No! this is not a story about the latest intestinal parasites to be raging through the gay bowels of Denver. Rather it’s a short, incomplete look at the emerging body of information (scientific, quasi-scientific and philosophical) lending credence to the possibility that there may be a genetic basis to queerness after all. The fact that we are born as little faggots and dykes is, of course, no news to many of us.
Many gay thinkers have for a long time known that we are really much different than heteros right from the beginning. Kark Heinrich Ulrich’s, considered by some to be the founding spirit of homosexual emancipation in Western Europe, writing between 1864 and 1870 referred to homosexual men as Urnings. He copied this from Pausanias’ speech in Plato’s Symposium where men loving men are said to be inspired by the Aphrodite who happens to be the daughter of Uranus, or Heaven. So in certain hip queer circles prior to World War I we were referred to as timing’s, which afterward was Anglicised to “Uranians.” I must say Uranian has a much catchier ring to it than either gay or lesbian!
Ulrich though, as many who have followed him, ran amok in strait-hetero-male thinking trying to figure out who we are. He settled on defining gay men, at least, as a “female soul enclosed in a male body.” One would assume then that lesbians were male souls enclosed in a female body. How boring and so het influenced. The strait world believes the universe is made up of hetero-female-women and hetero-male-men and queers are just varying combinations of these two (i.e. the Kinsey scale of sexual behavior.)
Edward Carpenter, a protege of Walt Whitman, around the turn of the century, bought Ulrich’s theory lock, stock and barrel. Again, he was unable to escape the all encompassing oppression of het-male-Western thought when it came to trying to explain who he was as a gay man.
Still we must not be too elitist in our thinking in writing off the contribution of these early queer pioneers. At least they were out of the closet and talking about “us” — no small accomplishment then or now!
In the 1950’s along came a very intense gay thinker named Gerald Heard (1890 -1971). Jim Kepner (guiding spirit of the National Gay Archives in Los Angeles) says in an article that Heard felt that “a minority group’s proper self-image depends on what it chooses or permits itself to be called.” The word Heard lighted on was Isophyl (i.e. lover of the same.)
Heard regarded the great hermaphrodite as the end goal of human evolution. My interpretation of Heard’s thinking based on admittedly little contact with it is that the Isophyl is not necessarily the embodiment of this great hermaphrodite but perhaps a step in the right direction. He felt that the Isophyl is the most successful form of human evolution. Successful from the point of view that what is needed for the continued survival and “a chosen evolution in a group spirit” (which he felt humankind is now capable of doing!) is to break away from the retrogressive male/female dimorphism of the universe which the het world is so embroiled in up to their ears at present. Basically what he is saying here is that in order to realize our true potential as gay and lesbian people it behooves us not to imitate straits!
So Heard was saying way back then that we are really very different from straits and that to be true to our nature we must not try to be like everybody else. To do that may be to piss away the last chance humankind has to pull it together here before its too late. So I see Heard’s explanation of it all going far beyond the “male body with a trapped female soul” number. Actually Heard’s thinking is light years ahead of where we in the gay movement are now.
A person who has done much to bridge the gap between Gerald Heard’s fantastic visionary outlook and the current gay movement is Harry Hay. Just to keep this all in some sort of order, Harry Hay knew and had contact with Gerald Heard in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Writing in 1979 Hay said:
“‘we Fairies should be alien • to as many aspects of our Hetero-Male-dominated surround as we can be sensitive to’ because we also know – all too glumly – just how easily and how often we fall prey to self-invited oppressions: how often do we allow ourselves – through fuzzy thinking – to accept, or to identify with, Hetero-originating definitions or misinterpretations of ourselves. The Hetero-male, incapable of conceiving that there could possibly be a window on the world other than his own, is equally incapable of perceiving that we Gay People might not fit in either of his Man-Woman categories, might be equally incapable of perceiving that we Gay People might turn out to be classifications very else: he might not be able to handle perceiving that the notion that persons are all varying combinations of male and female is simply a Hetero-male-derived notion suitable only to Heteros holding nothing of validity insofar as Cay People are concerned.”
Now, you could dismiss the interpretations of who we are – advanced by such gay thinkers as Heard and Hay – as so much poppy-cock. I for one however, think these two fellows are very right on. And low and behold, along come the sociobiologists offering their own interpretations of who we are (which surprisingly lend some credence to the pioneering work of Heard and Hay.)
Edward O. Wilson in a recent book titled On Human Nature says:
“there is… a strong possibility that homosexuality is normal in a biological sense that is a beneficent behavior that evolved as an important element of early human social organization. Homosexuals may be the genetic carriers of some of mankinds rare altruistic impulses.”
The recent new study on queers released by the Kinsey Institute for Sex Research being extensively publisized these days in the strait and gay media is another bit of supporting evidence for our being a unique people and not just deranged hets.
The study involved interviews with 979 homosexual people and 477 heterosexual people who were living in the San Francisco area in 1969 and 1970. They were all asked 200 questions dealing with their childhood and adolescent experiences. The authors of the report, Dr. Alan Bell, and sociologists Martin S. Weinberg and Sue Keifer Hammersmith feel that their data is more reliable or at least closer to reality than information culled from a limited number of queers who have been patients in psychotherapy. Amen!!!
The most significant conclusion from this study is that “homosexuality is as deeply ingrained as heterosexuality and that behavioral and social differences between pre-homosexual and pre-heterosexual boys and girls ‘reflect or express, rather than cause’ their eventual sexual preference.” (This study will be published thie coming November as Sexual Preference: Its Development in Men and Women.)
So what else is new – you may ask.. .and besides, who cares? Well, I guess I care — and that caring gets more intense in these last days of the het-male world order. I don’t particularly care to go down on their ship with them. So what do we do – well I think I’ll take my cue from Gerald Heard and accentuate my otherness, my differences, my queerness! To quote in closing again from Jim Kepner’s article on Gerald Heard:
“He saw a new kind of creativity in the erotic interplay of two or more persons who were not committed to procreation—but were deeply committed to exploring, sharing one another’s potentialities, to enjoying and to charging one another up!”