity along with man-boy, but unfortunately there is very little to document this intuition from the annals of history.

Personal safety affects everyone, and surely gays have borne the hostilities of those who lack tolerance and understanding. Having a larger need for safety because of illiberal intolerance is not necessarily a "gay defining" feature, although clearly the increased violence stems from homophobia.

Other than MSM and non-aggression, I just don't see any other "identity-defining" criteria, although I appreciate no one person can capture all the nuances of every individual. I do see areas where gays have started social practices that have spread through the rest of society, but I would be hard-pressed to identify any of these social practices as exclusively gay.

But above all, I do believe whether one assimilates or integrates or whatever words one chooses for participating in the larger world, that those situations that are unique to each individual and common to many gay men should be preserved as an integrity in itself. And above all, that every individual, gay, straight, bi, or celibate, enjoy the pluralism of our individual uniqueness by being authentic to one's self.

While necessity demands some conformity for social cohesion and order, those requirements should be minimal, and our individual expressions must maximally flourish, with a symphony of different players celebrating the joys of our individual pursuits and our collective humanity.

Mr. Heersink's reply encouraged me for some further lengthy comment, even at the danger of becoming a pest:

You have of course right when you say that humans are all very different, and that we shall celebrate our collective humanity. Most people belong not only to one all-defining category, but to many categories -- males, teenagers, blacks, the wealthy, musicians, sportsmen, Italians, moslems etc. But this plentitude of identities is hardly a reason to deny the existence of these categories at all, or to reduce them to profanities. Italians have more in common then living within the same borders and musicians not simply sit in the same room for a couple of hours torturing an instrument. There is always more connected to this - socialization, history, common knowledge etc, even if in other aspects all these people are very different and unique. Homosexuals existed always and everywhere - only the forms of socialization were of course dependent on particular circumstances. Yes, the habits of homosexuals in antik Greece were slightly different from the habits of Western homosexuals of our days, but the same is true for heterosexuals as well.

What do you think is a NATION as such? One hardly would be able to find another group of people who have actually NOTHING in common, and yet these people have the strong feelings of belonging together. Not because these people are living on the same territory, but because they have the same public space and common practical interests. If you or me wanted to find the unique "American identity", we would encounter no lesser difficulties. But, ignorant of our philosophycal difficulties to grasp the essence of their nature, the Americans exist and flourish, the same as Japanese, Italians and Germans -- and Gays. Every "nation" and every "people" the so-called "thought communities" - and as such always artificial constructs.

There is OF COURSE a gay literature existing, and "Maurice" is one of the most beatifull pieces of it. The fact that some straights find pleasure in reading this book in no way suggests that there were no gay culture at all - the same way that Japanese literature does not cease to be Japanese only because millions of people in the West appreciate it as well. Like always, a piece of art can belong to more than one categories: to the "Japanese literature" as well to the "gay literature" and to the "youth books". It is simply foolish to deny the existence of one of these categories while acceptig the others for granted.

I have been reading recently an excellent book from Konrad Lorenz on the nature of species. He expressed a very interesting notion, that "the norm" and "the typus" are indeed solely ideallised projections from many individual beings of the same species. Say, describing a duck, we invent an image of this species which in this IDEALLIZED form never occurs in nature - some are missing a leg, others are lame, the next are psychotic etc - but nevertheless, when we SEE a duck we RECOGNIZE it as a duck. The same way all our differences do not change the fact of who we are - homosexuals, gays, faggots, whatever - and neither we, nor the straights will ever have difficulties to sort out "us" from "them", when provided with all necessary informations.

To come back to the question of gay culture - it is very well existing, but unfortunately not fully developed. What do you think, WHO watches/reads all the gay movies and books? Do you really believe that large hords of straights are waiting the whole week before the next episode of "Queer as Folk" comes on TV? Or that they enjoy "Maurice" as you and me did? You are mistaken, my friend - most straights feel "uncomfortable" when they are unexpectedly confronted with a romantic gay love story, just read all the comments about "Hidden Frontier" and other films/books with singular gay charakters. Not only do we have our distinct culture, but this culture is also much disliked by the straight culture(s).

