I Get Mail

Anonymous sent the following comments to my tumblr account in response to this post on what some have called “the new homophile” phenomenon. I’m going to leave them here without response because, well, dissertation. If you want to read more on the topic, in the past week or so Aaron Taylor published this piece (mentioned by Anonymous) at spiritualfriendship.org, Elizabeth Bruenig reviewed Eve Tushnet’s book Gay and Catholic at The American Conservative, and—on the other side of things—Deacon Jim Russell wrote about chaste gay couples at catholicvote.org.

NOTE: Anonymous wrote these comments in 7 parts, but part 6 is missing from my inbox.

Here’s what Anonymous wrote:

Good day. I’ve liked some of the things you’ve written, but I want to clarify something. I consider myself one of the Catholic New Homophiles (though not necessarily one who is particularly concerned with avoiding sex more than any other sin; I’m inclined to worry about my anger and laziness first…) and in your post about the “New Homophiles” (not our own term for ourselves, btw) you talked about how the NH crowd allegedly recognizes that relationships without sex are still “sexual”

(Part 2) and this that we’re also giving up a whole type of relationship, etc. But the fact is that while some expect this path of singleness, others of us are in fact in gay romantic partnerships that are either sexually abstinent or at least hold that as ideal. They’re certainly based on romance and attraction, but we’re unlikely to see this as meaning they’re essentially “sexual” in the problematic sense you imply. Rather, we’d be inclined to say that ALL human interactions are sexual in a

(Part 3) a broad sense, but that in the narrower sense what matters is specific acts of lust, which certainly aren’t limited just to physical consummation (it can be thoughts or desires etc) but which IS a narrower category than attraction or infatuation, etc. When affirming the gay identity, we are merely trying to be honest. In the given social constructions, we simply ARE gay, there is no denying it with word-games. However, that does NOT mean accepting society’s framework of “identity”

(Part 4) in general as if admitting we or a relationship is gay or built in some sense on Eros, on attraction to the other person specifically AS a man or woman, specifically IN the aspect of their sex…means that it is somehow inexorably tied to morally problematized acts (anymore than anger or a hot temperament is inexorably tied to murder, etc) See Aaron Taylor’s latest piece: htt p://s piritualfriendship. org/2015/02/ 06/gay-or-nay-a-question-of-identity/

(part 5) the point is, the NH crowd is generally critical of the notion of gay or straight as totalizing identities or “types of people” whose dispositions somehow link all our acts or loves, or even those under the aspect of the homoerotic, as tied up in some way with sex acts. If traditional morality was concerned with vague accusations of relationships being “sexual in nature even if lacking the sex accidentally” there’d be a problem, but we don’t think traditional morals mean that

(part 7) while such a modern construct makes an attempt at integration, we tend to view it with suspicion as artificial and the “totalistic” emotional model of marriage (and thus romance and Eros and “sexuality”) as a late and probably misguided development. That we admit we’re gay IN the current socially constructed framework doesn’t mean we buy the framework anymore than admitting I’m Black means I buy into the construct of Race

Any thoughts, readers?

One thought on “I Get Mail

  1. Thanks! I sent this to you.

    I think Part 6 basically said something like (reconstructing from memory and expanding a little now that I have more space):

    “a tumultuous or hot-tempered relationship is not necessarily a ‘violent’ or ‘hateful relationship’ just because anger or irritation is in the mix, and a gay or homoerotic relationship is not necessarily a ‘sodomitical relationship,’ even ‘in spirit,’ just because eros and sexuality are in the mix. As the Foucault quote in Aaron’s piece helps to demonstrate, we are convinced that the traditional moral prohibitions were specifically act-based, not identity or disposition based. Those acts could be internal or external of course, but we do not believe the traditional morality is supposed to be concerned with broad dispositions or underlying emotional states, but rather with specifically how they are expressed. The notion that homoerotic love is necessarily just a form of spiritual sodomy or sodomy-in-potentia even when abstinent…is not something the NH would agree with, as we don’t accept the construction whereby problematized sex acts or lusts are some sort of natural telos of same-sex eros even when not realized. (I don’t buy the notion that Dante’s feelings for Beatrice were just “sublimated adultery” either). We don’t buy the notion that would say that just because a person or relationship is homosexual it is somehow bootstrapped to some alleged organic unity that must either all rise or all fall as a single conceptual field.”

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