The Gay Liberation pamphlet
With Downcast Gays (1974)

by Andrew Hodges and David Hutter

Part 2 of 8 Parts


Homosexual public speakers find three complaints against gay people cropping up with monotonous regularity. Thinly disguised as questions inevitably come the accusations that gay men are mannered and effeminate, corrupters of children, and are given to a mindless animal promiscuity that prevents their forming lasting relationships. 'Responsible' gay activists respond in the appropriate apologetic, self-oppressive manner to the first two charges by pointing out the homosexual men do not necessarily look feminine and vice versa, and that few gay people are interested in the very young; but probably none claim that "only a minority of homosexuals are promiscuous".

Our spokesmen generally point out that there are many happily settled homosexual couples whose lives of quiet fidelity pass unnoticed, and correctly they go on to point out that such permanent gay relationships receive none of the recognition and support from family and social institutions that married couples take for granted. Unfortunately these facts are all too often used as excuses, the assumption that promiscuity is necessarily a bad thing remains unchallenged and we are presented with an ideal to which we should aspire, and a standard by which we may be measured. We shall explain how in effect there is imposed upon us yet one more hideous oppression.

Heterosexual mannerisms

It is a basic mistake to accept heterosexual conventions as God-given criteria by which gay people may be judged. Instead we should use the insights that we have gained as homosexuals to criticise a sexist and hypocritical society. An example of the failure to do this can be seen when the fact that gay couple are childless is pleaded as an excuse for their relationships ending; and our spokesmen fail to point out that if married couple stay together only for what they imagine to be the benefit of their children, they are not models of permanence but of thwarted impermanence. Instead of comparing our freedom unfavourably with such unions, homosexuals should feel pity for heterosexuals who find themelves trapped in an unhappy marriage and rejoice in the liberty their own homosexuality bestows.

Gay people have no reason to envy the institutionalised sexuality available to heterosexuals, cluttered as it is with ceremonies of courtship and marriage and further poisoned by a division of roles which condemns the man to dominate and the woman to submit. A heterosexual pick-up is fraught with the implications of the man conquering ands the woman surrendering; it is unlikely to enjoy the sense of mutual agreement enjoyed by gay people. For this reason it is easier for homosexuals to make sexual contacts, and once made there is no tedious process of persuasion — no ritualised escalation of intimacy to be carried out before sexual pleasure is realised.

More than two can play

When apologetic gay speakers mention and then disparage the accessibility of gay sex, they display a naive belief that non-gay people themselves pay more than lip-service to the value of monogamy. Heterosexuals would dearly like the availability of desirable bodies and th affectionate sharing of pleasure that gay people can enjoy. The heterosexual world has no equivalent of a gay sauna! Moreover our heterosexual detractors betray their limited vision by their mistaken assumption that promiscuity is incompatible with lasting relationships. Homosexuals are in the happy position of being able to enjoy both at once. A gay couple in the street will be admiring the same people, probably be exchanging remarks about them; already the heterosexual model is inadequate to describe what is going on. It is perfectly easy for a gay couple to enjoy all the mutual care in the world and also enjoy sex with others separately or together. Theese things are possible simply because homosexuals can identify with the sexual feelings of those they care for in a way logically impossible for non-gay people. For this reason it is easy for a gay partnership to develop into a non-sexual relationship in which the partners share loving companionship but find sexual pleasure outisde the union — unlike many heterosexual marriages which turn into a boring embittered cohabitation in which sexual attraction has long vanished but fidelity is still rigidly enforced.

The model of heterosexual marriage often actually discourages gay people from entering into any kind of permanent relationship, since they are unwilling to accept the exclusivity which they imagine a relationship must entail; moreover partnerships which do begin often break up because one partner thinks tht he ought to feel jealous, or the other is unnecessarily secretive and guilty about 'extra-marital' affairs. It is not the homosexual nature of such relationships which causes trouble but the poisonous influence of the heterosexual model. An irony of which we would remind the gay apologist is the fact that heterosexuals think nothing more comic than the idea of two men cooking and ironing together, or more pathetic than two women struggling to change a wheel — such is the value which in reality is placed on the pair-bonding by means of which responsible homophiles hope to gain social acceptance.

Positive gains

Determined as they are to overlook the positive gains enjoyed by gay people, our detractors ignore the value and meaning that promiscuous, unattached homosexuals place upon friendship, which for them has a far deeper significance than for most married people who direct what they have of love and concern into the narrow confines of the family circle. Many homosexuals have close friends to whom they turn for companionship and support while finding sexual pleasure outside this circle. The ability that gay people possess to form deep and lasting friendships gives the lie to the idea that we must inevitably face a lonely old age. Logically the reverse is true, for unless their timing is perfect, it is inevitable that one partner of even a happy marriage will be left behind to face a future without the 'other half' upon who, they have developed a total dependence. Anyway why deny the eroticism of novelty in favour of the repressive dogma that sex is only satisfactory with one lifelong partner? Is there not a genuine ideal in the ability of gay people to gain immediate trust and sexual satisfaction with people from anywhere in the world? In these respects the writer of any gay porn story offers more insight into our hearts than do the ponderous utterances of homosexual apologists who usually exclude any mention of the physical reality of our sexual lives, leaving their puzzled listeners to form a picture of unhappy gay relationships based on the heterosexual model of allowable monogamy and forbidden promiscuity.

Puritanism lies at the neart of the distrust of promiscuity. Puritanism thrives upon the universal fear than someone is getting something for nothing. If pleasure is not paid for with money, people feel that it must still be paid for in other ways: commitment, responsibility, even a lifetime's mutual incompatibility is not thought too great a price to pay for occasional moments of sexual pleasure. Even Gay Liberationists sometimes speak as though their sexuality had to pay its way by virtue of breaking down sexual roles or undermining capitalism. Gay sex, unencumbered as it is with conception and contraception, could be as free and available as sunshine and air, and yet we are encouraged to disown these benefits in favour of the dubious respect gained by mimicking the outward forms of family life.


Anyone looking upon the gay movement with detachment finds ironies at every turn. Not least of these is the fact that although the movement has only arisen because there exists a situation of fluidity and rapid social change our homophile spokesmen can think of nothing better to do with this new freedom of thought than to urge gay people to accept the claustrophobic restrictions of a life-long union. They are busily pushing us into the prison from which intelligent heterosexuals are trying to escape. We foresee future anthropologists turning to the pair-bonding of discreet homosexuals as the only means left available of examining the long-defunct institution of marriage.

Gay activists should stand up for the variety and freedom in sexuality that gay people can enjoy, and yet how often do we read articles in the gay press containing words to the effect that "we shall never deserve our liberation until we stop being so promiscuous". Such phrases expose two aspects of self-oppression. Not only are our moral standards being measured against those of our heterosexual oppressors, but liberation is accepted as something that must be worked for and deserved rather than a fundamental right of which we have been deprived. It would be nearer the truth to say that we shall never deserve our liberation so long as we attempt to ingratiate ourseves into heterosexual favour by adopting the standards of the non-gay world.

Introduction | Preface and Links | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

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Andrew Hodges

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