Letter to the editors of Gegenstandpunkt [Marxist quarterly from Munich] 3-01
On our favorite topic of “sexuality and rule” today:
The plight of the gays
Hello dear GegenStandpunkt editors, ... I have a topic that I am not able to solve by myself. All in all, it is about the gay issue. (I’m gay myself, that’s why I think the arguments would really help me a lot.)
So where does this aversion to homos come from? I figure that it has something to do with the fact that bourgeois thinkers consider it pure egoism because its a type of relationship that’s not about the common good, i.e. reproduction. Nevertheless, a more precise explanation would be helpful to me.
On the other hand, why do so many gays do shit like dress up in pink women’s clothes? (reversing the prejudice and then being proud of it?) Or: I know many gay men who want to present themselves as someone different (theater, television, radio). Why is that? Why does no one ask the reason for segregating them? How do such thoughts come about that people lie to themselves for years or commit suicide because of it? Why is hatred against gays so much greater than against lesbians? Why do they think this homo-marriage is so super? (well ... it may well be that it becomes more tolerated, but if straight marriage is already so dismal, why imitate it?)
Sorry, I know you prefer to explain imperialism and other topics like that ... but these are questions which I do not know how to answer and which affect my daily life.
I hope for an answer.
Answer from the editors
Hello dear reader, we do not at all prefer to talk about “imperialism and such subjects,” certainly not “better” than whatever topic you care to name. That’s why we also do not shy away from “subjects” that public morality puts on the agenda.
1. Aversion to homosexuals
– which, by the way, is being phased out, even in the Berlin SPD – descends from a more solid cause than the prejudices of puritanical bourgeois thinking. Nothing less than the bourgeois state power is behind it. It pays attention to the sexual activities of its free citizens quite in line with the rule of law. The state places marriage and the family under its special “protection” and thereby makes it unmistakably clear that the state itself expects a lot from a well-adjusted sexual instinct. The metaphor of the family as “nucleus” expresses with its double meaning what the state expects from it. If two people live together in intimacy and bring children into the world, they accomplish, whether they know it and want to or not, a public service: they make sure that the people – in which the state power has its very own basis and a human material which belongs to it and is true to it by birth – will not die out. So they act as a “nucleus of the people”: as reproductive organs of the respective citizenship “race.” The other service is moral in nature and just as important to the state: if couples in love – at least at the beginning – establish a “household” out of sheer affection and provide and answer for each other as well as, if necessary, for their children and do everything in order to wrest a private happiness from a bourgeois work life with all its hardships, then they adapt out of love to the world of law and money-making, swallow every imposition of the daily competitive struggle, e.g. from their employers, etc., for the sake of a successful private life. This pleases the uppermost public authorities because in this way people make it into their own concern that they function as “cogs in the machine” of the prevailing conditions. And that’s what they do – again, without knowing it and wanting to – as a “nucleus of the society,” reproducing the prevailing customs and with them the whole system of competition, gainful employment in the service of capital and the state supervisory power as if that would be their free intention.
So it’s no wonder that “family values” are at the apex of public values in all modern nations: through “family,” the initial pleasures of sex and mutual affection become, as if by themselves, the motor of a comprehensive functionalization of the private individual for the requirements which they have to grapple with outside the private sphere. That’s why it almost goes without saying that “family” does not turn out to be as idyllic as the lovers had planned and that this is a normal part of the experience of every adult.
The bourgeois state power found these services wanting in those citizens who lived out their sexual inclinations differently than in the legally protected form of the family nucleus. And whereas it also readily prohibited many things in matters of extramarital sex, it ultimately tolerated almost anything – lawmakers simply saw that the exceptions to the customary norm in this particular area could only contribute to the stability of the norm anyway! –, but it looked at its gays and lesbians as nuclear refuseniks. Therefore, for a long time homosexuals did not enjoy the status of a functional exception, and they certainly did not enjoy the status of a quite familiar alternative to the ordinary. Instead, the state denied their good will not merely to biological fertility, but even to moral adaptation. And if the affected persons insisted that their instinct just drove them to the same sex, then the state power classified their natural endowment as perverse and made their lives miserable with the power of the law. The majority with the “correct” sexual orientation took this verdict to entitle them to despise the officially criminalized “deviant” as perverse – a nice reward for all the burdens that come along with a virtuous family life; see above.
This went on for a long time; it took a lot of “broken taboos,” which the justice system no longer pursues out of all kinds of opportunistic trade offs – not least, because politically upstart homosexuals have done a lot; until finally, and ultimately with the latest legal reforms, a “groundbreaking” idea has made its way into the national appraisal of sexuality. It is quite banal: the two valuable services that the community so highly esteems in marriage and family life, biology for the state and moral formation, can in fact nevertheless be – with proper care – separated from each other! The effect that lovers bear everything that their community throws at them in order to make it nice for each other – and when the love goes bust, then they surely do not hold their messed-up existence against the capitalist conditions of life, but each other! – that is in any case also possible without the natural procreation of new little citizens. So if the homosexual minority has nothing else in mind – and has supplied the evidence for this over the years – than to realize “family values” in same-sex “partnerships,” and indeed even more devotedly than the differently copulating majority, then the sovereign moral guardians no longer need to forbid it. On the contrary: then it is time that same-sex love lives are recognized in law and such a thing is seized as a piece of socially responsible morality in practice.
