>Aspects of homosexual self-oppression
>by Andrew Hodges and David Hutter
>(c) 1974 by Pomegranate Press, London, England
>"With Downcast Gays" was first published in London, England by 
>Pomegranate Press,   It appeared in August, 1974.  The initial run of 
>three thousand copies was sold out by April of the following year.  A 
>second printing of three thousand was sold by the spring of 1976.
>The book has been translated into Swedish and serialized in the Swedish 
>gay magazine, "Revolt".  Some sections have also appeared in the Italian 
>gay paper, "Fuori!".
>"With Downcast Gays" has also inspired a play, "Mister X," which was 
>first performed by the Gay Sweatshop company of professional actors in 
>London in August of 1975.  The production has since toured England, 
>Scotland, Ireland, and the Netherlands.
>Andrew Hodges is a mathematician working in theoretical physics.  David 
>Hutter is a professional artist.
>They met in 1971 and worked with others from the London Gay Liberation 
>Front's Counter-Psychiatry group to produce the booklet, "Psychiatry and 
>the Homosexual," published in March, 1973.
>"With Downcast Gays" was completed in August, 1974.  The result of close 
>collaboration and much mutual criticism, the book contains "hardly a 
>sentence that can be said to belong to either one of us individually," say 
>the authors.
>Both Hodges and Hutter insist that they wrote about homosexuality and gay 
>people from their own experiences as gay people.  They have no "relevant" 
>qualifications in psychology or sociology.  They stress this point because 
>many people have questioned by what authority they wrote a book about 
>homosexuality.  Hodges and Hitter insist that the only people with 
>authority to write about gay life are gay people themselves.
>The authors continue to involve themselves actively in the gay movement.
>--Pink Triangle Press, 1977, Toronto
>Aspects of Homosexual Self-Oppression
>     "The ultimate success of all forms of oppression is our 
>      self-oppression.  Self-opression is achieved when the gay person has 
>      adopted and internalized straight people's definition of what is 
>      good and bad."
>So begins the section on self-oppression contained in the London Gay 
>Liberation Front Manifesto.  For us it summarized all that was new and 
>important in Gay Liberation--the realization that inasmuch as we are 
>agents of our own oppression, so we have power to overcome it.
>This booklet aims to explore some of these ideas and to explain how, by 
>oppressing *ourselves*, we allow homosexual oppression to maintain its 
>overwhelming success.  It begins where "Psychiatry and the Homosexual" 
>left off; again it makes no attempt to identify the causes of homosexual 
>oppression, only the means by which it gains its ends.  Written by gays 
>to be read by gays, its choice of subject means that it is critical 
>throughout.  But we hope that one thing will gleam though this criticism 
>of our fellow homosexuals:  that since self-oppression is the creature of 
>oppression, our criticism is only a pale shadow of the anger we feel 
>towards those who have trapped us into doing their work for them.
>Before going on to describe *how* homosexuals oppress themselves, we 
>should first explain *why* we do so.  It is because we learn to loathe 
>homosexuality before it becomes necessary to acknowledge our own.  As 
>children and young gay people we never hear anything good said about gay 
>life, and only see it referred to as a subject for mockery, disgust or 
>pity.  Moreover gays, like cuckoos, are reared in alien, heterosexual 
>nests, and even at home the message is the same.  Never having been 
>offered *positive* attitudes to homosexuality, we inevitably adopt 
>*negative* ones, and it is from these that all our values flow. 
>We have been taught to hate ourselves--and how thoroughly we have learnt 
>the lesson.  Some gays deliberately keep away from teaching lest they be 
>a corrupting influence.  Others, except for brief, furtive sexual 
>encounters, conciously avoid the company of gay people because they 
>cannot bear to see a reflection of their own homosexuality.  More 
>typically our self-hatred is unconscious and our self-oppression 
>automatic.  Unthinkingly we accept the line that soliciting is offensive 
>and confine our complaints about the law to the tactics the police use 
>to enforce it, or to the unequal sentences passed on those convicted.  
>So ingrained is our assumption of second-class status that we fail to 
>notice even *external* oppression unless we make a positive effort to 
>root it out.  We seldom recognize the queer-basher's fist in the 
>liberal's guiding hand.  "How can you be sure that you are homosexual?" 
>asks the pshychiatrist.  Whenever does he ask heterosexuals the converse 
>question?  This interchange of homo- and hetero- sexual is a certain test 
>for both gay- and self- oppression.  Another is to compare ourselves with 
>other minorities who may well resent and complain of things we 
>tolerate.  Gay people say they fear the loss of non-gay "friends" if 
>their homosexuality is revealed.  What Jew would value the friendship of 
>the anti-Semitic?  Once blacks underwent the painful operation of having 
>their hair straightened in an effort to resemble their white masters.  
>This glaring act of self-oppression is nowadays repudiated by every Afro 
>hairstyle.  If only an insurgent gay movement could sweep away gay 
>people's painful, futile and unending attempts to straighten their lives!
>Evading the issue
>Once they can no longer deny their homosexuality, gays find ways to 
>avoid confronting the fact that they are the people they despise.  It is 
>not easy to live with raw, undiluted self-hatred.  Devious and complex
>are the means by which gay people come to terms with the dilemma of 
>finding themselves to be that which they have been taught to hate.
>The GLF Manifesto rightly identified the final stage of self-oppression 
>as saying--and believing--"I am not oppressed".  Concious every minute 
>that they are seen as ridiculous and pitiable, for ever working out ways 
>to suppress evidence of their homosexuality, how can gay peopoe make such 
>a claim?  But they do.  The Campaign for Homosexual Equality constantly 
>receives letters imploring it to put a stop to the activities of the 
>radical members.  "We are not oppressed," the writers say, "so please 
>don't let them rock the boat."  Ironically, the metaphor aptly expresses 
>the danger and insecurity of our oppressed situation.
>Of course it is the very degree of success with which gay people can 
>conceal our indentity that makes it possible for us to shrug off 
>our oppression.  Indeed it is possible for gays, by denying their 
>homosexuality in every social situation, to imagine that they share the 
>status of non-gay people.  Their self-deception goes deeper:  they go on 
>to adopt the attitudes of their oppressors--even the logic and language of 
>the non-gay people with whom they identify.  Such "well-adapted" 
>homosexuals have never in reality adapted to their homosexuality, only 
>to its brutal suppression.  They will never acknowledge a lifetime's 
>subjugation and dishonesty.  "Well-adapted" homosexuals would prefer to 
>carry their oppression to the grave rather than admit that it exists.
>Two typical cases
>Facing the superior smile of the gay psychiatrist who has grown rich 
>and respected by writing and lecturing on the "problem" of 
>homosexuality, and who recommends psychotherapy for "these people"; or 
>the weary eyes of a homosexual academic who counters every assertion of 
>the ubiquity of gay oppression with, say, an instance of 
>eithteenth-century bawdry--one realizes that powerful enemies lie within 
>our own ranks.  Always they refute the general by the trivial. 
>Cornered and challenged to drop their pretense, these Uncle Toms retreat 
>behind a smokescreen of bogus objectivity.  "If gay pride," they ask, 
>"why not queer-bashers' pride?"  The more masochistic their 
>pronouncements, the prouder they become of their detachment.  Always the 
>onus is put on us to prove the validity of our sexual pleasure, never on 
>our persecutors to justify their infringement of our liberty.  "You're 
>talking about Utopia," they cry if one dares to suggest that it is 
>society that must adapt to us, not us to society.  One longs for such 
>people to display genuine emotion, to cry out against the distortion of 
>their lives: to admit that their social status has been paid for by a 
>million petty deceits and the death of all spontaneity; above all to 
>realize that the outward conformity of which they are so proud has 
>stunted and falsified all their relationships.
>The extent of our self-oppression is indicated by the fact that out of 
>the millions of gay people in Britain only a thousand or so are 
>*actively* associated with the gay movement, and out of these few only a 
>minority are really determined to press home their demands on a society 
>that persecutes and derides them.  The majority of homosexuals, like 
>underpaid but genteel office-workers, refuse to join the union.  They 
>prefer the imagined status that comes from identifying with the management. 
>Language itself is an instrument of self-oppression.  Because it is not 
>value-loaded we use the term "homosexual", but reluctantly, since it is 
>a nineteenth-century *medical* definition.  It is fast becoming replaced 
>by "gay"--a work chosen by ourselves.  Heterosexuals chide us for using 
>what they see as a euphemism, but there can be no euphemism for 
>"homosexual", since a euphemism essentially replaces an offensive word.
>One could hardly guess this from the arguement in favour of "homo*phile*", 
>which is that "homo*sexual*", emphasis on *sex*.  If the substitution of 
>the mild suffix "-phile" (as in "Anglo*phile*") means anything at all, it 
>is that a homophile is one who feels more comfortable with persons of the 
>same sex---what used to be known as "a mans' man".  But serious analysis 
>flatters the word.  "Homophile" is simply an evasion of the fact that it 
>is by their *sexual* love that homosexuals are defined; to evade this 
>panders to the sexual guilt that permeates and perpetuates our oppression.
