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Feb 17, 2008 Editorial: I Love Peter Tatchell
By Cameron Whitethorne

I love Peter Tatchell. He’s one of only a few real, living Gay heroes currently on the scene in Britain. Larry Kramer is perhaps his American counterpart. But just as Kramer is oftentimes gloriously blunt in his proclamations, Mr. Tatchell’s latest is maddeningly wedded to a wrongheaded ideal of just what a “post-homophobic society” would (or ought to) look like.

Tatchell’s view is not unique, nor uncommon. No, it’s rather emblematic of what’s come to be taught as Queer Theory. He sums it up nicely: “... [the] picture of human sexuality is much more complex, diverse and blurred than the traditional simplistic binary image of hetero and homo, so loved by straight moralists and - more significantly - by many lesbians and gay men.”

Marshalling research running the gamut of the stale musings of Dr. Kinsey to the breathless conclusions about the habits of the traditional Samoan warrior culture, an overarching attitude is loosed: “The evidence from... sociology and anthropology... is that the incidence of heterosexuality and homosexuality is not fixed and universal, and that the two sexual orientations are not mutually exclusive. There is a good deal of fluidity and overlap.”

That doesn’t read like some crazed idea, now does it? In fact, in the last 20 years, with the spread of Gay Studies programs on campus, that idea has become a commonplace. Whether it’s right or wrong—or to what extent it is so, or not so— will be argued by Gay people and Str8 ones for a long time. I don’t doubt that.

Let me be plain about which side I’m on: Queer Theory is one of the greatest evils ever to be set upon the Gay people.

At the base of Queer Theory is a word game; the same game that underlies a broader bit of academic thought known as Social Constructionism, i.e., nothing is so unless and until a society deems it to be so... and takes steps to make it so.

While I am of the view that this sort of philosophical grifting is not useful in any discussion, in a Gay context it becomes nothing short of the precursor to Gay genocide. In fact, Mr. Tatchell tells us directly: “Homosexuality as a separate, exclusive orientation and identity will begin to fade (as will its mirror opposite, heterosexuality), as we evolve into a sexually enlightened and accepting society."

In other words, in a “post-homophobic” society, you won’t be Gay anymore. The Gay Identity, the Gay culture, the Gay experience... all are to be swept away by the grand confluence of muddy, sexual “liquidity.” And that’s whether you want it to be thusly deluged... or not. Society decides; there’s no complaint desk in sight.

How can what I’ve termed a silly academic, word game really have such power? People argue over the import of words. They do. Language is important, and demonstrably so. If your language has the words to distinguish between Gay and Not Gay, then that which is “Gay” exists as a reality. Mr. Tatchell's post-homophobic dreams, then, are meant to be frustrated. There are words for Gay people -- lots of them. There are words for various sub-types of Gay people. His dream will not happen. This "evolution" will not happen. He might as well campaign for the extinction of the linguistic differentiation between red and pink.

Mr. Tatchell would have it that the enemies of the Gay People are supporters of these peculiar Queer Theory notions... or will come to be supporters, consciously or not. I suspect that not many will, unless and until it becomes clear to them that in the end, our enemies win.

What I see in this Queer Theory is all about the Gay psyche. It’s nothing short of a pale sublimation of the urge to suicide that is all too commonly found among Gay people. Queer Theory seeks to extirpate that which is Gay about Gay people. Its Gay adherents are manifestly trying to kill themselves, but they find that some small internal mechanism won’t allow that. What to do? Just transfer this troublesome impulse to the killing of Gay identity. Incredibly, the move becomes a shift from the lamentable impulse for solitary self-destruction to an outright social slaughter.

Far too many Gay young adults already harbor thoughts of self-destruction, and yet Queer Theory is taught to them on college campuses just as they’re coming to terms with their orientation. The psychiatric care of our young adults needs to be taken in hand. Their well-being is at stake.

I cannot imagine what steps might be taken to repair adult Gay people who have already taken on this toxic ideals. Study should be undertaken to find some treatment for this brand of suicidal ideation. In the meantime, real action must be taken to limit the continued spread of the condition to the young.

Gay people do exist; we are real. It hardly matters what words are applied to us, so long as there are words. We are not some "socially-constructed" figment of the imagination; neither are we some willful exercise in "choice" as the other camp would have us. We are not a contagion that can be spread by example or indoctrination.

The Social Constructionist attitude seeks to administer judicious incantations and work some magic trick to make us vanish.

These people... they are hearing the tale of The Ugly Duckling and all they take from it the absurd notion that it’s all so unfair: The ducks must not tease the little swan; the ducks must not be so cruel. Certainly, the ducks could improve their manners. Certainly, the little swans would be happier if the ducks behaved with a modicum of civility... but the little swan is not a duck. No amount of niceness will make him a duck. He may be made happier, but he cannot ever be happy as some fake duck. No, the little swan simply must be allowed to grow up and join the other swans at his earliest opportunity.

Yes, we need to develop social mechanisms to heal the wounds caused by the accidents of our birth. Much could be done to ease and facilitate the movement of these Gay kids from the old world to the new. It is our nature -- the Gay people are a process. More than anything else, we move. If we don't, we die. Maybe not instantly, maybe not soon, but we die if we do not make that transition.

The Gay People is the collection of those who have made that move. This is the most important issue facing us. It's not equal-employment rights or equal-marriage rights or equal anything else. It's moving. It's what we do. We should work on that. The Gays in Iran must move frightfully far, the Gays in Germany less so, but both must move if they are to really live as who they are.

But where are we to go?

I can see it. I can close my eyes and see the network of community centers with their satellite offices. I can see the required educational and support services supplied in those centers. I can see the fleets of sedans and trucks that shuttle everyone who wants to be there to their destination. It’s just bits and pieces of a civilization that have been around for years. Every tool, every building block is already there. It's not some moonbase or some new installation on the sea floor. It's down the block from here. It's in the next town over. It’s there, everything that we need. It’s just being used for something else right now.

The vision is maddening. It is not a question of what must we do, or even a question of how we could do it. It's just that niggling, little question of whether we will want to do it, a question of whether we can get over all those childish hurts about how it isn't fair, it isn't equal.

Right now, Gay youths ask me, "Why do they hate us? What did we do?" And, no, it's not fair; it's not equal. It may never be either fair or equal.

I don’t know why they hate us. But we simply have to get on with our lives and care for each other. We cannot wait for str8 people to change their minds.

How to organize a community center, how to educate youths and older people, how to give runaways homes, how to move youths from bad situations to better ones before they become runaways or die... none of this is rocket science. None of this is even all that difficult. Wanting to do it... the will to do it, apparently, really is rocket science.

There is insanity in that; perhaps it is my own, made obvious by asking.

The world has been as it is for how many thousand years. Yet the Queer Theorists and assimilationists think they have the power to re-imagine the Ugly Duckling’s tale into a story about Happily Diverse Duck-like Animals. They think they can mouth their incantations and make all the abuse go away like a bad dream.

They’re wrong.

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