posted by Mickey on 8/06/03
“After I left UCLA and began touring the world as a professional tennis player, I entered an environment sometimes hostile to gays. In my first few years on the tour, the locker room was ruled by the Australian players, undoubtedly the finest in the world as a group, and an engaging lot. In almost every area they set the tone, and that tone was the basso of stereotypical masculinity. In Australia, where I lived for several months in the 1960s, I found a country dominated by men who thought of themselves as rugged individualists, and masculine to the core. Women there seemed to be mainly second class citizens who existed to serve men sexually and in any other way that men wished. Homosexuality was beyond the pale. Genially, to be sure, the Aussie players brought this intolerance to the locker room, where a known homosexual would probably not have been tolerated. To admit publicly that you were homosexual would have required bravery of an exceptional order. No male tennis player I knew was ever so brave.”
“Days of Grace”.
When was aged 14 or thereabouts, one night I had a dream about a boy named Paul with whom I used to play football. In the dream, I was playing football, and I tackled Paul around his waist and dragged him to the ground. Then I gazed down on him, and he was looking kind of sweet, like I had just crash tackled some goddamn angel or something. And I felt this strange dreamy confusion of feelings, including tenderness, and in my dream I leaned towards Paul's face, and I kissed him on the lips.
And then I woke up and I felt like I was waking up from a nightmare.
“Holy fucking shit,” I thought to myself, red-faced, dripping perspiration, “That dream was a homosexual fantasy! That means I am probably gay. Fuck!” I was upset because I knew that if I was gay, my life would be awful.
My life was grim enough, what with being intelligent and sensitive. Being gay would have been like the fucking icing on the cake. It would have destroyed me. And, from the time I had that dream, until right now, I have never discussed the dream, and the fears it produced within me, with anyone.
"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars"- Oscar Wilde
I was born into that culture that Arthur Ashe was talking about in the extract from his autobiography. When I was growing up, there used to be this pastime called “poofter bashing” which was as popular in city areas as, say, unlicensed kangaroo shooting was in the country, the object of which was to team up with some other “real men” to locate, and then bash the shit out of, other men who were considered to be unacceptably effeminate. This activity was, of course, not legal, but so long as the beatings stopped short of homicide, there was no prospect of prosecution. Indeed, men who went poofter bashing were considered in the light of being likeable rogues, who were performing something of a community service in showing gay people the error of their ways. Also, in those days and in that place (Brisbane), the idea of police responding to a homosexual hate crime was completely laughable- unless, of course, that response was to join in.
I went to an all-boys Catholic private school. Of the upwards of 100 boys in my year who went through puberty and into young adulthood together, there was not one who was ever willing to hint, in any way, through any gesture or utterance, he was anything other than a 100% red-blooded homosexual. And you needn't think I am implying there were homosexuals in the year above me or the year below me. There were no homosexuals at the school. I don't know where all the homosexuals went to be educated, but it wasn't there.
When we were in our final year at High School we were given a sex education lecture by a shy quietly spoken young man named Brother Raymond who had red hair and blushed violently through most of his talk. The basic message he had to give was that sexual love was acceptable within the confines of the sacrament of marriage. He explained the mechanics of intercourse by diagrammatic means, and asked the class if there were any questions. He was clearly so embarrassed and flustered by the ordeal he had just been put through that the dead silence that greeted his inquiry was almost a mercy.
“If there are no other questions…” he said, as if he had just gotten through fielding a few dozen inquiries.
David Stower put his hand up.
“David Stower,” said Brother Raymond, tentatively.
“Brother, is it all right to finger 'em?”
Brother Raymond turned even more crimson than he had been before and explained that digital foreplay was always and in all circumstances forbidden. Anyway, after that, a number of boys asked various questions about aspects of sexuality, until Brother Raymond eventually arrived at feeling he ought to speak candidly about the issue of homosexuality. He put it to the class that while the official church position remained that homosexuality was a sin, and that to indulge in homosexual acts guaranteed eternal suffering in the flames of Hell, his personal opinion was that it was possible the Church would review this at some time in the future. This was far-and-away the most controversial thing Brother Raymond said in his lecture. He was howled down by his adolescent audience. Including me? You had better believe it.
Brother Raymond, totally misjudging the mood of his audience, offered to explain the mechanics of same-sex love, as he had done earlier in relation to meat-and-potatoes intercourse.
I don't know which boy started it, but someone pretended at that moment to start vomiting, and this reaction was taken up, until the room was full of schoolboys all retching and heaving and pretending to be violently ill, at the mere thought of what those damned arse-bandits got up to when they dropped their strides. And I was bent over like everyone else, in a pantomime of blowing chunks, because like all decent, self-respecting members of society, I had nothing but contempt and loathing for poofters.
