The Culture of Desire: Paradox and Perversity in Gay Lives Today

The Culture of Desire: Paradox and Perversity in Gay Lives Today

Frank Browning

Language: English

Pages: 241

ISBN: 0679750304

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Is there such a thing as an American gay culture--a set of styles, values, and behaviors that arises not from ethnicity or religion but from sexual orientation? How is that culture transmitted? And how is it likely to survive the depradations of homophobia and AIDS? These questions are explored by Browning, a reporter for NPR.

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separatism does to most American Jews. For activists like Jonathan Katz, the territory of the queer nation is claimed through the recognition of cultural uniqueness. He returns to Zionism and to the questions of fairness: “There has always been a dialectic with Zionism in Israel. Does Israel operate according to a higher ethical standard than its surrounding neighbors? To what benefit? If not, then is Israel properly the idealistic vision that Zionism originally spoke about? I’m not a

and most bizarre uses of the body, of violence and torture and abuse. They were stunned by matter-of-fact accounts of men whose nipples were attached to chains and stretched, whose testicles were twisted in leather thongs, whose mouths were gorged on the penis of one unknown man while another would plunge his fist and forearm so deeply into their bowels that he could feel on his fingers the contractions of the heart. Usually, when the researchers would repeat such stories, they would maintain a

trees, flowers, and shrubs of French, German, and English gardens, eliminating native plants as crude, irredeemable weeds; it was hardly by accident that this immense Amazonian nation, forever reciting a soliloquy about the powers and dangers of its mixed-bloods, chose “Order and Progress” as its watchword, then stitched it to the Brazilian flag.) Casement was hanged. Now, fast forward sixty years and hop an ocean and a continent to discover the observing eye of a 1979 CBS television

its authority from history. It’s a tradition in Sicily to eat goat on Easter; it’s the current convention in the Mafia to use Uzis to wipe out uncooperative judges. It’s become a tradition since the time of Oscar Wilde to employ camp irony in homosexual humor; it’s a convention to wear your keys on the left to advertise yourself as a sexual top man. The notion that one individual can create tradition reflects a naïve arrogance that perhaps only a self-reinvented Californian could express. A more

heterosexuals who would prefer not to have somebody of the same sex find them sexually attractive.” Possibly more dangerous to discipline is the impact of the homosexual 10 percent on the presumed hetero 90 percent who theoretically would never be sexually interested in anyone of their own sex. As any prison guard can testify, once desire is acknowledged to exist within any constrained living quarters, enormous numbers of otherwise straight people will seek homosexual fulfillment. Only by

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