The only reason why there is actually so little gay culture visible, is the oppression and the lack of gay public sphere. While we can do little against oppression, we can do a great deal on the common gay public sphere - THEN the gay culture will flourish. As always in history, cultural growth largely depends on favourable conditions, spiritual and material. No gay art can develope in an atmosphere of fear and terror, and also not in the intellectual lazyness of pure materialism. If no gay people will read gay books, there will be no gay literature. Separatism and nationalism are always only the means for achieving particular goals - for example, economical and political liberation and cultural progress. If gay boys permanently hear not only from straights, but also from other gays that they indeed have nothing else in common than sex, they will actually believe it. Good bye social networks, good bye political work, good bye gay culture. For what make efforts to teach gay history, if one can pretend there never was one? We can of course continue to deceive ourselves with the fancy that we can simply become the part of the "general culture", but in truth we will remain without a culture while straight people continue as always to do whatever is in their interests. This is a pretty bad bargain, in particularly considering that we currently have the means to do what is necessary for our further developement as a people.

I am afraid, the discussion is the old optimist-pessimist battle as they were so often fighted out on this Earth. Both sides know the same facts, but make fundamentally different conclusions of them.  :wink:
Title: Gay Essence, continuation of the debate
Post by: vanrozenheim on October 01, 2006, 04:21:12 AM
D. Stephen Heersink (gayspecies):

I'm not sure what you are arguing for. You claim there is a "gay culture," but haven't cited a single example of one. Then you claim that fear and terror has prevented it from happening. If the latter is true, I would assume there is no former, which negates your claim.

You are certainly right to insist that we have a plurality of "identities," and being gay is exactly just such an identity. But you seem to insist that there is something more than identity, as essence if you will, and I need someone like you to tell me what that essence would be. I've met literally thousands of gay men, and other than a common interest of having sex with other men (and a characteristic of non-aggression), I can't discern any such essence.

What I have discerned is a "gay sensibility," but I must condition even that. Most of the gay men I've met have this sensibility, but many have not. And I can't and won't arbitrate who is or isn't gay based on a sensibility, since some gay men don't have this sensibility, but still identify themselves as gay.

I suspect it is this sensibility that is often added to the dynamic of our lives, a feature that is not particularly carnal, but a sense of brotherhood. If this sensibility is what you are calling "essence" then we are merely semantically different. Essence, though, is entailment, while sensibility is another of many variables. And since this sensibility is only prevalent, not absolute, I cannot insist it is an essence of being gay. One of the features of this sensibility is non-aggression, but there are others -- not an exhaustive list that fits every person, but a set of features than are common to us. Another feature of this sensibility might be drama, which may have limited application, but certainly not every gay man is dramatic. Another sensiblity is, for the lack of a better word, feminine -- gay men in the main seem to enjoy and revel in some feminine sensibilities, such as nurture, caring, comforting, and so on, but many gay men either don't have this feminine sensibility or suppress it. So it cannot be a part of a gay essence.

The problem, of course, is that there are no "essences." Such language is a holdover from Platonic epistemology that few of us still accept. And trying to fit individuals into epistemological categories that don't universally hold true seems to me, at least, a futile exercise. And while the majority of gay men I've known have this "gay sensibility," too many have not had it to make it a categorical imperative of being gay. Like the rest of the people on this earth, perhaps more so, gay men have a plurality of identities (emotions, interests, careers, etc.) but mainly sexual attraction as the sole common denominator that empowers them with a gay identity. For a large number of those who identify themselves as gay, exists a large subset that also has a gay sensibility. But that sensibility is not universal, and thus cannot be part of a gay essence.

Are gay men attracted to those aspects of our culture that pick out other men, especially other men being with other men? Absolutely! I daresay straight and gay readers of "Maurice" experience the novel very differently, but at its core it is a love story between men, which is still a love story. But I'd be hard pressed to call it "gay culture," just culture addressed to gay men. One could easily substitute the men with two women or a man and a woman and still have the same set of affairs around them. Maybe I'm missing what you believe to be distinctly and uniquely "gay culture," and maybe an example of what you mean might elucidate for me a distinction I cannot find. The only tentative idea I can think of is the gay bathhouse, but then too many gay men do not like that ambience to count it as a gay culture. It certainly is part of the gay scene, but again straights have had bathhouses too, so what does that do to the idea?


I am afraid, you are a little bit polemic here in the course of defending your point of view. This might have prevented you from seeing what I actually was attempting to say.

What I did say, was that there very well is a gay culture, and I also said that "no gay art can develope in an atmosphere of fear and terror". Provided that I did not claim that fear and terror were omnipresent EVERYWHERE and IN ALL TIMES, you must agree that it is not the same as to say "that fear and terror has prevented it [gay culture] from happening [at all]."

