End of Gays?’ — Kindle Single essay

Back in the 1980s, when the Conservative Government of Margaret Thatcher banned the ‘pro­mo­tion’ of homo­sexu­al­ity, gays were still semi-criminal – as well as immoral, ridicu­lous, dis­gust­ing, dis­eased and after your kids.

The UK’s ban on homo­sexual pro­pa­ganda failed – spec­tac­u­larly. Gays have been pro­moted more rap­idly and gid­dily than almost any per­se­cuted, des­pised group in his­tory. In just a gen­er­a­tion or so UK gays have achieved legal equal­ity, civil rights and even respect­ab­il­ity. Today they are gay mar­ried by the Tory PM, David Cameron, no less. Homosexuality has joined the golf club.

But, asks Mark Simpson in this pro­voc­at­ive Kindle essay, maybe gay people are a vic­tim of their own suc­cess. Perhaps the biggest prob­lem that gay people face in the UK and much of the West today is no longer overt homo­pho­bia, but rather the rapid fall­ing off of it. At least for their sur­vival as a dis­tinct group with their own iden­tity, cul­ture, clubs, hankie sem­a­phore and sensibility.

The Gays’ have been shaped and defined by their long struggle against pre­ju­dice. But what’s left of gay­ness when the homo­pho­bia stops?

Download End of Gays? on Kindle



Put a Ring On It

My old friend the (gay) human rights cam­paigner Peter Tatchell, once loathed by the pop­u­lar press for his ‘rad­ical extrem­ism’, is the biggest, loudest voice in the UK call­ing for same sex marriage.

Or was, until he found him­self in bed recently with David Cameron, the Conservative Prime Minister, who stole his thun­der some­what by announ­cing at the Tory Party Conference this month his sup­port for gay mar­riage – “Not des­pite my being a Conservative, but because I’m a Conservative.”

In the UK civil part­ner­ships were intro­duced in 2004, giv­ing same sex couples who signed up for them effect­ively the same legal rights – and priv­ileges over single people – as mar­ried couples. Civil part­ner­ships have been widely regarded as a suc­cess, and while it’s true that many les­bi­ans and gays prob­ably would want the option, unlike in the US there has been no great clam­our for same sex mar­riage – no riots in Soho or MiLK-esque speeches at the BAFTAs.

In fact, the lack of much of a clam­our for same-sex mar­riage (except for per­haps the one com­ing from Tatchell) is one of the reas­ons why Cameron was able to so eas­ily co-opt – or ‘out’ – gay mar­riage as some­thing essen­tially Conservative/conservative. And in the pro­cess com­plete his swishy remod­el­ling of the Tories as the socially lib­eral, Nice to Gays, MetroTory Party, rather than The Nasty Party people remem­ber from the 80s, 90s and much of the Noughties. While throw­ing his Coalition part­ners the Lib-Dems a boner.

And in an import­ant sense he’s right about gay mar­riage: Conservatives don’t like new insti­tu­tions, they like old ones. Really dusty, cob­webby ones that don’t work any­more. Although age­ing hang ‘em and flog ‘em Shire Tories whom Holland Park ‘Dave’ clearly des­pises and who des­pise him back with interest won’t agree, bet­ter that gays line up to get mar­ried than go off and do their own civil thing. Especially when no one else is both­er­ing to get mar­ried any more.

Unsurprisingly, half-hearted pro­pos­als to extend civil part­ner­ships to cross-sex couples have been dropped – the reason cross-sex couples were barred from civil part­ner­ships in the first place was due to fears that this would ‘under­mine mar­riage’. The Tories, remem­ber, want to prop up the lame duck industry of mar­riage by intro­du­cing a state sub­sidy for it.

