Well next week 17 May is anti-homophobia day down under. What a great day to celebrate the lives and contributions of one small sector of society. For my part I would like to acknowledge the contribution and general niceness of Bob (Robert) Brown who is still saving the planet, my lesbian neighbours who have taken a run down cottage and turned it into a semi self-sufficient set up, my gay cousin, Anthony Langlois for excellence in academia, and former High Court judge his Honour Justice Michael Kirby who put justice before formality.
…but this isn’t celebrate gay people day, it’s anti homophobia day. Phobias are listed in the diagnostic and statistical manual of psychiatry (the DSM) which listed homosexuality as a condition until gay activists got it de-listed in the 1970’s. Homophobia is not listed. Let’s be honest. This is really anti-‘anyone who doesn’t agree with our political agenda day’ which is roughly a billion Christians, a billion Muslims, the unheard half of Europe, and Russia. As a result of the one child policy China has around 30 million more young men than women so I’m guessing gay marriage or war will feature prominently in their future. Anyway, it’s anti a lot of people on 17 May.
So how did we end up with anti-homophobia day and where will this all end? I don’t know, but following is a technical analysis of the gay rights (now GLBTI) campaign from the 70’s to today and projected over the next 30 years. This was written as part of a larger academic essay on mass social movements. I hope it will give pause to those within and without the movement.
Meanwhile, whatever your orientation or preference, have a great day.
GLBTI Movement and Friends
The gay liberation movement dates from the early 1970’s. At issue was the criminalisation of sodomy and the marginalisation of people who were not fully heterosexual. Historically convicts were transported to Australia for sodomy and in some countries today sodomy carries prison sentences of many years. You may recall that the Malaysian opposition leader was conveniently accused of sodomy and arrested. People who faced discrimination and incarceration for getting their physical and emotional needs met determined to change things. Since the 1970’s the gay rights movement has continued to add acronyms – the most recent one I saw was GLBTI +2. The movement is now trying to re-model society in fundamental ways.
The gay liberation movement, now known as the GLBTI movement, has used the Hegelian dialectic model of thesis, anti-thesis, synthesis, with great success through five distinct but overlapping phases. Based on the current trajectory and current trends it appears that a sixth phase in the offing in coming decades.
In the most recent survey in Australia approximately three per cent of the population identified as other than heterosexual. Becoming a transformative mass social movement with three per cent of the population has to stand as one the greatest achievements in social campaigning in world history. It is therefore very worthy of examination.
Phase I – Gay Rights are Civil Rights
The thesis that the gay movement was confronted with was the Judea Christian view that homosexuality is aberrant, sinful, disgusting, and something to be kept out of public view. More charitably it was tolerated socially to a certain extent but it was not seen as something that should be endorsed, celebrated or promoted, particularly to children. It was listed as a disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of psychiatry until the early 1970’s.
To counter this, the movement needed a simple anti-thesis. It adopted from the outset a single clear message: “no one chooses to by gay. No one who is gay can become straight. Sexuality is fixed at birth.” This was repeated until it was widely believed.
This anti-thesis is of course demonstrably untrue since many people have ceased being gay and some people have ceased being straight. A good example of the latter is the ‘Lesbian until Graduation’ fad in US Colleges. To what extent leaders in the movement believed the anti-thesis is unclear since at least some gay organisations and individuals openly recruit. However it was necessary at the time.
Adopting this anti-thesis allowed the movement to position itself in the tradition of the civil rights movement. After-all, if you can’t help being gay then how is that different from being black? The anti-thesis aligned the gay movement with a powerful straight lobby group and thus broadly won the support of the social left. Three per cent suddenly became a slim majority. Gay rights had now become human rights. Therefore people who opposed whatever the gay movement was advocating were ipso facto opposed to human rights. Anyone who opposes human rights is by definition a bad person and anyone who supports them is by definition a good person. The world then divides neatly into good supporters and bad opposers. Gay rights has now become for the social left the fulcrum of a person’s individual morality and political purity.
Having positioned the cause as an extension of the civil rights struggle the movement adopted the same tactics as civil rights campaigners had in the past. System stressors were used to demand legal and political recognition from the establishment. In Tasmania gay rights activists copied the ‘freedom rides’ that Afro Americans and their white supporters once took through segregated parts of small town in the Southern US. This was for the same purpose – to draw out the more reactionary elements and gain sympathy for the cause. Trespass and public protest were also used. Celebrity endorsement helped as did public displays such as ‘Dikes on Bikes’. Underground and alternative subcultures were flaunted at the mainstream. Behind the scenes political lobbying was intense and strategic. The most important and significant victory was the de-listing of homosexuality as a condition in the DSM. This removed a key plank of the thesis – that homosexuality is aberrant.
Now that homosexuality was no longer an illness or a choice the movement could appeal to core cultural values of non-interference with private matters, tolerance, and libertarian ideals. “What consenting adults to in the privacy of their own bedrooms is no one else’s business” was the catch cry of the 90’s. Against the backdrop of imprisonment and marginalisation this had significant public appeal.
In light of this appeal sodomy between consenting adults was legalised, there was a re-set of relations with police, and public acknowledgement of homosexual relationships became acceptable. The message broadly in Australia was that gay adults simply wanted to be allowed to live out their lives as they saw fit. This approach astutely concealed the rest of the movement’s agenda while laying the foundation for it.
Phase II – Anti Discrimination
In this phase the movement sought to strengthen the initial anti-thesis by attacking anyone who deviated from it. Organisations, counsellors, and practitioners that provided help to people wishing to change their sexuality, and individuals for whom this had proven successful, were and are subject to vitriolic abuse. Religious and traditional people who insisted that homosexuality was a moral choice were treated to the same vitriol.
Since homosexuality was now legal it could be positioned in the anti-discrimination legal stream. This gave the gay movement a powerful legal weapon to protect their own interests in preventing discrimination and further helped to normalise homosexuality the culture. A key plank of normalising homosexuality was the legal recognition of same sex relationships. Again the appeal was to basic community standards of fairness. At issue were the rights of long term couples to inheritance, property and superannuation on separation, and crucially the right to adopt. The former issues were resolved quickly and with few objections. So far the anti-thesis had prevailed, but adoption remained controversial.
Phase III – Mandatory Endorsement
Once homosexuality was established as normal in the culture and as legally valid the anti-thesis moved from an appeal to tolerance to a demand for endorsement. The anti-thesis now demanded that homosexuality be celebrated and endorsed. This would take a number of forms.
School curriculum would now be changed to teach and promote gay marriage and gay parenting. Homosexual practices would become core curricula in sex education. Homosexuality would gain a certain celebrity status. School counsellors working with confused teens would no longer be expected to steer them back to a healthy heterosexuality or help them clearly define their sexuality. Rather students presenting as other than exclusively heterosexual would be referred to the relevant sexual minority community for induction into that community, or as some would have it, for grooming and recruitment.
Positive discrimination and mandatory representation across social organisations could now be campaigned for. Any counselling approach that discouraged experimentation could be closed down. In its place we have “International Day against Homophobia”. It is not sufficient to have a day that celebrates homosexual people, their accomplishments, lives and contribution to society. There is a sharp political edge. Since homophobia is not listed in the DSM that actually translates as “International Day against people who are against a certain political agenda”.
In the words of Bill Clinton, “intolerance will no longer be tolerated”. The genius of this is that anyone who disagrees, however politely, with gay activists is now type cast as an intolerant bigoted bad person opposed to equality and human rights. On the other hand closing down businesses, sacking staff, dismissing people from courses of study, and subjecting people to vitriolic abuse is now seen as upholding tolerance. It is this genius that allows GLBTI organisations to designate any NGO that opposes them as a ‘hate’ organisation with no sense of self irony.
This shift has allowed the gay movement to open up a new front against that part of the church which maintained the thesis. The logic of the anti-thesis makes Christianity as it has been traditionally understood a hate crime because it endorses only one form of sexuality and only legitimises one form of sexual expression. Specifically the church defended a key remaining plank of the thesis, namely marriage. Marriage was still an exclusively heterosexual institution. Moreover this arrangement enjoyed widespread popular support and was vigorously defended by the church. Homosexuality could not be considered fully normal or morally and socially equal if it was excluded from this foundational institution. Therefore the best way to cement the anti-thesis was to re-define marriage to encompass homosexual relationships.
Phase IV – Re-defining Marriage
The gay movement was now positioned to re-define marriage. This is significant because such a proposal would have had no chance of success 20 years earlier. The movement was fortunate that there was no clear thesis for keeping marriage exclusively heterosexual. Arguments about procreation were easily dismissed since many heterosexual marriages have nothing to do with procreation and procreation does not depend upon marriage. Arguments about the sacrament of marriage are relevant only to those who believe in sacraments. The movement could truthfully point out that the real objection was visceral and related to the original thesis about homosexuality being not very nice. By now this was be definition bigoted, intolerant and opposed to human rights etc.
The real objection to gay marriage was that it would legitimise homosexual couples adopting children; this being a problem because children need a mother and a father. That thesis had already been substantially undermined by the feminist movement and we will return to it later.