>How clearly our self-hatred is revealed in the words we use.  How easily 
>"queen" becomes a term of abuse:  "That silly old queen," we say.  Even 
>those women who show a preference for the company of gay men we disparage 
>with names like "fag hag".  Until recently "queer" was a word used by all 
>gay people.  We were so conditioned to believe in our abnormality that we 
>never questioned the way the word defined us as sick and abnormal.
>Compensating factors
>Even the positive claims gay people make serve to disguise their 
>negative attitudes.  It is tempting for us to compensate for our 
>downtrodden position by inventing special qualities and investing 
>homosexuality with a spurious glamour.  Taught that we are nothing, the 
>dregs of society, we defensively retaliate by compiling lists of famous 
>gays.  "Jesus was gay." we claim proudly (over-looking two thousand years 
>of Christian persecution).  "Gay people are so imaginative and creative," 
>we plead.  "We are such fun to be with," we cry.  some gays treat life as 
>an unending commercial--fervently selling, not our genuine advantages, 
>but whatever goods they imagine there to be a market for.
>Briefly looking back, we find the early nineteenth-century gay elite 
>exploiting the Byronic, "wicked" aspects of homosexuality.  The closing 
>decades of the century saw them viewing themselves as the vanguard of the 
>Aesthetic Movement.  It must have been this that gave birth to the 
>legend that gay men are "artistic" and "sensitive".  WS Gilbert poked fun 
>at this attitude in "Patience":
>     "If you walk down Piccadilly with a poppy or a lily 
>      ...everyone will say
>      As you walk your flowery way...
>      'Why, what a most particularly pure young man
>      this pure young man must be!'"
>The twentieth century saw gays transformed from exquisite aesthetes to 
>brittle sophisticated wits.  Our acid tongues, we imagined, were the 
>scourge of every cocktail party.  The sociological seventies find the 
>privileged gay elite eagerly accepting the role of scourge of society.  
>We believe that without effort on our part, simply through the act of 
>*being*, we subvert social and economic structures.  So keen are we to 
>possess something extra to compensate for our homosexuality that we 
>unquestioningly jump from the observation that we are, by our very 
>nature, alienated from the nuclear family to the belief that we have 
>some paritcular power to destroy it.  Much as we should welcome the 
>demise of that self-perpetuating and role-defining institution, the idea 
>that we shall bring about its downfall seems hardly less overweening that 
>the quaint notion that we were responsible for the decline and fall of 
>the Roman Empire! 
>This extra gloss which gay people feel obliged to give their lives is, of 
>course, quite unnecessary; there is nothing in their homosexuality for 
>which they need to compensate.  When we genuinely believe this, and 
>welcome our homosexuality for the natural thing it is, and see 
>homosexuals as the different, but none the less ordinary, people they 
>are, then at last we will have begun to throw off our self-oppression.
>Homosexual public speakers find three complaints against gay people 
>cropping up with monotonous regularity.  Thinly disguised as questions 
>inevitably come the accusations that gay men are mannered and 
>effeminate, corrupters of children, and given to a mindless animal 
>promiscuity that prevents their forming lasting relationships.  
>"Responsible" gay activists respond in the appropriate apologetic, 
>self-oppressed manner to the first two charges by pointing out that 
>homosexual men do not necessaily look feminine and vice versa, and that 
>few gay people are interested in the very young; but probably none claim 
>that "only a minority of homosexuals are promiscuous".
>Our spokespeople generally point out that there are many happily settled 
>homosexual couples whose lives of quiet fidelity pass unnoticed, and 
>correctly they go on to point out that such permanent gay relationships 
>receive none to the recognition and support from family and social 
>institutions that (heterosexual) married couples take for granted.  
>Unfortunately these facts are all too often used as *excuses*, the 
>assumption that promiscuity is necessarily a bad thing remains 
>unchallenged and we are presented with an ideal to which we should 
>aspire, and a standard by which we may be measured.  We shall explain how 
>in effect there is imposed upon us yet one more hideous oppression.
>Heterosexual mannerisms
>It is a basic mistake to accept heterosexual conventions as God-given 
>criteria by which gay people may be judged.  Instead we would use the 
>insights that we have gained as homosexuals to criticize a sexist and 
>hypocritical society.  An example of the failure to do this can be seen 
>when the fact that gay couples are childless is pleaded as an excuse for 
>their relationships ending; and our spokespeople fail to point out that 
>if married couples stay together only for what they imagine to be the 
>benefit of their children, they are not models of permanence but of 
>thwarted impermanence.  Instead of comparing our freedom unfavourably 
>with such unions, homosexuals should feel pity for heterosexuals who find 
>themselves trapped in an unhappy marriage and rejoice in the liberty 
>their own homosexuality bestows. 
>Gay people have no reason to envy the institutionalized sexuality 
>available to heterosexuals, cluttered as it is with ceremonies of 
>courtship and marriage and further poisoned by a division of roles which 
>condemns the man to dominate and the woman to submit.  A heterosexual 
>pick-up is fraught with implications of the man conquering and the 
>woman surrendering; it is unlikely to enjoy the sense of mutual 
>agreement enjoyed by gay people.  For this reason it is easier for 
>homosexuals to make sexual contacts, and once made there is no tedious 
>process of persuasion--no ritualized escalation of intimacy to be carried 
>out before sexual pleasure is reached.
>More than two can play
>When apologetic gay speakers mention and then disparage the accessibility 
>of gay sex, they display a naive belief that non-gay people themselves 
>pay more than lip-service to the value of monogamy.  Heterosexuals would 
>dearly like the availability of desirable bodies and the affectionate 
>sharing of pleasure that gay pople can enjoy.  The heterosexual 
>detractors betray their limited vision by their mistaken assumption that 
>promiscuity is incompatible with lasting relationships.  Homosexuals are 
>in the happy position of being able to enjoy both at once.  A gay couple 
>in the street will be admiring the same people, probably be exchanging 
>remarks about them; already the heterosexual model is inadequate to 
>describe what is going on.  It is perfectly easy for a gay couple to 
>enjoy all the mutual care in the world and also enjoy sex with others 
>separately or together.  These things are possible simply because 
>homosexuals can identify with the sexual feelings of those they care for 
>in a way logically impossible for non-gay people.  For this reason it is 
>easy for a gay partnership to develp into a non-sexual relationship in 
>which the partners share loving companionship but find sexual pleasure 
>outside the union--unlike many heterosexual marriages which turn into a 
>boring embittered cohabitation in which sexual attraction has long 
>vanished but fidelity is still rigidly enforced.
>The model of heterosexual marriage often actually discourages gay people 
>from entering into any kind of permanent relationship, since they are 
>unwilling to accept the exlusivity which they imagine a relationship must 
>entail; moreover partnerships which so begin often break up because one 
>partner thinks that he ought to feel jealous, or the other is 
>unnecessarily secretive and guilty about "extra-marital" affairs.  It is 
>not the homosexual nature of such relationships which causes trouble but 
>the poisonous influence of the heterosexual model.  An irony of which we 
>would remind the gay apologist is the fact that heterosexuals think 
>nothing more comic than the idea of two men cooking and ironing together, 
>or more pathetic than two women struggling to change a wheel--such is the 
>value which in reality is placed on the pair-bonding by means of which 
>responsible "homophiles" hope to gain social acceptance.
>Positive gains
>Determined as they are to overlook the positive gains enjoyed by gay 
>people, our detractors ignore the value and meaning that promiscuous, 
>unattached homosexuals place upon friendship, which for them has a far 
>deeper significance than for most (heterosexual) married people who 
>direct what they have of love and concern into the narrow confines of the 
>family circle.  Many homosexuals have close friends to whom they turn for 
>companionship and support while finding sexual pleasure outside this 
>circle.  The ability that gay people possess to form deep and lasting 
>friendships gives the lie to the idea that we must inevitably face a 
>lonely old age.  Logically the reverse is true, for unless their timing 
>is perfect, it is inevitable that one partner of even a happy marriage 
>will be left behind to face a future withhout the "other half" upon whom 
>they have developed a total dependence.  Anyway, why deny the eroticism of 
>novelty in favour of the repressive dogma that sex is only satisfactory 
>with one lifelong partner?  Is there not a genuine ideal in the ability 
>of gay people to gain immediate trust and sexual satisfaction with people 
>from anywhere in the world?  In these respects the writer of any gay porn 
>story offers more insight into our hearts than do the ponderous 
>utterances of homosexual apologists who usually exclude any mention of 
>the physical reality of our sexual lives, leaving their puzzled listeners 
>to form a picture of unhappy gay relationships based on the heterosexual 
>model of allowable monogamy and forbidden promiscuity.
>Puritanism lies at the heart of the distrust of promiscuity.  Puritanism 
>thrives upon the univeral fear that someone is getting something for 
>nothing.  If pleasure is not paid for with money, people feel that it 
>must still be paid for in other ways: commitment, responsibility, even a 
>lifetimes's mutual incompatibility is not thought too great a price to 
>pay for occasional moments of sexual pleasure.  Even Gay Liberationists 
>sometimes speak as though their sexuality had to pay its way by virtue of 
>breaking down sexual roles or undermining capitalism.  Gay sex, 
>unemcumbered as it is with conception and contraception, could be as free 
>and available as sunshine and air, and yet we are encouraged to disown 
>these benefits in favour of the dubious respect gained by mimicking the 
>outward forms of family life.