But should Cameron suc­ceed in leg­al­ising same-sex mar­riage, Tatchell isn’t going to get gay mar­ried him­self. Despite his very per­sonal iden­ti­fic­a­tion with the cause of same sex mar­riage in the UK for sev­eral years, and his use of some­what melo­dra­matic rhet­oric such as ‘sexual apartheid’ and ‘rid­ing at the back of the bus’ to describe civil part­ner­ships, he rejects mar­riage alto­gether – on polit­ical  grounds. Debating with Suzanne Moore (another old friend of mine) in Saturday’s Guardian in the wake of Cameron’s pledge, he repeated an argu­ment he has made many times before:

Personally, I don’t like mar­riage. I share the fem­in­ist cri­tique of its his­tory of sex­ism and pat­ri­archy. I would not want to get married.’

In other words, he sees mar­riage as a sys­tem of oppres­sion and inequal­ity which he wants noth­ing to do with. Though of course, this doesn’t mean he can’t cru­sade self­lessly for the right of oth­ers to get oppressed:

But as a demo­crat and human rights defender, I sup­port the right of oth­ers to marry. This is a simple issue of equal­ity. The ban on same-sex mar­riage is dis­crim­in­a­tion and dis­crim­in­a­tion is wrong, full stop.’

Even without dwell­ing on the slight con­tra­dic­tion of cam­paign­ing for the exten­sion of a sys­tem of oppres­sion and inequal­ity under the ban­ner of equal­ity, Tatchell is not present­ing much of an argu­ment here. Rather — and I say this as someone who owes Peter a debt of thanks for help­ing to get my first book pub­lished and for provid­ing a crack­ing essay for my 1996 col­lec­tion Anti-Gay — it’s a school­marmish piece of mor­al­ism designed to close down debate: ‘…dis­crim­in­a­tion is wrong, full stop’. Oh, no! The dreaded full stop! That’s it then. My powers of dia­lectic have turned to dust!

I’ve heard sim­ilar from lib­eral het­eros who like to wear their sup­port for gay mar­riage as a badge of their lib­er­al­ism, and are crest­fal­len when you don’t pat them on the back for it. The poor dears usu­ally end up irrit­ably dis­miss­ing queer kill­joys like me as ‘per­verse’ and ‘eccent­ric’. Liberal do-gooders know best, even when they’re straight lib­eral do-gooders talk­ing about gay mar­riage to gayers.

Thankfully, not all straight lib­er­als think alike — in the Guardian debate Suzanne Moore dares to be the straight party-pooper at the gay mar­riage recep­tion, air­ing many of the argu­ments that lots of LGBT people agree with but tend to keep quiet about in front of the Goyim. Like her, I’m not so much against same-sex mar­riage (what would be the point of that? Unless you have a kink for chain­ing your­self to church rail­ings), as just not for it.

But agnosti­cism about gay mar­riage isn’t really per­mit­ted. After all, gay America, Tatchell, straight lib­er­als and even David Cameron all say we have to be for it. Full stop.

Thing is, if you get with the pro­gramme and make equal­ity for its own sake your god you can end up say­ing really daft things which you clearly don’t believe. Worse, by mak­ing it the meas­ure of ‘equal­ity’, you make even more of a fet­ish out of mar­riage than the traditionalists.

And someone like Peter Tatchell, who has a long, rad­ical his­tory, who rejects mar­riage as ‘sex­ist and pat­ri­archal’, who would like to see civil part­ner­ships made more flex­ible and exten­ded to cross-sex couples (so would I, but it’s not going to hap­pen under this Government), ends up say­ing stuff like: ‘mar­riage is the gold stand­ard.’

Perhaps, des­pite his deni­als, Peter really does want to get mar­ried after all. Sometimes he sounds like a very old-fashioned girl.

Metrosexual Daddy Mark Simpson interviewed by Elise Moore

English author and journ­al­ist Mark Simpson on love-hating the met­ro­sexual, why bromance lacks balls, and why women are strap­ping on Captain Kirk.

By Elise Moore (Suite 101, May 6, 2010)

If you could copy­right neo­lo­gisms, Mark Simpson would be a bil­lion­aire. Since you can’t, the British gay/gender issues and pop/culture com­ment­ator talked to Suite101 about the real defin­i­tion of met­ro­sexu­al­ity and gave his views on gay mar­riage leg­al­iz­a­tion, slash fic, bromance, and more.

