The Gay Issue: A Personal Reflection by Peter Krummeck

The Gay Issue: A Personal Reflection by Peter Krummeck


On 29 April 2010 a brave anthology of South African gay writing was launched in Cape Town and, subsequently, across South Africa. Within a month, the first edition had sold out. I was the only contributor who submitted work to ‘Yes I am!’ * on the principle that I reject gender definition. I am not ‘gay’ or ‘straight’ or ‘bi-sexual’. I am simply Peter. It was important for me to make this point because it is often more difficult to be who one is than to conform.

I was a teenager in the 1960s. The dawn of the gender revolution had broken but was still new enough for my hormones to register with the feminine voices of Erica Jung, Joan Baez, Vanessa Redgrave and Jane Fonda. These women touched the dreams of who I might become as a man – the revolution impacted far more widely than mere ‘rights for women’.

I now believe that this gender revolution represents the most profound and fundamental social change since the industrial revolution three hundred years ago. The challenge it offered presented a profound threat to thousands of years of established religion.

The distinction between male and female is obviously defined by sex. But the gender revolution succeeded in blurring these roles. Women burned their bras. Bewildered men like me first took on an androgynous aspect: wearing our hair long, but with jeans so tight that our masculinity was never in doubt.

This was underscored by The Beatles and the Rolling Stones: Joan Baez continued to exert her influence of freedom, while Dusty Springfield entrenched the concept of what a woman should be in terms of America’s patriarchal society. And David Bowie embodied the androgynous behaviour pattern.

All this happened as a result of the famous Kinsey Report on human sexuality, published two decades earlier. The first report (1948) dealt with men and the second (1953) with women.

As a man, I obviously can’t comment on the feminine impact. Yet I am somewhat helped by Queen Victoria. When presented with a bill by Parliament banning homosexual practice, she put her pen through the lesbian clause, saying that women did not do such things. And so all guilt descended on us males – the most famous scapegoat being Oscar Wilde.

We all know that the impact of the Kinsey Report was received with fierce antagonism, for Dr Kinsey had discovered through his meticulously recorded but highly confidential interviews that male-on-male sex was far more prevalent than the 3.5% scientifically proposed as homosexual ‘aberration’.

At a time when homosexuality was a punishable offence in most of the United States – usually leading to harsh, long-term imprisonment – 30% of the men he interviewed nevertheless admitted that they had, as adult males, voluntarily engaged in sex with another man.


Let us return to the 1970s because it was then that Masters and Johnson published their assessment of human sexuality. If the response to the Kinsey report was angry, this time readers were aghast. It placed ‘gay’ orientation 1% higher. Worse: by using more accurate methods of recording and consulting a far wider poll base, Masters and Johnson further established that during the enlightened sexual climate of the 1970s over 60% of all men interviewed had engaged in voluntary adult sex with other men.

A case has been made to reject these ‘aberrations’ as a once-off. But 40% of the interviewees acknowledged ‘several occasions’. The report further states that its findings are ‘conservative’. And staunch conservative males will maintain that they belong exclusively to the heterosexual 40% – which may well be true.


But, if at least 40% of all men need to find repeated sexual empathy with other men and a further 20% need to explore this region of their inner self at least once, we need to redraft our concept of what exactly drives the male gender.

 


The above model falls short of a 50/50% split. What it does prove is that 95% of men will contribute to the propagation of the species. What none of the above clinical information or imagery can convey, however, is the simple propensity for men to love one another.

The Gospel of John refers to the writer as: ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’ no less than three times (13:23; 19:26 & 21:7). But it is the second book of Samuel which has a special significance in our Bible as the only one which captures specific words of male love. It records King David’s grief on hearing of Jonathan’s heroic death: ‘I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; you have been most pleasant to me. Your love to me was more wonderful than the love of women. How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!’ (1:23-27)

So, where does all this leave us men? Somewhat bewildered, perhaps. Despite a global acceptance of gender orientation, incidents such as we have seen recently in Malawi occur and condemnation persists across Africa.

Prejudice is often the result of ignorance or fear – sometimes both. It remains insidious today – even in enlightened countries.

One looks at current male fashions: the low-slung belt around the hips is sadly submissive; the shapeless pants and tee-shirts seem to defy any claim to masculine beauty. To my mind, this is not androgyny: it is as if men, regardless of orientation, have been brow-beaten by prejudice into denying that they are men.


 

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Yes I Am!’ is available @ R140 per copy. If you would like to buy the book, please conact Peter on acts@ct.stormnet.co.za