>Anyone looking upon the gay movement with detachment finds ironies at 
>every turn.  Not least of these is the fact that although the movement 
>has only arisen because there exists a situation of fluidity and rapid 
>social change, our "homophile" spokespeople can think of nothing better to 
>do with this new freedom of thought than to urge gay people to accept the 
>claustrophobic restrictions of a lifelong union.  They are busily pushing 
>us into the prison from which intelligent heterosexuals are trying to 
>escape.  We foresee future anthropologists turning to the pair-bonding of 
>discreet homosexuals as the only means left available of examining the 
>long-defunct institution of marriage.
>Gay activists should stand up for the variety and freedom in sexuality 
>that gay people can enjoy, and yet how often do we read articles in the 
>gay press containing words to the effect that "we shall never deserve our 
>liberation until we stop being so promiscuous".  Such phrases expose two 
>aspects of self-oppression.  Not only are our moral standards being 
>measured against those of our heterosexual oppressors, but liberation is 
>accepted as something that must be worked for and deserved rather than a 
>fundamental right of which we have been deprived.  It would be nearer the 
>truth to say that we shall never deserve our liberation so long as we 
>attempt to ingratiate ourselves into heterosexual favour by adopting the 
>standards of the non-gay world.
>The phrase "coming out", as used by gay people, has three meanings: to 
>acknowledge one's homosexuality to oneself; to reveal oneself as 
>homosexual to other gay people; and lastly, to declare one's 
>homosexuality to everyone and anyone.
>Homosexuals are unlike any other oppressed group in that their identity 
>is almost always invisible to others.  They can even conceal their 
>homosexuality from *themselves*, for such is the disgust attached to the 
>word "homosexual" that many people who have need of homosexual experience 
>never acknowledge it, and sometimes even those who quite frequently seek 
>out such experience manage to convince themselves that they are not 
>really "one of them".  Behind so much that has been expressed in the gay 
>movement lies the awareness that there exist these people who are so 
>oppressed that they have not come out in the first sense of 
>"admitting" their gay feelings even to themselves.  Many are married with 
>children and throughout their lives have been totally denied any sexual 
>pleasure.  They raise no protest at their deprivation, for they cannot 
>admit that it exists, and they can never be reached by openly gay people, 
>for it is openness they fear.  There are happy exceptions, for the 
>establishment of gay counselling organizations such as "Icebreakers" or 
>"Friend" has enabled many such people to break a lifetime's silence--men 
>of middle age who say that they have never knowingly talked to a 
>homosexual but that they always think of other men while fucking their 
>wives; women who realize after their children have grown up that they 
>have really always wanted to love another woman.  There are a number of 
>organizations trying to end the isolation of such people, but 
>self-oppression so profound is unlikely to be ended by a few telephone 
>conversations or by the arguments of this booklet.  This essay is *only* 
>about those who identify themselves as gay among gay people, but do not 
>come out in the outside world.
>Under plain cover
>If asked, closet gays often say the, although they "don't shout about it 
>on every street corner", their friends know and their parents "must have 
>realized by now", but "they've never asked me about it, so I haven't 
>brought the subject up".  Pressed further, they add that they "don't see 
>the point of telling people at work", as "what I do in bed is my own 
>business, and anyway, I might lose my job".  Some gay people go to 
>considerable lengths to fake up a heterosexual image, divising tales of 
>suitably remote fiancees, passing appreciative or disparaging remarks on 
>women (or men), and laughing heartily at the usual stream of jokes about 
>Actually these strategems are unecessary, because unless there is reason 
>to believe otherwise, it is always taken for granted that peopole are 
>heterosexual.  Deception need not be a positive act; one can deceive by 
>default.  At work, camp jokes will not demonstrate that one is gay; they 
>will be accepted just as jokes, and one kiss at the Christmas party will 
>be sufficient to wipe out a whole year's subtle hints and innuendoes.
>The fear of putting a job at risk is often deliberately exaggerated by 
>those who need a convincing excuse for secrecy.  If they really wanted to 
>come out and were prevented only by the threat of economic deprivation, 
>they would be bitterly angry about dicrimination rather than, as is 
>usual, passively accepting it as inevitable.  Most homosexuals would 
>suffer little loss in purely material terms by coming out.  It is the 
>loss of a protective shell which is the real barrier.
>Gays expose the fact that they are merely looking for excuses for 
>remaining in the closet when they plead their purely voluntary activities 
>as reasons for secrecy.  Apparently we are expected to see their hobbies 
>as some inescapable, unchangeable aspect of their lives.  When they say 
>that if they came out they could not continue with their Church or youth 
>work, one can only question the value of commitments which involve 
>supporting organizations apparently so homophobic.  It would be truer to 
>say that their self-hatred lies so deep that they leap at any chance to 
>hide their real nature.
>Privileged gays
>Many ordinary gays respond to their oppression by gravitating to jobs 
>where they can be fairly open with the people they work with.  Women may 
>become ambulance drivers or join the Forces; men may tend to work as 
>nurses, telephone operators, in travel agencies or department stores.  
>The acceptance of a restricted range of employment may be 
>self-oppressive, but how straightforward and honest it is compared 
>with the web of deception woven by those gays whose work gives them a 
>position of social prestige.
>By a curious coincidence one of the writers of this essay has found 
>himself on two separate occasions attended by a homosexual doctor.  In 
>neither case was he aware of this until told by a third person.  In each 
>case, by making no secret of his own homosexuality he gave every 
>opportunity for his doctor to be frank and open, but both doctors 
>continued to behave as though homosexuality were an abnormality they had 
>only otherwise encountered in medical textbooks.  It was an amusing but 
>saddening experience to see a homosexual attempt the role of the detached 
>heterosexual advisor, asserting the authority he felt would be his due 
>were he a "normal" man talking down to a "queer".  Leaving aside the 
>wretched negative attitudes these doctors must have had to their *own* 
>homosexuality, we can imagine the innumerable opportunities to help 
>confused and anxious gay people that were allowed to slip by.  Doctors 
>have a prestigious position in our society, and it would be helpful to 
>any young gay to find that his doctor readily and openly shared his 
>The determined secrecy of privileged homosexuals induces situations of 
>pure farce.  Today, while liberal Christians solemnly discuss the 
>possible ordination of homosexuals, and education officers consider 
>whether they might employ gay people as schoolteachers, many High Church 
>priests run their churches and theological colleges as virtual gay clubs, 
>and the State school system would collapse with the loss of its gay teachers.
>Self-oppression or self-interest?
>Passing as heterosexual is by no means a private matter, for one 
>self-oppressive deceit generates a thousand others.  Friends and lovers 
>are all included by being told what they may say on the telephone and how 
>to behave in the street.  The selfishness of those with privileged 
>positions to defend seeps through the whole gay community, and the 
>demoralizing message is absorved by the great number of ordinary gays who 
>have no privileges whatsoever to protect.
>Homosexuals who have access to the media and refuse to come out allow 
>those who condemn or pity us to dominate the stage.  When the reactionary 
>Cyril Osborne was attempting to defeat the 1967 homosexual law reform 
>bill, he rested much arguement on the belief that the House of Commons 
>had no homosexual members.  Gay MPs who remained silent allowed all his 
>stupid assertions to stand.
>It is not that people of status should come out in order to make a 
>propaganda point about how important or talented gay people are.  It is 
>simply that gays in the public view are ideally placed to give society a 
>truthful view of its homosexual component.
>Privileged closet gays are traitors to the gay cause, but as yet they are 
>never referred to as such.  We so lack any sense of common identity that 
>the notion of treachery is scarcely formed.  It is almost as if our 
>bitter oppression were merely an elaborate game of pretence, the winners 
>being those who perpetuate the cleverest frauds.
>Borrowed plumes
>Gay people who pose as heterosexuals are not just deceiving others but, 
>if they take pride in affection or esteem which is conditional on their 
>wearing a mask of heterosexuality, also deceive themselves.  Only 
>self-oppression could allow us to value the friendship of those who, if 
>the cards were on the table, would be revealed as our enemies.  The 
>reply to all this is likely to be "Oh, but my sex life is so unimportant; 
>why make an issue of it?"  If it's that unimportant, why make a secret of 
>it!  "Better to be hated for what one is," said Andre Gide, "than loved 
>for what one is not."
>If, furthermore, our homosexuality is never discussed with those 
>heterosexual friends who know us to be gay, more harm is done than if we 
>deceive them into accepting us as heterosexuals.  To share the knowledge 
>of one's homosexuality with non-gay people but never to speak of it is to 
>tacitly agree that, like bad breath, homosexuality is something 
>embarrassing, best left unmentioned.  Why should we discuss heterosexual 
>relationships with non-gay friends while allowing our own loves and 
>fantasies to be passed over as unsuitable for general conversation?
>Against the grain
>To state explicitly that one is homosexual goes against a lifetimes's 
>conditioning.  The shame we have been taught to feel is deep and real.  