The Metrosexual Past and Present

Being respons­ible for the met­ro­sexual could keep less hearty souls awake at night. But Mark thinks the guilt should be shared. “Probably con­sumer­ism, post-feminism, Men’s Health magazine and Jersey Shore should shoulder at least some of the respons­ib­il­ity for the nor­mal­iz­a­tion of male van­ity. I mean, the fact the President of the US now makes the Free World wait every morn­ing for him to fin­ish his work-out, and is some­thing of his own First Lady, isn’t entirely down to me.

Like most people, I have a love-hate rela­tion­ship with the met­ro­sexual. I love it when he pays me atten­tion, and hate it when he’s flirt­ing with someone else. Then I call him ‘self-obsessed’.”

Speaking of love-hating the met­ro­sexual, Jerry Lewis argu­ably made the first met­ro­sexual movie, The Nutty Professor, in 1963. “The Nutty Professor is a remark­able film,” Mark agrees. “It’s a kind of proto-metrosexual sci-fi. Geeky, unkempt, invis­ible and unlaid, Lewis con­cocts a potion that makes him the centre of atten­tion and irres­ist­ible – by boost­ing his nar­ciss­ism to mon­strous levels. It’s Viagra and Biotherme Homme for Men in one product – dec­ades before either were invented.”

Metrosexuality and Consumerism

Metrosexuality has lots of ante­cedents of course: the virile degen­er­acy of Brando, Dean and Elvis in the 1950s, Jagger ‘s petu­lant nar­ciss­ism in the 60s, Bowie’s glit­ter­ing glam­ness in the 1970s, the mirrored male world of Saturday Night Fever and American Gigolo – and the mil­it­ary gay porn aes­thetic of Top Gun. But they didn’t coalesce into the main­stream, High Street, off-the-peg phe­nomenon of medi­ated, com­mod­i­fied, love-me-or-love-me mas­culin­ity known as met­ro­sexu­al­ity until the late Eighties, early Nineties.”

This close cor­rel­a­tion between the met­ro­sexual and increas­ing con­sumer­ism is what gets Mark annoyed when he’s con­fused with the late 19th cen­tury dandy. “As if we can pre­tend that the sexual and aes­thetic divi­sion of labour of the Nineteenth and most of the Twentieth Century didn’t hap­pen. As if Oscar Wilde – per­haps the most fam­ous and in many ways the last dandy – hadn’t been des­troyed by Victorian mor­al­ity for his ‘gross inde­cency’. As if male nar­ciss­ism and sen­su­al­ity hadn’t been asso­ci­ated with male homo­sexu­al­ity – and thus crim­in­al­ised and patho­lo­gised – for the next hun­dred years.

And as if a dandy would have done any­thing so vul­gar as go to the gym and get sweaty.”

Manlove for Ladies and Bros

Mark is also up for equal-opportunity equal oppor­tun­ity when it comes to women who like the idea of man-on-man, as exem­pli­fied by the fan fic­tion phe­nomenon known as “slash fic.” “I’m fas­cin­ated and some­times a little scared by the way that women inter­pret and fan­tas­ize male-on-male sex. Manlove for ladies is very dif­fer­ent to gay porn. For starters, it uses ima­gin­a­tion. Gay porn never does that. Slash-fic also tends to have a lot of feel­ings. Which always, always cause loss of wood in gay porn.

Sometimes it seems as if women are try­ing, rather fab­ulously, to escape their pre­scribed fem­in­ine sub­jectiv­ity by pro­ject­ing them­selves into the bod­ies of their male prot­ag­on­ists. Captain Kirk as the ulti­mate strap-on.”

Is “man­love for ladies,” as Mark calls it, com­par­able in any way to the new neo­lo­gism in town, “bromance”? “Manlove for the ladies has much more in the way of… balls than ‘bromance’. As the name ‘bromance’ sug­gests, actual sex, or in fact any­thing phys­ical, would be a form of incest. It seems like it’s being left to women to put men in touch with their bi-curiousness. Which is as every­one knows – but pre­tends not to – even more com­mon than the female variety.”

