(NB See parts One and Two)
From my viewpoint and experience as a gay man, one who understands his homosexuality as central to his identity and has no wish whatever to alter that, I am exploring what I take to be the down side of gayness. It is not sexual orientation or activity itself which is the problem, but something else.
Gayness in men has become bound up with a mostly feminist social and political agenda that seeks to remake America into a society without any real men at all (like Europe). In order that gay men should be included in a diverse and sensitive concept of what a man is, the concept of manhood needs to be emptied of anything like a standard or a requirement.
But if anyone can be a man, then there are no men at all.
The post-modern sensibility that informs the progressive agenda holds that any definition of a dominant group which excludes the “other” is oppressive by nature and is actually nothing more than a construct designed to dominate. For example, to try to define “manhood” is seen as inherently oppressive, politically self-serving and exclusionary, as well as merely social. Who is anyone to say, for example, that a gay man is not really a man? Or a drag queen? Or a transsexual?
I recently saw an otherwise affecting film in which a female-to-male transsexual asserted that “what your genitalia look like has nothing to do with being a man.” Read that again. This is the level of ideological un-reality you wind up dealing with. And it is a commonplace taunt of drag queens under attack that “I’m more woman than you’ll ever have and more man than you’ll ever be.” Despite their prima facie oddness, --not to say craziness--these unlikely statements are met with satisfied approval by high-minded progressives, including many gay men.
So the issues that are coming to the fore now are: what does manhood mean and, what are men for? What is, in fact, the end, the purpose, of manhood? And what might the answer to that question say about the drive to bring about the end, the disappearance, of manhood? No small undertaking.
Just the briefest sketch for now. There are clearly varieties of adult males who might claim the title of “man”. (And the fact that this is a title which must be claimed says much about its meaning). So I view manhood as a region of human nature distinct from womanhood and transcending boyhood. The image I am using of late is a constellation (Orion, at left seems an appropriate example) . It takes several stars to make a constellation, but not all of them are equally bright or central.As for the end of manhood, its purpose, nature created sexual differentiation and continued it through the mammals and the primates and homo sapiens. Adult male humans have a role to play that is archetypally theirs. Reflecting on that will be a good place to go next.
PS My position, by the way, should be quite clear. I am a gender conservative. I believe that there is such a thing as manhood and that it is a fundamental good, essential to the survival and health of any society and to the race as a whole. I also hold that gay men can lay claim to inclusion in the constellation of manhood and ought not be coopted into attacking it. That, too , later.