November 04, 2006
A man's home is his closet!
Andrew Sullivan believes that "the closet" is responsible for many evils.
First it was Mark Foley:
the news about Mark Foley has a kind of grim inevitability to it. I don't know Foley, although, like any other gay man in D.C., I was told he was gay, closeted, afraid and therefore also screwed up. What the closet does to people - the hypocrisies it fosters, the pathologies it breeds - is brutal....Doesn't that sound a bit like a sermon? You'd almost think that "the closet" was something deeply sinister, and deeply immoral, causing people to lose their ability to control themselves and commit great evil.
Now it's Ted Haggard:
this is what the closet does: it is a dagger aimed at the heart of the family. It has wrecked so many marriages, destroyed so many families, traumatized so many kids. It must end.Is it really "the closet" that has wrecked marriages and destroyed families? Or might there be a legitimate fear that by labeling yourself gay, you'll be limiting your choices, forcing yourself into a box, and ultimately setting in motion a chain of events that will wreck your marriage and traumatize your kids?
These aren't quite the same thing.
But to Sullivan, they are:
Until we achieve full gay equality and acceptance, families will continue to suffer terribly from the closet and those who defend and uphold it. But there is help out there.But there is help? Many Americans do not like religious leaders pontificating and telling them what to do with their genitalia.
Is it possible that Andrew Sullivan is doing the same thing?
Unless I am wrong in my analysis, what Sullivan is saying is that there is no right to sexual privacy. While he describes himself as a conservative, his thinking seems awfully unconcerned about the rights of the individual. Where it comes to sex, what matters is what others do with their penises.
Frankly, I see little difference between that type of intolerance and that displayed by guys like Haggard and his ilk. Forgive me for repeating what I said yesterday, but I think it applies:
There's no live and let live with people like [Haggard]. Homosexuality is something to be fought personally -- and not just within oneself. It is something that must be fought in other people, even total strangers. Why anyone would care what another person does with his genitalia is something I will never understand. But that's one of my blind spots. I don't understand it because I don't think or behave that way. As I've tried to explain countless times, I see sexual intercourse as a matter between the people having or wanting to have it. The only person who has any reasonable or logical right to worry about my choice of sex partners would be someone who has or wants to have sex with me (or, of course, someone with whom I might want to have sex). But this runs afoul of the communitarian view that everyone's business is everyone else's collective business, and while I have tried to understand this view, I just don't feel it internally, and I doubt I ever will.If there is such a thing as sexual freedom, it must mean the right to conduct your sex life in whatever way you see fit. In my view, people who think other people's sexuality is their business are undermining sexual freedom, and individual dignity. Sure, they're within their First Amendment rights. But preaching is preaching, and butting into other people's business is butting into other people's business.
Ted Haggard, of course, is so much in the news that I don't think this type of speculation constitutes butting in.
Well, what about him? What remains of his "closet"? And what exactly is it? I'd never given him a thought until yesterday, but I read that he has a wife and kids. Presumably, Andrew Sullivan would have him leave the wife and kids so that he can settle down in a gay ghetto somewhere and repent his evil ways. Haggard's own crowd doubtless have their version of the morality play. He's a very public person, so it really doesn't lend itself to the same type of analysis that might apply to an ordinary citizen, but suppose -- let's just suppose -- that he has sexual feelings for his wife. Would Andrew Sullivan allow that? Or is it taboo in the same way that the "other" side considers his homosexual feelings taboo? Something about the way the phrase "The Closet" is used implies that there are only two sexualities -- and that you're either one or the other. In my unprofessional, un-preacher lay opinion, the real victims of this are bisexuals. They exist, but they dare not, they may not ever, admit to bisexuality, for there are severe penalties attached. It's because of a meme called "The Closet."
