The Gay Liberation of Straight Men
April 19th, 2013
I’ve discovered that NOM’s new official expert, Anthony Esolen, is so wrong about so many things that you can gain insight just by contemplating the opposite of what he says.
Back in 2006, Anthony offered 10 non-religious reasons for opposing same-sex marriage. Here’s #5:
It will curtail opportunities for deep and emotionally fulfilling friendships between members of the same sex, opportunities that are already few and strained. This is particularly true of men.
This was a disastrous prediction. It’s not just that his reasoning is convoluted, but that events have proved him laughably wrong.
As you may know, it’s tough to summarize Anthony’s arguments. He never uses one word when twenty will do, and he’s never seen a paragraph he couldn’t improve by stretching it with flowery repetition. Here, though, is the meat:
…now the condonement of homosexuality prevents [boys] from publicly preferring the company of their own sex. This is simply inarguable. If a George Gershwin nowadays shows up at Maxie Rosenzweig’s house all the time, while his pals are outside on the streets playing stickball, then there must be something up with George and Maxie.
And then, apparently without realizing it, Anthony proceeds to refute himself:
Therefore unless they are comfortable with the meaning, they will shy away from one another.
Exactly. Really, I wish I could put my hands on Anthony’s shoulders, look him deep in the eye, and say, “Exactly. The problem arises not when homosexuality is condoned, but when it is condemned.”
For instance: I’m not straight, left-handed, or Canadian. But rumors to the contrary wouldn’t freak me out, and certainly wouldn’t make me change my actions or associations — because I don’t see anything wrong with those traits, and neither does the society in which I travel.
However, if I lived in a world where I could be shunned, disowned, fired, or lobotomized just for being left-handed…then, yeah, I might be more worried about people thinking I’m a left-handed deviant monster, and might work harder to squelch those rumors.
Fast forward to 2013. Same-sex marriage is legal in much of the country; we’ve had 7-years of non-stop national conversation about gays and lesbians; and a new generation has matured thinking, What’s the big friggin’ deal.
The result? A culture where people talk freely of man crushes and bromance. A culture in which one of the most popular TV shows is practically built around the friendship and spicy, flirtatious chemistry between two of its handsome and avowedly heterosexual stars.
Granted, this pop culture phenomenon isn’t on the same plane as the friendships Anthony pines for — David and Jonathan, Enkidu and Gilgamesh, John the Baptist and Jesus Christ (!) — but the fact that cannot be denied (the thing that is “simply inarguable”) is that men are freer to delight in each other than at any time in recent memory. And Anthony Esolen, god bless him, may misunderstand it completely but has pointed out the reason for this liberation: Straight men find it easier to create intimate, loving friendships when they have no reason to give a damn whether people think they’re gay.
They’re Just Making Stuff Up
April 16th, 2013
Anthony Esolen is a literature professor at Providence College, a Catholic school in Rhode Island. He’s joined NOM as “the latest addition to the Ruth Institute Circle of Experts” and, well, he’s not off to a good start.
His first contribution is a long, meandering complaint that lust is bad and dominating our culture, while romantic love is good but on the wane. Esolen goes on and on, writing sentence after sentence, each more vague, transcendent, and floppy than the last, until finally you wonder if he’s an actual English professor or just a fictional creation meant to parody one. Here’s a sample:
Beasts copulate; but men and women are meant to marry. They perform the marital act; they know, when they unite in that act, that it is, or it ought to be, the seal of a love that, to quote another of Shakespeare’s sonnets, “bears it out even to the edge of doom.” We are the creatures aware of time, and oriented toward eternity. We know that the act of marriage brings into the bond of love the past generations, whose history we bear in our loins, and the present, and the future, in the child that may be born of the act. We cannot copulate! We cannot forget, when we unite, that we are doing what our parents did…
And I had to stop there because it’s just too funny. It’s a mark of how bad Anthony Esolen’s writing is, this unintended statement that whenever he has sex he can’t stop thinking about his parents (wasn’t there a Friends episode about that?). And, of course, the exclamation point in “We cannot copulate!”
He gives us nearly 1500 words of this, but the very beginning is what really sets me off:
Several weeks ago, Saint Valentine’s Day at my school came and went. There was no dance. There was no concert. There was no ice cream social. There was no party for trading little gifts. There was no showing of She Wore a Yellow Ribbon or Marty or Goodbye, Mr. Chips or Casablanca. There were no foolish and innocent flirtations on the way to class.
I can believe — though I heartily doubt — Esolen went to the trouble of confirming there was no dance, no concert, no ice cream social, no special screening. I do have to wonder how he determined no one threw a party to trade little gifts (though between that and the ice cream social, it sounds like he’s confusing young adults celebrating their love with second-graders in homeroom).
I draw the line, however, at believing there was nobody flirted with anybody on their way to class. That’s when I realized: Anthony Esolen has nothing to say. He’s just sitting at his desk, making crap up. Perhaps he meant this as a poetic flourish or hyperbole, but if so it’s bad poetic flourish and lame hyperbole.
I guess this is trivial, but it’s also symptomatic of a bigger problem: The anti-gay movement in general has nothing left to say. They’re left with meaningless rhetoric or outright lies — as when their attorney at the Supreme Court argued DOMA wasn’t borne out of anti-gay animus, but simply a desire to standardize marriage law across states, or just the other day when NOM falsely claimed once again that the Regnerus and Sirota studies were about same-sex parenting.
If I’ve grown more snarky lately (and I have) it’s because our opponents have stopped giving us red meat to chew over. It’s all cotton candy from them now. Just wave your hand through it and you’re left with nothing but a stickly, sickly mess.
I Tolerate You So Much, You Need to Shut Up and Hide!
September 24th, 2012
I’ve been blogging a few years now and it’s been a long time since I read something that made me as angry as what I read last night.
Jeremy Hooper of Good As You points us to a piece by Anthony Esolen, Professor of English at Providence College. He’s writing in a Witherspoon publication — the same folks who financed the Regnerus study.
Esolen thinks well of himself — he is a great and good-hearted tolerant man, and it’s bugging the crap out of him that we homosexuals are not giving him his due. In his words:
Tolerance of wrong-doing is freely given; it is an act of graciousness, and not the paying of a debt. Therefore it rests with the offender, at the very least, to refrain from aggravating the burden of tolerance.
Esolen wants me to know that any public acknowledgement of my relationship with Will is an aggravation of Esolen’s burden. And this is Esolen being gracious.
It’s easy to summarize the man’s essay, because it says so little. It’s hard to do it using his own words, because he uses so many. But let me try. After several paragraphs invoking Thomas Aquinas and exploring Latin, Old English, and German word roots, he gives an example:
The local convenience store sells Playboy magazine. They are legally permitted to sell it. But it is a wrong; it degrades the beauty of the human body and turns sexuality from its proper sphere in marriage to the private quest for gratification. If they tacitly request tolerance, they tacitly incur a debt of reciprocity. They will keep the offensive magazine out of sight.
Yes: He’s willing to tolerate the existence of something as long as it’s kept out of sight. This sets up his view homosexuality — he lets us happen, and we acknowledge our debt by hiding ourselves away.
He starts like this: Read the rest of this entry »