Don't look at me like that, faggot!!
Now, it turned out my dream about Paul a few years before that was a one-of-a-kind spin of the tumblers of my unconsciousness, sent just to try to freak me out. And that is just as well, because I know that if I had been a gay teenager it would have been impossible to come out in that environment. Honestly, it would have been easier to put a bullet into my head than come out as gay. At my school there was a pretty general feeling that if you liked Australian Football or Soccer instead of Rugby, then that probably meant you sucked cock as well. If you liked to read poetry, you probably liked to do it while being hammered up the asshole by a pair of 20 stone Maori bouncers. It just was not an environment where you would have felt comfortable letting your best friend know that you had any urges that weren't completely "normal".
There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that the suicide rate amongst gay men is higher than for straight men. I don't know whether this true or not, but it kind of makes sense to me that this might be the case and, if so, I believe that the reason would be that, in addition to all the normal dilemmas of life, gay men of my generation and earlier generations would have had an incalculable damage inflicted on their sense of self-respect by growing up in a culture that saw them as the moral equivalent of a purgative.
In my lifetime, there has been a most remarkable revolution in attitudes towards homosexuality. There was a time when the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras was more of a confrontation than a celebration. Nowadays, there is a widespread feeling within the gay community that Mardi Gras is a bit too much of a white bread event to be very interesting any more.
I think it is just great to be part of an observable cultural shift towards greater tolerance. However, there are some aspects of “Gay Culture” that I just don't like. These have nothing to do with the ass fucking and the cock sucking. I am down with those. If homosexuals can just lift their game slightly in the respects I am about to list, then we won't have any problem. Here is my list of the 3 things I most dislike about Gay Culture.
1). Misogyny. There is an unfortunate misogynist streak in some male homosexual circles. This is the same kind of lame shit that pervades moronic homophobic conversations, such as those that take place on the internet, only directed against women. It is easy to see why this happens. Part of it is gay men (only some gay men, of course, of course) reinforcing their identity by comparing themselves with an alien group. Part of it is the testing of taboos that many essentially humourless people use as a humour substitute. But mostly it is just fucked-up ignorant crap.
Undoubtedly, in the lesbian community there is similar stuff in relation to men. Hey, men are great. King Henry VIII, “Jolting” Joe DiMaggio and Snoop Doggy Dogg are just a few of the men who have risen to prominence in public life in recent centuries. Men rock!!
2). Doof-doof-doof-doof Dance Music. Now, I am not such a fool that I don't realise that most of the music played in gay night clubs is designed to be listened to only after massive drug usage. The thing is, even when off my face on chemicals, I would prefer to listen to more interesting music. Still, so long as it is confined to night clubs, I have no real problem with doof-doof-doof-doof music. It is like gay pornography. I know it exists, but I don't want to be a consumer of it. For a while, however, I used to live next door to a gay couple, who appeared to have only one album in their whole music collection, a compilation called “Repetitive Bass Noises: Volume One”. Trying to go to sleep while they were playing it was taking a snort of amyl nitrate instead of washing down a mogadon with a glass of warm milk.
Turn that fucking music down, Marcel!!
3). Likeable gay characters in movies. Actually, this is not a problem with gay culture, but with corporate culture. A few years ago, Hollywood must have noticed that gay men and women represented a demographic that was worth courting. There are only a small number of feature films that seek a predominantly gay audience, and although some of them may be as good as for instance, Ang Lee's first feature, “The Wedding Banquet,” by their nature they tend not to be mainstream movies.
In mainstream movies, over the last 10 years or so, the tendency has been to try to attract the pink dollar by chucking in a couple of likeable gay characters. Generally speaking, a kind of deal seems to have been struck to avoid offending the Bible-belt, whereby these characters have no personality whatsoever, except that they are all in committed relationships with one another and are likeable. To establish their likeability they do stuff like cook and make coffee a lot. Compared with these characters, “Will and Grace” looks edgy and provocative. The very best (by which I mean worst) example of a LGC I can think of is the milksop portrayed by Greg Kinnear in “As Good As It Gets”. If I was gay, I honestly wouldn't give a fuck about Eminem, but I would protest vociferously about “As Good As It Gets”. I would hang around video stores until someone rented a copy and pounce on him or her.
Don't you know this piece of shit promotes highly offensive positive stereotypes about gay men?
Those are my problems with gay culture. Apart from that, so long as everyone involved is old enough to know what they are doing and everyone is having fun, I am not concerned with how people seek pleasure in the privacy of their own bedrooms. That is, so long as it does not involve playing “doof-doof-doof-doof” dance music at high volumes. If you want to hear that kind of shit, go to a club.