The Greatest Iconoclast

If the views expressed above haven’t made it clear, Mark has upset a few people in his career, not least other, more “ortho­dox” gay com­ment­at­ors. But who out of his infatu­ations and inspir­a­tions would he deem the greatest icon­o­clast — Camille Paglia, Lady Gaga, Morrissey, Jerry Lewis? “I would prob­ably have to pick Gore Vidal. He took on everything that is sac­red in America: Machismo. Empire. The Kennedys. The Cold War. Hollywood. Monotheism and Monosexuality. What’s more his hil­ari­ous late 1960s trans­sexual novel ‘Myra Breckenridge’ figured out what was hap­pen­ing to mas­culin­ity and fem­in­in­ity before I was out of short trousers and long before the Twenty First Century got underway.

Come to think of it, I should prob­ably clast Mr. Vidal for leav­ing so little for the rest of us to smash.”

Future of Metrosexuality

Now that the 21st cen­tury is unavoid­ably under­way, what does the new mil­len­nium hold for the metrosexual?

A big, scen­ted candle. And even more product.”


Not in Front of the Goyim: Gays and Not-So-Open Relationships

Interesting piece by Scott James in today’s New York Times:

New research at San Francisco State University reveals just how com­mon open rela­tion­ships are among gay men and les­bi­ans in the Bay Area. The Gay Couples Study has fol­lowed 556 male couples for three years — about 50 per­cent of those sur­veyed have sex out­side their rela­tion­ships, with the know­ledge and approval of their partners.

That con­sent is key. “With straight people, it’s called affairs or cheat­ing,” said Colleen Hoff, the study’s prin­cipal invest­ig­ator, “but with gay people it does not have such neg­at­ive connotations.”

The study also found open gay couples just as happy in their rela­tion­ships as pairs in sexu­ally exclus­ive uni­ons, Dr. Hoff said. A dif­fer­ent study, pub­lished in 1985, con­cluded that open gay rela­tion­ships actu­ally las­ted longer.

However the reporter dis­covered a wall of silence sur­round­ing the subject:

None of this is news in the gay com­munity, but few will speak pub­licly about it. Of the dozen people in open rela­tion­ships con­tac­ted for this column, no one would agree to use his or her full name, cit­ing pri­vacy con­cerns. They also wor­ried that dis­cuss­ing the sub­ject could under­mine the legal fight for same-sex marriage.

Or per­haps they worry they might be shouted down and called ‘sluts’ by the gay blogs.

Given the very real fear of being osctra­cised and shamed for talk­ing in front of the goyim about how gay rela­tion­ships actu­ally are, instead of the Disney-esque way that gay mar­riage zealots would like to por­tray them, it seems a reas­on­able assump­tion that the 50% fig­ure is an under­re­port­ing.  Probably most gay male rela­tion­ships in the Bay Area are open.  As I’ve said before, in pub­lic, in front of the goyim, in my exper­i­ence prob­ably most gay male rela­tion­ships are open.  (I’ll admit I was sur­prised by the article’s claims about les­bian rela­tion­ships — but then, I have rather less exper­i­ence of them…).

Of course, it doesn’t really mat­ter whether it’s half or most, or even a large minor­ity, the point, as Scott James acknow­ledges, is that this is def­in­itely not an attrib­ute of the vast major­ity of hetero rela­tion­ships.  Many may have their ‘infi­del­it­ies’, but very, very few have open rela­tion­ships.  For most the concept is a con­tra­dic­tion in terms.  Especially if mar­ried.  The author makes much of how the ope­ness of gay rela­tion­ships can help reform the fail­ing insti­tu­tion of mar­riage, but per­son­ally I sus­pect he fails to under­stand what mar­riage actu­ally is, and the pro­pri­et­ary, exclus­ive nature of it.  In real­ity, gay mar­riage may just  suc­ceed in mak­ing gay rela­tion­ships less open and more hypocritical.

