[COMMENT: This is a classic piece of
homosexualist / pseudo-liberal propaganda, goes down smooth as can be.
Can you give a graceful, intellectually credible response to it?
See also review below, a review from NARTH (www.narth.com
). E. Fox]
gay gives us a perspective on human experience that is different from that
of the great majority of people. There must be something special and useful
to humanity about this perspective, since a disproportionate number of
important artists, poets, religious leaders, and spiritual guides in the
past were what today we’d call gay.
Being gay means living outside the mainstream culture. While for many of us
this is a source of real suffering and alienation, for others it offers
possibilities for liberation, enlightenment, and artistic creativity.
Discovering a positive, enlightening vision of homosexuality helps to
resolve that suffering and contributes to the overall well-being of the
world. Happy, flourishing gay people contribute “good vibes” that
improve—even transform—the world around them.
Because the social condemnation of our sexuality is almost always couched in
religious terms, our gay perspective necessarily forces us to seek to
understand what religion really is. Indeed, gay perspective is itself a
religious phenomenon. And because the social, cultural, and political
movements that have bequeathed to us a sense of gay identity are based on
notions of “revolution through consciousness change,” we have an acute sense
of the phenomena of transformation and selffulfilling prophecy that are at
the heart of mystical spirituality.
Since the 1950s and ’60s, homosexuals have transformed themselves and their
lives—and their place in society—by changing how they conceived their
sexuality. Instead of thinking of it as illness or sinfulness, we chose to
think of it in the way natural for us: as love and as attraction to beauty
and joy. This shift in perspective has changed everything. Signified by our
embrace and proclamation of the word gay as a badge of community pride, this
shift in self-perception has transformed deviant sexual orientation from a
terrible burden to a gift from God. No longer a passport to hell, our
homosexuality is an intimation of heaven. No longer a sin, it is evidence of
grace. No longer a misfortune, it is a sign we’ve drawn a long straw in this
We are still coping with the consequences of this shift in the context of
our lives. We are still learning how to practice our sexuality
compassionately, still dealing with the issues that have followed sexual
liberation (most especially, the daunting spread of HIV), and still
discovering the implications of the transformation of our collective
Outsiders, Gender Blenders, and Non-Dualists
Gay perspective is based on three specific aspects of modern homosexual
experience: First, we are outsiders and strangers. This status bequeaths—and
sometimes forces on us—an ability to view life from a critical perspective.
Even as children most of us felt “different.” Sometimes, often maliciously,
our peers and classmates called us “queer,” because we were queer. We
understood things differently from the others, especially things like
gender-role behavior in play and sports. We were often more artistic or more
insightful. Many of us were teacher’s pets, not so much because we were
competitive and wanted to win but because we were sensitive to feelings and
wanted to be loved. We were often precocious. All of us had a secret, though
many of us didn’t yet know the words for it, and we may have explained it to
ourselves using religious or magical metaphors. We learned how to protect
the secret and to figure out in whom we could confide and from whom we had
to stay distant. We developed a vivid interior life. We learned to think of
ourselves as “special,” though we were tormented by that specialness as
often as we were secretly elated.
Even those of us who have grown up in relatively accepting recent
times—knowing what makes us different and knowing there are others like
us—still experienced being different from parents and siblings. We still had
to accept that we would be different from others’ expectations and that we
would have to consciously embrace gay identity, despite considerable social
pressures not to.
Because we haven’t fit into the conventional explanations of what life is
about, we’ve had to figure out bigger and better explanations that do
include us. So our outsider’s perspective often develops into “higher
perspective”—that is, into an ability to see the bigger picture and to
understand life in a larger context.
Masculine and Feminine
Second, most of us tend to embody both masculine and feminine viewpoints and
characteristics. Hence we’re able to see both sides of issues and to be both
strong and sensitive, both creative and receptive. We blend male and female
not to confuse sexual identity but to demonstrate what’s natural and best in
both sides of humanity. We tend to empathize with both men and women. For
this reason we are often good marriage counselors and therapists. We’re
often less inhibited than straight people about gender-specific traits. And
sometimes we even naturally flout gender proscriptions. A gay man, for
instance, is less likely than a straight man to be embarrassed to hold a
woman’s purse for her, even when the straight man in question is the woman’s
In fact, we gay folks are often fascinated by transgression of gender roles.
