By Jack Nichols
Perpetual talk show guest and neo-conservative Camille Paglia, in a reply to a query about Senator Majority Leader Trent Lott's (R.-Miss.) recent characterization of homosexuality as a disease akin to kleptomania, nearly echoed Republican Senator Don Nickles' views. She labeled male homosexuals "amoral".
Referring to a recent Larry King Live debate, Professor Paglia seemed to concur with Family Research Council President Gary Bauer's "dogged enunciation of the traditional Christian view" of homosexuality to which, she says, "gay activism has never yet adequately responded."
"I am troubled by the provincialism and amorality of the gay world," Paglia wrote in her June 23 column in Salon magazine, "and as a lesbian, I'm sick and tired of the gay rights movement being damaged by the cowardly incapacity for self-examination of many gay men."
Ms. Paglia equated homosexuality with prostitution, pontificating that "history shows that male homosexuality, which like prostitution flourishes with urbanization and soon becomes predictably ritualized, always tends toward decadence."
Ms. Paglia, appears eager to destroy what many gay males once admired about her, namely her "take no prisoners style," as Boston's Bay Windows editor Jeff Epperly puts it. While she had lauded gay men for being sexually adventuresome, her latest Salon column says: "In my interpretation, total sexual freedom allows humanity's repressed animality to go wild."
In an interview published last year in Badpuppy's GayToday, Ms. Paglia showed but little inclination to condemn the "repressed animality" of sex among men she honored in public toilets. Speaking of photographs in Steam magazine, she said:
"Here was a man who went around with a camera, OK, and went, like, to one of those rest stops on an Arkansas highway and where, like, heterosexual hunters come just to pee and he, you know, these magnificent genitals, OK, stuck them through this hole, this glory hole, obviously there was this straight man there, alright, who, like, can't get his wife to do fellatio, or whatever, OK, and this man, this gay man, had these fantastic photographs of these magnificent genitals coming through this hole. I said, gay men, I mean this is so erotic. This is the ultimate in eroticism! Nothing anyone would have ever produced--gay or straight, OK, has ever been this erotic, OK, this worship of the beauty of the male genitals. So, in other words, some people would recoil from this, 'That's so degraded. That's so de-personalized. That's so this or that.' I say, 'Yes, most gay men maybe can't do that, but I really honor that. I honor that. I, as a lesbian, find that highly erotic, OK? Yeah."
GayToday's interviewer quickly asked: Don't you think that's what one might call anatomical over-focus?
Boston's Jeff Epperly, responding to Ms. Paglia's latest diatribe, said, "Yes, some gay men are decadent. But far more of them--and being an editor at a large gay newspaper for 10 years has taught me something about the topic—are also completely pedestrian and boring. That neither makes the decadent ones bad nor the boring ones more moral, but it does suggest that Paglia hasn't the slightest idea of what she is talking about."
Replying to criticisms of Republican Senator Trent Lott, Paglia says "gays should stop bitching about Southern Baptists exercising their constitutional right to free speech about homosexuality, which is condemned by the Bible, despite the tortuous casuistry of so many self-interested parties, including clerics."
Rumblings from within GOP ranks about the Republican leadership's anti-gay election strategies, and its increasingly vicious war against gay and lesbian America were echoed Tuesday on page 1 of the New York Times, headlined: "Flurry of Anti-Gay Remarks Has G.O.P. Fearing Backlash."
"Prominent Republican politicians and strategists say they are troubled by a wave of harsh anti-homosexual oratory from other Republicans, fearing it could make the party appear intolerant and drive out moderates and economic conservatives, " wrote Richard L. Berke.
Among the troubled Republican leaders quoted in Tuesday's Times were Senator Richard G. Lugar (R.-Ind.) former Christian Coalition strategist Ralph Reed, Governor George W. Bush (R-Texas), and Senator John McCain (R.-Arizona).
Other less-troubled and better-placed Republican political luminaries, however, those whose views carry greater strategic weight, are busily and eagerly and cynically whipping up anti-gay hysteria nationwide. They include Jim Nicholson, chairman of the Republican Party who says that the denunciations of homosexuality could be politically beneficial because "when people are honest about their views, most people respect them."
Chairman Nicholson said of last week's anti-gay Republican diatribes: "I'm not concerned about what any of these leaders have said. I agree with them."
Senator Jesse Helms (R.-N.C.) whose attacks on the gay and lesbian community have long been commonplace, said, "They start by pretending that it is just another form of love. Its sickening."
Such comments follow similar ones made by Senator Trent Lott, the Senate Majority Leader, and Senator Don Nickles, Assistant Senate Majority Leader, as well as Representative Dick Armey, Majority Leader in the U.S. Congress, Robert Black, Spokesman for the Texas Republican Party and Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma. All of these Republican strategists have, during the past two weeks, declared all-out war on gay and lesbian America, which, many observers believe, is destined to be the major theme in the G.O.P.'s bid for primacy in this year's November elections.
Camille Paglia's public pose appears eerily exultant as she reflects on the possible fate of gay men: "In a political cataclysm, they have usually been among the first to be purged," she writes.