Too often the move­ment for gay mar­riage is cen­sori­ous and shame-based, about present­ing homo­sexu­al­ity as a neutered het­ero­sexu­al­ity, about claim­ing over and over again that gay rela­tion­ships are ‘just like’ straight ones and any­one who says dif­fer­ent is a bigot and ‘homo­phobe’ –  exter­n­al­ised or internalised.

There’s also another dimen­sion to the reluct­ance of gay couples to talk about their open rela­tion­ships… openly, one that has less to do with wor­ry­ing about what the gays will say, and more to do with what the world will think: It may cost them their new-found respect­ab­il­ity.  This after all is the point of ‘gay mar­riage’ for some, par­tic­u­larly those of the Sullivanite tend­ency: to prove to the world they’re not like those promis­cu­ous, hedon­istic, slut gays. Even and espe­cially if they are still get­ting rogered by them reg­u­larly via Manhunt.

Then again, open rela­tion­ships can be hard work.  And dis­cuss­ing them in pub­lic allows people like me to pass unhelp­ful com­ment.  Here’s ‘Chris’ and ‘James” rules for their open relationship:

com­plete dis­clos­ure, hon­esty about all encoun­ters, advance approval of part­ners, and no sex with strangers — they must both know the other men first. “We check in with each other on this an awful lot,” said James, 37.

Obviously how they con­duct their rela­tion­ship is their busi­ness — and good luck to them — but I can’t help won­der­ing if in this instance mono­gamy wouldn’t be much less trouble.

Gay Marriage On The Rocks: Ain’t No Surprise

The wheels appear to have come off the gay mar­riage bus in the US and no one seems to know how to put them back on.  Not even the lesbians.

And that’s not accord­ing to med­dlin’ Limey Uncle Tom ‘slut’ me (as I was dubbed by the Voice of Gay America) but accord­ing to the gay-marriage-supporting  New York Times in a piece last week titled ‘Amidst Small Wins, Advocates Lose Marquee Battles’:

…the bill to leg­al­ize same-sex mar­riage in New York failed by a sur­pris­ingly wide mar­gin on Wednesday. In New Jersey, Democrats have declined to sched­ule the bill for a vote, believ­ing that the sup­port is no longer there. Voters in Maine last month repealed a state law allow­ing same-sex mar­riage des­pite advoc­ates’ advant­age in money and volunteers.

And on the other reli­ably lib­eral coast, California advoc­ates of gay mar­riage announced this week that they would not try in the next elec­tions to reverse the ban on gay mar­riage that voters approved in 2008; they did not believe they could succeed.

Gay mar­riage doesn’t appear to be some­thing that even lib­eral ‘bi-coastal’ America has much of a stom­ach for, let alone the God-fearing ‘fly­over’ States that of course make up most of the US.  So how earth did the US gay rights move­ment turn down this gay mar­riage cul-de-sac, appar­ently without a reverse gear? 

Even sup­port­ers of gay mar­riage say that all the optim­ism got ahead of the reality.

I think there was some over­read­ing of the polit­ical mar­ket­place for gay mar­riage,” said Geoff Garin, a Democratic poll­ster. “It’s not so much that some­thing changed. There was a mis­read­ing of where the pub­lic was at.”

You don’t say.  Perhaps though it was not so much an ‘over­read­ing’ or ‘mis­read­ing’ but rather more a case of com­plete illit­er­acy.  I mean, who would have guessed that scream­ing ‘BIGOT!!’ at beauty queens for believ­ing, like most Americans, includ­ing President Obama, that mar­riage is between a man and a woman wasn’t going to be a ter­ribly per­suas­ive strategy? Whoever would have ima­gined that try­ing to blame black voters for California’s re-banning of gay mar­riage last year at the same time as try­ing to hijack their his­tory of civil rights struggle and pro­claim gays as ‘the new blacks’ wouldn’t play so well?  

And who could have pos­sibly con­ceived that self-righteously denoun­cing civil uni­ons, a much more polit­ic­ally achiev­able – and in my Limey Uncle Tom slut opin­ion also much more appro­pri­ate and mod­ern – insti­tu­tion for giv­ing same-sex couples legal pro­tec­tion as ‘rid­ing at the back of the bus!’, and instead going pell-mell after gay mar­riage and respect­ab­il­ity would have turned out to be such a tac­tical and stra­tegic blunder? 