We might enjoy holding the purse just for the style and verve of it. We
enjoy cooking and housekeeping and cutting the grass and fixing things
around the house. We may enjoy dressing flamboyantly or wearing costumes. We
can be “creative” about our dress and appearance. Our voices are more
modulated, our facial expressions are more animated and demonstrative. Gay
men use their hands more in conversation, make larger gestures, and are less
constricted by the fear of looking feminine. For the same reason, we’re
often less likely to suppress feelings and emotional reactions for the sake
of a socially approved effort to look manly. Our body movements are often
more fluid; unlike most straight men, we love to dance. We’re more
comfortable in our bodies. We recognize straightness in a man by his
stiffness, physical rigidity, lack of expressiveness, and his fear of
Straight men, after all, have to be constantly vigilant not to compromise
their masculinity. One false step and they may look less manly to their
peers. They must constantly prove they are real men by showing they’re not
the least bit womanly or “queer.” It’s a heavy burden to never let your
guard down. Gay men—and enlightened heterosexual men, who are comfortable
with their sexuality, as the saying goes—don’t have nearly as much to prove,
especially to themselves. We’ve already lost the battle; we don’t have to
care. We’re less likely to worry about looking masculine than about looking
sexy. It’s less important that other men think we look manly than that they
This liberation from the duty to prove masculinity makes us less violent,
more prone to empathize with others, less guarded, and more conscious of our
own feelings. On the other hand, many homosexuals find themselves in just
the opposite situation: They must constantly hide their homosexuality and
protect their secret for fear of reprisal and prejudice. However, the
difference is that gay men know they’re hiding to protect themselves.
Straight men conceal their feelings automatically or because they think such
restraint is mandatory and should be mandatory. Gay men can find a gay bar
or take a vacation to San Francisco, breathe “gay air,” and leave the
worries behind. Straight men carry the worry with them everywhere because
it’s not just other people they have to convince of their masculinity: They
have to convince themselves as well.
There’s also an innocence and simplicity to gay consciousness, despite all
the pressures to make us feel guilty and ashamed. Our sexual feelings for
our own bodies and our sexual feelings for others’ bodies are the same. Our
feelings of friendship and affection for our peers and playmates just
naturally develop into sexual attraction and infatuation as we discover our
sexuality. During puberty we don’t have to reorient our emotional lives and
attractions away from our friends, whom we understand and share so much
with, and toward members of the opposite sex, whom we don’t understand and
with whom we don’t share much except heterosexual compatibility. We don’t
suffer the straight man’s conflict between his private, essentially
homosexual, excitement with his own body and his public identity as a
heterosexual. Men who find other men’s bodies repugnant must have
conflicting feelings about masturbation and about the male sexuality of
their own bodies.
For straight people, gender is about what they are not: the other gender.
Masculinity and femininity are defined in terms of difference. Straight men
express gender by avoiding the expressions of the opposite gender. Our gay
perspective helps us see that the simplistic and monolithic two-gender
system doesn’t adequately describe actual human experience. All sorts of
varieties and variations in gender expression can be found throughout the
history of human culture, and modern freedoms allow even more variations to
flourish. Premodern and non-Western cultures have configured gender in very
different ways. Gender is much more fluid and eclectic than the two-gender
Bisexuality, transsexuality, transgenderedness, modern queer identity, and
premodern two-spirit identity are all different and separate phenomena—as
are male homosexuality and female homosexuality, for that matter—with their
own distinctive experiences and exigencies. All these variations are
subsumed, at least practically, in the word gay. They are aspects of our gay
Because gay people can blend gender, you might say we’re liberated from
gender. We’re neither masculine nor feminine; we’re just ourselves.
Third, by transgressing normal sexual and gender roles and by transcending
the polarities of male and female, we see beyond the entire array of
polarities humanity projects onto nature. We don’t see the world divided
between warring or competing factions the way “normal” people generally do.