From what I've seen in life, there are two types of closets. One is for "discreet" gays. These are people who might be "out" with their friends, maybe some co-workers (then maybe not), and maybe some family members. But they don't want the boss to know. And it would kill grandma! There are of course degrees of being in the closet. Some gays are so obvious that they couldn't have a closet if they wanted it, while others (even including the ones who brag about how "out" they are) typically do not want total strangers to know they're gay, as it might create incovenient or awkward situations. Might even lead to name-calling, or worse. So, while there's quite a large spectrumology involved in this first type of closet, what they all have in common is that they acknowledge -- to themselves and to at least some other people -- that they are gay.
The other type of closet is much more complicated, and that is the bisexual closet. What most gay activists cannot acknowledge is that real, genuine bisexuals exist. I have known many, and especially in the case of men, every one of them is forced to identify as heterosexual. That's because they have to. There is no bisexual option. Bisexual is simply a word that gay activists consider synonymous with "the closet." And because of the self-perpetuating nature of the meme, any bisexual man foolish enough to admit publicly that he is bisexual will be treated with condescending pity, as if he's still in "the closet," but "on his way" to being "out." (Meaning not bisexual, but gay.) I believe that so long as this inability to recognize bisexuality exists, bisexuals will be at war with a political concept called "the closet" -- which more than anything is perpetuated by identity politics. (The existence of bisexuality is not a new topic in this blog. It might be as old as Western civilization. Trouble is, the word itself implies a division that's a modern creation.)
Expressions like "the closet" and "outing" have become political code language, and are increasingly being used to terrorize people. I remember a time when "come out of the closet" was an expression which encouraged people to simply be themselves. Now it's little more than a thought virus in the arsenal of the identity politics police. Identity politics means that if you belong to a group, you have no self that's worthy of protection. What you do with your genitals matters! Your penis has become the collective property of others.
Has sexual privacy become evil?
I'm tempted to ask whether Andrew Sullivan has a sense of humor, but that might not be seen as very funny at all.
Truth is, despite my sense of humor, I find myself succumbing to the usual thinking -- that subjects like the nation's "closet wars" aren't very funny.
But some things aren't funny, right?
No, some things aren't. Or they aren't supposed to be -- not even if they're funny because they're not supposed to be funny. ("That's not funny!" is the punch line to the old "how many lesbian feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb?" joke. )
Try as I might to imagine it, I just can't see Andrew Sullivan doing a funny interview with Ted Haggard. (Not even if Jeff Goldstein wrote the script!)
Can humor be used like krazy glue to stick together things that aren't funny? Not that I'm trying to be stuck on funny, but unfunny things have a way of getting stuck on unfunny, and I'm at a loss to understand why.
It's not as if I haven't tried before, but maybe I should try stuff like this more often:
When I was in college, there was a lot of good natured banter between religious fundamentalists and gay activists (if anyone is interested, I used to harass the evangelists, who would harangue in return!), and I was thinking that maybe the "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" program could find a young, single, male, anti-homosexual activist from the religious right who otherwise fills their bill and possibly do a total makeover!Well, we are all human, aren't we?
Or are things like humor best kept in in the closet?
If so, then maybe the "the closet" is funnier than it appears.
It might even be funnier than Andrew Sullivan realizes.
UPDATE: Thanks to a careful reader for letting me know that I inadvertently referred to "Mark Foley" as "Tom Foley."
I blame the evils of the closet.
(The defoleyated one, that is.)
MORE: Speaking of closets, Dean Esmay is trying to stuff the B-52s' Fred Schneider into one!
Oh the hypocrisy! Oh the lies and compartmentalization!
posted by Eric on 11.04.06 at 09:52 AM
Search the Site
Classics To Go
See more archives here
Old (Blogspot) archives
A knee sock jihad might be premature at this time
People Are Not Rational
No Biorobots For Japan
The Thorium Solution
Radiation Detector From A Digital Camera
This war of attrition is driving me bananas!
Attacking Christianity is one thing, but must they butcher geometry?
Are there trashy distinctions in freedom of expression?
Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood