Okay. So, this time it wasn’t procrastination that kept me from writing here, but, moreover a series of unfortunate events, neglect, and questioning whether to continue blogging at all.
This blog isn’t very new and admittedly it hasn’t served particularly well as a narcissistic, conceited, or reflective monologue that writers tend to adopt in their blogs. Which leads me to ask, why? Why have a blog at all if I cannot fulfil these innate desires, to expend a superfluous amount of vocabulary, and formulate it on a screen in the hope that someone will read it?
I’m hoping the answer lies in honesty.
You see, honesty is this efflorescent thing most of us struggle with, strive for, and ultimately spend too much time escaping from. As a Marxist and a historian it appears easy to formulate the truth by recording what is known to us and inferring from it a coherent understanding. In truth (pun not intended), “the TRUTH” is a far more extraneous thing than the inference we seek to codify with it and purport as knowledge. In no way am I claiming as Postmodernists and Postructuralists alike believe that “the truth” is an intangible thing that humanity cannot possibly infer any meaning from, but this inference moreover is important in making certain judgements about the lives of those past and of our own lives. What I’m clearly beating around the bush here is that honesty is not a simple thing for me but I’m struggling to engage with it, with “the truth”, and inform others of in an attempt to better understand myself.
So, I’m revisiting this blog with some perspective, revitalisation, and a smidgen of honesty. I did uphold this blog as a formula for madness and some of the things I’ve experienced these past 10 months have certainly led me to its threshold.
Why “Sexuality and Socialism?”
Firstly, if you do read this blog you’ll already understand my penchant for annoying alliteration :)
Secondly, I really wanted to write something in terms of “honesty”. The eternity spent not writing something here highlights a selfishness on my part not to engage with this fundamental principle that I’ve harped on about to friends since my second and more public “coming out” since March 3rd. I’ll talk about this soon.
As for “Sexuality and Socialism”, I took this from the title of a book I recently finished by Sherry Wolf. An American socialist, Wolf’s Marxist exposition on the material basis for LGBTI oppression both past and present is a real page-turner. Most Queer Theory books presuppose identity politics as the basis of an individuals oppression rather than assesses any tangible or material basis for LGBTI oppression. This deconstructionist view inevitably concludes things like, if we were all to think “gay” then homophobia would cease to exist as a tangible force. The fact is, as an ideology homophobia still has a tangible impact on LGBTI people and what Queer Theory ignores is the very real institutional conditions LGBTI people live under. Homophobia as an institutional force marginalises LGBTI people in a plethora of ways that are synonymous to sexism and racism. As Wolf describes,
Hence, following from identity politics, and taken to postmodernism’s logical extreme, it is based on the middle-class idea that we are all oppressed primarily as individuals by other individuals and therefore any resistance to oppression must be individual.
This autonomist view purported by Queer Theory contends any material basis for oppression of race, religion, sex, gender, etc, and reduces the systemic impact of oppression as a whole. As a Marxist I believe it is the intent of the ruling class to divide the working class, the class that sells its labour and produces all of society’s wealth, to keep it from collaborating and overthrowing the system that oppresses all workers. “Postmodern” Queer Theory ignores the impact “collective struggle” has had on progressive reform. From the Suffragette and Civil Rights movements to Stonewall, formal forms of oppression have been smashed only because of the challenge made by the collective struggles of men and women.
And of March 3rd?
In what has become both campaign and struggle for me, with honesty as my battle-cry, I took the date of Sydney’s annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras to finally come out to my friends, workmates, comrades, family, and ultimately to myself. Though, perhaps with a little more glitter than anticipated.
If marching in the parade was to be a litmus test for honesty and the rewards it offers then the young attractive British guy I took home that night (my first time ever with a man) was certainly a confirmation of this :)
All things considered, coming out has been a liberating experience but not without its complications. The support from everyone has been amazing and I couldn’t ask for better friends.
However, it was my dishonesty and ignorance that prevented me from achieving this previously, and admittedly I played some part in my “closeted” repression by engaging with internalised homophobia. Usually, by mocking and scorning flamboyant gay men, believing at the time that their “campness” prevented assimilation with broader society and therefore was the reason for LGBTI oppression. I made these types of internalised homophobic conclusions simply because any flamboyant resistance I might have displayed as a teen was crushed by parental inquisition and the intolerant community that surrounded me at the time.
I would learn later what “internalised homophobia” meant and how that type of behaviour, especially normalised, negatively impacts the broader LGBTI community causing division where there should be unity amongst diversity.
The struggle for my sexuality did not end there. For a period I had suppressed my homosexuality so much that even moving to Sydney to complete Uni, a place far removed from the virulent homophobia in my previous town, I had convinced myself still that I was bisexual. I thought this a compromise, an unwritten treaty with my parents if they ever found out I was same-sex attracted. And so, in my mind I locked myself in to this belief and deceived myself into thinking I would have to start a relationship with a woman (albeit not attracted to her) and I settled at this mental peace-talks with my parents that I would marry a woman, have kids, etc.
Persuaded by the arguments of Socialism that challenges homophobia and sexism, and the persistence of my best friend to realise I was gay and not ‘bi’ assisted in my personal struggle to “come out” for the second-time. The challenge again was honesty, to myself and others.
People often believe coming-out is the culmination before sexual, relational, and other forms of liberation. For me, coming-out has become just another bump in the road of life that certainly pales in comparison to the shit I’ve had to go through to reach this point and the shit I continue to struggle with. From the good times and the irrevocably bad, the events of this year have emboldened me to come out to my Dad. To my surprise he took it incredibly well, only stopping to ask about the prospect of grandchildren, of which I replied sarcastically something science-related and optimistic. I say he took it surprisingly well due to the fact that for 7 years of my life Dad remained taciturn if not supportive of the daily persecution I received from my mother.
As a homophobe, racist, and sexist, (the qualities of which I refuse to be someone’s friend) my mother puts most bigots to shame, and, on which basis our already unstable relationship pivots towards cataclysm. It has been my choice up to this point not to tell her I’m gay, partly because I know how she’ll respond and because I don’t believe it concerns her what I do (or who I do it with). However, I have decided to tell her, just so l can unburden myself and move on with my life, with or without her in it. The calendar has been marked and the setting established, so get in early and buy your tickets for this coming Christmas as my family throngs for my coming-out, likely to result in a “David and Goliath” or “Harry and Voldemort” battle of epic proportions. For this I’ll need a slingshot and a wand.
Of liberation, I said before that coming-out is not an end but, would be better described as the starting point to a wider struggle for sexual freedom both politically and personally. Tackling personal demons and my general state of mental anarchy are things I must cope with along the way, and this is something neither a slingshot or wand can assist me with. Honesty will prevail.