>The words "I am homosexual" stick in the throat.  But coming out is 
>essential.  While the majority of gay people continue to hide their 
>"shameful" secret, the achievements of the gay movement are bound to 
>remain insubstantial.  Lobbying the political, medical or educational 
>world will ultimately serve to reinforce their view of homosexuality as 
>being something remote from everday reality, and gays as being other 
>people somewhere else, if homosexuals within those worlds do not play 
>their part.  Nor would it be possible to give a distorted picture of gays 
>if people could simply *see* us in *all* our variety.  While most gays 
>hide their identity, the greater will be the problems of those who have 
>come out, were prized out, or by virtue of their evident homosexual 
>traits were always out.  How often do discreet homosexuals stand by 
>while their more obvious brothers and sisters are made the butt of 
>heterosexual mockery?
>All that we have said relects the idea of the formation of a sense of 
>community.  Coming out is even more meaningful now that the existence of 
>the gay movement allows us to think in terms of coming out together.  
>Ripples of self-disclosure reinforce each other within a wave of social 
>change.  A community can only exist when we identify with each other's 
>needs.  So often identification is purely negative; gays cannot ally with 
>those who relect what they hate in themselves; fearing to come out they 
>are unwilling to unite with those who have the power to expose them.  
>Once one does regard other gay people as part of a genuine community 
>demanding support, coming out becomes a meaningful way of giving that 
>By coming out with people they already know, gay people can demonstrate 
>that homosexuals are real people whose lives cannot be trampled on.  "We 
>are the people you warned us against" captures the effect.  If they can 
>discuss their feelings and lovers when heterosexuals discuss theirs, this 
>will have far more effect than any amount of propaganda about the 
>"validity" of homosexual relationships.  By coming out indiscriminately 
>(by wearing a badge, for instance), gays oblige everyone to see that 
>there are people who feel no shame in being known as homosexual.  "Gay 
>Pride" is the concept formed in opposition to the shame that all gay 
>people are conditioned to feel, a shame that society demands as the 
>condition for its limited tolerance; to deny this shame is to demand 
>*unconditional* acceptance.  It is pointless to limit coming out to 
>"those who will understand"; only by *public*, *indiscriminate*, 
>*indiscreet* self disclosure can this shame be denied.
>A conspiracy of silence
>Even within the gay movement change is slow and reluctant.  The many 
>lecturers and teachers within it are invariably conceded a need for 
>secrecy, and no-one questions the value of an educational career 
>dependent on dishonesty.  It is probably widely assumed upon the 
>self-disclosure of any schoolteacher, and certainly teachers have been 
>dismissed or lost chances of promotion after having been "discovered".  
>But we know of a number of teachers whose careers so far remain 
>unprejudiced by the fact that they have disclosed their homosexuality, 
>and one--Robert Sterry, at the Somerset School, Tottenham--was 
>particularly open in that he explained to his class how he met other 
>homosexuals, and invited his own friends to attend the school play in 
>drag.  The heavens did not fall!
>It might be imagined that good news such as this would pass through the 
>gay community with the speed of fire; we can only explain its actual 
>sluggish progress by the supposition that such examples of honesty cast 
>too strong a light upon the grubby lies and deceipts of those who might 
>be intrumental in passing on the news.  To speak of openness is to deny 
>the need for secrecy.
>The kind of news that does spread rapidly is that such-and-such, a 
>celebrity--bishop/singer/MP/tennis star--is homosexual.  That this 
>knowledge should be kept safely within the confines of the gay world 
>points to the fact that such secrecy is not only the choice of the 
>individual, but also that of the gay world.  No homosexual can be secret 
>without being celibate; the fact that the real nature of such people is 
>not known to the population at large is because gay people keep each 
>other's "guilty" secrets lest in telling them they reveal their own.  
>Helping to shore up each other's deceits is almost the only recognition 
>most homosexuals give to the idea of a gay community.  But ironically 
>this *false* support prevents the community from operating as such and 
>enjoying any sense of *genuine* mutual support.  So often any 
>victimization suffered by those who come out in difficult circumstances 
>is simply dismissed by other gays as being the inevitable reward for 
>"exhibitionism".  "What can they expect," they say, "if they insist on 
>flaunting themselves?"
>Much that we have discussed in the previous essay can be illustrated in 
>the life of the writer EM Forster.  We choose Forster as an example of a 
>public figure who did *not* come out, rather than equally dishonest 
>homosexual novelists such as Somerset Maugham, Henry James and Hugh 
>Walpole, because Forster never considered himself merely as a commercial 
>writer, but claimed a larger reputation as a moralist and social 
>commentator.  In his novels, as in his many essays and broadcasts, he 
>gently chipped away at conservative institutions and religious beliefs, 
>propounding instead the value of freedom, individual commitment and above 
>all personal honesty.  But his own honesty never extended to a public 
>acknowledgement of his homosexuality, which he kept secret throughout his 
>Perhaps Forster's most famous remark was that if he were forced to choose 
>between betraying his country and betraying his friends, he hoped he 
>would have the courage to betray his country.  Since the choice was 
>unlikely ever to be presented, this was an easy, if startling, claim to 
>make.  The real choice for Forster lay between damaging his reputation 
>and betraying his fellow homosexuals.  Alas, it was his reputation that 
>he guarded and gay people whom he betrayed.
>Now you see me, now you don't
>Forster's early novel "The Longest Journey" contains a poignant 
>description of a young man's entrapment in a marrige whose emotional 
>poverty is contrasted both with the male friendships he enjoyed as an 
>undergratuate and with the vitality of Stephen, a country boy who 
>confronts him with the news that they are half-brothers.  He abandons 
>the marriage with Stephen's help and dies saving Stephen's life.  Forster 
>must have felt that the story had been too revealing, for in his later 
>work only a few tiny incidents (such as the men bathing together in "A 
>Room With a View") remain to expose his emotional heart.  Within his 
>published work, the existence of gay people is carefully concealed (It 
>seems that Forster was determined to conceal not only his own 
>homosexuality, but also that of his friends.  In his biography of Lowes 
>Dickinson, drawn nostly from Dickinson's own unpublished writing, he 
>carefully omitted Dickinson's clear description of his frustrated 
>homosexual love affairs.).  In his novel "A Passage to India", Fielding, 
>an unmarried schoolmaster in his early forties, could easily be taken to 
>represent a repressed or "discreet" homosexual were it not that the author 
>cautiously provided him with a youthful heterosexual romance and (at some 
>cost to the credibility of the plot) married him off towards the end of 
>the book.  Perhaps Forster wished to stress the character's heterosexuality 
>because, in so far as he reflects Forster's own attitude to India, Fielding 
>can be regarded as a self-portrait. 
>After 1926 Forster's output of novels came to an end, and in 1946 he 
>relaxed into the undemanding security of a life fellowship at King's 
>College, Cambridge, where he lived until his death in 1970.  Soon after 
>he died, appreciations of his work spoke openly of his homosexuality and 
>indicated the existence of an unpublished novel, written in 1914, which 
>had not only a homosexual theme, but a happy ending.  This book, "Maurice", 
>was published in 1971.
>Possibly in 1914 such a novel could only have had a private publication, 
>but from the twenties onwards--after "The Well of Loneliness" and the 
>later volumes of "Remembrance of Things Past" had appeared--this would no 
>longer have been so.  In any case many books with homosexual themes 
>appeared during the thirties and forties.  Forster was once asked why he 
>never published "Maurice", but was content to show the manuscript to a 
>few select, discreet friends.  He replied that its publication would 
>destroy the public image that his other writing had created.  So 
>true--and yet his immense reputation could have ensured that the novel 
>received serious attention and a wide readership.  But, far from 
>exploiting this prestige, Forster concealed the existence of the novel 
>throughout his life, directing that it should only be published 
>posthumously.  Much later he wrote on the manuscript "Publishable, but is 
>it worth it?"  Certainly it was worth it, but less so in 1971 than 
>between the wars, when only the chromium-plated rich and the intellectual 
>elite of Cambridge and Bloomsbury remained uncorroded by the self-hatred 
>that came of interalizing the utter disgust that most people felt for 
>homosexuality.  These years still lay within the aftermath of the Wilde 
>trials: the homosexual dark ages when gay people were no longer ignored, 
>but actively persecuted.
>In writing this, we are not opening up a literary controversy.  The 
>publication of "Maurice" could have been of real practical help to 
>countless gay people.  Reading it recently, a friend in his sixties 
>commented: "What a difference it would have made to my life if I had been 
>able to read it when I was twenty."  He could have done.
>So readily does the gay community accept that homosexuality is a secret 
>and individual matter that Forster took it for granted that his 
>privileged status as the Grand Old (heterosexual) Man of English Letters 
>would never be threatened by the public revelation of his homosexuality 
>by any of those gay people who confidentially knew of it.  Even through 
>the ten years that successive governments failed to implement the meagre 
>recommendations of the Wolfenden Report, when public opinion was waiting 
>to be led, he remained silent, preferring to watch the drama 
>dispassionately from the stalls rather than take his proper place on the 
>stage.  Has be heen prepared to come out, it is possible that so 
>prestigious a figure would have had influence in bringing forward 
>homosexual law reform.  Certainly the open homosexuality of such a 
>repected figure would have given us heart when we cringed before the 
>gloating reports of the homosexual witch-hunts that were a feature of 
>life into the early sixties. 
