Friday, November 25, 2005

A Diatribe on Homosexuality

I really don't understand what gets people's knickers in a knot regarding homosexual marriages. Love between two men or women is as natural as an oak tree. There is an island off of the coast of California where 80% of the sea gulls exhibit homosexual behaviour. I think it might have to do with regional overpopulation. While it's not necessarily useful to look to animals to support our own behaviour, this seems to be a common tactic, especially in debates about the ethics of meat-eating. Regardless, this observation of animal behaviour does help us understand ourselves better because humans I truly think are not above and beyond the pale of the rest of the animal kingdom. You can learn a lot about yourself by affirming what you are not, and the animal as "other" likewise teaches us what it means to be human. But I am not here to beat you over the head!

Before the nineteenth century, when the word homosexual was coined, and the development of psychiatry constructed the "being" of the homosexual, homosexual behaviour was common and often not even prone to much social scorn. Shipboard life in the Early Modern Period (i.e. the Renaissance) was an environment where only men interacted with one another. Homosexual behaviour on ships, both the sex and/or the emotional attachment, was the norm, not the exception. Many excellent books have been written on this topic. King James, who oversaw the compilation of the bible still widely used today, was a flaming queer. There are also speculations that such important writers and thinkers as Billie Shakespeare and Sigmund Freud had the occasional sodomitical encounter.

Speaking of the bible, although it is often marshalled in arguments against homosexuality, it is far from clear on the matter. David loved Jonathan "with a love beyond that of woman." The Sodom and Gomorrah story is more a condemnation of homosexual rape than homosexual love and partnership. In this story a crowd of men shows up at Lot's door, demanding to "know" (biblespeak for "to have sex with") his guest, who is an angel in disguise (male). That they were all so smitten with an angel perhaps is understandable . But regardless, their action is one of aggression towards a foreigner, rather than a loving act between two people. I read the destruction of Sodom and Gemorrah as God's punishment of this attempted gang-rape; it's a condemnation of aggressive xenophobia, not homosexuality. Later in the story, Lot's daughters have sex with him to repopulate the devastated area!!! Hmmm, incest ok, but homosexuality bad? I wonder....

While I am in a homosexual relationship, I do not pretend to speak for the whole queer community. We are a diverse bunch. Some queers criticize the attempt to legalize gay marriage because marriage is a bourgeois institution in the first place, but I am all for it. Give me universal enfranchisement or give me death.

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