Friday, 13 November 2009

OverRated: Brokeback Mountain Syndrome

'...I understand that a lot of people find the sight of two grown men kissing in public really creepy...'

Nick Griffin, BNP, on Question Time, October 2009

In our politically correct society, it is not something that people necessarily admit to, even though that might be how many of them feel.

Teenagers today are far more accepting of differing sexual preferences and orientations. In their computer-led search for knowledge about their bodies and desires, their exposure to many more variations has meant that they don't see things as unusual in the same way that our more rigid upbringing makes us.

However, a straw poll of males of my acquaintance seems to suggest that none of them feel comfortable watching adult males kissing, whether it be in a film or on the street. Look at the furore over 'Brokeback Mountain'. There are some men I know who actively refuse to watch it because of the subject matter.

I was born at the tale end of a generation of stiff-upper-lipped Brits who really do feel that open homosexuality is something very embarrassing and rather dirty. These men were conditioned never to show emotion and, through the strict regimes of their public schools, many refused to speak of some of the more salacious acts that seem to have been part and parcel of life within a single sex boarding school. One cannot help wondering if this type of exposure is part of the reason for their determination not to accept same-sex relationships as being anything other than wrong.

If you think back to the days of the Greeks and the Romans and through to the romantic poets, bi-sexuality seems to have been quite common.

So when did intimate relationships between people of the same gender become something sinister, that Society deemed had to be hidden away? Was it like sex generally within the Victorian age? Something that only took place behind closed doors? Did sex between consenting same-sex couples become reviled because it was something that happened within the confines of male-only bastions of society - boarding school? Or the army? Or was it what happened in prisons that caused the problem? Where it was forced upon the unconsenting?

And yet, judging by the number of men I know who refuse to even hold hands with their girlfriend in the street, perhaps it is more to do with perception. With a moral code that makes public displays of affection unwelcome, including those between opposite genders. Or, maybe, with their own inability to express themselves emotionally? Their inner refusal to connect in private or in front of other people because they see it as somehow weak.

Sure, I can understand that not everyone wants to share their romantic passionate snog with the outside world - and that a lot of passersby would probably feel similarly about viewing it - but holding hands? There's nothing remotely offensive about that... by anyone... whatever the gender of the participants.

Ruf lives in a big city and his circle of friends is far more liberal than in my own small, sleepy suburb. I have to say that I don't know of any gay or lesbian partnerships within my own local web of acquaintances. This is unlikely to be because they aren't any, rather that it is just not something that people seem to admit to openly in this small town.

This means that, if a same-sex couple - male or female - were to walk down the street holding hands, let alone kissing, it would be noticed. Not necessarily frowned upon, but noticed because it was unusual.

When I talked to Ruf about it, I wondered if more exposure to hand holding would make it seem more acceptable or was it that people didn't want to offend or be noticed and so they didn't do it openly in our town? Ruf said that his friends would do it deliberately to be noticed and cause comment or offence to any stuffed shirt. Through him, I have become friendly with several same-sex partnerships, who are quite open about their domestic arrangements and their public affection for each other but I still find myself covertly watching them with fascination.

However, what I have come to understand is that it is actually my problem, not theirs. Everyone has the right to give and receive affection in public and no one should think they have the right to judge them for it.

Television seems to deal with the issue of same-sex partnerships mostly in stereotypes, the butch lesbian and the girly girl or the leather-clad, Village People look-a-like with the effeminate or androgynous boy. Or in The L Word, where they all live some impossibly glamorous lifestyle and snog and fuck whenever and wherever.

This does not help matters, it emphasises the extremes and fuels the feeling that liking someone of the same gender sexually makes a person somehow different to a heterosexual. Not like normal people.

The sooner we can all come to terms with the fact that it is ok to demonstrate affection, no matter what your sexuality, the better we will become as a Society.



Tempo said...

No matter how hard I try the vision of two men being intimate still creeps me out..I suspect it's genetic. Something that prevents males breading with males, instead taking a fancy to the female of the species...and whats wrong with that?
If it's ok to be ok with same sex couples then it's also ok to be uneasy with them to!

Gorilla Bananas said...

Public displays of affection are only for humans with self-control. Otherwise it leads to dogging.

TROLL Y2K said...

Very interesting article. Liked the points about traditions of buggery at Brit All-Boy's Schools and the one about flamboyant homosexuals.

Kyra said...

I love your blog as much for any sexy posts as for philosophical commentary like this.

I couldn't agree more with your points. We are here (IMHO) to connect with other people. Simple displays of affection are like healthy food to the soul.

That said, I have always found it arousing to watch two men kiss!

PS not having as many all male schools in the US, I would love to hear more about that!