Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Homo Man, Homo Relationship /1



"The gay relationship is the homosexual relationship is the relationship between men who have sex with other men."


   Reduced to its 21st Century clinical nomenclature, we're at least able to ground the homosexual relationship in non-hysterical medical science...albeit with an epidemiological twist. The 19th Century "diagnostic" terminologies - homosexual / homosexuality - seek to pathologize and therefore separate some men (and women) from what was essentially normal but nevertheless deemed socially unacceptable.
   None of which of course goes to acknowledging or dignifying the homosexual relationship or the homoerotica never far from the deeply bonded male relationships of our ancient history. Acceptance of same-sex marriage partially addresses it, but it doesn't define healthy male-to-male relationships. Nor should it: we haven't come this far to be once more defined by those who may not even wish us well. As crumbs off the table of advanced capitalism, we're wise to look at the institution's implications...be they legal, romantic, societal and / or historical.

Knowing What's Rightfully Ours

   We weren't always this way. We weren't always "othered" and victimized by the homophobic religiosity of societies, and the laws and worse which ensued. We weren't always consumers of a gay culture born out of Mafia bars and profiteering pornographers and all who chased a pink dollar. We weren't always lonely losers.
   For millenia homophobic translating scribes and scholars have vilified us when not making us invisible, and therefore a reasonable Rabbinical approach to the most ancient Biblical tale of David and Jonathan is warranted. Arguably it is a moral tale which archly dignifies attraction between men as well as the concept of men marrying each other, with a healthy dose of divine carnality. Hiding in plain sight is their much-mentioned but never clearly articulated "covenant". (It's violation however most certainly is.) Was that covenant not their marriage and all that love and marriage entailed in the context of their time? Is David's grief and remorse at the death of Jonathon the overarching moral of the story rather than a footnote? And what do we make of David's adoption of Jonathan's lame son Mephibosheth as symbolism?
   A footnote of much contextual importance is the fact that Jonathan's father - the canny King Saul - undoubtedly arranged the marriage / covenant before he became insane. In David and Jonathan's attraction (to each other) he only saw great opportunity: a potential threat was ameliorated in acquiring a powerful son-in-law in the ambitious David.  Similarly, the 9th Century marriage-like arrangement of Basil 1 and King Charles of Constantinople bore the same hallmark of traditional marriage as it was: they were beneficial liaisons. The Spartan military culture was based on bonded male couples who slept together as the primary sub-unit on which their ferocious army was built - rather than larger latter-day assemblies like squads increasing to platoons and so on. And it's hard to argue that regulated Athenian pederasty wasn't governed by strict principles of arranged marriage...with the younger consenting male (and his family) standing to benefit greatly from his older suitor. 

You know the King's son likes you when he strips and hands over his sword.


   Of course the "othering" and pathologizing of the "homosexual" as a distinct species is directly traceable to 1870, when by Foucault's account Capitalism was creating more leisure time and freeing more men from the Ponzi-like constraints of constant grueling hard work as well as unsustainable performative breeding to create child labour, at least among the working classes. (Foucault's take on the matter is as irrefutable as many of his other takes are infinitely refutable.)
   While Satre clearly stated that "homosexual" was actually an invalid mauvaise foi ['bad faith'] identity, the notion is worth exploring since it questions becoming who you think you are, in complicity with the reactionary social construct of homophobia...a social construct which also effectively pits men against each other in any and all forms of competitiveness. It's with these things in mind that we approach all male-to-male relationships, but most especially the men with whom we hope to share the very intimacy which competition subverts. And we can only hope that Satre similarly dismissed "heterosexual" as bad faith.


   When the loose threads of homosexual history are tied up in some semblance of correct order, we see a clear picture of men who have sex with each other as being critical to the backbones of many societies - albeit somewhat patriarchal, and in differing senses. Our ancestors' relationships were as complex as they were not so complex. All had form and function, and all were free of competition and dysfunction. It's the toxic masculinity of religions old and new however which is threatened by consenting male homosexual relationships: two men in bonded loyalty will usurp any priest or imam, given half a chance.



...and Taking Back What's Rightfully Ours 


   The modern homo of course is still fighting for his life as well as regaining his entitlement to loving and being loved. He requires a world of acceptance rather than mere tolerance...approval being implicit within acceptance. He mightn't find a lot of inspiration from non-gay couples either: they're also managing to make profound messes of contemporary relationships and marriage. "Love matches" have no higher success rates than arranged marriages. Men nowadays don't have fathers like King Saul who'll see that their lineage and power can be consolidated and extended by exploiting a gay son's lustful and loving attraction.  Nor do we have Athenian mothers either - women who hope a beautiful son will pay back the family's investment in him by choosing a man of enough wealth and influence to enrich her, as well as the son.
   What we do have however are commonsense approaches to reality and opportunities to form relationships which straddle both love matches and arranged marriages. We can choose to do things our ways, and do them better. Things like shared values and shared history and background / character verification aren't to be dismissed in the name of romantic delusions. Having a good relationship is neither radical nor conservative: it's both when a Queer man takes charge of his life enough to ensure he's getting what's due to a first-class citizen of our times.


   It's a big wide world out there full of men. But when we crunch the numbers we find that few are physically or emotionally available for a functional relationship.  In fact, few are even available for a worthwhile sex hookup.  Most don't know what they want, so it's all that more important to know what we want. Most are dismissive, so it's all that more important that we're not. And we just might end up with nothing if we think the crap we ticked for an online dating profile means anything more than data collection.


   And when we get to the point where we think we've made a good connection, it can only help to review the situation with some objectivity. I've found the following checklist to be thoroughly sound, most useful and very affirming. 





1.   Strong motivation by both individuals to make the relationship work.
2.   Confidence that most problems can be resolved.
3.   A firm commitment to, and consistent attempts to, communicate openly and directly. i.e. the couple does not ignore feelings or automatically assume understanding.
4.   A good feeling and a closer relationship usually results from a discussion of a difficult relationship problem.
5.   Both individuals feel comfortable with the decisions that have been made about sex in the relationship.
6.   Discussions about sex are as comfortable and open as discussions about other important aspects of life.


7.   The couple has numerous shared interests.


8.   The couple shares a similar philosophy of life. 


9.   Both individuals have similar motives and goals for the relationship.


10. The couple has the ability to have fun together.


11. The couple has the ability to relate well to other persons.


12. Both individuals are receiving approximately equal gratification from the relationship.