We don’t need to prove our masculinity by imposing male domination on the
universe. We’re more apt to perceive the unity underlying the duality.
There is a real epistemological difference in our view of the world.
Recognizing and coming to terms with our homosexuality—which is what “being
gay” means—changes the way we experience reality.
In mythic and metaphorical terms, we are more likely to see the universe the
way God sees it—freed from the blinders of duality and polarization. The
effort to see beyond duality is the aim of most religious and mystical
traditions; it is specifically identified as the foundation of the yogic
traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism. Most of us gay people, as a side effect
of our sexual abnormality, are bestowed by the universe with this gift of
insight. The trick for us, of course, is to recognize and embrace the gift.
The duality we do experience is right/left, conscious/ unconscious,
voluntary/autonomic, objective/subjective, I/not I. But always our insight
is that the binary opposites are just different sides of the same thing, not
conflicting polarities. The inside and outside of a cup are not at odds with
one another. The same is true of the categories male and female. But it is
very hard for heterosexual people to see male and female as different sides
of the same phenomenon because in the experience of most heterosexual
people, they just aren’t. By definition, heterosexuals are either male or
female, never both.
When we rise to a higher perspective we discover these seeming dualities are
in fact one phenomenon. This is a mystical realization. It’s the revelation
of Self itself.
This third aspect of gay consciousness—non-duality—encompasses the first two
aspects: outsiderness and genderlessness. Genderlessness is outsiderness is
perspective. The essential nature of gay spiritual perspective is
Another meaning of duality does apply to us. This is the “double vision”
that poet William Blake wrote about: the ability to see things in more than
one way, to entertain both a realistic understanding and a
mythological/imaginative/artistic vision of the same event. To use a Blakean
image, this means to see the rising sun both as a shiny disk about the size
of a coin above the horizon and as the ascent of the Heavenly Host singing
“Holy, holy, holy.” This double vision means not being trapped in literal,
single-vision, black-and-white thinking. It’s seeing the shades of gray.
Double vision is only possible when you don’t believe in simple duality—in
either/or propositions. It’s the opposite of “I’m right and you’re wrong.”
It’s the realization that things look different from different perspectives.
This duality allows you to think both literally and figuratively at the same
time. It frees you from the obsession with being right—one of the sources of
ego, regressive self-interest, and strife.
Rather than duality, perhaps this double vision should be called “plurality”
(though that word is used usually to mean a candidate in an election who has
received the most votes but not a majority of votes). In religion this is
called polytheism: the idea that there are many gods and that belief in one
God doesn’t conflict with others’ beliefs in other gods. (Judeo-Christianity
and Islam are called monotheistic because adherents believe their God is the
one, true, and only god who wants belief in other gods suppressed—by
violence, if necessary.) In modern society this idea is called
multiculturalism or pluralism. Modern Western culture is pluralistic because
we allow different cultures to coexist comfortably. That gay culture has
arisen in such a culture is no surprise.
If the existence of gay culture offends some people’s religious
sensibilities, we can recognize their hostility as an indicator that their
religion isn’t modern enough to cope with the plurality of cultures around
the world. (Here the word is just right: Nobody’s got a majority, and
nobody’s got a right to enforce their worldview on others). This double
vision can also be called multidimensionality.
The idea that some things can have more than one purpose conflicts with
ancient Hebrew and biblical constructions of reality. Only one kind of grain
was supposed to be grown in a field; only one kind of textile could be woven
into a fabric; only one kind of food was to be eaten at a time (and only on
one kind of plate). And only one kind of sex was permissible. Things had one
function, and that function precluded all others (since the anus was for
defecation, it was therefore not for sex). Primitive thinking allowed for
only simple understanding. As humankind has evolved, we’ve developed a much
greater sense of life’s subtlety. Multifunctionality now implies richness
and complexity. Morality now is not about categorizing and sorting; it’s
about interpersonal relations.
Joseph Campbell used to tell a story that sums up the multidimensional,
polytheistic vision. During a lecture on mythology, he’d explained how the
various religious traditions influenced one another, how certain doctrines
developed, how the various gods around the world reflected one another, and
how the gods and their followers differed from one another. In short, he’d
summarized his books and the whole enterprise of comparative religion.
