Category Archive 'The Gay Identity'

07 Jan 2007

The Mysteries of Gay Identity

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Andrew Sullivan must be pretty dense, it seems to me, if he doesn’t understand enough about his own personality, upbringing, and conversion experience to understand how he came to be a member of the contemporary subculture whose identity revolves around perverse sex.

I’m a fly fisherman myself, and I understand perfectly well what personality traits, what family circumstances, what sort of input from adults during childhood, what features of the activity itself, and what properties of the fly fishing subculture attracted me and caused me to become a member. If I were still in the Bay area, Andrew, I’d invite you to come over and recline on my couch and tell me your life story, and I feel nearly sure that I could clear it all up for you.

Your problem, old boy, is that, like virtually all contemporary gays, you have enthusiastically embraced the essentially bogus “mysterious, innate identity” model. The beauty of that model lies not in its scientific accuracy, but its moral and political utility. Once the homosexual identity is successfully portrayed as innate, it is thus inevitably established to be 1) natural, and 2) involuntary. The traditional religious and philosophical moral bases for condemnation are refuted, and the personal guilt associated with indulgence in what used to be called peccatum illud horribile inter christianos non nominandum, “the sin too horrible to be named among Christians,” is dispelled.

The epistemelogical difficulty you are experiencing is also very specifically connected to another conceptual fallacy, similarly contrived on essentially the same utilitarian basis. That being the systematic confusion of a (voluntary) behavior and cultural affiliation with an (involuntary) innate status.

One is no more born a homosexual than one is born a guitar player, stamp collector, or fly fisherman.

Life offers a myriad assortment of possible means of finding amusement, pleasure, and self expression, and more of less any avocation or pastime you select will be found to have a history, a body of previous devotees, a literature… a culture of its own. Not uncommonly, it is the culture, and the opportunity for the friendships and society of congenial persons of similar outlook and tastes which is more decisively attractive than the actual activity itself.

I am afraid, Andrew, that the inclination to your preferred avocation and cultural affiliation will always be found in a complex combination of personality, life experience, and the charms of that particular charismatic culture, in the mental and spiritual life of the individual, and not in the unconscious and involuntary interplay of material processes.

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