The editors of The Nation have devoted their July 5th issue to "A Queer Nation." The articles serve to remind us just how the "liberals and leftists" for the last 25 years have taken the steam out of the once radical, free-spirited homosexual movement.
When we started up what turned out to be the sexual revolution in the early 1950s no one would pay any attention including the editors of The Nation. Not only did we take upon ourselves the right of self-determination in our sexual conduct, but we dared talk about it publicly at a time when homosexuality was the A-1 crime against nature, literally speaking. As sexual outlaws we were naturally distrustful of the government and politicians. They represented the status quo with which we were in conflict. Anal and oral copulation, viz. sodomy, as it is still defined in the penal codes of some 24 states whether in public or private or between married or unmarried partners of the same or opposite sex, was a criminal offense in every state of the Union.
Although sodomy is the sum total of homosexual conduct, it is not exclusive nor peculiar to homosexual encounters. After all, anal and oral copulation are the oldest means of contraception known to man. Persons who engage in anal and oral sex are all sodomites regardless of the gender of the partner picked. Therefore, those of us who engaged in homosexual sodomy saw ourselves as being no different as to the enjoyment of that conduct from the vast majority of persons who engage in heterosexual sodomy. There is an inescapable, unspoken connection, and we saw the fallacy in claiming a distinction that does not exist. Kinsey had expressed our understanding of the matter in 1948: "The word 'homosexual' used to describe a class of people is a misnomer and has no real or useful significance. The word is the product of popular misconceptions and prejudice. There is, in truth, no definitely, definable and distinct group of human beings as 'homosexuals,' set apart from the rest of the population; nor is the word 'heterosexual' a proper description of a class of people. The words refer to sexual urges and behavior rather than persons."
Our complaint was that traditionally the sodomy laws have been unjustly and harshly enforced against persons of the same sex. They are rarely enforced if the so-called deviate sex acts are performed in private by an unmarried man and woman and almost never against the consensual relations of husband and wife. Even though, in a strict sense, the discrimination is gender-based (women alone can perform fellatio and men alone cunnilingus with impunity) the fight has been over the morality of homosexual conduct. Because homosexuality was singled out as the target, the homosexual movement became the cutting edge as well as the undercurrent of the sexual revolution. There was no talk of abortion or family planning when we took up our cause. Fornication and adultery were still considered crimes in most states. It was not until 1965 that the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the right of married couples to use contraceptive devices. Most of these latter restraints on personal liberty were invalidated as violations of the constitutionally protected right of privacy.
Since homosexual sodomy, like all contraceptive sex acts, leaves no trace, our long-range goal was to remove from the penal codes the sodomy laws as well. By offering legal arguments and the facts of nature scientifically established we helped secure the right of privacy for all private sexual activity between consenting adults in over half the states of the Union either through legislation as in California or through state court decisions.
Now, persons who make a homosexual choice are sexually free. Their spirit of individuality is the antithesis of the group or the herd. Homosexuality is not inborn. What a man does sexually is strictly a matter of choice. And every homosexual choice is a free act. It is willful. It involves positive action, even creative effort. It calls for no authorization or approval from the government. It is beyond the scope of the law. Having emancipated ourselves from the centuries old, rigid sex codes granting privilege and reward to a heterosexual lifestyle, we were naturally gun-shy of efforts by the leftists to shove a homosexual way of life down our throats. We did not want to see homosexuality institutionalized. In fact, for the movement to turn homosexuality into a way of life a la heterosexuality in the name of equal rights would be to perpetuate conditions under which all homosexually active men and women should have to revolt.
One might suppose that it would be the natural desire of every man and woman to develop as an independent person, but this does not seem to be the case. Perhaps because of predisposition or conditioning, there are a lot of people who find safety in numbers and dignity in following a routine. They ask for nothing better than to be sheep under a shepherd.