Friday, October 16, 2009

Stephen Gately's Death, Threesomes, and Gay Liberation

Roy Greenslade: Mail columnist Moir accused of homophobia

Three cute young men share a joint and some sex play. One dies later.

I am not prepared to condemn this gentle gay swinging which many gay men do do.

And I am sad Stephen Gately died.

But someone needs to stand up and say that Gay liberation is not all about becoming just like straight people.

For some of us, being gay means a marriage with someone we love, where the love develops into friendship, and one soul lives in two bodies.

For many of us, being gay means serial monogamy (as with many straight people).

And for many of us, being gay means a mix of many things, one being that we appreciate and celebrate the sheer joy of sexual pleasure, sometimes taking place in groups, and seeing in that a joy of union and fellowship which is its own justification.

As for me, I wish I were cuter!

6 comments:

Wrinkled Weasel said...

You are not really my type, either.

I wonder if this post has come out of our frank exchange of views?

I think that proved we both find it hard to pin down what actually constitutes "marriage" for want of a better word.

As I said, what you call it does not matter. What matters is commitment and an understanding between two people that is transcendent.

I think you are struggling to find meaning in the Gately affair, which, if we are being honest, is what we all are.

But try not to be too gay about it. If you take out the gay vs straight equation, you are still left with a lot of unanswered questions about the nature of relationships.

Glad you are facing it head on though.

After much thought, as if this is a really big step, I am adding you to the Weasel roll of honour. Not because I agree with everything you say, but because your blog is honest and fun and challenging to read.

Catty said...

I saw your comment on the Greenslade article, and I applaud you.
I for one am tired of conservative bigots denying civil rights/dignity/respect to the LGBT community and then casting judgement when that community doesn't behave according to what is "acceptable" by the people who discriminate against them.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Catty, civil rights and equality are a fact of life, indeed law in this country. Respect is something you cannot demand as a right.

Be careful please that you do not conflate "conservative" and "bigot".

Uncomfortable as it may seem to you, the reality is that the parliamentary pressure to legalise homosexuality was applied by one Labour MP and one hereditary Conservative peer. The subsequent Wolfenden report was supported by the then Archbishop of Canterbury.

If you look up the members of the Wolfenden committee, all but one of whom set in motion the mechanism whereby the inequalities were gradually dismantled, and also the legal protections added, they are probably all the kinds of people you would nowadays call bigots. And they did not have the benefit of hindsight. Notably most of them were establishment figures.

Bigotry, I am afraid, is a-political and largely a position taken by the ignorant.

val said...

I have come across this by 'accident', reviewing what I am going to say to the children in my class as they continually ask questions. I have now decided that this is not a 'gay' issue. Death by any means and any sexuality can and does happen. What is the issue appears to be that he was 'famous'. If this was an unknown gay chap down the road it would be as normal as the straight guy up the road. we might have made comment on the threesome thing but that would have been the issue not the persons sexuality. I do believe that our world is becoming kinder, it is just not going to sell newspapers is it?

James Card said...

Dr. Halsall,

But how does the last approach square with natural law? Is that a real option at all, or something quite unnatural and reckless?

Paul Halsall said...

James,

I don't think natural law has really been a compelling moral philosophy since David Hume.

Here is a response I wrote a long time ago.

Why Eroticism is a Good
In many respects the Church simply adopts cultural norms [after all none of its members were born outside some cultural norms, in some sort of absolute state of grace.] But I think it is wrong in its sexual ethics in a number of fundamental ways.

First [and more minor] point: making sexual ethics central to Christian moral life is simply unfortunate, but real. People who cheat on taxes seem to feel no compunction about condemning people who trangress sexually [which I do think is possible!], and even denying that they are Christian. I accept that this has no impact on the actual content of sexual ethics, but is a major cultural aspect.

Second [and major point]: Traditional Catholic sexual ethics developed from a teleological point of view. In other words, it assumed that sex had to be justified by some future effect. This attitude, I think, derives ultimately from Greek philosophical suspicion of passion [as in "that which moves one outwith the bounds of rationality"]. Since sex was dangerous, it had to be justified. Thus a whole erotic developed which insisted on procreation as the sole justification for sex [and even that was liberal compared to some heavy strains with Christianity which rejected sex altogether: - Augustine and Clement of Alexandria, often condemned today, were pretty moderate for their times].

A more modern variant, pushed by the present pope, has canonized the family and its social function as the reason for sexuality. [In some respects John Paul is the most positive public voice about the goodness of sexuality in papal history].

But always, in traditional Catholic though, sex needs to be justified and is treated with suspicion.

Now what is my position?

1. Erotic love is a good immediately, here and now. It does not need any teleological justification. [Not all goods need justification by future effects - eg alms-giving is traditionally treated as an immediate good.] I have found Audre Lorde's writings important here. Eros forms a connection between human beings, separated from each other by original sin, social distinction, and so forth. As such it is a good, even if not always a perfect good.

2. Actions should be judged on how they enable human beings to actualize potential. I cannot imagine Jesus putting things in such a way, and clearly some potentialities should not be actualized. Never the less, I think that there is a real sense in which the fullest development of each person, and its possibility, should be an important moral measure. [This for instance is what lies behind my political and economic leftism - I am prepared to talk to an economic conservative {Hayekites perhaps?} who think along the same lines but reach different practical conclusions, but I have nothing to say to market-maniacs].

In practical terms, I am not, therefore, willing to justify selfish libertinism, although I do not always think that that is such an awful thing as people sometimes imagine, but I think that such an approach to sexual ethics is simply better than the current hole the Church's teaching authority has got itself in.