If you look abroad, you will see that in those countries where homosexuality is penallized, there is indeed no CONTEMPORARY gay culture detectable - just go to Nigeria and try to find any literature or films on gay issues. The same way, "Maurice" was well written 1913-1914 but it was determined by E. M. Forster to be published post-mortem, and one shall not forget he died 1970 (!). Thus, while gay culture is summa summarum very well existing in this world, many, many works never see the daylight, and our culture is far from achieving its FULL POSSIBLE greatness because of exclusion of large numbers of gifted individuals from it, whereas in better circumstances they would contribute to it. What is illogical in this argumentation? I think it is below the level of this discussion to ask me to list examples of gay literature and gay art - we both know there are thousands of appropriate examples, and I am not intended to make a schoolboy from me by citing few of them.

To make my point more clear to you, I shall better summarize my objections:

1) Searching for the "gay essence", you, after a lengthy discussion, come to the conclusion, that there is nothing more behind being gay than feeling sexually attracted to the same-sex individuals. Well, being homosexual PER DEFINITION means feeling attracted to the same-sex individuals, for this you don't need to write an exposť. What you were looking for by writing this article was to prove the thesis that gays actually have nothing else in common than having sex with men. I think this thesis is wrong (and harmful).

2) You set up very different criterions for recognition of "gay identity" and "gay culture" than for any other identity and culture. Applying these arbitrarily SEVERED criterions, you argue against the mere existence of gay identity and gay culture, whereas you at the same time without any reservation accept e.g. the "american identity" and "american culture". In your reply, btw, you gently avoid any discussion of this obvious point.

3) By renouncing the significance of the gay identity, a person appears more qualified for the mainstream identity, e.g. for the american identity. If being gay were proven to be culturally irrelevant, there were no reason why a homo can't be "as good as anybody else". In essence of this article, you argue for inclusion into the superordinated (obviously, national) identity, while trying make us think gay identity irrelevant.

For me, it seems obvious that inducing or accepting such erosion of gay identity will INEVITABLY result in political impotence of gay people and in decline of gay culture, which is a somewhat high price for "inclusion". By accepting the irrelevance of gay identity, gays will indeed come down to the level of "men having sex with men".

Too bad, I forgot to mention that in "Maurice" it would be not possible to change characters to "man and woman", because contrary to Mr. Heersink's opinion not the beatiful love story, but the conflict between same-sex love and the surrounding Victorian society was the point of the roman. I can't imagine why this point slipped attention of Mr. Heersink, who has proven remarkable insight at other occasions.  :roll:
Title: RE: Gay Essence, continuation of the debate
Post by: Vizier on March 17, 2007, 05:21:55 PM
People! The dead links are horrible. While the Hicklin commentary is still there, the blog Vicky has inserted is gone. Please remedy?
Title: Re: Gay Essence, continuation of the debate
Post by: Vizier on March 17, 2007, 05:26:38 PM
Quote from: "vanrozenheim"
Too bad, I forgot to mention that in "Maurice" it would  not be possible to change characters to "man and woman", because contrary to Mr. Heersink's opinion not the beautiful love story, but the conflict between same-sex love and the surrounding Victorian society was the point of the story. I can't imagine why this point slipped attention of Mr. Heersink, who has proven remarkable insight at other occasions.  :roll:

E.M. Forster's largely autobiographical Maurice was a real eye-opener for me, as it made me understand myself much better when it first appeared on film... after having closeted myself for years, it was nice to feel somehow strangely empowered enough to throw open the doors and come out to my family. That was 1998.

Heersink no doubt also has no problem with people changing the gender of love songs? Doesn't work either.  Try singing I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair after transgenderizing it. Baaaaad!  :P
Title: RE: Re: Gay Essence, continuation of the debate
Post by: Feral on March 17, 2007, 06:08:39 PM
The blog GaySpecies  (http://gayspecies.blogspot.com/index.html)is alive and well. Perhaps being archived killed the link. The post with Vicky's comments is here (http://gayspecies.blogspot.com/2006/09/gay-essence_24.html).
Title: Gay Essence
Post by: vanrozenheim on May 18, 2007, 08:39:51 AM
Dr. Heersink has posted a new contribution to the same issue, wrapped as Gay Art, Gay Culture? (http://gayspecies.blogspot.com/2007/05/gay-art-gay-culture.html) Here is a small extract from his post:

Queer Theorists want to pigeon-hole all gay men and/or lesbians as having an ubiquitous essence that transcends and applies to all "gay-named" individuals. That desire is untenable, implausible, and impossible. Collect a hundred "gay-identified men," and one gets almost a hundred different "gay expressions," some perhaps overlapping others, some excluding others, but very few, if any, that apply to all hundred gay men equally. So much, for "gay essence."