In response to confused arguments about traditional marriage the movement adopted a simple anti-thesis that marriage was about ‘love not laws’ and so any loving relationship between two people should be considered marriage. It was a simple message appealing to universal values – that we should love and accept one another. A raft of concerns and objections were raised mostly by religious people who indicated that they would not recognise gay relationship and wished some legal protections for adhering to traditional beliefs. Instructively the gay movement re-assured everyone that religious people and institutions would remain unmolested. Nevertheless the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) vigorously campaigns against legal exemptions for religions reasons. Marriage has now been re-defined in numerous jurisdictions but the traditional definition is still the norm for the vast majority of the world’s peoples.
Where marriage has been re-defined to include gay couples retribution has been swift. In the UK the movement moved to force Catholic adoption agencies to adopt to homosexual couples. The church refused and Catholic adoption agencies have been de-funded in Britain. Businesses that provide wedding services have been sued and closed for refusing to provide services to same sex weddings. In France attending anti-gay marriage protest can lead to jail and officials refusing to solemnise gay weddings face five years jail. While incidents are isolated a pattern of discrimination and harassment of persons who oppose the GLBTI agenda in general and the re-definition of marriage specifically is emerging. They include:
- Being suspended from employment
- Being suspended from study
- Being put out of business
- Pastors having their sermons subpoenaed for vetting by the civil authorities
- A parent being arrested for objecting to his child being subject to homosexual material at school
- Persons being sued for letterboxing material critical of homosexuality
- A pervasive atmosphere of fear and self-censorship in public life
- Verbal abuse from the highest level of office against anyone who objects to same sex marriage
- International pressure against countries that do not already endorse same sex marriage – notably Russia
Tellingly many of these incidents have been provoked by gay activists. There is no reason to target Christian cake shops for gay wedding cakes but they have been targeted by gay activists who, on being refused service and referred elsewhere, have sued. A counselling service in Hobart experience entrapment by a gay activist who led the conversation then complained about the advice given. Collectively these behaviours can only be understood in terms of revenge. The anti-thesis has become the thesis and the victim has become the bully.
Phase V – Agenda against Gender
The movement is now resiling from its original anti-thesis that sexuality is fixed and unchangeable and therefore no one chooses to be gay. Ironically the movement has now largely adopted the position for which it so vehemently condemned the church – that sexuality is fluid not fixed and that for many people homosexuality and other forms of sexual expression is a choice. This is a foundational shift in the anti-thesis. Had this been admitted or advocated thirty years ago the movement would have been rejected out of hand by the mainstream. The timing of the new anti-thesis is thus instructive. It is also closer to the truth and reflects the new learning in brain science and the research on brain plasticity. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) website states:
“LGBT people become parents in a variety of ways, including adoption, foster parenting, donor insemination, surrogacy, and from previous heterosexual relationships.” [Emphasis mine]
The logical conclusion of this anti-thesis combined with cultural rejection of traditional values is that homosexual recruitment is both possible and legitimate. Since it is both possible and legitimate it should be allowed on campus. While activists still object strongly to the term, a recruitment mindset is evident in the material for schools that is supported and produced by the ACLU and GLSEN. The Safe Schools Coalition in Australia uses similar materials and approaches. Since mass recruitment is part of the strategy for any mass social movement the latest attempts to re-write aspects of school curricula and to remodel aspects of the school experience speak of an attempt to move beyond influence to control.
Cultural resistance to same sex parenting remains perhaps the last serious hurdle to gay emancipation as understood by the GLBTI movement. This hurdle has proven resilient for self-evident reasons – same sex parents cannot offer a child both a mother/child relationship and a father/child relationship. Therefore if same sex parenting is to be accepted as equal to heterosexual parenting concepts such as ‘mother and father’ must be made redundant. A further anti-thesis is now required. Against the thesis that every child has a natural right to a mother and a father is the anti-thesis that gender has no relevance to parenting and no objective meaning or significance. That’s a big statement. However it is essential to the movement’s agenda that it prevail.
To facilitate this, focus shifted to transsexuals and cross dressers as a means of blurring gender boundaries. Since the movement had won the right to educate children on sexual matters cross dressing and questioning of gender mores could now be introduced to schools. Returning to the civil rights agenda, gender distinct rest rooms were now discriminatory in the way that white only rest rooms once were. Cross dressing men should now be allowed into women’s toilets. The purpose clearly is not to help cross dressers relieve themselves but to break down gender norms.
In their attempt to break down gender norms the movement has once again made common cause with another movement – the feminist movement. Elements of the feminist movement argue that gender has no relevance to family arrangements, parenting, or the workforce. This again gave a fringe dwelling minority mainstream status. Academics have taken que and are now producing research arguing that sexuality and gender are social constructs.