During the question-and-answer period after the lecture, a stern woman stood
up and asserted that only one religion could be right and that all the
others must therefore be false. “Mr. Campbell,” she concluded, “I’ve been
listening to you all night and...and...well, I think you’re an atheist!”
“Madam,” Campbell replied, “anyone who believes in as many gods as I do can
hardly be called an atheist.”
That kind of “not being an atheist” is precisely what the modern
transformation in religion is about. The “World Religion” of the future will
include all the local religions of the past without acceding to any one of
them. It will offer a vision of human spirituality that makes sense of the
various religions as clues to a greater truth: a deep, encompassing message
about the meaning of life. (Ironically, it has been out of Islamic
culture—traditionally so intensely monotheistic—that two truly global
religions have already emerged: Bahá’í and the International Sufi Movement.)
This World Religion will also embrace modern Western ideals of democracy,
liberty, gender equality, freedom of choice, and respect for the diversity
of life. These ideals form a modern spiritual consciousness that is morally
equal to all the mythologized religions that have preceded it and that have
prepared humankind for it. Mature spiritual consciousness has to be big
enough to include everything that went before. Being gay gives us a step up
in achieving this consciousness.
On a psychological level, this multidimensional double vision is apparent,
for example, in the gay talent for beauty and design. Gay design is often
intentionally and transparently clever precisely in its combination of
unexpected elements: antiques with ’50s modern furniture, for instance, or
cactus leaves and barbed wire in a wreath with Christmas balls.
Multidimensional vision also informs our sense of humor. “Camp” is based on
an awareness of the dual nature of everything: Things are what they are and
they are also something else. The essence of irony is that what people
pretend isn’t what they really intend. Camp humor misdirects and exaggerates
to unveil pretense. It’s self-conscious and reflexive. Campiness turns
things around: Inverting the old visual joke about drunks putting lamp
shades on their heads, camp humor might use an outrageous ladies’ hat for a
lamp shade. Camp exemplifies the critical perspective of the outsider who
can see there’s more going on than most people realize; things aren’t what
they seem. The drag queen’s bitchy remarks cut through the bullshit to get
to the lovingly golden truth within.
Of course, in our gender blending, we must avoid the error of inadvertently
eroticizing and glamorizing through campy caricature the very gender roles
we’re flouting and ridiculing. This “error” appears in the behavior of the
gay man who parodies straight society’s idea of the failed female by acting
bitchy so completely that he himself becomes truly bitchy, bitter, and
angry. It appears in the behavior of the butch lesbian who rejects
conventional femininity and inadvertently appropriates the oppressive
qualities of the straight men she imagines she’s rebelling against.
Freedom from gender roles means being natural and naturally human, learning
to be aware of feelings, and responding to others with empathy and
sensitivity. It also means being unconstrained by socially determined roles.
Subject to Subject
Harry Hay, titular father of the modern gay movement, hypothesized that gay
people respond to one another as subject to subject, while straight people
tend to treat one another as subject to object. In other words, the nature
of their sexual attraction tends to cause straight people to objectify one
another, since they are attracted to a person with whom they can’t identify.
We gay people are attracted to others as reflections of ourselves (but not
simply in the narcissistic sense). We relate to a person we love as someone
we ourselves could be. In them we see ourselves—our particular personality
traits. We long for union with our beloved(s) not by producing offspring to
combine our genetic patterns but by becoming one with them in spirit.
The heterosexual model holds that people are attracted to their “other
half,” their complementary opposite, to complete themselves by making the
two become one. In the story in Plato’s Symposium, human beings were
originally perfect spheres that were cut in two by Zeus as punishment for
hubris, each half always searching for its “other half.” Except in mimicry
of heterosexual jargon, gay people don’t think of their partners as their
other halves. (And a gay man or lesbian would never call his or her spouse
“the old battle-ax.”)