Empowered by judi­cial decisions affirm­ing a con­sti­tu­tional right to gay mar­riage, begin­ning in Massachusetts in 2003, advoc­ates argued to move away from a strategy that had focused on more incre­mental change.

The gamble has not paid off,” Mr. Garin said.  “We leapfrogged from civil uni­ons to mar­riage, primar­ily as a res­ult of judi­cial decisions that were fol­lowed in some cases by legis­lat­ive action. But the real­ity is that the judi­cial decisions were sub­stan­tially ahead of pub­lic opin­ion, and still are.”

And, it might be added going pell-mell after gay mar­riage also helped George Bush get re-elected in 2004. Which as we know was such a won­der­ful out­come for every­one, gay or straight.

Mr Garin may be more clear-headed on this issue than many gay mar­riage advoc­ates, but the expres­sion ‘ahead of pub­lic opin­ion’ sounds to me like more ‘over­read­ing’.  Maybe most Americans don’t accept that a rela­tion­ship between two men – and after all, it is this double-penised aspect, not two wombs together, that the straight pub­lic think about — is ‘just the same’ as a rela­tion­ship between a man and a woman, not because they’re back­wards, or ignor­ant, or pre­ju­diced, but because, if you’re not blinded by lib­eral plat­it­udes, it clearly isn’t. 

And please, can someone over there point out, if only just to be really annoy­ing, that the assim­il­a­tion of the rad­ic­ally new phe­nomenon on mod­ern gay rela­tion­ships to the moribund insti­tu­tion of mar­riage with its repro­duct­ive role-playing, reli­gious fla­vour­ing, and his­tory of treat­ing women as chat­tel does not exactly rep­res­ent ‘progress’?

Fortunately, there’s one American homo left who isn’t Gore Vidal doing exactly this — though not of course in the NYT.  The nov­el­ist Bruce Benderson, inter­viewed by Christopher Stoddard in the latest issue of East Village Boys about his new book Pacific Agony makes some sali­ent points about male sexu­al­ity which the Andrea Sullivanized American gays don’t want to hear:

Bruce Benderson: I have a kind of old-fashioned idea about what a homo­sexual is, and I think it’s some­body who is made to live out­side the social norm. And the reason he was made to live out­side the social norm is because one of the main func­tions of the struc­ture of a social norm is to per­petu­ate the spe­cies, but I don’t think that’s a nat­ural thing for male homo­sexu­als. Not just homo­sexu­als, but men in gen­eral are nat­ur­ally too promis­cu­ous. It’s their rela­tion­ship with women that makes them more stable so that they can chan­nel it into build­ing a fam­ily. These gay couples are going around say­ing, “Oh, we’re just like you straight couples, really! We just hap­pen to be two men.” I don’t believe that. I think they’re different.

Christopher Stoddard: Okay, so you think that gay men are essen­tially sub­ject to “vice”?

BB: If you want to make that moral judg­ment… Suppose a bomb dropped and there were only 100 women and 1 man left. Well, the­or­et­ic­ally, that man could repop­u­late the spe­cies by impreg­nat­ing 100 women a year. Now, take 100 men and 1 woman after the bomb drops; we could only make 1 baby a year, okay? To per­petu­ate the spe­cies, men have been pro­grammed by evol­u­tion to be promis­cu­ous. Marriage is the social tam­ing of a man’s sexual ener­gies by a woman, which is neces­sary to build a social struc­ture. Because a man is made to screw more than one per­son, there’s nobody to stop him if he’s with just another man.

CS: You sound like the pro­ver­bial Repulican who believes that mar­riage should be between a man and a woman.

BB: I think that mar­riage should be illegal! Just like pledging to God should be illegal. Marriage is a sac­ra­ment that has abso­lutely noth­ing to do with the State, and it should have no legal status what­so­ever. A domestic part­ner­ship should be recog­nized by the State, and it should hinge on things like wills, joint tax fil­ing, inher­it­ance, things like that. And any two people should be able to do it. A mar­riage is just this left-over sac­ra­ment that some­how wiggled its way into legal status.

