Homosexual closets are social constructions rooted in hatred and they represent one of the many forms of violence our society inflicts on homosexual people, but closets accomplish much more. When homosexual males are in a closet, they are participating in the social factors developed to destroy gay youth, such as denying them role models. In all minority groups, youths need positive role models, but there are few successful Canadian gay people who are visible. In fact, there's only Svend Robinson who is well known, and other gay or lesbian MPs are in the closet. If they are ever "outed," as it recently happened to Tory MP Denis Pronovost, it is usually because they were accused of criminal activity. Pronovost was charged with sexual assault involving men, for having sex with underage boys, and for paying for sex with a minor. (64)
Similarly, New Brunswick's former Premier, Richard Hatfield was in the closet, meaning that little to nothing is known about his alleged homosexual life and relationships. Few people behave perfectly, however, and November, 1992, news reports were alleging that Hatfield had patted a young male's buttocks, and that a hug given to a male had a sexual connotation. As I encountered these allegations, I wondered about the conclusions people would make about an individual based only on the reported information. Surely, if it wasn't for Svend Robinson being "out of the closet," Pronovost's "outing" and the Hatfield allegations could only confirm the traditional myths about homosexual males. This happens when most gay males are kept in the closet and the only ones reported on are being charged with crimes or convicted.
The socially enforced closet certainly has very negative consequences, and a similar set up exists in education systems. When I quit teaching in 1980, it was because I wanted a loving relationship with a male. I didn't want to have a closeted life where I would be having anonymous or near-anonymous sex to protect my secret, a life of using male prostitutes, or having a love relationship in hiding where fear would rule our lives and we would be living like rats. I didn't want to pretend I was heterosexual which, for some gays, even involves marrying a woman. Two months after I quit teaching, I met a male, the feelings were wonderful, and we lived together for twelve years. Our neighbors knew we are gay simply because we lived together.
In education, the 'law' all Alberta gay and lesbian teachers abide by is the one stating that gay and lesbian youth will not have openly gay teachers as positive role models. I could have been such a model but doing this was impossible. Because I didn't want to be a part of this 'game' and wanted to respect myself, my only option was to quit. This act, however, has implication for gay and lesbian teachers in school systems, especially if we have to-consider what kinds of gay and lesbian teachers would stay in such a situation. The answer to this query may be frightening, even though all gay teachers would not be in a negative role model category. Some are living in great moral pain while others may be enjoying the situation for a number of reasons.
Last fall, a 21-year-old gay male reported on his experience with a closeted Calgary high school teacher who recognized the boy's homo-likelihood, obtained a confirmation, and then gave him an option. If he had sex with his teacher, he would make a very good mark in the course. If he didn't, he would get a low mark. The boy was in a bind. Such things are never discussed in schools and he didn't want to make an issue of it because this could have "outed" him. To solve his problem, he transferred to another high school, leaving this teacher to continue his harassment activities in an environment dominated by silence about homosexual realities. As we have learned with respect to the sexual abuse of children and women, environments dominated by silence always favor the abusers.
In our education systems, students are most likely to discover that a teacher is gay as it happened in the above case, which only reinforces negative stereotypes. The same also applies when students discover that teachers like James Schleppe are gay. This fact was revealed because Schleppe was murdered and information related to the case was reported in the media where it was inferred that he used male prostitutes. In the early 1980's, in another case, a gay teacher was fired because he admitted to having sex with a male in a park. The reason this fact came to light was because, after he had sex, he left the park but the other male died. Where, however, are the gay teachers who could be offsetting the negative opinion of gay males resulting from such outings? Where are the gay and lesbian teachers who could be positive role models for gay and lesbian youth?
In 1991, I discovered that not one gay or lesbian teacher in Calgary schools had ever approached school officials with the concern they should have for gay and lesbian youth, not even with respect to their high risk for suicide. Yet, many know about this, but they are in a situation where, even if colleagues may know they are gay, the spoken / unspoken rule is: they are not to make their sexual orientation an issue and they will be tolerated only if they know "their place." All gays or lesbians who occupy upper position in the school system also follow the same rule, and teachers generally follow the law. To ever describe homosexuality and homosexuals in positive terms could cause serious problems.