Language is a powerful form of control and agenda setting so it us unsurprising that they gay movement has inventing new language. ‘Heteronormative’ is now a word. It implies that heterosexuality is not normal. If heterosexuality is not normal it follows that the traditional family is no objective legitimacy or relevance to parenting. Any combination of ‘significant others’ will do just as well. It is vitally important to the movement that this anti-thesis prevail because without it they are faced with the inherent limitation, some would say contradiction, that a same sex union cannot re-produce, and that roughly 97 per cent of the population is heterosexual.
If accepted, this anti-thesis would mark the most profound shift in social consciousness in history. Since this is unlikely to happen in a couple of election cycles an inter-generational strategy is required. It makes sense for the movement to then focus on influencing and co-opting young people who are the future decision makers, and whose values are still forming. In that context programs like the Safe Schools Coalition have significance and purpose beyond their stated aim of making schools safer for, and more accepting of, sexual minorities.
Phase VI – The Flood Gates Open?
At this point let’s consider whether there will be a phase six. Suppose the movement succeeds fully. At this point there are no longer sexual norms. There is no longer gender. There is no longer family in the tradition sense. A man and a woman may live together and have a baby but they will not be mother and father but significant care giver #1 and significant care giver #2. Gender and sexual orientation are matters of personal preference and completely fluid. Children are taught this in mandatory school curricula and encouraged to experiment as youth. Alternative views are censored and suppressed. What next?
In public policy it is easier to open doors than to close them. If you open a door wide and leave it open you can’t always control what walks in.
Supposing there is a ‘next’ the only thing left to ‘liberate’ are relations with relatives, children and animals. In that context I note social research calling for a more tolerant view of adult/child relationships. The American Man Boy Love Association and its equivalent associations overseas are also pushing this agenda. This organisation has been represented by the ACLU. Adult child themes are becoming more prevalent in mainstream pornography. The sexualisation of children through marketing is rampant. The outlines of a new anti-thesis are emerging. This anti-thesis essentially marks a return to the cultural values and sexual mores of pre-Christian Greco Roman/Canaanite culture. In that context I note the following:
- If, when homosexuality was removed from the DSM in the 1970’s, you had cautioned that concepts such as ‘father’ ‘mother’ and ‘marriage’ would be re-defined as a consequence, you would have been considered hysterical. This is now happening.
- Persons who warned in the 1980’s that legalising sodomy would lead to children being recruited by gay activists were considered hysterical. This is now happening.
- Persons who warned in the 90’s that allowing homosexual activists into schools would result in attempts at recruitment and gender bending were considered hysterical. This is now happening.
- Persons who warned that re-defining marriage would open the door for an authoritarian agenda were considered hysterical. This is now happening.
- I will be considered hysterical for predicting that the next wave if ‘liberation’ will seek to legitimise relations with children, but it is happening.
Summary and Conclusion
The gay liberation movement adopted a Hegelian dialectic model to achieve profound societal changes by incremental stages over time. In doing so it used existing social constructs to forge alliances with mainstream movements that gave it influence beyond its numbers. During this campaign the movement has adopted three distinct anti-thesis’. They are:
- Sexuality is fixed. No one chooses or can change their sexuality. Therefore homosexuality has to be accepted as normal.
- Sexuality is not fixed but is a matter of personal choice and those choices must be endorsed.
- Sexuality and gender are societal constructs which have no objective meaning or significance.
- It follows that traditional family and gender norms are regressive and should be actively undermined or made illegal, and children should be educated into the new norms by the State.
If taken to their logical conclusion the second and third anti-thesis’ will move society in the direction of pre-Christian Greco Roman/Canaanite society which celebrated all forms of sexual expression. However, where that society was broadly accepting of religious and social diversity the GLBTI movement is highly intolerant and authoritarian.
 Ellis and High argue that sexual orientation might be more appropriately taught as “an aspect of culture and identity” (Ellis and High 2004, pg. 11). Ellis, Viv; High (April 2004). "Something More to Tell You: Lesbian, Gay, or Bisexual Young Peoples". Journal of Adolescence 30 (2): 213–225. doi:10.1080/0141192042000195281
 According to Conservapedia: “In September 2000, the ACLU represented the North American Man/Boy Love Association when the parents of Jeffrey Curley, who was raped, tortured and murdered by two men, filed a $200 million federal lawsuit for wrongful death. John Roberts, the executive director of the Massachusetts ACLU stated, It's not a real popular case, but the First Amendment issues are clear” See further here: http://www.caringforourchildrenfoundation.org/remembering-jeffrey-curley-is-pedophilia-becoming-mainstreamed/