Monday, March 04, 2013

Not at all surprising

In 1996, Henry Adams, writing in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, noted that 80% of men who were both homophobic and identified as “exclusively heterosexual” got erections when watching gay porn. The moral of the story is that the lady doth protest too much. Or if you want it smutty, the squeaky wheel wants to get greased. And scientific study has been backed up by that ever-growing chorus line of gay-hating conservative fellows who are better at kicking those heels higher in the air than the fabulous Rockettes of Radio City Music Hall: George Rekers, Ted Haggard, Larry Craig, Phil Hinkle, Roberto Arango, Pastor Eddie Long, Troy King, Richard Curtis, Glenn Murphy Jr, Ed Schrock, Robert Allen, Mark Foley and Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

So is anyone but the most gullible kitten really surprised at the recent scandal surrounding Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the most important Catholic in the UK and so deliciously homophobic that he appears to have stepped out of a magical time portal direct from the 1895 trial of Oscar Wilde? On the verge of retirement, four men have claimed that he made unwanted sexual advances towards them. At first, the Cardinal denied it, but now he’s resigned and admitted that his sexual conduct has at times “fallen beneath the standards expected of me”. So rather than being remembered as a judgemental bigot he’ll now be remembered as a judgemental bigoted hypocrite. What a lovely legacy when he’s written up in the history books. Future generations are going to think the whole lot of us were bonkers.

Cardinal O’Brien has been pretty much on-message about the supposed amorality of gay people for many years. Let the record show:

In December 2004, the Cardinal used his Christmas address to the Scottish Parliament to suggest gays and lesbians were "captives of sexual aberration".

In September 2005 he was reported in various newspapers as saying “'We place innumerable children in peril if we forget certain immutable human truths; children need a male and female role model in a permanent relationship”, and “A mass of evidence attests to the chronic instability of unmarried and same-sex partnerships. This is to say nothing of the widely documented promiscuity which accompanies the homosexual lifestyle.” Apparently, kids adopted by same-sex couples could be at risk of "low self-esteem, stress, confusion regarding sexual identity, increased mental illness, drug use, promiscuity, sexually transmitted infections and homosexual behaviour." And finally children adopted by homosexual couples would become "guinea pigs" in a "distorted social experiment".

In December 2006 he was reported as saying “I would certainly say we are working towards the destruction of any sort of moral standards… It doesn't seem to be going at quite the same speed in other places… We don't want [gay marriage] in our country. We've gone far enough and we can't go any further with the destruction of society. The moral tone of our country has gone downhill." His opinion on adoption by same-sex couples: “It is an immoral decision. We are descending into a spiral of immorality.”

In 2009, when asked if he disliked gay people he replied: "I'm not sure if 'dislike' is the right word… I am aware that there is a reasonable percentage of the human race who have homosexual inclinations, and I am sorry if that's the way John Smith or Mr Y feel it's necessary to exercise their sexuality. I would say it's against the natural law which governs the human race. Not any man-made law or church-made law. It's just against nature… I feel sorry that people aren't able to fulfil their sexuality in the normal way of human beings." How charitable.

In March 2012 he said “When we talk about the thin end of the wedge, we remember the Abortion Act in 1967. We were told there would be clearly defined ways when abortions might take place, and now we know there have been about seven million abortions since that happened and further aberrations are hinted at this present time. That's what you'd see happen if same-sex unions were defined as marriage. Further aberrations would be taking place and society would be degenerating even further than it has already degenerated into immorality." And he described the prospect of gay marriage as grotesque. Reading back through all that nonsense today, there’s a terrible sadness to it all – as well as a kind of Grand Guignol that almost spills over High Camp when you realise that he is speaking those words about himself.

As much as people were horrified by his remarks (and Stonewall awarded him the Bigot of the Year Award in 2012), plenty of people listened to them and took him seriously. Yet homophobia causes such a lot of trouble and pain for everyone it touches. It causes violence, pushes people into making awful, life-destroying choices, and scrunches up normal sexual desire into a dark little place in your soul, marked “disgusting”. What an enormous number of lives it has degraded and destroyed over the last 100 years. And all for nothing really. If there is a God, and this is what He actually wants, then count me out.

I would love for Cardinal O’Brien to be the last one. For closeted homophobes, especially important powerful ones, to stop talking about homosexuality altogether. As the older generations gradually die off, furious and impotent because they are leaving a world that no longer agrees with them, I suspect that one day, perhaps in 50 or 100 years, we won’t have any of these Exhibitions of Wasted Lives, screaming hatred because they think it will divert attention away from their lavender secret. But for now, we are seeing a kind of excision of poison – a seeping out of societal pus if you like and by God - it ain’t pretty.