Deus Ex Machina

"This is the generation of the great LEVIATHAN, or rather, to speak more reverently of that mortal god, to which we own under the immortal God, our peace and defense." -Thomas Hobbes: Leviathan

Why All Sexual Desires have a Homoerotic Element; or What is a Homosexual?

Since yesterday was Pinkdot, I thought I would reproduce this very old article of mine which I wrote years ago.

What is a Gay?

I remember some years back after I left relief teaching, some of the students added me on msn, and one student, who was rather infamous in class for being bisexual, starting to talk to me online. One of the more curious conversations we had was when he asked me do I think he’s gay. To which I merely replied, I don’t know, what is a gay? Then he said, if he got a boyfriend would that make him a gay? To which I replied, I don’t know, why would it? To which he proceeded to ask if he got married to a guy would that make him a gay? To which again I gave the a similar response, I don’t know what a gay is so I can’t possibly know whether such and such acts constitutes being a gay.

Of course, this raises all kinds of interesting questions, but in this note I’m only interested in one aspect of the discussion. The question of whether homoeroticism itself is a determinative factor for being a gay. I shall argue here that, as paradoxical as it might sound, homoeroticism by itself cannot constitute being a gay, being “turned on” by persons of the same gender apparently does not make one a gay.

On Sexual Desire

Firstly, I will be operating on the premise which Roger Scruton here describes in his paper Sacrilege and Sacrament

Sexual desire is not a desire for sensations. It is a desire for a person: and I mean a person, not his or her body, conceived as an object in the physical world, but the person conceived as an incarnate subject, in whom the light of self-consciousness shines and who confronts me eye to eye, and I to I. True desire is also a kind of petition: it demands reciprocity, mutuality, and a shared surrender. It is therefore compromising, and also threatening. No pursuit of a mere sensation could be compromising or threatening in this way.

That sexual desire is intentional, i.e. directed towards subjects or persons, and not towards sensation and feelings, will be the base premise of this entire note. If you don’t accept this, then it would be pointless to continue reading. Anyway to continue, elsewhere he describes,

It is integral to the woman’s thought that her lover is a conscious being, and also conscious of himself as an agent and patient in the sexual transaction. Moreover, she thinks of him as having a conception of her body, and of her in her body. Her sense of his caress is of an invitation: she experiences it as fundamentally addressed to her through her body, and in her body. Arousal is founded first in the thought of his bodily presence, as a source of interest in her, and secondly in a desire to address to him the equivalent of what he addresses to her.

In the first impulse of arousal… there is the beginning of that chain of reciprocity which is fundamental to interpersonal attitudes….

… There is also the specific experience of embodiment. My sense of myself as identical with my body, and my sense of you as identical with yours are crucial elements, both in the aim and in the reception, of arousal caress. I am awakened in my body, to the embodiment of you. Underlying the woman’s state of arousal is the thought: ‘I, in my body, am something for him’, and her response- the ‘opening’ to his approaches, and all that is entailed in that- must be understood in part as an expression of that thought, and of the interpersonal intentionality that is built upon it.

Elsewhere I have summarised this as,

… in arousal, both parties are “awaken” to their bodily existence, especially in their genitals. They also conceive of the other person as being awakened and centered upon their genital areas, which is now the place where they act to express themselves, as a place where the mutual “touch” of one another in that “area” is the means of provoking and animating the other consciousness and personhood which is now concentrated there. In an actual sexual intercourse, the contact of the two areas is the point of contact of the two spirits, their desire is now fully incarnate in the sexual organs, both parties’s sexual desires now “act” through their genitals, my desire is awakened and incarnate in my genitals, as I desire you to also desire me, I act out my sexual desire in my genital contact with yours, acting out my desire that you also desire me by provoking your gentials as you also desire my desire by provoking mine. In sum, there is a reciprocity of response of the one person to the other in sexual intercourse in their sexual organs which cooperate together in a exchange of “shared surrendering” of each other to the other.

On the Homoerotic Element

We are all familiar with the joke where a couple who in the midst of having sex has one party moans out the name of someone else then the person to whom is being made love to. But underlying this comic and disastrous Freudian slip is an entirely legitimate idea. In sex, I desire my partner to desire me not someone else. I want the other partner to be aroused and sexually awaken to me and not any other person. As Scruton puts it,

… I want him to have knowledge of me in my body, and to delight in me there, as I delight in him. It is at the same time as crucial to my attitude that his attention be focused on me (me as an individual) as that mine be focused on him. In all natural desire, indeed, there is an element of narcissism. For I strive to see myself through his eyes. I wish to appear within his consciousness as overwhelming, and I respond to everything in him that conveys this impression.

If this argument is correct, then that would mean that my sexual desire is for my partner to desire and be “turned” on by my body, I wish to see my partner sexually aroused by my body, I wish “to see myself” through my partner eyes, thus I am sexually aroused by how sexually arousing I am. What else does this boil down to, but that I am erotically moved by my own body as seen through my partner’s eyes? And what is this but homoeroticism?

Thus, it seems, that the startling and surprising conclusion of this argument is that all “natural” sexual desires must have a homoerotic element, and that being so-called “turned on” by bodies of our own gender is a necessary part of every developed sexual desire.