>Some time ago the writers of this booklet had the idea that there should 
>be a Closet Queen of the Year award.  This could take the form of a small 
>plaster statuette of the Boy David.  It would have to be gold-sprayed for 
>Forster, who surely deserves the title of Closet Queen of the Century.  
>The next twenty-five years are unlikely to produce a better candidate. 
>Critical reaction
>The critical reception that "Maurice" eventually received is a perfect 
>example of the failure of homosexuals to see themselves as part of a 
>community capable of betrayal.  Many of the most patronizing and 
>dismissive reviews that it received were written by homosexual critics, 
>who, although eager to point out that they personally had been privieged 
>to read the manuscript decades ago, never felt the need to complain that 
>Forster had kept "Maurice" hidden for almost sixty years, while he grew 
>increasingly esteemed as an apostile of honesty, clarity and humanity.  
>Because these gay critics exploited the homosexual content of the book 
>merely as a means of diplaying a blase~ sophistication and the 
>affectation of a cool detachment from their own homosexuality, they all 
>failed to point out the simple fact that by keeping it and his own 
>homosexuality secret, Forster helped to maintain the vicious oppression 
>of homosexuality that is the novel's true subject.  The social and 
>political importance of the book were ignored, and we were treated 
>instead to unending discussion of its "dated" style.
>EM Forster is a classic example of the person who is widely known within 
>the sophisticated gay community as a homosexual, and whose name is added 
>with pride to the list of famous names that gay people so eagerly make.  
>Since all such lists are apologetic they are all self-oppressive, but in 
>this case there is particular irony.  Throughout his life Forster 
>betrayed other gay people by posing as a heterosexual and thus 
>identifying with our oppressors.  The novel which could have helped us 
>find courage and self-esteem he only allowed to be published after his 
>death, thereby confirming belief in the secret and disgraceful nature of 
>homosexuality.  What other minority is so sunk in shame and 
>self-oppression as to be proud of a traitor?
>"Rememberance of Things Past" showed Marcel Proust to be a very different 
>writer from EM Forster, his English contemporary.  Many of the central 
>characters in the novel are gay and the homosexual world was opened to 
>view as never before.  But critics over the past fifty years have 
>contrived to ignore the fact that this was the first major homosexual 
>novel and to discuss instead "Proust the Philosopher of Time", "Proust 
>the Jew", "Proust and the Impressionists", Proust and almost anything 
>except Proust and the homosexuality which was possibly the germ from 
>which the whole work sprang.  This is usually referred to *en passant* as 
>if it were merely a literary artifice, a trivial facet of the 
>*fin-de-siecle* artistic world.  Some critics have regretted it as a 
>perversion; others have reduced it to a symbol of the decay wrought by time.
>We are what we are
>Proust's self-oppression lay not so much in the transparent artifice 
>which he employed in the first-person novel of making the narrator 
>heterosexual, but in the compulsion he felt to offer an explanation for 
>homosexuality,  Following a theory fashionable in his time, he asserts 
>that the homosexual man is a woman trapped in a man's body.  With less 
>confidence he inferred the analogous interpretation of lesbian women.  
>This is nonsense.  Women's minds do not exist as separate entities 
>capable of being fitted into the wrong bodies because of inattention 
>some where along the production line.  There is no such thing as a 
>woman's mind which exists independently from the female body, and if a 
>woman's brain does differ intrinsically from that of a man it can only be 
>because it has develped in a woman's body.
>But many people do follow Proust's rationale, accepting homosexuals with 
>a fair amount of tolerance, as victims of a mistake on the part of 
>Nature.  By considering gay men to be really women, and gay women to be 
>really men, the attraction that homosexual men feel towards other men, 
>and that lesbians feel towards other women, can then be seen as the 
>"normal" attraction of woman to man and man to woman, thus restoring the 
>comfortable idea of the universal attraction of sexual "opposites". 
>The simple theory outlined abouve is contradicted by another widely 
>held belief: that homosexuals divide into masculine and feminine types 
>who mimic "real" men and women by playing out butch and fem roles.  
>Certainly some gay people oppress themselves by identifying with the only 
>models society offers; and we do find parodies of heterosexual marriage 
>in which one partner adopts a male and the other a female role; but 
>straight society has magnified the importance of these distinctions in 
>order to support the universal division of people into male and female 
>types; ignoring the fact that the most feminine men sometimes prefer an 
>"active" sexual role, and many butch men seek each other instead of 
>confirming the heterosexual model by choosing feminine men.
>In actual fact most gay people would be hard to classify as anything in 
>particular.  Moreover "effeminate" is hardly an accurate way to describe 
>the traits and mannerisms of obviously gay men; they have a style of their 
>own quite unlike that of women.  It would be nearer the truth to say that 
>certain very camp women have learned to affect the mannerisms of gay men.  
>How clearly the use of words like "effeminacy" indicates our continuing 
>self-oppressive accetance of the idea that masculinity and femininity are 
>opposing polarities to one of which everyone must necessarily be drawn!
>Political drag
>In recent years gay people, anxious to overthrow the wrong-sex theory, 
>have hastened to deny that homosexual men are effeminate or lesbians are 
>butch.  Much stress has been laid on gay people looking like anyone else 
>or indeed being gratifyingly masculine or feminine.  Inasmuch as this 
>has made people realize that gays are more numerous than they had 
>thought, and that homosexuality is a matter of emotional need quite 
>unrelated to outward appearance, these protestations have been valuable; 
>but the Gay Liberation movement demands a far more radical change than 
>this.  We are not arguing about the assignment of gay people to one or 
>another gender role, but questioning the *validity* of gender roles.  We 
>reject the concepts of masculinity and femininity, with their respective 
>associations of dominance and submission.  Talk of men who are really 
>women becomes meaningless when these categories are discarded, and so 
>does talk of "men who are real men".
>By attempting to gain acceptance within heterosexual society by 
>dissociating themselves from the stigma of effeminacy, gay men only 
>support the rigidity of gender roles.  In doing so they unfortunately 
>confirm a definition of men from which their homosexuality automatically 
>excludes them.  They must realize that the "real" men they hope to 
>resemble are not much given to hopping into bed with each other!  Gay men 
>should attack the idea that there is something wrong with effeminacy (and 
>masculinity) instead of trying to off-load their oppression on to those who 
>are usually referred to disparagingly as the stereotype.  Camp queens and 
>diesel dykes came out and bore the brunt of heterosexual hatred long 
>before law reform and the gay organizations gave their more discreet 
>counterparts a platform from which to denounce them.
>To the discomfort of gay people who try to achieve a respectable image of 
>men who behave like men and women who behave like women, the Gay 
>Liberation Front has developed a strong section of opinion which claims 
>that the *only* way for gay people to come out that will make any real 
>impact on the gender role definitions which underlay gay oppression is by 
>adopting a lifestyle and appearance that explicitly reject the 
>masculine/feminine distinction and all that it implies. 
>Led by the nose
>A related form of self-oppression consists in denigrating the other sex.  
>It is not uncommon to hear gay men speak disparagingly of "the 
>shallowness of women", or of "their sole interest in men as a meal 
>ticket".  Mention of (assumed or implied) female body odours offers an 
>explantion for the speaker's homosexual preference, while making clear 
>that he is man enough to speak from first-hand experience.
>Women are equally prone to this kind of self-oppression.  An issue of a 
>lesbian magazine containing an excellent demolition of some psychiatric 
>rubbish about the unnaturalness of homosexuality unfortunately followed it 
>with a curious remark to the effect that men anyway seem so reluctant to 
>take baths!  Lesbians often claim that homosexuality was the only course 
>open to them, since aggressive male chauvinism made it impossible to form 
>equal relationships with men.  All this plays straight into the enemy's 
>hands; it confirms the belief that gay people are frightened of the other 
>sex and "retreat into homosexuality"--as psychiatrists persist in 
>describing the uphill struggle to assert one's own sexual integrity.
>Possibly gay people who say such things have actually come to believe 
>them; if so it is because social pressures are too great for them to 
>welcome their homosexuality and they feel obliged to excuse it under 
>cover of intellectual integrity or moral indignation.  To pretend that 
>one has chosen to be homosexual because women are frivolous or men 
>selfish is not only dishonest--sexual direction is too powerful a force 
>to be so easily diverted--but again, by virtue of the apology involved, 
>deeply self-oppressive.
>Today the sense of humour is probably the only obligatory virtue, and gay 
>people more than others are expected to find themselves and the 
>situation amusing.  "Thank God," we say, "I can see the funny side--at 
>least I don't take myself too seriously."  It is a revealing 
>claim--almost a definition of self-oppression.
>Fortunately some gays have not taken society too seriously either, and 
>the mocking humour of Wilde, Firbank, Coward, and Orton is an example of 
>the way in which gays have been able to extend to all social conventions 
>the absurdity which they find in their own situation.  Their 
>homosexuality became a means of entering the privileged company of those 
>who recognize the stupidity that lies at the heart of every cliche~ 
>judgement and delight in its exuberant reversal.