Men and women are taught to think differently, see the world differently,
experience being in the body differently, like different movies, enjoy
different smells and colors, have different priorities in life and in love,
even button their shirts differently. They respond differently to sexual
stimuli and respond to different stimuli. It’s said there is a “war between
the sexes.” It’s said these differences are by nature irreconcilable and
should be. The differences between men and women are what draw them together
to form a familial bond and to rear children who unite the couple by
transforming them into parents. This duality—the ceaseless interaction of
yin and yang—is what’s said to keep the cosmic process going.
Homosexuals don’t experience this kind of attraction. We are attracted to
people like ourselves who think the way we do, who experience being in the
body the way we do, and who experience sexual arousal in a similar way. What
we experience as the power in relationship is harmony and congruency, not
conflict and difference.
We tend to opt out of the gender identity issue by incorporating both sides
in ourselves. We don’t seek an opposite-gendered complement; in fact, we
develop complementary qualities in ourselves by transcending gender and
polarization. We look for another person who also possesses both sides.
Because we live immersed in heterosexual culture, we are raised with many
heterosexual expectations. Before the era of sexual liberation, homosexuals
(especially lesbians) traditionally bonded in butch-femme pairs. The
development of open gay consciousness generally ended the obligatory
character of that pattern. Of course, some gay people really do enjoy the
differences and do experience the “opposites attract” phenomenon. Anyway,
the individuals who form any couple will be different from one another. One
may be older than the other, one a little butcher than the other, one more
artistic or more intellectual. One may be more feeling-oriented, the other
more thinking-oriented. When we see these differences through the
heterosexual expectations, they may look like polarities. Even so, the
differences gay people experience in their relationships are insignificant
compared to the differences men and women experience in heterosexual
Being Gay Is More Basic Than Sex
Being gay is more basic than simply behaving sexually with someone of the
same sex. Lots of heterosexual men, in fact, enjoy a little homosexual sex
on the side. That we homosexual men have sex with other men is a
consequence, not the cause, of our gayness. The cause lies in our reflection
of the archetypal quality of non-duality. This is a way of seeing the world:
the universe as a reflection of self, not as a complementary but different
other. The grounding principle of existence is identity, not duality.
Our relationships are more symmetric than straight relationships.
Homosexuals understand each other’s experience of attraction. We feel the
same arousal. We’re attracted to each other for the same reason. We’re
generally attracted to the same people. We understand—and can resonate
with—our partner’s attraction to others because we are probably attracted to
them too. (We can have three-ways.)
Straight people are compulsively drawn to individuals of the opposite sex
whom they can love intensely but with whom they can never really connect.
This duality creates tensions that pervade all of human culture. To be sure,
it gives rise to the sexual joys of heterosexuals. It also gives rise to
enmity and animosity (“You can’t live with ’em and you can’t live without ’em”).
In a very real way, the polarization of male and female accounts for the
existence of evil.
Seeing the world with a different set of lenses helps us to see how
arbitrary—and often erroneous—are many of the assumptions that most people
make about the meaning of life. Male dominance, competition, hierarchy,
scarcity, polarity, and the existence of good and evil are taken for granted
by most people as fundamental features of human life. The reign of these
assumptions determines the shape of the world we live in—all of us, gay and
With the possible exception of male dominance—which the feminist movement
has brought to everybody’s attention as controvertible—these social
conventions seem inexorable and built into the fabric of the universe.
That’s because the powers that champion male dominance want us all to
believe they are. A key feature of the male sexual experience, perhaps going
all the way back to our aquatic ancestors in the primordial oceans, is
competition for access to females and the opportunity to father offspring.
This heterosexual male struggle to reproduce gets projected onto everything
and spawns many (if not all) of the problems human beings face daily.
Experience of the apparent scarcity of accessible or willing females gives
rise to the belief that for any kind of success in life, a host of problems
must be overcome and that misfortune, injustice—and other people—stand in
the way of achieving success.
We could have a world where everything everybody needed to sustain them is
available and there is no scarcity and no need for competition for
resources. New technologies may create a world where energy is so abundant
and labor so easily automated that everything will be free. But it’s
unlikely the “alpha males” who’ve won the male dominance competition will
allow this to happen anytime soon. In the meantime, we continue to believe
there isn’t enough happiness to go around, that we can’t be generous (“If I
give one to you, I’ll have to give one to everybody”), that the world is
fraught with problems, and that “those other people” are responsible for the
problems we face. In mythic, metaphorical terms, life is an ordeal to be
suffered; there’s a battle between good and evil, between the sinners and
the saved; and heaven must be somewhere else.