The above situation was not created by education authorities who said: Let's plan a system which inflicts maximum damage on gay and lesbian youth. We'll make sure that their self-esteem is kept at the lowest possible level so that their suicide rate is kept at a maximum level. For good measure, if they ever hear about a gay teacher, we'll also set it up so that the teacher fits the negative stereotypes. But we don't have to worry about positive role models surfacing. After all, there's probably not a self-respecting gay teacher in our school system. This highly effective lethal plan, doesn't exist as a conscious effort. It's more like what people often call "the system," almost as if nothing can be done to change "the system." This is incorrect and asking teachers a few special questions soon produces the realization that "the system" is "them" - working collectively with each one doing their part - and they all know what they are doing to gay and lesbian kids.
Many gays and lesbians in our society are closeted because they fear the abuse or even the violence which may be inflicted by their own colleagues. For example, last winter, a CTV "Shirley" program focused on gay and lesbian police officers in Canada. Only one openly gay policeman from Toronto could be found. Another closeted gay officer was behind a screen and his voice was altered. He was terrified of what some of his fellow officers would do to him if they discovered his secret. The openly gay officer mentioned that other policemen would sometimes avoid coming to his assistance if he was in a dangerous situation, and this is expected. Gays and lesbians throughout North America regularly report that they were verbally and even physically abused by homohating police officers. For the program, an openly lesbian Canadian police officer could not be found and a lesbian officer from the Chicago Police Department was invited to appear on the program.
Homophobia also exists in places like fire departments as verified when I met a Calgary fireman who was gay and getting a divorce because he finally told his wife the truth about himself. He was also quitting his "enjoyed" career, and giving up many accrued benefits, because he was terrified that his fellow firemen would discover the truth about his sexual orientation. This fear exists because, in many of the macho professions, gay bashing has been very acceptable. The fact that he quit his career, however, and that I quit mine, essentially reflects some of the many hidden highly abusive situations gay and lesbian people have been experiencing in our "traditionally" abusive and violent society.
Living in the closet always reminds a gay person of our society's hatred for him/her, and what gay people do - participate in - when in the closet often creates more self-hatred and denial, because they have to avoid the pain created when they are abusing gay and lesbian youth as they were once abused. Generally, gay people are closeted because they want to succeed in our society and this is their priority. Success often depends on being a normal person, meaning that they are not to be homosexual. Even getting married may be necessary, especially for upper level promotions. Gay males who marry women, however, are inflicting violence on women, except when their wives know about their homosexual orientation and have agreed to the arrangement. Unfortunately, most women don't know about their husband's socially imposed closeted status and they are now being exposed to the danger of becoming HIV infected. Often enough, these men don't use condoms when having sex with their wives because doing this would "out" them, unless they have exceptional lying abilities and very naive wives.
Our society's traditional anti-homosexual disposition is obviously creating some homosexual "monsters," and monstrous situations come in many forms. The situation existing for gay and lesbian youth in our schools suggests that our school systems are highly abusive "monsters." All closeted gay and lesbian teachers are also "monsters" for denying gay youth positive role models, and the same applies because of their silence with respect to the "homosexuality" factor in the youth suicide and school dropout problems. Unfortunately, we have yet to consider the abuse of gays and lesbians to be "monstrous acts" because we have a history of thinking that all these abuses are highly moral acts.
Monsters often create monsters, as the existence of Jeffrey Dahmer reveals, because such a person could have only been created in a racist and homophobic society. Dahmer is a homosexual who hated homosexuals and non-whites, chose his victims accordingly, and was highly sexist. For example, he tried to destroy part of a victim's brain in the hope that he could make him into a perfect slave, which is exactly what macho males in prisons impose on other males by using other forms of violence. Dahmer, however, is not the only monster we have created who has sought to destroy his own kind. In the early 1950s, the infamous McCarthy Communists / homosexual witch-hunts were happening in the United States, and they were also happening in Canada. Our government continued to hunt down homosexuals in the civil service until the late 1960s. The objective was to ruin their careers and to replace them with heterosexuals: the heterosexual men's traditional version of "affirmative action."