>Such insolent subversive humour is light-years away form the dreary 
>mechanical joking about gay people that forms such a large part of 
>popular entertainment.  Actually it flatters the comedy business to 
>suggest that jokes are made about us.  No such effort is needed, since 
>apparently the very act of alluding to homosexuality is enough to raise a 
>laugh.  Wit is seldom wasted upon us since we are its cheap alternative.  
>Interestingly it is not homosexuality itelf which is the automatic 
>laugh-raiser.  What really has them rolling in the aisles is the idea of 
>effeminacy in men or masculinity in women.  As Don Milligan argues in 
>"The Politics of Homosexuality", far from rejoicing in the upturning of 
>received ideas, homosexual comedians, by rediculing their own failure to 
>measure us to the approved masculine stereotype, help to reinforce the 
>rigid definitions of male/female behavior.
>If comedians do allude to homosexuality as such, the aspect picked out 
>for derision is the notion that a man could be a desirable and 
>approachable, or passive, sex object--a role normally reserved for 
>women.  Women apparently find this just as funny as men do, failing to 
>see that the point of the joke lies in its confirmation of the idea that 
>it is the role of men to choose and use, and that of women to passively 
>await selection and be valued accordingly.  Their laughter puts them  
>down just as much as the gay people they laugh at.
>Far from feeling resentment at the commercialized mockery of their lives, 
>homosexuals seem positively to revel in it.  More than this, as 
>comedians, scriptwriters, novelists and publishers they *create* it.  Not 
>long ago blacks were able to get by with strumming a banjo, rolling their 
>eyes and crooning "Lordy, Lordy".  Most gay people would find such 
>coon-show entertainment disgusting, yet fail to notice that every 
>simpering lisp and mincing step made by homosexual comedians in ordr to 
>amuse the non-gay world has the same built-in "Yus, massa".  The crowning 
>irony is that plays like "Staircase" and "The Killing of Sister George", 
>whose chief content is the mockery of gay people, actually receive the 
>applause of liberal critics for their breaking of barriers in the 
>treatment of a "taboo" subject. 
>Of course amongst the sophisticated it is taken for granted that queers 
>will be amusing, and no really smart gathering can afford to dispense 
>with the smooth malicious gossip of a few tame homosexuals.  And there is 
>nothing like an exotic gay to give a touch of chic to a mediocre novel.
>In fact all the recent pious talk of relationships, integration and the 
>rest has not changed in the least the fact that the only role homosexuals 
>are welcome to play is that of entertainer.  Of course the motivation 
>behind the willingness of gay people to become a comic sideshow is a 
>simple desire to alleviate their oppression.  Mockery is much easier to 
>bear if one feels that people are laughing *with* rather than *at* one, 
>and in camping it up gays certainly come out; but they could hardly find 
>a more disastrous way of doing so.
>So far we have avoided mention of the humour of the gay world since this 
>raises the question of those grey areas in which it is impossible to 
>decide whether of not an attitude is self-oppressive.  How should we 
>regard the "Yvonne the Terrible" or "Comfort Stations of the Cross" type 
>of joke: with affection, as something uniquely our own and an ingredient 
>of the mortar that could bind us together?  Or should we reject it as the 
>product of our oppression: self-deflating humour akin to the sardonic wit 
>born of the Jewish ghettoes?  Certainly from the unending "Get you dear" 
>of the gay bars to the perfect art of Ronald Firbank all is reaction to 
>our situation.  Had homosexuality never been identified and then 
>stigmatized, gay humour would never have arisen.  We do not know what gay 
>culture would become were the stigma on homosexuality to disappear; but 
>there is little chance of that happening while so many gays go along with 
>the idea that "We many be a joke on the part of Nature; it's up to us to 
>make it a funny one."
>Liberals are liberation's most insidious enemy.  Their deep sense of 
>heterosexual superiority remains untouched by their concern for the 
>"plight" of gay people.  They appear to concede so much while in reality 
>conceding nothing; leaving the underprivileged to struggle against...not 
>genuinely expressed reaction and hatred, but "sympathy" and "understanding".
>Talk of "tolerance" being "genuine" or "complete" is meaningless.  
>Tolerance is extended to something regrettable.  Why be grateful for it?
>Small mercies
>Liberal remarks on homosexuality are only to be distinguished from 
>reactionary ones by their being prefaced by a declaration of benevolent 
>intention.  As an example of such humbug we can do no better than quite 
>the Archbishop of York, who, having first spoken of "accepting" and 
>"understanding" homosexual clergymen, went on to describe a "healthy 
>heterosexuality" as the proper end-product of Christian guidance.  So 
>confusing was the gentle liberal prelate that some gay people thought he 
>was ushering in a new era of morality and failed to observe that he was 
>merely putting forward the oppressive psychiatric view of homosexuality 
>as a sickness (It is interesting that psychiatrists, whom the Gay 
>Liberation movement always regarded as the new priests of our society, 
>now have the old priests putting out propaganda on their behalf).
>Here are further examples of liberal oppression, all drawn, like the 
>Archbishop's remarks, from BBC broadcasts.  We make this choice 
>deliberately, because so many middle-class gays have a comfortable idea 
>that the BBC is somehow on their side.
>Gay people often think that things are moving in their favour if they are 
>so much as mentioned in a broadcast.  We heard one gay man argue for the 
>existence of a more tolerant attitude towards homosexuality by citing the 
>programme "If You Think You've Got Problems", which took the daring step 
>of allowing a sixteen-year-old boy to ask the panel whether he was likely 
>to become homosexual since he was solely attracted to his own sex.  
>"Don't commit yourself, don't give yourself a label, be open to a 
>variety of experience," they advised.  One needs to translate:  "Don't be 
>too eager to say that you are sick; find a girl soon and it may yet be 
>possible to smother your homosexual feelings."
>Taken literally, what the "experts" said was good; but until we hear 
>heterosexuals advised with equal vigour to make homosexuality a part of 
>their experience, we shall not be fooled into believing such "permissive" 
>chatter to be anything but the veiled diparagement that it is.  The real 
>intention behind the advice, the implied message of shame and 
>inferiority, was made crystal-clear by Jean Metcalfe.  How awful, she 
>exclaimed "sensitively", to have a homosexual son; one would feel so guilty!
>It does not require very profound understanding of human nature to see 
>that the boy already knew the answer to his question.  What he sought was 
>not information, but reassurance that his homosexuality was natural and 
>good.  What he received was the raw material from which he will build a 
>lifetime's self-oppression, and from which other gay listeners will 
>reinforce their own.  These throw-away remarks give a much better insight 
>into the speakers' true feelings than carefully composed statements of 
>good will and "concern" (composed more to demonstrate the nobility of mind 
>of the liberal than to aid gay people in any practical way).  After 
>describing the passing of the Gay Rights resolution at the 1973 NUS 
>conference, a BBC reporter added, "The students then moved on to more 
>wholesome matters".  "Should we be handing out hormones rather than 
>prison sentences" is casually dropped into the magazine programme 
>"Kaleidoscope".  An Open University broadcast warns students that a talk 
>about homosexuality might be "offensive to some". Any BBC sex education 
>programme contains enough material of this kind to provide a lifetime's 
>self-oppression for gay children forced into listening to it.  Even in a 
>radio programme given over to a discussion of the homosexual "problem", 
>the producer tried to prevent a gay man mentioning his own name, 
>insisting that he remain "an anonymous homosexual"--presumably to induce 
>the sense of shame and secrecy felt proper to such occasions.
>Gay people have been totally conned into accepting that their way of life 
>is so shameful as to be unmentionable.  When they do find their feelings 
>discussed or their existence recognized, no matter how patronizingly, 
>they are amazed and delighted.  It is incredible that despite our 
>numbers, and our large representation on the staff of the BBC, gay people 
>continue to swallow the line that, over the air, homosexuality is a 
>subject to be treated with caution.  Like maltreated but faithful dogs we 
>lick our master's boots in gratitude for being noticed, if only by a 
>passing kick.
>Even within the gay movement it is thought to be a cause for great 
>rejoicing if we are given a tiny interview on local radio--as though the 
>importance of gay people's lives were on a par with stamp-collecting.  In 
>fact we should regard anything less than our full free and equal 
>representation by the broadcasting medium as the deep oppression--deep 
>because of the way we take it for granted--that it is.  The validity of 
>our way of life, the acknowledgement of our value as equal citizens will 
>not be domonstrated by sombre discussions at midnight, or by allowing 
>plays with homosexual themes to end happily rather than with suicides and 
>murders, or even by a gay half-hour a week.  Genuine homosexual equality 
>will be demonstrated when boys are seen kissing boys, and girls girls, not 
>on programmes which begin at eleven o'clock at night, but at five in the 
>afternoon on any street corner.
