Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

07 May 2007

Gay Post

I'm reading this freaking great book right now called Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire ("homosocial desire" being a semi-obvious oxymoron). This book is so cool, though. I'm trying to figure out what my master's thesis is going to be on and so I've committed myself to reading as much queer theory as I can before school starts back up in August. I have a meeting with one of my professors on Wednesday and she's supposed to give me a grand reading list for the summer, but for now, I figured I would start with what I have at home. I pulled this book off the shelf and I'm loving it. An excerpt:
Because "homosexuality" and "homophobia" are, in any of their avatars, historical constructions, because they are likely to concern themselves intensely with each other and to assume interlocking or mirroring shapes, because the theater of their struggle is likely to be intrapsychic or intra-institutional as well as public, it is not always easy (sometimes barely possible) to distinguish them from each other. Thus, for instance, Freud's study of Dr. Schreber shows clearly that the repression of homosexual desire in a man who by any commonsense standard was heterosexual, occasioned paranoid psychosis; the psychoanalytic use that has been made of this perception, however, has been, not against homophobia and its schizogenic force, but against homosexuality—against homosexuals—on account of an association between "homosexuality" and mental illness.
This is especially cool because I was talking to Ryan about this intersection between fear of homosexuality and definition of homosexuality. My argument to Ryan was that though we may define ourselves now as homosexuals (and we may even be proud of the definition—I usually am), it was not we who invented the definition. Rather, it was society at large's need to name us as Other—to isolate and stigmatize "homosexuals" in order to re-inscribe and reinforce patriarchy—that defined us. So "homophobia" came before "homosexuality", or at the very least the two appeared concurrently.