Well, Dr. Heersink misrepresents Queer Theorists here. What he claims about pigeon-holing of gays is not true even for Gay Nationalists, even less for Queer Theorists. As in our previous discussion, the mistake in logic is so obvious I can not understand why he does not see it by himself: characterizing an Ethnos does not require that every individual is an exact copy of the other, it's about statistics. There is no necessity that a particular token is present in ALL individual of a race/ethnos/species, it is sufficient that this token is quite common among the described group. Usually, not only one token serves to describe a creature as belonging to a particular race/ethnos/species, but a set of a number of tokens. Not all ducks have two legs, but when we see a duck we can recognize it as duck -- because the one-legged duck still has a number of different "duckish" tokens. The same way, Gays might differ on an individual level, but as a group we statistically differ from straights on a plentitude of tokens -- and this statistical difference is the ONLY requirement to describe a "Group" or a "People" as different from others.

Though I see his post as provocative (at least for me), I will not respond. Dr. Heersink appears unable or unwilling to understand the antropological approach to culture and identity. Introducing false prepositions right from beginning (like some artificial "essence" being required for peoplehood and culture), he then logically comes to some conclusions which appear to contradict every empiric sense. Why so? Because starting with false axioms will lead you to false conclusions even by following formal rules of deduction.
Title: Gay Essence
Post by: Feral on May 18, 2007, 07:33:51 PM
Does anyone seriously believe we think, talk, or hold these archaic views about an eternal Form of Gayness making a "this" into a Gay Essence? Thus, Gayness would have universal features and properties that define every single instance of every Gay Thing. This kind of metaphysical transcendence of an Eternal Animating Form, or in Aristotle's terminology, "soul," would be an ubiquitous "Gay Soul." Seriously? In the 20th and 21st centuries, this kind of thought and talk survives?

Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but "yes." This kind of thought and talk not only survives in the 21st century, it does so quite handily. I don't know that I'd be much quoting Plato on the matter though. Plato is, quite bluntly, wrong. His writings are, I think, far more interesting for their paraphrasing of the views of others. While it would be difficult to do so, Heraclitus might be more illustrative of the character of "essence." Alternatively, any of the Epicurean writers would be helpful.

"Gayness" (if that is what one must call it) does have universal features that define being "gay." If one does not have them, then one is not "gay." Would I imagine that gays have only gay qualities to the exclusion of any other? Why on Earth would I do that?

As for the "ubiquitous 'Gay Soul,'" this is a matter for animist theologians, very few of whom play much mind to the rhetoric of Aristotle. Animism is far too gnostic in character to be brought into a discussion that relies so on logic. But yes... this sort of thought and talk also survives.

I am rather puzzled by Mr. Heersink's frequent references to 'queer theorists." I do not think he characterizes their arguments correctly. Queer Theory is redolent with Constructivism. They would be among the first to argue that there is no 'gay essence." It is the Constructivists who disavow the very concept of essence. It would be the Essentialists who do not (hence the name). Queer Theory might be many things, but I do not think one could call it Essentialist.

Stones are hard (at least, all of the hard ones). "Hardness" is a readily identifiable essential quality. All things that are hard posses it. None of the things that do not possess this quality are credibly said to be 'hard.'

Really... while one might dissemble for a very long time if one is clever, it really is quite possible to tell when a person just isn't 'gay.' They're allowed to not be gay of course. Many people aren't gay. It's nothing to be ashamed of. Just as some stones are notoriously hard (diorite, for instance) and some are infamously not hard (talc), there are people who are 'gayer' than others. That talc is deficient in hardness in comparison to diorite does not make it 'not hard' in most meaningful ways. I would not care to be whacked in the head with a lump of talc, for instance.
Title: Gay Essence
Post by: Rain on August 09, 2007, 02:57:10 AM
Very interesting.  But the dear doctor is being guided only in and by what other gay men are projecting.  In short, he's taking the "thousands" of gay men he has met at face value.  Oh, that it were so easy that gays could live in a world where everyone took us at face value.  Does he ever wonder how many thousands of straight men he has met that were not at all straight?  

