Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Progress - of sorts

The current row at the Tory Party conference, where various gay worthies have been protesting about the Party's association in the European Parliament with homophobic East European politicians, prompts the reflection that we have indeed moved on somewhat since 1946, when Lord Denning in an appeal court judgement pronounced that homosexuality was "an abomination", and cited approvingly the words of another judge, Lord Sumner, who had declared in 1918 that "Persons who commit the offences now under consideration, seek the habitual gratification of a particular perverted lust, which not only takes them out of the class of ordinary men gone wrong but stamps them with the hallmark of a special and extraordinary class, as much as if they carried on their bodies some physical peculiarity."

This was the dire atmosphere in which young gay men such as myself grew up in pre-Wolfenden days.

14 comments:

Jose said...

"moved on somewhat" you say. I'd say that the world is going by strides in this question with the due cooperation from Science.

Much noticeable has changed since the times you mention.

anticant said...

My own (rather gloomy) view is that what we have nowadays is indifference at best, and skin-deep lipservice 'politically correct' tolerance at worst, rather than genuine acceptance of the simple fact that those whose sexuality is different are as real as oneself.

In my experience, while one's heterosexual relatives and friends are always eager to talk about their own relationships, experiences, and emotional difficulties at length, if gay people attempt to do the same the conversation is almost always swiftly switched to another subject.

There is also still a great deal of really nasty homophobia around, not least on blogs. It wouldn't take much for a more intolerant atmosphere to resurface.

Merkin said...

"Persons who commit the acts now under consideration, seek the habitual gratification of a particular perverted lust, which not only takes them out of the class of ordinary men gone wrong but stamps them with the hallmark of a special and extraordinary class, as much as if they carried on their bodies some physical peculiarity."

In that case, could be any of us.

Bodwyn Wook said...

I think that nominally heterosexual men such as myself do have a distinction in the back of our minds that makes it easier to relate for instance to gay daughters than to our sons, alas. I think this redounds to the more lustful-seeming nature of male sexuality in general. As I myself perceive it, I mean. In the case of our sons, regardless of their orientation, the fatherly conversations do contain rather a bit more of parental admonition against the /randomness/ of it all. Especially in cautioning teenaged sons against the various hazards of youthful sex. Generally mine has been a gruff sort of "yeah, I know what you're up against, but be careful anyway!" This would perhaps lack a bit of verisimilitude to my gay son even though he would know I am being analogous, or something. On the other hand we do talk more at length about other common interests such as architecture and business. Hence in our dialogue with adult gay men, friends and relations, I think I for one am nervous lest a jocular reference, even in the context of a chinwag about "realtionships," might come across as dismissive or belittling in the midst of the still-prevalent prejudice. My son is already dealing with this first hand everyday and I feel better to let him broach matters first. As such these have come up only a handful of times and at that I feel more trusted than many parents yet may, and don't want to screw it up by that very easiness of manner that in fact would probably the greatest gift between us of all! Thanks, Aunty, for pointing this all out.

Jose said...

Perhaps in Anticant's, or Bodwyn's, place matters are dealt with in a different manner. Here I can see there are great advances.

Funny that in an allegedly machist country, the attitudes towards others who do not share the same inclinations change in a positive way, but my experience in this sense is that, generally speaking - perhaps because of their very physical condition - homosexuals are far more sensitive towards others' feelings and problems than heteros.

anticant said...

Maybe it's just that the other fellows' grass always looks greener, but I've always thought that European countries' attitudes to sex are much more mature and sensible than Anglo-American ones. Obviously they differ from country to country, but whether in Holland, France, Spain, or Portugal my experience has been that bisexuality is taken in its stride as a natural fact of life and people - men, anyway - aren't so guilt-ridden about it.

Merkin said...

Cummon, Anti you know the script.

If it's positive it's God's gift.

If it's negative it's Our sin.

Jose said...

As with everything, Merkin, positive and negative are both relative. Therefore God may be relative as is sin.

Merkin said...

Jose, I was going to put pos and neg in quotation marks.
However, I knew you guys would take it as meant.

zhisou said...

I love the fact that gayness was compared to having a physical peculiarity, like having a physical peculiarity were such an abomination too.

When people bemoan the liberalisation movements as the death of the family and consequently society, it's good to remember the kind of astonishing illiberal attitudes there were.

Jose said...

I'd say death of the family can only come through death of love. Love is what keeps families united, nothing else.

anticant said...

Love is an act of conscious choice as well as a gift from God (Free will again!)

The two best books on love I've read are "The Art of Loving" by Erich Fromm and "Love and Will" by Rollo May.

Jose said...

I suggest love could also be unconscious. That unconscious love be prudent or advisable is another question, and in my opinion is totally human, nothing to do with God.

Contrary to love is hatred, although at times I think hatred is a branch of love. They say here: From love to hatred there isn't but a step.

Bodwyn Wook said...

Sometimes in the middle of the family mess for example love is just impossible. It is only long after and years later that these scenes may be revisited in a loving imagination, and things made right. Needless to say this sounds cheap on the face of it so Sufis don't make a big deal out of it just now. But nonetheless the information on techniques is out there and a great deal of redemptive work is being done, and in many quarters, so that what we all think we 'remember' has since had a very great deal added to it all.