Touching a Nerve
Seven years ago (November 1996) Norman Podhoretz wrote an essay in Commentary titled "How the Gay Rights Movement Won." His analysis was spot on target then, and subsequent developments have only confirmed it. The final two paragraphs constitute a gesture of defiance of a sort that is fast disappearing:
George Orwell said that we live in a time when the obvious needs constantly to be restated, and so, to restate what was once self-evident to everyone, including most homosexuals themselves: men using one another as women constitutes a perversion. To my unreconstructed mind, this is as true as ever; and so far as I am concerned, it would still be true even if gay sex no longer entailed the danger of infection and even if everything about it were legalized by all 50 states and ratified by all nine Justices of the Supreme Court.
If that should ever happen, and if I am still around when it does, I hope I will still have the strength to hold on to my own sense of the fundamental realities of life against the terrible distortions that have been introduced into the general understanding of those realities by the gay-rights movement and its supporters. For it is this that is mainly at stake here, and it is this that explains why the issue of homosexuality is of such great moment not just to the proportionately small number of practicing homosexuals, but to all the rest of us as well.
To understand what we're up against, it helps to read the reactions to the article in the January 1997 correspondence column. Commentary published 31 letters in response to Podhoretz, many almost incoherent with rage. Check out this one from Dr. Franklin Kameny:
I write as a longtime gay activist who founded the gay movement here in Washington, D.C. in 1961 and with it gay militancy and activism nationally. In 1968, I coined the slogan, "Gay Is Good," which expresses a moral absolute. As a scientist by training and background, I was one of those who, about 1963, initiated the effort to reverse the characterization by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) of homosexuality as an illness; though this was accomplished through political action, it was soundly based scientifically, Mr. Podhoretz to the contrary notwithstanding. ...
Let us have more and better enjoyment of more and better sexual perversions (consensually engaged in) by more and more people. Individually, collectively, societally, culturally, and nationally, we will all be better off. So much for Mr. Podhoretz's inane objections to homosexuality and the gay-rights movement.
The opening line of Podhoretz's response to his critics bears repeating:
Andrew Sullivan finds me "vile," "ugly," and full of "bile." To my old friend W. Scott Thompson, I am driven by "fear, blinding anger, and hatred." To Franklin E. Kameny, I am a "two-bit little homophobic bigot." To Matthew Rubenstein, I am a "Neanderthal in drag" who cannot tell "the difference between an argument and a cross-burning." To Yaakov Levado, I "play the game of anti-Semites," while George Jochnowitz reminds me that Jews repent on Yom Kippur of "the sin of causeless hatred." Then, having put on this little demonstration of what lies in wait for anyone who opposes the gay-rights movement, its proponents go on to claim that it won because it has better arguments.
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