This essay was originally published on Nada Respetable, on the 6th of January, 2019.
Presenting homosexuality as an enemy of "Western society" and a factor in the doom of empires is historically inaccurate and laughable conspiranoia.
Traditionalist discourse tends to present homosexuality as some sort of insidious threat to Western society’s organic structure — One that is naturally composed by jolly, heterosexual families, whose reference tends to be accompanied by naif pictures or paintings of smiling rural children, with their tender mothers and laborious, masculine fathers, arranged before a field of wheat or a crown of sunflowers as golden as the head in their heads.
The roots of our civilization were watered by homosexuals. The online profiles of neofascists could be synthesized in a collage featuring both these heterosexual rural scenes, and statues confectioned with a homoerotic appreciation for the virile figure. Men to whom we’d refer to, according to contemporary categories, as gay or bisexual, aren’t the enemies of the West, but its founders. The Hellenic imagination was intensely homoerotic, and homosexual romance and sex were the pastimes of the likes of Plato, Socrates, and Alexander The Great. The civilization that neofascists cry with admiration and glee about is one in which male prostitution was legislated.
In a wonderful article published in 2013, Paul Chiariello provides a chronology examining attitudes towards homosexuality throughout the histories of Greece, the Roman Empire, and Japan, looking for a potential correlation between homosexuality and collapse. He concludes:
“It appears to be clear that Rome’s rise corresponded with more liberal positions on homosexuality and its stricter anti-homosexual stance corresponded to its disintegration. If anything, this indicates that acceptance of homosexuality is needed for a society to flourish.”
Twink bum, doomer of civilizations.
In a talk, “anti-establishment feminist” Camille Paglia proposed a link between androgyny and civilizational collapse. She referred to the Roman Empire as an example.
“…I have always been fascinated with the subject of androgyny… I explored it in history. The more I explored it, the more I realized that historically, the movement toward androgyny occurs in late phases of culture, as a civilization is starting to unravel. You can find it again and again in… Greek art and all of the sudden see it happening. All of the sudden… the sculptures of handsome nude young men athletes that used to be very robust in the archaic period suddenly begin to seem like wet noodles.
The people who live in such periods, in late phases of culture, whether it’s the Hellenistic era, whether it’s the Roman Empire, whether it’s the Mauve Decade of Oscar Wilde in the 1890s, whether it’s the Weimar Germany…people who live in such times feel that they’re very sophisticated, they’re very cosmopolitan. [Fey voice] Homosexuality, heterosexuality, so what, anything goes, and so on. But from the perspective of historical distance, you can see that it’s a culture that no longer believes in itself.
And then what you invariably get, are people who are convinced of the power of heroic masculinity, on the edges. Whether they are the Vandals and the Huns, or whether they’re the barbarians of ISIS, you see them starting to amass on the outside of culture, and that’s what we have right now.
There is a tremendous — and rather terrifying — disconnect between the infatuation with the transgender movement in our own culture, and what’s going on out there…”
Oh, where shall I begin?
The devil is femme
This is, as Paul shows, historically inaccurate. On the other hand, the idea of the “feminization” of men as a force for cultural collapse is presented in vague, enragingly vague terms. What is feminizing men? Is it celebrating elegant, thin male bodies in art? Is the deconstruction of the most pernicious elements of masculinity feminizing men? Are men really being feminized, or is Paglia judging all men from observing the behavior of her art school students?
In the doomed, wussy West, there’s a multi-million dollar industry dedicated to producing, promoting and distributing films in which the world is saved by strong, masculine men. The actors that portray them might even have to put their health at risk to reach the desired figure. There’s also a multi-million dollar industry dedicated to helping men emulate that physique. If I rushed down the stairs and walked twenty blocks, in any direction, in my way, I’d find at least three or four gyms. The virile physique is as celebrated and sought after as it can be.
In the doomed, wussy West, strong, cruel and masculine western men are being risen to positions of leadership. We don’t shun masculinity, we praise it, we beg for its Police States.
We could argue that the sudden collective craze for macho men to dominate us is an overcorrection of femininity. It isn’t. What Paglia is doing is equating femininity and chaos. This equivalence falls flat on its face.
When the world grows confusing, we need reassuring, protective figures. We need someone who has all the answers and who’s going to make it all alright for us. These big daddies aren’t a correction of femininity, they come to save us from our fear, with all the great values that hypermasculinity tends to contain: Bluntness, binary thinking, assertiveness, etcetera.
Let’s, for a moment, accept Paglia’s reading: “Men are being feminized, whether someone is heterosexual is being reduced to irrelevance, trans people are being accepted, and these are signs of impending doom”. What should one do? Is there a solution besides censorship and discrimination? Or are we just objective reporters of the debacle of our civilization? Can we frame this report in a manner that can’t be read as a call to the worst type of action?
Growth and destruction are not equivalent, you guys.
I feel like this conversation is a zombie. But it was the context of my first memories of the idea of “The gays” as a threat to the institutions that glued society together
The idea that gay marriage destroyed or eroded the institution in question is ridiculous. Actually, there is a radical case to be made, against including gay people in the institution of marriage. This argument is not homophobic, but anti-marriage. Quoting Against Equality:
“…Gay marriage apes hetero privilege and allows everyone to forget that marriage ought not to be the guarantor of rights like health care. In their constant invoking of the ‘right’ to gay marriage, mainstream gays and lesbians express a confused tangle of wishes and desires. They claim to contest the Right’s conservative ideology yet insist that they are more moral and hence more deserving than sluts like us. They claim that they simply want the famous 1000+ benefits but all of these, like the right to claim protection in cases of domestic violence, can be made available to non-marital relationships.
We wish that the GM crowd would simply cop to it: Their vision of marriage is the same as that of the Right, and far from creating FULL EQUALITY NOW! as so many insist (in all caps and exclamation marks, no less) gay marriage increases economic inequality by perpetuating a system which deems married beings more worthy of the basics like health care and economic rights…”
I have certain disagreements with Against Equality, but they are right in a sense: Death is the opposite of growth. When an institution grows to include more people, it does the opposite of dying.
The idea that including gay people in institutions is radical, is ridiculous. It’s not radical. Proposing the destruction of these institutions is radical. Proposing that we include people of a different sexual orientation within them, is not. It keeps them alive. When it comes to the State, for instance, having queer representation is key to the maintenance of some legal protections. It’s convenient and I agree with it, but it’s far from radical. If it’s not even radical, it’s almost as far as it can be from having the power or intention to destroy the very roots of civilization. What kind of joke is that?
Some inflammatory final commentary
“…I like the word ‘decadence,’ all shimmering in purple and gold. And I refuse, obviously, any damaging connotations it may have, or any suggestion of degeneracy. On the contrary, the word suggests the most refined thoughts a civilization can produce, a profound literary culture, a soul capable of the most intense pleasures. It throws off bursts of fire and the sparkle of precious stones. It is a mixture of the voluptuous mind and the wearied flesh, and of all the violent splendours of the late Empire; it is redolent of the rouge of courtesans, the games of the circus, the panting of the gladiators, the spring of wild beasts, the consuming in flames of races exhausted by their capacity for sensation, as the tramp of an invading army sounds…” — Paul Verlaine