Vol. 1 No. 1
Editorial by Don Slater
Originally published in the October 1965 issue of Tangents
Not long ago we attended a “seminar on sex” held in a Los Angeles City park by the United Sexual Rights Committee.
The occasion was actually a picnic, but because of the objectives of the sponsoring body, the permit for the affair was gotten in the name of a Los Angeles social club. When the park commissioners found out the “true” nature of the attraction, they hastily canceled the picnic permit — on the grounds of misrepresentation. About 50 picnickers met anyway, in the exact spot originally reserved, and they had a good time and were entirely orderly.
In fact, in outward appearance and demeanor the sexual rights group was indistinguishable from the pleasure party gathered at the next tables who claimed their interest was rhododendron culture. Unfortunately, the advantage of being able to challenge the park commissioners on their obvious prejudice was lost because of the awkward lie about who was actually reserving picnic space.
We often hurt ourselves by these needless deceptions; they are second nature to most of us by now. The little cheat probably seemed like a good thing to the sexual rights group at the time. It would avoid embarrassment in the long run, they may have felt. Most of us under similar circumstances would have done the same thing.
It is surprising how fast many of us, whether homosexual or heterosexual, can lie when the subject of sex comes up. It makes no difference if we are personally involved or not; we lie, we think, for our own protection — more or less as a reaction or habit — never waiting to learn if it is to our advantage or even necessary.
It makes no difference that it is our colossal hypocrisy regarding sex which is at the root of our problems. That we do one thing and say another, that we refuse to bring our laws and public attitudes into line with our private practice seems to trouble us very little.
No wonder our sexual theory generally is among the most confused of all aspects of human knowledge. Our intelligence in this regard is faced with the biggest hypocrisy of all time, resulting in the most lamentable incoherencies and contradictions: praise alternates with blame, law varies with time and place, private life is subjected to a quite intolerable degree of interference, social and individual rights are continually being confused, and, moreover, we find sexuality reacting upon everything — philosophy, law, hygiene, art, literature, politics — and exhibiting everywhere the same contradictions.
It is for this reason that we have urged as much honesty as possible in regard to this natural part of human experience. The editors have risked stretching the point by putting the words “The Homosexual Viewpoint” on the cover of each issue of the magazine.
Truly, there is much to be gained by carefully letting others know where you stand on the question of sex when the subject first comes up. A civil servant who is also a writer of poetry and fiction often has his work printed in ONE magazine. He wanted to make sure that his fellow employees and supervisors were acquainted with the publication; so he handed copies around. A few eyebrows were raised, and maybe a few persons wanted to say something, but our writer’s strategy in honesty and frankness successfully disarmed those who would have loved to expose his dark secret.
The writer, of course, has never discussed with these people his personal sexual feelings. He doesn’t have to. Yet he is still gainfully employed in a field where homosexuality is not generally tolerated.
If we extend the reasoning to our personal lives, we will find that a large portion of the heterosexual community is already clearly willing to accept homosexuals. Many heterosexuals intuitively grasp the situation. With these people it is possible to have an immediate understanding; there is no need to be misleading, to submit to prolonged misunderstanding and suspicion, or to live a lie.
However, there is seldom any need to press your point or get into an argument either. There is certainly never any need to talk about your intimate, personal sex life. But it is not immoral to do so. Imagine a society where to be ill or to talk about one’s health would be regarded as a moral indiscretion? Until convention allows us to meet freely for the purpose of discussing sex, lying to avoid social reprobation when doing so will be the easy way out.
Fortunately, conventions change, and the truth has a good deal to do with brushing away the irrelevancies and returning us to the simple facts of nature — of which sex is a most basic part. To convention everything is possible; there is nothing that it cannot either decree or prohibit, except, of course, the establishment of an opposite convention. This is what we hope to achieve by shedding our hypocrisy.