In the last 20 years, the existence of an interesting group of socially created homosexual "monsters" became better known to the average person, although many gay people were always aware of these individuals. Money (1988) labeled them "malignant bisexuals." These males sought great power and status in society and understood that hating and punishing homosexuals was always perceived to be a reflection of the "highest morality." Therefore, one of the best "closet" situation available included their participation in the destruction of their own kind; it is now strongly suspected that Senator Joseph McCarthy who headed the American homosexual witch-hunts in the early 1950s was also homosexual. His prosecuting attorney, Roy Cohn, was definitely gay, and its is strongly suspected that J. Edgar Hoover was gay because he lived with the FBI's number-two man, Clyde Tolsen, for more than 40 years. When Hoover died, he "left the bulk of his $551,500 estate to Tolsen" (79: 47). The movie, CITIZEN COHN, which was aired on HBO in September, 1992, made it clear that Hoover and Tolsen were lovers. In the 1987 book, THE GAY BOOK OF LISTS by Leigh W. Rutledge, McCarthy, Hoover, and Francis Cardinal Spellman, (who was anti-gay and supported McCarthy's abuses), were described and listed under the title: 3 MEN THE GAY MOVEMENT DOESN'T WANT TO CLAIM.
At the time few people knew that the hunters of "dangerous", "evil," and "morally weak" homosexuals were themselves homosexual. If, however, anyone fitted negative homosexual stereotypes, it was these self-hating homo-hunters considered to be "morally righteous" because they were reflecting our society's traditional morality; this was the type of morality also used to make the desired destruction of all Native cultures appear to be righteous. We hated homosexuals and behaved accordingly, and Roy Cohn continued his abuses of homosexual people up to his death from AIDS in 1986. He had become very powerful, was very promiscuous, needed to have sex with a male at least once a day, and he could afford to have four or five young male prostitutes on his payroll so that his sexual needs would be met (36: 364-365). He was strongly opposed to equal rights for gays (36: 415), and was totally against the idea of having openly gay teachers in public schools (94: 239). Cohn had been good friends with Cardinal Spellman who was often entertained on Cohn's yacht.
Spellman's hidden life may be summed up with: "There were stories about his seducing altar boys and choir boys. He had his favorites among handsome priests and he was known to have lovers outside the clergy" (36: 280). Publicly, however, "Spellman's moral concerns were almost always of sexual nature ... He was a rabid public moralist..." He was quoted as saying that Broadway "would drag the name of New York down to be synonymous with Sodom and Gomorrah." "At times Spellman insisted that others be punished for innocuous sexual fare" (20: 151-152). On the cover of his biography, THE AMERICAN POPE, Spellman is described: "No Catholic in America had more power, held it longer, or used it more ruthlessly." He died in 1967 at the age of 78 and Gore Vidal, who knew Spellman was gay, summed up his life: "The serious crimes of Spellman were not sexual" (20: 153), leaving it implied that his greatest sin was a lethal form of hypocrisy.
When we learn about individuals like Spellman, Cohn, Hoover, McCarthy, and others, it's usually after the fact, and we may conclude that they were horrible people. Yet, they were only playing by the established social rules if they wanted to be successful. They were living in a society which stated: If we discover your homosexual orientation, there's no hope. You're dead! Still today, this is the policy of one of Canada's largest employers, trainer of skills, and creator of the stepping stone which leads to many very highly placed civil service jobs for high ranking retired officers: The Canadian Military.
Our traditionally morbid "affirmative action only for heterosexual males" society has been a monstrous and highly abusive system, at least from a gay perspective given that limited opportunities were purposefully inflicted on gay and lesbian people. To avoid the plethora of punishments, the "closet" was mandatory and it was to be a good "closet" because, up to 1989, the Canadian Military (like its American counterpart) was actively witch-hunting closeted gay males and lesbians within its ranks. The hunting has now stopped but numerous punishments apply if the homosexual orientation of a military person is known. For example, they may not be given a promotion, no matter how well they excel in their work. [At editing time - Nov. 1992 - the Canadian situation had changed as the result of a supreme court ruling, but it's expected that discrimination against gays and lesbians will continue in less overt forms.]
