Amis, Sex, Gender
[Site manager's note: Martin Amis's short story "Straight Fiction" elicited an ongoing conversation on the Amis Discussion Web about Amis's treatment of homosexuality, and his treatment of gender more generally. These pages will feature postings on these subjects. Check the navigation bars at right for related pages].
Amis is not a homophobe but Bellow is
From: Bill J.
*Straight Fiction* is homo-satirical. Not homophobic. Amis is obviously amused by the promiscuity & sadomasochism of *some* gays. But Amis has never expressed an objection to homosexuality per se. Ya know, I really hate it when people mistake humor for hatred. If Amis's perpetuation of a gay stereotype makes him a homophobe, then so are Calvin Klein & Harvey Fierstein & Tony Kushner & The Village People & every frigging Bette Davis impersonator on Fire Island. Compared to some other writers, Amis leaves a pretty clean smell behind him. If you're looking to get incensed by true-blue congenital homophobia, check out some of these Jewish writers. (And I can say this cause I'm a Sagittarius.) God's Chosen People pioneered the practice of homophobia. The Jews think that homosexuality is an abomination unto the Lord. It says so in the Torah. The Holy Bible says that homosexuals should be killed. Now THAT'S indisputable homophobia. No if, and, or butts.
I'd like to thank Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, & Joseph Epstein for proving my theory that human personality is 99% congenital. When *Playboy* magazine asks Saul Bellow: "What do you make of the AIDS epidemic?" And Saul Bellow's reply is: "If I believed in God, I would say that this is God's way of restoring the seriousness to sexual connections." THAT'S congenital Jewish homophobia. Bellow obviously & genuinely believes that AIDS is God's admirable way of punishing gays for their promiscuity.
When Norman Mailer says: "My feeling is that homosexuals want to become heterosexual. If you're homosexual, you might have to ask what God thinks of you." Now THAT'S clear-cut homophobia. Courtesy of the biggest pseudo-mystical bullshit-slinger east of the Mississippi.
When Joseph Epstein makes the following Talmudic pronouncement: "If I had the power to do so, I would wish homosexuality off the face of the earth. I would do so because I think that it brings infinitely more pain than pleasure to those who are forced to live with it." That's what you call homophobia with a heart of gold. Epstein's comment provoked the following response from Gore Vidal: "No Jew ought ever to mention the removal of any minority from the face of the earth. It is unkind. It is also unwise in a Christer-dominated society where a pogrom is never *not* a possibility."
What's the etiology of homophobia? I'm glad you asked me that. The root cause of homophobia is Social-Darwinist tribalism. Unfortunately, most morality is based on *tribal* morality. Tribal morality is based on the following concept: Whatever strengthens the tribe is considered good. And whatever weakens the tribe is considered bad. Homosexuality doesn't strengthen the tribe thru procreation. Therefore homosexuality is considered bad.
"When anyone mentions the Six Million I stop listening. Until it becomes the Ten Million (to include as well those brothers and sisters of mine who also vanished) the phrase will seem preemptive, exclusive, and cruel." [Ned Rorem].
*H is for Homosexual*
From: S. Snead
[Poster's note: James Diedrick's bibliography led me to a coffee-table book called *Hockney's Alphabet*. Which was a charity project for the benefit of AIDS victims. Luckily for him, Martin got stuck with the letter *H*. So Martin chose to write about that certain special partiality which inspired those super-scrumptious poems by A.E. Housman.]
*H IS FOR HOMOSEXUAL* / BY MARTIN AMIS
When I was nine or ten, my brother and I obliged a slightly older boy---Billy---on a deserted beach in South Wales. It didn't last very long, and my brother and I took turns, but our wrists ached all day. These few minutes---later totemized by a friend as 'Martin's afternoon of shame with Billy Bignall'---represent my active homosexual career in its entirety. But the memory leads on to another memory: the nausea and despair I experienced when, at the age of thirteen, I saw my Best Friend walking from the games field with his arm over the shoulders of another boy.
I wish I understood homosexuality. I wish I could intuit more about it---the attraction to *like*, not to *other*. Is it nature or nurture, a predisposition, is it written in the DNA? When I think about it in relation to myself, it is not the memory of Billy Bignall that predominates, but the other memory, somehow expanded, so that its isolation and disquiet become something lifelong. In my mind I call homosexuality not a 'condition' (and certainly not a 'preference'). I call it a destiny. Because all I know for certain about homosexuality is that it asks for courage. It demands courage.
Gays reinforce their own stereotypes
From: Bill J.
QUENTIN CRISP SEZ: I have been to a restaurant which was, either exclusively or almost exclusively, a gay restaurant. And the worrying thing to me is that all the people looked exactly alike. There were no women to start. There were only men. They were between the ages of eighteen and twenty-eight. They had tractor boots, jeans, kitchen tablecloth shirts, and little mustaches. In England, they now have the Mexican look. They cut their mustaches (I think secretly) from underneath, and then they fold the other bit over the top. And if you see anybody with these roly-poly mustaches, you can safely stretch out your hand and shake his and say, "I see you too are queer." So, what good is this?
Re: They do and it's stereotypes that bore me
O.K, I've gone away licked my wounds, and some other peoples, and I think I might have something vaguely interesting and non-controversial to say about Male homosexuality.
In a straight relationship there are very tight rules about violence: Do not hit Women, for they are weaker than you (Which we all know is bollocks when then can just grab a knife or throw hot coffee in your lap). However, in a gay relationship, between two men, are the rules on violence relaxed? I mean if two gay men have an argument, is it common and acceptable for it to come to blows (Ahem). When I was in Amsterdam I saw two gays fighting and I found out that they were lovers, but it was a proper fight you understand, no handbags or any of that shit, these boys were punching fuck out of eachother and calling eacother all manner of uncharitable names including 'Queen' 'ponce' and 'Mother******'.
I think this is a more original and interesting area of homosexuality Amis could've explored in 'Straight Fiction. Do gay men who like football go down the park for a kickabout together. Do they play playstation and have bets with eachother on the boxing? These are genuine questions. I'm interested in the way gay men with typically 'straight' characteristics (Presuming there are a significant amount) interact with one another. It's far more interesting than the slightly cliched Gay world that Amis chose to focus on.
I saw this documentary about young gays in Britain and the vast majority of them dutifully played up to the Julian Glary, innuendo pun master persona the British public accept. However there was this one lad; Northern, tough looking, straight looking (if i'm honest) and he said: 'If any bastard ever called me a poof to me face i'd kill the cunt.' Fair play to him.
From: Bill J.
< http://www.lrb.co.uk/v21/n04/lett2104.htm >
I agree with Adam Mars-Jones & Samuli about one aspect of Amis's homophobia: the alleged cowardice of male homosexuals in regard to female pregnancy & the *lunar tempest*. Amis is genuinely offensive there because it's an implicit condemnation of homosexuality itself. It's also meretricious because it's based on the canard that homosexuals *choose* to be homosexuals. Whereas the obvious fact is that homosexuality is a congenital condition.
< http://www.lrb.co.uk/v21/n05/lett2105.htm >
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