The contempt for gays and lesbians by righteous heteros is taken away from them in law, and the basis for contempt along with it. It has not therefore disappeared. But it has long since been noticeable that it is disappearing. Incidentally, the political culture in the country has still not changed. The hatred of righteous “straight people” against “otherness” easily finds victims. The state certainly presents them with plenty of laws separating and excluding others, socially and on the basis of nationality.
2. The embarrassing behavior
that many homosexuals display and that bothers you so – because you include yourself with them? – was once a wrong answer to their social discrimination and is now nothing more than an ordinary piece of the psychological culture.
In the past: criminalization and general ostracism drove the majority of homosexuals to pursue their interests in secret. This demoralized quite a few. Some had self doubts about their “normality” and condemned themselves as “perverts,” others no longer endured their exclusion and intended to recriminate the bad society through suicide. Many of the affected, probably the self-confident minority, countered their exclusion with their intentional self-segregation, answered the contempt for them with their own contempt for “straight people” and cultivated this impotent opposition as a subculture – slogan: it is not the homosexual who is perverse, but the society which labels him perverse. However, the supporters of this gay “movement” also never accused the bourgeois community of anything more than discriminating against them. They decided not to criticize the legal institution of the family and its basic purpose – and that is after all the reason for their exclusion! To do that, however, they also would have had to take a little distance from their – prohibited – sex lives. Instead, they did exactly the opposite, moving a little bit of pleasure in the same sex even more to the center of their thinking and ambition than heteros do in the other: they have one hundred percent identified with their – however marginalized – “deviation,” just as much or even more so than the state which has subsumed them under its laws. And they have insisted on having just as much of an “innate” right to their “identity” and on being allowed to be just as proud of themselves as the mixed-sex is in its “boring” nuclear existence.
With this modest objective, the homos’ “movement” has now been successful. Nothing else has changed or they haven’t wanted to change anything else, certainly not the subordination of love lives by the state; they have broken only one bad habit of the community: the criminalization of their preference. Now the state believes them, so that gays and lesbians can measure up, but also want to measure up, very well to “family values” with their version of “partnership” minus children. And parallel to this – which brings us to the present – their “sub-” gains recognition as part of the “culture” of the mainstream.
That’s very just, but it speaks in favor of neither the “sub” nor the “culture.” What’s going on is in fact the – completely independent of sexual preference! – exhibition of what totally normal bourgeois individuals consider to be an especially identifying characteristic, more precisely: to be a pretty great achievement for which the rest of the world owes them admiration. This no longer has to be something that is morally sensational, a heroic deed in the service of the homeland or the like. The psychologically educated modern human has learned that every fad can be something to take pride in if only the confidence with which one enjoys it makes an impression; and the longed-for public recognition may even happily consist of fascination and horror. That’s why all the various and yet all so confusingly similar do-it-yourself “scenes” are about demonstrative “self-realization”: the boastful presentation of a more or less methodologically bogus “self” that is far superior to the real everyday existence under the “objective constraints” of capitalistic working life and democratic party-line loyalties. For the participants, in a world in which their materialism is barely in play, it is about drawing attention to themselves; namely, to what a big deal really stands before the dear surrounding world. If they are not noticed and the ever more garish forms of self-expression are no help, a bourgeois individual can fall into despair about that. In this commotion, whose worst excrescences are now seen in late afternoon on most TV channels, sexual potency in various extravagant manifestations plays a fairly significant role – and this, by the way, is a byproduct of the honorable “family values”! –; gays and lesbians did not even first need to invent this in order to then “introduce” it as their special trademark. But that is exactly what many are delighted to get in on; in particular those, and this is certainly most, who have already made their sexual preference into their main purpose in life and have stylized it into the “self” that they always wanted to “realize” by any means. Here then quite a few, with the intention of “shocking” their conventional surroundings, foster an outrageousness which should make their own personality stand out from the gray masses – and they do not even notice that these masses are busy in their own way and by different routes with exactly the same urge.
3. The questions which affect your daily life
deserve only one answer, by the way: drop it! There are enough problems that the legally protected bourgeois emporium causes you and which you will unfortunately only get rid of if a sufficient number of aggrieved people refuse to participate in it. The problems which you say afflict you seem to us to be the types of problems that are self-made. And there is only one – maybe unfamiliar, but very easy – way to get rid of them: don’t give yourself these problems in the first place. That will save nerves and not be so distracting. And in your case, it could – we surmise – prevent you from getting stuck in the mistakes of your acquaintances who have become accustomed as bourgeois individuals to taking offense merely personally.