My CV is in desperate need of re-writing, so obviously I spent the day reading Gore Vidal’s essays instead. His essay “Pink Triangle and Yellow Star” originally published in 1981, is a wonderful read – not just for Vidal’s gleefully acerbic wit, but for its insight into the not-so-joyful history of the gay experience in the US – and how some things haven’t changed all that radically. Ostensibly it’s Vidal’s review of Renaud Camus’s book Tricks, but he locates his review in a comparison of homophobia to anti-Semitism, and a criticism of the deeply homophobic, perpetually horrified nature of the American middle-class, embodied by the shrill Midge Decter article “The Boys on the Beach”.
Decter can only cope with two stereotypes: the boys on the beach, mincing about, and the drab political radicals of gay liberation. The millions of ordinary masculine types are unknown to her because they are not identifiable by voice or walk and, most important, because they have nothing in common with one another except the desire to have same-sex relations. (p. 314)
Decter should take a stroll down San Francisco’s Castro Street, where members of the present generation of fags look like off-duty policemen or construction workers. They have embraced the manly. But Frued has spoken. Fags are fags because they adored their mothers and hated their poor hard-working daddies. It is amazing the credence still given this unproven, unprovable thesis. (p. 314)
Most men – homo or hetro – given the opportunity to have sex with 500 different people would do so, gladly; but most men are not going to be given the opportunity by a society that wants them safely married so that they will be docile workers and loyal consumers. It does not suit our rulers to have the proles tomcatting around the way that our rulers do. (p. 316)
The family, as we know it, is an economic, not a biological, unit. I realize that this is startling news in this culture and at a time when economies of both East and West require that the nuclear family be, simply, God. But our ancestors did not live as we do. They lived in packs for hundreds of millennia before “history” began, a mere 5,000 years ago. Whatever social arrangements human society may come up with in the future, it will have to be acknowledged that those children who are needed should be rather more thoughtfully brought up than they are today and that those adults who do not care to be fathers or mothers should be let off the hook. (p. 321)