Our homohatred also causes other problems such as creating countless males - "monsters" - who are in a psychological closet, have sex with males, and always deny they are in any way homosexual or bisexual. This is done to avoid the total destruction of their self-esteem intimately related to socially learned perceptions. Ultra macho males in prisons accomplish this by having a belief system causing them to degrade other males to a subhuman level. In accordance to men's traditional view of women, the inferior sex slave status of the males they rape, use, and abuse is deemed to be "the female status." Once males have been magically turned into women, dominant males then consider their homo-sexual activities with these women (also equates to gay-identified males) to then be "normal" and "heterosexual."
There are, however, other ways that similar types of defenses against the homosexual self-label can be articulated. Money (1988) describes these males to be "homophobic, gay-bashing hoodlums who ... pick up or are picked up by a gay male, have sex with him, and they exorcise their own homosexual guilt by assaulting and maybe killing him" (65: 110). This phenomena is a well known part of North American gay history sometimes written about as an experienced part of life. For example, Tennessee Williams and a gay friend were the victims of two sailors in this category. "Brutal sex" was inflicted and enjoyed by the assailants who then viciously assaulted the gay males (91: 97).
Money labeled this behavior the "exorcist syndrome" which is a version of the "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" nature manifested by people like Cardinal Spellman and Roy Cohn. The phenomena is also similar to a "split personality" situation. Money explains that one of the personalities is "the grand inquisitor," as McCarthy and Cohn had become in a spectacular way, and it needs to punish the homosexual part of their 'personality' (65: 108-109). This internal war is also projected outward causing these (pathological?) socially created monsters to harm other gay males by ruining their careers or, as other males will do, punishing them may include physical assaults and even murder.
In my community there existed a less significant "malignant bisexual" who, in his early teens, was demonstrating his evolving personality. He had an informal club and young boys could only join if they performed oral sex on him and his friend. At the time I was only eight or nine years old and a new friend of mine was a member of the club. By then, however, I had acquired the wisdom to know that sex - with rewards attached - is usually abusive sex; for me sex was something shared between friends. By the age of 18, this male had joined the Canadian Military and, on a trip back home, he was reporting on what he and his friends had done to "a queer" in Montreal. This male had performed oral sex on them and they ended the encounter by assaulting and robbing him. [The club did not last long given that only one younger boy had been conned into being a member, but it did produce important information needed to understand the male who would later seek out gay-identified males to do what he had once enjoyed with a younger boy.]
From James Baldwin's life files: "On every street corner I was called a faggot. This meant that I was despised, and, however horrible this is, it is clear. What was not so clear at that time of my life was what motivated the men and boys who mocked and chased me; for, if they found me when they were alone, they spoke to me very differently - frightening me, I must say, into a stunned and speechless paralysis. For when they were alone, they spoke very gently and wanted to take me home and make love ... The bafflement and the pain this caused in me remain beyond description" (11). Unfortunately, North American gay-identified boys are rarely, if ever, educated about the world where they will usually be abused and confused, and the ones to most benefit from this are all the older males seeking to use/abuse them in many ways, often enough sexually.
From the life files of an African-American gay male who only sought out married males to have sex with: He appeared on an Oprah Winfrey program aired in September, 1992, and stated that, as a rule, he recognizes a potential sex partner when the male is visibly and loudly homophobic. He did not explain why this is so but it can be assumed that such men have "homosexuality" on their minds and that they are also troubled by this inner reality; over the years I have met many similar males. On the same program, Oprah noted that, from the information given to her by the many gay males acquaintances who reported on their commonly occurring sexual experiences with married men, it's obvious that many married men are having sex with men.
In 1980, when I met Richard, the person I love and lived with, he told me about the most horrible part of his life in a Winnipeg high school in the late 1970s. One male did his best to make his life as miserable as possible. The high probability that he was homosexual was later confirmed when Richard saw him in a gay bar. He came over to talk but Richard was disgusted by his presence, and even more disgusted by his desire to have sex. The world Richard had believed in when he was in high school was not what it appeared to be, and other gay males have reported similar experiences. On May 1, 1992, I was at Lesbian and Gay Youth Calgary where I met a 21-year-old gay male who went to school in Calgary. He reported that he was having sex with males in different secluded parts of his high school and that he once walked into a situation where 8 or 9 males were involved in oral and anal sex. He also noted that the very homophobic male who gave him the most problems in high school was later encountered in a Calgary gay bar.
