»  National Review Online

December 20th, 2001

  Make Your Yuletide Gay


At the beginning of Robert Aldrich's 1962 movie Sodom and Gomorrah, Anouk Aimee sets out to deliver a message to the Elamites. Halfway across the desert she encounters a stranger, who helpfully warns her: "Watch out for Sodomite patrols!"

Where is that guy when I need him? In Tuesday's column, which was about ballet, I passed a comment on the movie Billy Elliot, expressing the opinion that it was "not bad, if you ignored the ingredient of homosexual propaganda that seems to be compulsory in British movies nowadays." That was when the Sodomite patrols spotted me.

Not much escapes those patrols. Anything you say in public that annoys or offends homosexuals will always draw a bagful of mail from them. Homosexuals, as anyone who works on a newspaper's op-ed page will tell you, are persistent and indefatigable writers of Letters To The Editor, responding en masse to the merest perceived slight with 8-page self-justifications, though not necessarily written, as the late Theodore Sturgeon claimed, in green ink with purple capitals. I must say that my own experience has been that these screeds are usually polite, written either in a tone of wounded puzzlement ("How could you be so unkind?"), or with a sort of pedagogical patience, like the devotee of some minor but respectable religious sect explaining its doctrines to an unbeliever, or, at loudest, brandishing a kind of spirited defiance: "I'm gay, and I'm proud, and I don't give a damn what you think!" (Fine — but then why are you sending me this 2,000-word email?)

Perhaps — I hope this isn't true, but the possibility can't be altogether ruled out — perhaps it was the actual topic of my Tuesday piece that brought a bigger-than-normal response from homosexuals. (All male, incidentally. I don't think I have ever had a response from a lesbian to anything I have said about homosexuality. Either lesbians don't read NRO, or else they really don't give a damn what I think.) Now, it is a common stereotype that the world of ballet, and of balletomanes, is heavily homosexual. My own sources tell me that this is true to about the following degrees: choreographers — 100 per cent, male dancers — 50 per cent, male balletomanes — 25 per cent. (The figure for the general population is much disputed, but the consensus among the disinterested seems to be 2 or 3 per cent.)

If those numbers are correct, it seems to me deplorable. I have expressed my own love of ballet, and the pleasure it has given to me. I'd be sad to think that a sphere of activity I admire so much is dominated by one single self-interested group. Any group — Rastafarians, alcoholics, conservative Republicans — but especially, of course, a group defined by behavior I don't much like. However, the injustice, possibly tragedy, of this imbalance is a topic for another day. What I want to talk about here is the fact of my disliking homosexuality.

Let me first take a baseball bat to the pop-Freudianism crowd: "Ah, the reason you dislike homosexuality is that you yourself are unconsciously homosexual and haven't the courage to face it." There has been a slight increase in these kinds of emails since my novel Fire from the Sun came out. One of the principals in that novel is a homosexual, and so is one of the secondary characters. Both are drawn sympathetically (though — Spoiler Alert! — I kill them both off — gunshot, AIDS — before the end). Well, at least someone's reading the thing: but it is an infantile error to deduce anything so direct about a fiction author from his productions. Charles Dickens was not an orphan; Daniel Defoe was not a whore; Vladimir Nabokov was not a child molestor; Robert Graves was not a Roman Emperor; Mario Puzo was not a gangster. As a matter of fact, both my homosexual characters are Chinese, another thing I am not (except by marriage). The point of writing fiction is to make stuff up. Freudianism is crap: pop-Freudianism is crap Ph.D. (i.e. piled higher and deeper).

My feelings about homosexuality are in fact rather mild, and are the same as those held by most of the human race, in most times and places. Even in modern America, after a 30-year tsunami of relentless pro-homosexual propaganda from all media outlets, dislike of homosexuality is widespread. You can see the numbers for yourself on Gallup. I don't wish homosexuals any harm, and I doubt anyone but a minority of lunatics does. I do think that homosexuality is freakish and slightly disgusting, though, and I seem to know a lot of people — very ordinary, hard-working, thoughtful and civic-minded Americans — who, in private, express the same opinion. That opinion was, after all, well-nigh universal 30 or 40 years ago. (And please don't drag in analogies with racism — not until you've tried them out on a roomful of working-class black people.)

What I object to is the assumption, rapidly becoming universal, that those of us sharing this opinion should keep their mouths shut if they know what's good for them, and should feel ashamed of thoughts that seems to me commonplace and reasonable. To put it another way, I object to the assault the homosexual lobbies are conducting on our most fundamental and instinctual feelings, sensibilities, and, yes, religious beliefs — the relentless effort to portray those feelings, those sensibilities and those beliefs as illegitimate, deplorable and wicked. Distaste for homosexuality is about as fundamental a feature of human nature as you can find. It is nothing much to do with Leviticus, whatever the hate-God crowd tell you — it is, for example, widely felt in China, where nobody has even heard of Leviticus. The really striking thing about those Gallup graphs is how flat they are, in spite of all the propaganda. What irritates and annoys me is the dishonesty of homosexual propaganda — the massive campaign to pretend that human nature is something different from what it, in fact, is. I just don't like massive, organized lying.

All that aside, though, I can't say I care much about homosexuality one way or the other. If I examine my own motivations for saying anything at all on this subject, the main thing I am aware of is just contrarian cussedness. I get so goddam sick of all the movies, TV shows and, yes, emails telling me how goddam wonderful homosexuals are, and how goddam normal homosexuality is, and how goddam cruel and bigoted and intolerant it must be not to whole-heartedly approve of homosexuals, and cheer them on, and applaud the things they do. Well, I know myself well enough to be sure that I am not cruel, or bigoted, or intolerant. Nor am I aware of anyone who knows me that believes be to be any of those things. Like Thomas More: "I wish none harm, I say none harm, I do none harm." Do as you please in the privacy of your chambers, but for heaven's sake stop pushing it in my face, stop telling me how wonderful you are, stop lying about the fact that the things you do have health consequences (were in fact responsible for introducing a horrible plague into our society), stop mucking up my language by introducing illiteracies like "homophobe" and imposing the stain of salacity on perfectly decent old English words like "gay," stop telling me that the things I say might be taken as incitement to crimes of violence. (What words that anyone says about anything might not be thus taken by some lunatic somewhere? What would we be permitted to talk about, on that criterion?) And don't even think about proselytizing your "lifestyle" to my kids.

All of which is prefatory to the following little Yuletide olive (not mistletoe) branch. It really is possible to hate the sin while loving, or at least not minding, the sinner. If you're homosexual and something I've written has ticked you off, look at it this way. I am ticked off, pretty much daily, by the aggressive and dishonest propaganda of the homosexualist lobbies, by their attempts to stifle my freedom of speech, and by the efforts of their extremist elements to recruit innocent kids to their practices. Millions of other people are ticked off in the same way. If you're not a member of those lobbies — most homosexuals aren't — and are not one of those extremists — the overwhelming majority of homosexuals aren't — I have no beef with you, and I can't see why you should have any with me. You are just a person who does weird things at home, which I'd be extremely grateful not to know about. I don't know what half my friends do at home, and couldn't care less. And I wish you — I really do, sincerely wish you, whether you accept my wishes or not (mostly not, I imagine, if you've read this far) — a very happy Christmas with the person you love. Amor vincit omnia.