I wanna be straight
Come out of the cold and
Do what I’m told and
– Ian Dury and the Blockheads
In the light of current public controversy, which to the thoughtful ear-witness can sound like a familiar 1980s row between Mary Whitehouse and her alter ego, the subtitle of this article may seem ironic. Common sense purportedly tells us that assimilated ‘equality’ of recognition for previously oppressed minorities, like same sex couples, Indigenous rights activists seeking Constitutional change, or ‘terminally ill’ suffering patients deprived of an ‘unnatural’ or ‘undignified’ death is better: not an emotive manipulation of self-doubt?
The liberation movement of such persons has passed a protest phase and, so they say, is now claiming full institutionalisation by legislative action, with the aid of good-willed fellow travellers. All this is supposedly occurring in a similar manner to the Referendum of 1967 for the Aboriginal vote. (Apart from that exception proving the rule, evidently Mussolini’s fascist method of government by plebiscite was usually a failure in Australia)
There are possible do-good reasons why incursions of the 96% silent majority upon a silenced 4% minority (the longitudinal ratio of ‘homosexual’ persons according to Shere Hite) were not harassment. Given the approximately symmetrical polarisation of eligible respondents ensuring equal measures of hostility or indifference, this politically correcting move by government to control voters with a ‘postal plebiscite’ could not be seen as desperately opportunistic by any but the most shamelessly reasonable among us.
The fact that this bold adventure in manipulation is a test case for the projected rubber-stamping of another pre-programmed, likely to be pushed-through ultimatum poll on the Republic, occurring when Australia seems less fit to govern itself, should not deter our inglorious ‘hung’ parliamentarians. These compare to would-be representatives in many other democracies. Such planetary ‘no confidence’ in the ‘Globalisation’ of free trade could only concern the ‘Honourable Members’ who openly admit to their own self-doubt.
A similar example is the ‘repressive identification’ with woman by female impersonators in misogynist film, Priscilla Queen of the Desert (or the hijab by Pauline Hanson); let alone ‘LGBTIQ’ exploitation in the commodified ‘Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras’. Yet the reality of all this assimilated false pretence as unjust may only be a trade-off for the placement and marketing of our newfound monoculture of Stolen Generation ‘tolerance’.
If it is not hypocritical, fulsome and sanctimonious discrimination against same sex persons by coerced inclusion, in effect, their subsumption as subjugated second-class citizens. Whether you can also say it is never the emulated worst excess of selective minority oppression and symptomatic projected male hysteria in a condescendingly self-righteous whitewashing of difference. Lastly, there might even be opportunity to deny any revived chauvinism, bigotry and prejudice in the scapegoating of a traditionally designated target group. All these collateral damages are presumably just surplus unlucky epiphenomena of otherwise common decency on the part of their ‘no-brainer’ supporters.
In a parallel call for Indigenous ‘Recognition’, historians note that Nazism (increasingly in ideological rehab of today’s democracy) proposed such moves on segregated groups (‘Jews’) in their own Constitution: similar to South African ‘Apartheid’. As the ex-Trotskyite and then right-wing libertarian, John Anderson pointed out, just because fascists did it, this did not necessarily mean it was bad (or so he believed). More local precedents can be found in a federal bureaucracy notably skimming (even ‘sequestering’) 60% of Aboriginal funds. This is officially dubbed (in the heroic Whiggish style) ‘progress’ for persons of ‘Aboriginality’, a label that assimilates 500 tribes and 200 hundred languages. Moreover, the triumph of ‘dignified’ and ‘natural’ will in ‘assisted dying’ Nazis call a ‘euthanasia (good murder) campaign’ is now to be ratified in Victoria.
‘Left wing’ property rights?
In a context of mass media increasingly monopolised by quashed cross-ownership laws (e.g. ‘Network 10’ and ‘SBS Viceland’), it is no surprise that current affairs speak truth to ‘power’ as the institutionalisation of same-sex marriage by crudely populist governors, who themselves ‘Want to Be Straight’. A comparison might be the Stockholm Syndrome for Custer’s Last Stand, taking women and children hostage to force Land Rights on the First Americans; or South African Apartheid doling Orange Free States to the First Africans. In these cases, people also resisted. Sociologist Emile Durkheim argued that 19th century anthropologists observed First Australians practising religions based on time rather than space (land owner rights), unlike the ‘Unlucky Australians’ of Frank Hardy.
The genuinely ‘Communist’, post-colonial writer and perhaps most celebrated same-sex person of the 20th century, Jean Genet (feted in David Bowie’s song ‘The Jean Genie’) was a liberationist opposed to all marriage. So while silenced same-sex author Genet rejected these institutionalised territorial or ownership rights over another person or between persons, his contemporaries did likewise. Michel Foucault, for example, denounced such ‘Biopower’ administrative incursions. Roland Barthes warned of the ‘Mythologies’ that repressively include colonial minorities. And self-styled ‘old school’ liberator, Dennis Altman terms it a ‘surrender to conventional notions of sex and gender’.
By failing to consider different beliefs, interests and attitudes of same-sex people, thus intervening in what is, in effect, none of their business, the selfish fifth-column opposition ‘Christian’ lobby are not really a vast improvement. Philosophically, this is a nonreciprocal view of authoritarian interference into personal lives they superciliously confess to not ‘forgiving’ (if implausibly, considering implied symptoms of cold-blooded hate evincing the repressed ‘desire’ of minority oppressors). In practice, they do actually represent the concerns of same-sex persons, even if this is only coincidentally, due to an unconscientious ignorance (‘faith’?) and a refusal to think through what they are doing. Ironically, by exempting these social groups from bigoted assimilation, some Christians inadvertently supply an almost sole lip-service to protect same sex liberty. If they only knew, the shock of recognition could traumatise fixated mindsets into sealing their fate onside with the ‘equally’ patronising sexist party of unthinking, ‘no-brainer’ Yes voters.
The ‘militarising society’
Now the majority religion in Australia, Catholicism has customarily sought to assimilate
pagan rites (some have said if the Nos lose, they will change sides). As Stephen Heath argued, mythologies of (hetero- or homo- etc.) ‘sexuality’ are a ‘medical’ construct of the 19th century, a new pagan religion. Obstructing the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse, minority same-sex marriage can be used to mask a majority appeal to allow the priesthood to marry. Prevarication may not only perpetuate such abuse but also declining church attendances. Thus, with huge car-industry job loss and large public investments in a new armaments industry, in this ‘militarising society’ Vice magazine (Catholic) theorist Paul Virilio might well say, ‘fighters are always of the same sex’, a ‘duelling homosexual couple’. In Ireland, institutionalised same-sex marriage was legalised in similar religious circumstances, after a child sexual abuse probe, just prior to the Yes vote in Australia.
Did anyone actually think about sensitivities of oppressed minorities, apart from same-old repressed homophobes and whited sepulchres? 1 Are they not the usual suspects suppressing free unassimilable persons for millennia? Did ‘we’ reflect on unintended consequences of support for a Yes vote? Moreover, is my belated bid to assist the same-sex ‘observed cry from the heart’ (motivation for Ian Dury’s hit, ‘I Want To Be Straight’) to be taken with more than a grain of salt? Apologies all round – but it was worth a try!
- Of course, this does not apply to the important research of sociologists like Deborah Dempsey and Nexus editor Peter Robinson.
Rock Chugg is a sociologist from Melbourne. He was awarded the ‘Sociologists Outside of Academe’ scholarship as a member of TASA, and publishes research on the media.