Becoming aware of how these heterosexual male assumptions color all of life
is the work of spirituality and consciousness-expansion. The goal of our
spiritual practice (which actually requires no achievement at all) is to see
that heaven exists right here, right now, on the other side of all those
Both/And Instead of Either/Or
Conventional thinking, dominated by the influence of straight males,
asserts: “I’m right and you’re wrong.” Nonpolarized thinking transforms
that: “We’re both right and we’re both wrong, from different perspectives.”
Therefore both sides can coexist and help one another. There is no
competition. This is the basis for love of neighbor and love of enemy.
This transformation demonstrates the new paradigm of “both/and instead of
either/or.” You can actualize this new paradigm in your daily life by
practicing using the word “and” instead of “but” every time you start to say
it. It’s simple and it changes how you think.
The word but usually contains a lie. Here’s the classic example: I want to
go to the beach, but I have work to do. The but in the sentence creates the
impression that these alternative ways of spending the day are contradictory
and mutually exclusive. That’s simply not true. The truth is that you want
to go to the beach and you want to get your work done. Both facts are true.
Making the shift in wording shows you that you might be able to adjust your
schedule so you can do both. You begin to inhabit a universe full of
possibilities instead of mutually exclusive alternatives.
Of course, some alternatives are mutually exclusive, and no amount of
adjusting can change that. But if each time you start to use the word but
you stop to consider whether you could use and instead, you discover there
is a lot less polarization and opposition in life than we’ve all been taught
Non-duality allows you to avow conflicting ideas at the same time. For
example, you can affirm that democracy, free enterprise, and private
ownership of property are wonderful ideas and that Communism and collective
ownership are also wonderful ideas. Both can be true. You can believe in
God, and at the same time you can understand that God is a mythological
image. Non-duality and multidimensionality free you from exclusivistic
Making Other People Wrong
“Making other people wrong” is an example of how polarization
creates animosity and justifies enmity and misunderstanding. Making people
wrong is choosing to interpret their behavior in a negative context,
projecting bad faith and bad intentions onto them, assuming the worst, and
judging them accordingly. It means interpreting their behavior and their
motivations from the other side of a polarity, from the other side of a but.
“I go to church on Sunday, but so-and-so plays golf” implies the golfer
isn’t as pious or moral as he should be and makes him wrong. “I go to church
on Sunday and so-and-so plays golf” changes the sentence to a simple
statement about various pastimes. Dropping the but removes the judgment by
removing the opposition.
The straight world’s tendency to object to gay marriage, for
example, is full of buts. The opposition argues that recognizing gay
relationships undermines and invalidates straight marriage. They look for
contradiction where it doesn’t exist: “They want to get married, but they’re
two men.” Allowing gay people to marry doesn’t have anything to do with the
quality of straight marriages. There is no conflict between straight
marriage and gay marriage—no scarcity of marriage licenses or conjugal
For the most part, the straight world unwittingly accepts the polarity and
believes in the contradiction. They accept unthinkingly that the existence
of homosexuals in the world somehow threatens the existence of
heterosexuals. They see things in terms of opposing teams. They believe
adversarial conflict is the best way to achieve justice.
In a very real way, straight people are always involved in a power struggle
between men and women. That means, for them, that life is full of sexual
possibilities and delights in overcoming the male/female opposition. It also
means they are immersed in a process of polarization that gives rise to
wrong-making and opposition.
Straight People Are Not the Problem
The point here is not to make straight people wrong or to
criticize their behavior negatively. They are the vast majority of the human
race—the normal people. There are many wonderful straight people. Indeed,
there are wonderful straight religious people—both among our supporters and
among our opponents. Obviously, most wonderful people are straight because
most people are straight. Though the polarized worldview that
heterosexuality produces remains the biggest source of the suffering and
acrimony in the world, straight people are not the problem. And so we want
to collaborate with straight people to make a better world for everybody.