A fascinating aspect of the war waged against gays in our society is the observation that it is often (always?) being waged by repressed homosexuals who may not be homosexually active, or repressed closeted homosexuals who are having sex with males and hate themselves. The targets may be other closeted homosexuals, but the victims are more often visible "out of the closet" gay males. These wars, however, would not exist if our society would stop its highly effective teaching of anti-homosexual attitudes and homohatred which produces many "closets" and all the horrors being described. When we teach hatred, we can expect to reap hatred, and its dividend: SOCIAL VIOLENCE.
To understand ourselves better, it is very educational to take a cold look at our history of abusing people. Hitler always used established perceptions of morality to sell the proposed abuses of people, and a similar situation existed with respect to black slavery. White supremacists had rationalized the idea that they were doing Black people a favor by having them as slaves! Our abuses of Native people was also based on immorality. The objective was to make them into people just like us because we believed they were seriously lacking. At least Hitler was sane and knew that trying to make Jewish people into Nazis was impossible. We were nonetheless claiming to be moral just like all people today who hate gay people and teach such hatred also believe , often in association with the claim to being the most moral in society. Given the evidence, it should therefore not be difficult to agree with the well known maxim noted by Money (1988) in reference to "malignant bisexuals" and other frauds such as Jimmy Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and others: "Scratch the surface of the self-righteous and find the devil" (65: 110).
The study of homo-history leads to the repeated realization that the most morbid people in society usually belong to the group considered to be the most moral and righteous. The wisdom acquired from my history has also permitted me to quickly detect what many people don't see. For example, when we hear highly moral ones say: "If we ever accept homosexuality, or stop teaching hatred for homosexuality, this will cause a return to Sodom and Gomorrah and everyone will be homosexual!" we usually don't hear the statement being made about themselves. They would have become homosexual if they had grown up in a world not rabidly anti-homosexual. They then would have accepted their homosexual orientation instead of becoming the near-pathological malignant "projection" cases they are presenting themselves to be.
Given that "being homosexual" is nothing more than the discovery and acceptance of one's homosexual nature - as all the experts on the subject (gays and lesbians) report to be the case - all the people who fear and oppose the idea of having openly gay teachers are revealing something about themselves. They believe that homosexuality is "contagious," and that somebody can become homosexual if they have a gay teacher (Should nuns therefore be forbidden to teach boys?) A reason why someone would believe this is based on personal experiences, such as having homosexual desires but denying their homosexual orientation simply because their desires are not acted upon. Yet these males know they would enjoy having sex with a male and that, if this occurred, they would then say: "I've become a homosexual."
It may also be possible, and common, that such repressed homosexuals had homosexual experiences in their youth and are mistakenly attributing the existence of their homosexual desires to these experiences. The same could apply in cases of childhood and early adolescent sexual abuse perpetrated by a man, and the boy then has homosexual fantasies. Sexual identity problems are very common for these boys and related observations had led to belief that the sexual abuse of boys by men causes homosexuality. Most researchers have not yet suspected that these common causal misattribution problems are probably related to an interesting selection process used by men who seek boys, their tactics being quite different than the ones used at the Mount Cashel Orphanage which was more like a prison. These men usually select certain types of boys, the choice often being made after observing the boy's interaction pattern with others and his body language. As one man explained on a Calgary television news program, he had always picked boys well, except for the one mistake turning him into a convicted sex offender. From his statements, it was obvious that the selection process was related to detecting features often deemed to be pre-homosexual attributes. Therefore, it was the homosexual orientation of these boys implicated in the often reported sexual identity problems, not the sexual experience they had with a man.
Unfortunately, most people don't
even know the basic of sexual identity formation, mostly because we are
exposed to so little quality education on human sexuality. People are therefore
left with their myths, such as blaming their homosexual desires on an early
homosexual experience, or on gay males thought to be responsible for this,
and they may also use the infamous "devil" metaphor to explain the
homosexual desires they are fighting against. In their minds, a homosexual
fantasy or dream is synonymous with the work of "Satan," against whom they
must fight. The equation between "homosexuality" and "the devil," however,
is as dangerous as was the equation between women and the devil existing
during the Inquisition. When a war is declared against any group, there
will always be a very high level of social violence and numerous casualties.