CS: You don’t believe that two men can be devoted to each other in a mono­gam­ous way and not cheat because of these car­nal needs?

BB: Correct. I believe two men can be totally devoted to each other, but it prob­ably won’t be in the same way that a man and a woman can be totally devoted to each other. I know sev­eral gay male couples who’ve been together a long time and go to the baths together, or they both go to one of those, you know, orgy places.

CS: I think I know who you mean. {chuckles}

BB: Yet they’re totally close, and they totally trust each other, and it’s a won­der­ful pairing.

Be care­ful, Bruce!  You can’t just go around talk­ing the truth about gay men in pub­lic!  Not if you want to be taken ser­i­ously, that is.

Gore Vidal Takes on The World — Again

Gore Old

God, I can’t help but love the old bas­tard.  Another tour-de-force from Gore Vidal (inter­viewed by Tim Teeman) appeared in The London Times last week, in which, as usual, he said so many things, so very loudly that so many people know to be true but daren’t begin to mumble.

This frail, crippled, dia­betic, alco­holic, eighty-three-year-old man repeatedly and ener­get­ic­ally Gores Obama, for his ‘dread­ful’ per­form­ance as President, decries how he has ‘fucked up’ health­care, and most par­tic­u­larly how he has allowed him­self to be rail­roaded by the mil­it­ary into con­tinu­ing the American Imperialist pro­ject, some­thing Vidal has hero­ic­ally ded­ic­ated his life to attack­ing. He also expresses his deep regret over dump­ing feisty Hillary, his first choice, for this smooth-talking ingénue dur­ing the Democratic Primaries:

Hillary knows more about the world and what to do with the gen­er­als. History has proven when the girls get involved, they’re good at it. Elizabeth I knew Raleigh would be a good man to give a ship to.”

Vidal sug­gests that he was beguiled — as many clearly were in the Democratic Party — by the his­toric if not actu­ally romantic appeal of a black man as President of the United States.  Particularly one that was much more intel­li­gent than his white pre­de­cessor; but seems to have been dis­ap­poin­ted even in that department.

Vidal ori­gin­ally became pro-Obama because he grew up in “a black city” (mean­ing Washington), as well as being impressed by Obama’s intel­li­gence. “But he believes the gen­er­als. Even Bush knew the way to win a gen­eral was to give him another star”.

He also dis­cusses, or rather, disses, gay mar­riage — a sub­ject I wasn’t alas able to cover when I inter­viewed him earlier this year for Arena Hommes Plus. When Teeman asks, ‘Has love been import­ant to him?’ he responds blisteringly:

Don’t make the error that school­teacher idi­ots make by think­ing that gay men’s rela­tion­ships are like het­ero­sexual ones. They’re not.”

This one, simple, obvi­ously true state­ment is of course com­plete heresy for mod­ern American gays — who aren’t listen­ing any­way since most of them prob­ably don’t even know who Gore Vidal is.  Which is in itself damning enough.

Vidal puts on a scorn­ful, campy voice. “People ask {of he and Austen, his life-long com­pan­ion who died last year}, ‘How did you live together so long?’ The only rule was no sex. They can’t believe that.…

No, because if you wish to pre­tend that two men liv­ing together is just like a man and woman liv­ing together you have to pre­tend to the same lies and illu­sions het­ero­sexu­als do.

He is single now. “I’m not into part­ner­ships,” he says dis­missively. I don’t even know what it means.” He “couldn’t care less” about gay mar­riage. “Does any­one care what Americans think? They’re the worst-educated people in the First World. They don’t have any thoughts, they have emo­tional responses, which good advert­isers know how to pro­voke.” You could have been the first gay pres­id­ent, I say. “No, I would have mar­ried and had nine chil­dren,” he replies quickly and ser­i­ously. “I don’t believe in these exclus­ive terms.”

They cer­tainly don’t make ‘em like that any more.