On the Gay Identity

Though it is a cliché to say that everyone is special, the response to that is that if everyone is special then no one is. The logic can be likewise applied to the question of the gay identity. Being sexually aroused or “turned on” by persons of our own gender itself cannot be the distinguishing feature of being a gay, as everyone else also is, according to the analysis just given.

If this analysis is correct, then there would be considerable puzzles as to what exactly does constitute being a gay, as the most common and widespread understanding is that of homoeroticism or being attracted to persons of one own gender. But if homoeroticism or being attracted to persons of one’s own gender is not the distinguishing characteristic of being a gay, then what is it? It could be argued that it is the intend to spend all of one’s life with a person of the same gender or get married to persons of one’s own gender. Well, may be so. But then this sort of desire or intent is a considerably abstract intent, one of long term project, intention and choice, and it has nothing of the “existential” force which comes from being homoerotic, which is considerably closer to one’s heart and is more closely united to one’s identity or one sense of being oneself.

But it is my suspicion that firstly, that there is an almost obsessive concentration on the form of the body in the gay community. However, the premise on which I am operating on is that the intent of desire is towards a person, and the person’s body in so far as it incarnates and reveals the person. Persons are temporally extended and historical beings, having growth and development, whose identity is “smeared” over time. I have also argued elsewhere that the course of sexual desire is towards ever greater union with the other person in time, climaxing in the incarnation of their union in children, who is literally “enfleshment” of them.

Against this “temporally extended” idea of sexual desire, it seems that, at least to me, although I am not sure, gay sexual desire is essentially cyclical in nature. It seems to me to be a carpe diem eternally attempting to live and relive one’s satisfaction for the desire for the body form, a cyclical indulging in the body form on and on. Which perhaps might explain why the gay community has such an extraordinary suicide rate. If being a “gay” constitutes one’s core identity, and if this identity consists of it ability to be eternally cycled in the lived sexual experience in the body, then once the intensity of the sexual experience degenerates through age, then it would be a literal degeneration of oneself.

I posted once on facebook a post about how a famous british lesbian, Jackie Clune, who decided to live a straight life, and this is how she describes it (not through any religious “brainwashing” I might add!)

…And, while I had male friends, I had not even had the faintest flicker of interest in any man for years. But I suspect the simple truth is that I no longer felt I needed to be defined by my sexuality. I had outgrown lesbianism.

For more than a decade my sexuality had been a vital part of who I was. When we’re young, we all need to belong to a tribe and to have a banner to march under. This may sound absurd, but calling myself a lesbian was almost like calling myself a punk or a goth…

I find this “outgrowing” to be curious. It seems to imply that being a gay is more artificial then we think, a matter of group or tribal identity than based on anything real. I repeat, the foundation for which the gay identity is often said to be based on is homoeroticism, but if homoeroticism is also something which every sexual desire has, then, there is nothing real to being a gay, and being a gay is, as she says, like being a goth or a punk. Thus to emphasize one’s sexual identity becomes more of a social phenomenon than an existential crisis, and that once one “outgrows” this need to define oneself sexually or the need for a tribe, then one simply goes back to ordinary life.

But she also points out that

I repeat, I know many people are totally convinced that they are born gay and have absolutely no choice over their sexual orientation.

Perhaps for many, being a “gay” (read: being homoerotic) is an existential crisis. But, then I would argue that such persons simply do not understand that being homoerotic has a very legitimate place even in “normal” or “natural” sexual desire, and that they simply do not understand the course of sexual desire well enough.

But if this analysis of the gay identity as being a rebel-without-a-cause analysis is correct (and I am not saying that it is, but let’s for argument sake say that it is), then it is unfortunate, but that the gay identity only exists only because of the gay haters. As one as there is something to rebel against, the gay identity will be constantly fed with the meat of opposition. Which brings me to my conclusion.

Some Concluding Challenges

For my fellow Christians, if my analysis is correct, then we should stop demonising homoeroticism as sinful, etc, but instead see that being homoerotic is in fact completely legitimate and even natural. Thus, for Christians, one may simply see gays as being mistaken and ignorant, not evil and depraved. Of course, this is not to deny that there maybe gays who wilfully and purposely choose to live a gay lifestyle, but if this is so, then this is a deliberate choice and lacks the existential force or necessity which is commonly pleaded in the gay community.

For the gays, this would be a challenge to find something more substantive in the grounding of the gay identity, or for what it means to be gay, then as a mere rebel-without-a-cause movement. Like the South African government, they were full of life and vitality in their opposition to apartheid, but once that enemy was gone, the government descended into corruption and inefficiency, since they didn’t build themselves politically on any other base then being opposed to something.

If one where interested, you can go to this article where I discuss indepth the difference in sexual desires and experience in homosexual and heterosexuals,

https://rationalityofaith.wordpress.com/2011/08/27/does-gender-difference-makes-a-difference-on-romantic-desires-and-sexual-desires/

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10 comments on “Why All Sexual Desires have a Homoerotic Element; or What is a Homosexual?

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This entry was posted on July 1, 2012 by in Sexuality and tagged .
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