>We're all bisexual really
>The line between integrating a minority and suppressing any manifestation 
>of its identity is a thin one, and those intellectuals who have fallen 
>under the spell of modish, surrealistic psycho-analytical ideas, that 
>embrace a notion of sexuality so diffuse and all pervasive as to become 
>meaningless, find no difficulty in crossing it.  By accepting that every 
>commonplace act is charged with sexual implications they can easily agree 
>that there is a latent homosexual element within all of us.  It is then 
>easy to say that eveyone has a *heterosexual* component, and thus 
>behind a facade of bogus equality make redundant the very concept of 
>gay people, let alone gay rights.  The existence of laws which 
>discriminate agaist us, our constant awareness of social disadvantage, 
>and our ceaseless mockery by the public at large can all be callously 
>ignored.  How can homosexual discrimination exist if there are no 
>If this bland assertion of universal bisexuality has a familiar ring, 
>perhaps we are reminded of the fashionable cry, "We're all middle-class 
>now."  This phrase conveniently abolishes economic exploitation at a 
>stroke--for how can working-class people be explited if there is no 
>working class?  It salves the consciences of the well-off by suggesting 
>that everyone shares their privileges and comforts.  Proponents of belief 
>in universal bourgeoisie can ignore the fact that one end of this 
>middle-class spectrum has to endure housing, employment and education 
>that the other end would not tolerate for a minute; similarly, believers 
>in universal bisexuality can forget that the homosexual end of the 
>supposed bisexual spectrum is denied rights and privileges which those 
>at the heterosexual end take for granted.  Of course both of these 
>assertions are untrue.  We are neither all middle-class nor are we all 
>bisexual, and equality cannot be created by the dishonest use of words.  
>It is true, however, that both statements are made by those who prefer 
>to smother unpleasant realities beneath the warm, comfortable blanket of 
>liberal cant.  Only self-oppression could allow *us* to overlook these 
>realities.  We must never be seduced into passive acceptance of them in 
>exchange for the dud cheque of nominal integration that the idea of 
>universal bisexuality bestows.
>But many homosexual intellectuals do cling to this notion of universal 
>bisexuality, superficially so generous to the endless diversity of human 
>sexual experience, yet actually so crushing towards any movement for the 
>improvement of the lot of gay people.  They see evidence of homosexuality 
>in the most conformist heterosexual activities like rugby clubs; they 
>rush to defend queer-bashers as repressed homosexuals (are Paki-bashers 
>then repressed Pakistanis?) and gleefully savour the colour-supplement 
>psychology that Don Juan was a homosexual desperately trying to deny it.  
>What these homosexuals are in fact doing is finding an easement of their 
>own burden of guilt by bestowing a little of it upon everyone.  
>Heterosexuals who claim that "we're all bisexual really" modestly imply 
>"We are none of us *quite* perfect"; homosexuals who gratefully echo 
>them add "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."
>Instant integration
>Nominal integration is no abstract matter: gay clubs have been opposed on 
>the grounds that homosexuals should not be creating ghettoes but should 
>be mixing with everyone else.  Liberals who talk in this facile way have 
>grasped the notion of individuals stigmatized by the label "homosexual" 
>but not what that label is all about.
>Homosexuality is not simply a personal quirk but a matter of 
>relationships, and as such requires social expression.  What could be 
>more natural than for homosexuals to enjoy each other's company--even in 
>a society in which homosexuality was not stigmatized.  The reactionary 
>blimp who rumbles on about "secret societies" is in fact closer to the 
>truth than the liberal who claims that homosexuals are no different from 
>anyone else.
>Talk of "getting homosexuals our of the ghettoes" conceals both the 
>liberal dislike of groupings which exclude him and the fact that most 
>gays would dearly like a ghetto to get out of.  The liberal vents his 
>displeasure by telling gay people that they are divisive if they fail to 
>mix socially with non-gay people, saying that instead they should devote 
>their energies to the life of the community as a whole.
>Liberals so easily betray the emptiness of their calls for integration.  
>Mary Scott in the "Guardian" chides lesbians for feeling like outcasts, 
>and then in the next breath says that "we" should "accept" homosexuals--as 
>though the readership of the "Guardian" were exclusively heterosexual!  
>The liberal "we" invariably excludes the very minority whose integration 
>is being urged.
>If liberals do fail to grasp the physical reality of gay life, then gays 
>themselves are partly to blame.  We find if easier to announce that we are 
>gay than to communicate what this actually means.  We need only think of 
>the extreme reluctance of homosexuals to enjoy any kind of phuysical 
>contact in public.  Even those gay people who like to dress or talk or 
>behave in a way which openly signals their homosexuality are unlikely to 
>make visible the physical attraction that is its central reality.  Of course 
>the law denies us the freedom to kiss and touch that heterosexuals take for 
>granted, but it is not legal discrimination but homosexual shame which 
>prevents us making an open display of the reality of our physical homosexual 
>There was an occasion when a crowd of Yorkshire men down in London for 
>the Rugby League cup final found themselves in a gay pub.  Linking arms 
>and singing, they were the only men there touching each other.
>If it is really true that non-gay people are offended by the sight of 
>gays kissing, then they must learn to overcome it.  The best we can do is 
>to show sympathy for irrational phobias which they seem quite unable to 
>The siren song of nominal integration is hard to resist, and its subtle 
>exploitation of the language of liberation creates munerous traps for the 
>unwary.  There is the seductive arguement that Gay Liberation is 
>divisive; that it artificially splits us off from the rest of the "rich 
>tapestry of life".  We are so flattered to be counted as part of any form 
>of life, rich or otherwise, that we are liable to overlook the fact that 
>jackboots have worn our patch of tapestry somewhat threadbare.  
>Intellectual gays sometimes respond to this ploy by refusing to go along 
>with the gay movement for the noble-sounding reason that they see 
>themselves as part of the whole human race and are unwilling to be 
>identified with just one small part of it.  "I'm not joining any 
>liberation movement," they cry, clambering on to the *nigger* end of the 
>bus.  "I'm part of the wide, wide spectrum of humanity." 
>The easiest way of all for the liberal to deal with the intractable 
>otherness of homosexuals, and one which requires the minimum of 
>reorientation, is to reduce everything to the level of *prejudice* or 
>*discrimination*.  Then, confident that these twin evils have been 
>uprooted, the heterosexual can continue to live happily in a world 
>totally indifferent to the needs of gay people,  English teachers can 
>continue to encourage girls to write essays on "the qualities I shall 
>require in a husband"; planners will ease us all into small communities, 
>each with its school and shopping centre--paradises for the acquiescent 
>nuclear family, but foreign hells for gays;  almost hourly we shall be 
>reminded of the "housewife's" shopping basket.  The liberal conscience 
>will be clear, but we shall still find ourselves living in a foreign land 
>in which every social institiution has been devised for a lifestyle alien 
>to our own.
>This may be the best that liberal well-wishers can imagine for us, but 
>*we* have no need to accept such a limited vision.
>Britain is a country in which gay people born before 1947 have known an 
>existence in which any sexual fulfilment rendered them criminals.  Even 
>today in Scotland and Ireland homosexual acts between adults can be 
>punished by long terms of imprisonment, and throughout Britain 
>particualrly savage penalties await those men who express homosexual love 
>before reaching the age of twenty-one, or who so so with another man 
>below this age.  British men who serve in the armed forces are forbidden 
>homosexual experience at any age, as are those in the merchant navy.  
>Service-women discovered to be having a lesbian affair are invariably 
>separated by being transferred to different stations.  This is a country 
>in which gay men and women pay taxes to finance State schools which 
>either abuse or ignore them in their sex education programmes; and whose 
>social services, housing and civil law are all based on the concept of 
>contractual marriage and the father-dependent familly.  This is a country 
>in which even the *issue* of whether or not millions of its citizens 
>should be defined as criminals was not considered important enough to be 
>mentioned in the political programme of any parliamentary party.
>Nevertheless no-one questions the loyalty of gay people.  It is worth 
>noting that it is never even questioned by our *enemies*, eager to find 
>any stick to beat us with.  When homosexuals are refused jobs in security 
>positions, liability to blackmail is the reason given , and when 
>excluded from the armed forces, it is for threatening "order and 
>discipline".  It has never been suggested by our most virulent 
>persecutors that homosexuals have a grudge against our social system and 
>so might be working to overthrow it.  And of course they are right.  
>No-one could describe the mass of gay people as revolutionaries.  We 
>are the useful servants of society that gay apologists claim us to be.
>In fact it is not difficult to find gay men who seek to compensate for 
>their persecution by adopting a High Anglican, High Tory patriotism; by 
>becoming in effect "plus royalistes que le roi" (more royal that the king).  
>This antiquated form of patriotism is often combined with a longing for 
>the past, for the ordered elegance which simple people imagine 
>characterized bygone days.  It might be salutary for these nostalgic gays 
>to remember that as late as the mid-eighteenth century homosexuals were 
>publicly burned in Paris, and that into the nineteenth century gay men 
>continued to be displayed in the Haymarket stocks, where they were pelted 
>with dead rats and shit. 
>It is said that Fascism has considerable appeal for the repressed 
>homosexual, and certainly terms like "self-oppression" lose their abstract 
>quality when one brings to mind those gay people who worked for the Nazi 
>regime while it continued to pursue its own final solution of "the 
>homosexual problem" in the death camps.  Thanks to these traitors and 
>their kind, the Left throughout the world has been provided with an 
>excuse to equate "homosexual" with "fascist", or at best to assume that 
>gay people's allegiance inevitably lies with the "ancien re~gime".
