"The Whole World Is Gay"
In college I hung out for a while with a group of people who, in the jargon of the day, would be called “queens.” They had to put up with many insults and acts of discrimination. As a defensive response, they would sometimes “read” their tormentors, implying that the other person was actually a self-hating gay. The notorious lawyer Roy Cohn was an egregious example. Still most of those who harbor aversion to homosexuals are motivated by other reasons.
Rarely does one find the homosexual equivalent of the view of the young Jewish woman in Brooklyn. But some extraordinary claim surface from time to time.
In a rambling editorial in a recent issue of The Guide, a Boston gay magazine, French Wall seeks to defend the proposition that “being human means being gay.” Somewhat paradoxically for a writer who is arguing for the universality of homosexuality, he opposes the binary contrast between homosexual and heterosexual.
Without offering any statistical evidence Wall argues the majority of preadolescent boys engage in sex play with other boys. After this early same-sex start, society remoulds these males as heterosexuals. Some men, in prep schools and on shipboard, continue to engage in same-sex activity, while regarding themselves as heterosexuals.
According to the argument the predominance of heterosexuality is simply the product of social pressure, diverting males from their “natural” preference for sex with each other.
Wall’s conclusion is indeed off-the-wall: “Once we realize that all sexuality is predicated on a homosexual foundation (since it is with our own bodies we enjoy sex), and that exclusive heterosexuality is a coerced social construct and not a natural kind, we are led to a clearer agenda for gay liberation. Our goal is not to become a separate category of junior straight people wherein we adopt straight institutions and patterns, changing only the sex of of our partners. Nor is it to convert anyone away from heterosexuality. Instead, we must understand that our struggle is to free everyone from the fear that keeps them from expressing and enjoying their true, natural, and fundamental gay selves.”
Many objections spring to mind. Here are just two. What about procreation and the continuation of the species? And why can’t one take at face value the statements of men that they love women? For Wall and company these objections are probably beside the point. The goal is not to produce a persuasive argument but to achieve the comfort of illusions. They are preaching to a very small choir, as most gays and lesbians have a realistic understanding of their situation.
The underlying psychic mechanism is this. Some gay men are uncomfortable with their minority status. They seek to reverse it by a big infusion of wishful thinking.
Another ploy involves manipulation of the figures given by Alfred Kinsey and his associates in the classic 1948 volume Sexual Behavior in the American male. This book offers statistical evidence of various kinds. By carefully cherry picking the evidence, which includes onetime encounters and fantasies, the gay apologists are able to boost the homosexual figures to 50%, even slightly more. In this way, the minority becomes the majority.
Many attribute to Kinsey the view that “all people are bisexual.” This notion goes back to Otto Weininger, not to Alfred Kinsey. Since Kinsey showed that some 50% of men, at the very least, are untouched by homosexual behavior, at least half of the men have no bisexual component at all. Of course Kinsey was a behaviorist. Yet this methodology was the only one that was capable of eliciting statistics that enjoy wide support.
In short we are confronted with a series of fantasies. Some gay men, especially those with somewhat unusual tastes (as for intergeneration sex and S/M) feel an acute sense of social pressure. They seek to relieve this feeling by making improbable claims that their orientation is really the majority or even (according to French Wall) that it is universal.
It is time to put away such compensation mechanisms. They carry no force of conviction outside those who harbor them.