There was an article in the paper today about homophobia in German football. My interest in German football (or English football, for that matter) is zero, but it was an interesting article. Germany is one of the most tolerant countries in Europe (as you’d expect from a nation known for its logic and Vorsprung durch Technik); as the article said, one of its cabinet ministers and the Mayor of Berlin are openly gay. Yet its footballers must stay firmly in the closet, to the level of feeling that they have to choose between their sexuality – and therefore their chance of having a loving sexual relationship – and their career.
What kind of choice is it, what kind of world is it, where someone has to sacrifice their partner or their dream because of other people’s prejudice?
Yesterday, there was another article, this time about Milan, where the first gay couple have just registered their civil partnership, to predictions from the Church that this will cause the End Of Civilisation As We Know It.
Good news – a long way to go, but a journey of a thousand miles and all that.
Makes me think. I mean, why?
For centuries, in Western Europe, society has regarded male homosexuality with horror and revulsion. (Interestingly, in Ancient Greece, homosexual acts were not only not regarded as bad, but was a normal part of society.) Why is that?
Why do we feel the need to despise and/or punish someone for something they do in private, with another consenting adult, and that we will never see, hear, or be expected to participate in?
A friend of mine – he’s a great guy, but he’s practically the definition of parochial white working-class male – is a case in point. We were at an event the other weekend and these two guys came over to talk to us; we had an innocuous conversation and then the two guys went on their way. After which my friend said words to the effect of “I’m glad they didn’t admit they were gay, or I’d have said something rude.”
What I have to ask myself is:
1. If you go somewhere with a companion of the same sex, why do people assume you must be sleeping with them? Is this why car-share schemes aren’t more prevalent?
2. If you are sleeping with your companion, what business is it of anyone else’s?
It’s mostly men who are this homophobic (if my friend had made his comment in the hearing of his wife, she’d have hit him with a skillet; which I’m far too polite to do, and besides, she had the skillet) and, guys, why is that?
Is it because you just don’t like to think of a man being on the receiving end – being the hunted rather than the hunter?
Is it because you think you might end up being pursued yourself? I did ask my friend this, pointing out that while naturally I consider him to be one of the most desirable men I know, some people have strange opinions and do not consider being on the wrong side of fifty-five, balding, and twenty-five stone to be necessary qualities for sexual irresistibility.
He said that just thinking about it made him feel ‘icky’. Since I considered that I’d been pointed enough already, I didn’t ask him whether he always pictured everyone he met having sex, and if he didn’t like the picture he didn’t pursue the acquaintance.
I know all about the it’s-not-natural argument, but neither is the internet and here we all are. Besides, there’s evidence of homosexual behaviour in non-human species, which pretty much disposes of that. If you’re going to quote Thomas Aquinas, and his argument that any sexual activity not resulting in conception being unnatural and therefore wrong, then if we accept that then we should not allow infertile people (that includes all women after the menopause, by the way) to have sex at all.
I know about the the-Bible-says-it’s-wrong argument, and quite frankly, the Bible also says we shall not wear polyester-cotton (Deuteronomy 22:11, if you don’t believe me) and I don’t see the Church up in arms about the increasing incidence of drip-dry shirts. It’s hardly consistent to only pick out the laws you like the sound of and discard the ones that might result in personal inconvenience, like having to figure out how to use spray-on starch without getting white bits everywhere.
I cannot think of a single argument against homosexuality that stands up to logic.
Why should we interfere in who a person chooses to love? Surely the world could do with more love, not less? And if two people want to do the horizontal tango, in private, then who are we to interfere? It doesn’t affect us in any way. And then, if they want to marry, to make a public commitment to each other, then surely that’s a good thing? Stable relationships, happy people, all that kind of thing.
OK, rant over. See you tomorrow… same time, same place?