>Seeds of discontent
>But although we see no reason why homosexuals should feel loyalty to their 
>own country, we are certainly not advocating that they transfer it to 
>another.  What would be the point?  Surely it is amazing that an informed 
>homosexual such as Guy Burgess should wish to work for the Soviet regime 
>which has long since reversed the progressive sexual reforms of the 
>revolutionary period, and again punishes homosexual acts with imprisonment.
>Gay people have no country.  Thoughout the world we borrow little patches 
>of territory: corners of public parks, public urinals, dark stretches of 
>towpath.  Even these places, unenviable as they are, we must share with 
>"agents provocateurs" and queer-bashers.  Yet homosexual patriots 
>continue to describe Britain as "our country", our "one nation".  To 
>realize the extent of our rejection is to understand the emptiness for us 
>of nationalism, and we are not putting forward a kind of gay Zionism to 
>compete with existing nationalisms.  To suggest that nothing but gay 
>rights should matter to homosexuals would be as shallow as any other 
>chauvinism.  The point we are making is that gay people mostly ignore 
>their status and experience as homosexuals when confronted by social and 
>political issues.  We see the world through heterosexual eyes, as though 
>homosexuals did not exist.  
>Such an attitude is manifest in our most commonplace remarks about world 
>affairs,  How often do homosexuals challenge the freedom of the so-called 
>Free World on the grounds that most of its gay citizens are denied the 
>liberty to love as they please?  Homosexuality is outlawed in most 
>American states, and recently in California a man was castrated in 
>punishment for his love affair with a boy of sixteen (Dennis Altman, 
>"Homosexual Oppression and Liberation", page 47).  We talk glibly of the 
>problems of the Third World, forgetting the unpublicised problems of, 
>say, an Indian lesbian married at the age of seven.  What happens to our 
>brothers in China?  Who knows?  Who cares?  
>It is as though we think the "real" world to be that defined by the very 
>authorities and media which persecute or misrepresent us.  Those who say 
>"I am not oppressed" can do this with ease; but those who are aware of 
>their oppression have come to appreciate the cruelty and vindictiveness 
>which political authority shows towards no-conforming but helpless 
>people.  Can one ever again regard political power with anything but 
>Nor is it crediable that the treatment of homosexuals constitutes a 
>solitary, unique defect in the organization of our society.  Alienated by 
>the heterosexuality constantly plugged in advertising, we can sense the 
>way in which the poor and the black are also made to feel that they are 
>living in someones else's world.  Conscious of the effects of *our* 
>self-oppression, we appreciate how colonialism has achieved its success 
>by destroying the self-esteem of entire nations.  We can see the 
>self-oppressive attitude of those who say "I'm just ordinary 
>working-class" and ask, cap in hand, for "a fair day's pay for a fair 
>day's work".  To hear a radio interviewer ask whether a researcher's new 
>drugs can be used to "cure" homosexuals gives us a more chilling insight 
>into the banality, the casualness of Fascism than any number of the 
>painstaking reconstructions upon which non-gay people must rely.  
>A disappointing harvest
>No doubt many of the gay people who in the past have worked for radical 
>causes were led to a position of revolt as a result of their experience 
>as homosexuals.  It is a bitter fact, however, that their homosexuality 
>is generally denied or, at best, ignored by those they supported.  
>Bakunin's homosexuality is even today remembered as willingly by 
>revolutionary anarchists as is that of Roger Casement by Irish Nationalists.
>In contrast to the sad tradition of gay people who hide their identity in 
>order that they may be allowed to work for worthy causes, it was a 
>feature of Gay Liberationists to support other causes as open 
>homosexuals.  This policy was sometimes futher justified as being a means 
>of gaining support in return.  Unfortunately, a policy of "I'll scatch 
>your back if you scratch mine" tends to leave gay backs obstinately 
>itching.  Recognition of the open paricipation and encouragement of gay 
>people has often been demonstrated by a display of no less open 
>homophobia.  An American Gay Liberation group who bravely hoped to show 
>their support for the Cuban revolution by working in the sugar harvest 
>received little but insults for their trouble.  Their Cuban brothers 
>remained in the prison camps.
>No claim for social justice could be more neglected than that of the 
>homosexuals of Ireland, who amidst all the chatter of "rights", 
>"equality" and "unity" have every prospect of remaining outside the law 
>and being persecuted in both North and South alike.  Nevertheless, in the 
>lengthy debate which preceded the march to commemmorate Bloody Sunday, 
>serious consideration was given to the question of whether GLF could 
>paticipate, carrying its banner like every other group, or whether in 
>view of the solemnity of the occasion it would not be better to attend 
>as anonymous sympathizers!  The principle of gay pride had evaporated, 
>leaving behind the self-oppressive assumption that our participation 
>would only discredit a serious cause.
>In the past the only genuine political choice open to gay people was one 
>of withdrawal from the whole political arena.  Persecuted or rejected by 
>Right, Left and Centre, how could they find any political identity that 
>did not necessitate a totally negative attitude to their homosexuality?  
>Few individuals were in a position to follow the example of Andre~ Gide, 
>who set out to question Stalin on the role of homosexuals in Soviet society!
>But the advent of the gay movement offers homosexuals the opportunity to 
>voice their discontent in an authentic way.  Through it we can begin to 
>understand our oppression--to work out in our own way how that oppression 
>can be fought, and how we relate to others opposed to the hierarchical 
>nature of our society.  Despite the many discouragements we have 
>mentioned, support for gay people has come from--for instance--student 
>unions, who would not have given us a second thought without the existence 
>of an openly campaigning homosexual movement.  A negative defeatist 
>attitude is no longer an honest one.
>Perhaps, through a new gay consciousness, we shall develop a genuine 
>alternative gay society in which homosexuals pay attention to their 
>special needs; but our ghetto should never again be so inward-looking as 
>to ignore the world beyond.  At the very least, we can from a postion of 
>open mutual support bring to bear on injustice, cruelty and intolerance 
>our own first-hand experience of these things.  Indeed, a touchstone for 
>the humanity and completeness of political theories and revolutionary 
>movements might well be the degree of welcome they afford to gay people, 
>for as one despised minority we can be a measure of the likely treatment 
>of others, and a genuine test of any revolutionary thinker's ability to 
>truly think afresh.
>Harsh realities
>But talk of solidarity with anyone else is meaningless while we still so 
>dismally lack solidarity even with each other.  So weak is our position 
>that we are even unable to make the obvious demand of authorities that, 
>in return for our co-operation, they must welcome us as equal citizens.  
>Pathetically limited as is the aim of deterring elected governments from 
>anti-homosexual actions by the fear of losing the votes of a significant 
>section of the electorate, it is still far beyond our reach.  As yet, so 
>great is our disorganization, so thoroughly have we learned to despise 
>ourselves, such in fact is the depth of our self-oppression that States 
>which seek to impose intolerance and conformity have--and we underline 
>the irony--more to fear from the liberal wing of the Christian Church 
>than from the gay community.
>This booklet concentrates on how we *see* ourselves.  We have not 
>attempted to measure the extent to which gay people are promiscuous, but 
>we *have* discussed the "ideal" of sexual exclusiveness.  We have not 
>written about the fact of bisexuality, but we *have* dealt with ways in 
>which it too is distorted into an oppressive "ideal".  It is the 
>*attitude* of gay people to coming out, to gender roles, to the media, 
>that has concerned us.  We have not tried to formulate a political 
>theory, but only described a state of mind in which gay people can 
>approach one without betraying their gay experience.
>There is good reason for our choice.  We do not really know the facts 
>about homosexuality; no-one does.  No random sample of homosexuals has 
>ever been, or--while most gays continue to hide their identity--ever can 
>be made.  What we have written springs from the limited experience of two 
>urban men, who write about the only kind of gay people they really know.
>No homosexual is an island. When gays say that they have to be 
>"discreet", they support the idea that homosexuality--*our* homosexuality--
>is offensive; when they describe *themselves* as "a typical case", they 
>label *us* as "cases".  Oppression is as much the creature of 
>self-oppression as the converse.  External oppression we can only fight 
>against; *self*-oppression we can tear out and destroy.
>                        During the Third Reich in Germany, the Nazis 
>....................    developed a simple and effective system for 
> ..................     identifying the various undesirables and "enemies 
>  ................      of the state" imprisoned in concentration camps.  
>    ............        Each group had to wear an identifying symbol sewn 
>     ..........         to its clothing.  One group was singled out by a 
>      ........          pink triangle worn point down on the left arm of 
>       ......           the jacket and on the right pant leg:  These were 
>         ..             the homosexuals.  Tens of thousands wore this 
>                        symbol to their deaths in the gas chambers and 
>                        forced labour camps of Nazi Germany.
>Gay people have chosen the pink triangle as a symbol.  A symbol of the 
>history that other hands have tried to obliterate, the history that we 
>must recover and remember.  It is also a reminder of where gay oppression 
>can lead if gay people neglect the active struggle for their rights.
>| Thorn @>-->--> ya411@freenet.victoria.bc.ca | 
>| http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/~at739/index.html |
>| The information went data way ============> |
>| Deform: We Hate. Homophobes/Racists/Bigots. |