If there is one characteristic that has defined gay people throughout the ages, aside from fucking buttholes and eating pussy (to paraphrase Dr. Heersink), it's that we are chameleons.  That in itself has become a defining characteristic of gay identity all over the world in nearly every culture.  Odd that Dr. Heersink would also miss this point.
Title: Gay Essence
Post by: Feral on August 09, 2007, 05:42:04 AM
it's that we are chameleons.

I would intensify that somewhat -- we are chameleons and know that we are chameleons. Even when we aren't being chameleons, it is a conscious decision not to do so, and we know we aren't doing so.

One does not need to believe in anything along the lines of "French atoms" (or even "French souls") to comprehend that there is a difference between an American Quarter Horse (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Quarter_Horse) and a Camargue (http://www.inapg.inra.fr/dsa/especes/equins/camargue.htm). They are quite easy to tell apart, providing one cares at all about the differences. There are three mounted police officers in the excessively quaint town I live in... the three horses are not of the same breed. Some people are quite content to simply define them all as "horses," even to the point of denying that they differ in any respect other than color. That these people decline to recognize that these horses are of different breeds does not make the horses not of different breeds.
Title: Gay Essence
Post by: vanrozenheim on August 09, 2007, 02:43:40 PM
You have right. It is in principle a senseless debate to argue about whether "gayness" is important or not, whether it is important if one is straight or a homo. Obviously, for some people being of the homo- or heterosexual species is important, for some not. Can we blame a person who can't see the difference between a Zebra and a Przhewalsky horse? Obviously not, even being amazed about the person's lack of judgement. Quite another thing is, of course, a person whose daily existence and mind state is defined by his Gayness (to the extent that he spends considerable amount of his time with musing and writing about Gayness), and yet pretends that being Gay were of no importance. :wink:
Title: Gay Essence
Post by: Rain on August 09, 2007, 05:12:17 PM
One of the amazing things of the "nature vs. nurture" arguments that people consistently overlook is this one...if either of those is to be taken seriously, the nature of gays has HAD to have been altered (AND REENFORCED) over millennia under the brutal "nurturing" or conditioning of heterosexual oppression.  It only makes sense.  So both theories may indeed be right, but not as the theorists expect.  

Natural selection would make sure that only those homos in centuries past who could best hide their gayness would pass on their genes.  The more flamboyant ones who refused to fall into step and marry and procreate would not.  Again, it only makes sense.  So, nature has indeed played a vital and pivotal role in our development.  We should, in theory, share much more than just the ability to perforate an asshole or lick a clit.
Title: Gay Essence
Post by: vanrozenheim on August 09, 2007, 07:07:04 PM
All true, but you fall into that individual genetic trap.  :idea:  

1) There is no necessity that the Gay gene is allocated at the Gay individual himself (it's in the mother, most probably); and

2) For the evolution, decisive are population genetics - means the tribe survival is more important for the gene than survival of any particular individual.

In our particular case, the biology is apparently determined in the mother's womb - the more brothers you had before you, the more chances you have to become a pretty little baby-Gay. So it's your mother's genes which are responsible for your body, not your own genes - amazing! For the tribe, Gay people are of greate advantage - they strengthen the social network and pick up spiritual/social duties. Or at least it was so, before certain religions were invented - and the humankind tore apart. From respected family members, Gays turned into scapegoats and bugbears to scare little and big boys.
Title: Gay Essence
Post by: Rain on August 10, 2007, 05:58:10 AM
Well, my mother hit the jackpot on her first and only try.  I'm her only child.  Although, I tend to believe that there isn't one single gay gene but several genes which all must be inherited and triggered.  

Recently I saw a piece on television about one theory that holds that homosexuality may be conditioned during the third month of pregnancy in the mother's womb by hormonal changes in the mother's own body.  Exactly how the theorist arrived at that conclusion is still not clear to me.  But it went something along the lines that over production of certain hormones "tilt" the brain toward homosexuality.  I don't know how plausible that is or how the research was done.  However, it just sounded as if someone was trying awfully hard to separate gayness from a genetic cause and put the blame, so to speak, squarely on external (and therefore, preventable or controllable) factors.