The gays have long been engaged in the civil rights struggle and in particular to get the right to marriage or to a civil union, if you don’t want to use the word marriage, which produces the same effects as marriage. The conquest of civil rights recognized by law is a crucial first step towards a non-discriminating community, but remains nevertheless a formal step. You can realize this by observing the number of marriages or gay civil unions in countries where the law recognizes them. In general, only a very small minority of gay couples formalize their union in legal terms. On the other hand, in the majority of Western countries there is a general decline in the number of heterosexual marriages and a significant increase in free unions without any legal constraints.
It remains a fact to keep in mind: gay couples that choose not to use the tools that the law makes available to them to attribute civil effects to their union, very often do so because, even though the law declares the substantial equalization of the heterosexual marriages to homosexual ones or civil unions, public opinion remains on the back ground, and discrimination, though no longer on a legal basis, still exists at the social level, and gay people experience it also within their own families. The real core of the problem of equality of rights lies in social inertia, which means that what the law defines and the more enlightened society considers obvious ends up only to permeate very slowly the society as a whole.
The role of new generations in promoting a process of genuine social equality is extremely important because the concept of equality has many implications and the equality of sexual orientations is just a part of a problem that should be addressed in the whole. The role of the gay new generations is particularly delicate because films, television and the internet often offer a very marked and unrealistic picture of homosexuality, for ideological or commercial reasons.
You can nevertheless see very interesting gay books and films, which are in fact faithful reconstructions of real gay moments, because it is always to be remembered that saying “gay” means putting together, taking into account just a single feature, people who are really very different. Trying to transpose into a movie or novel the “gay” life as a general category means to make an ideological discourse. A good book or a good movie must tell the lives of real people, considered as individuals and not as a category.
What would then be the task of young gay men, who can be the true promoters of a new social culture? The answer is simple: who fights in order to make people recognize the normality of homosexuality doesn’t have to take ideological attitudes but simply has to live his own homosexual normality.
I try to explain it better: if it is right for gays to have a chance to meet with other gays, locking themselves in a ghetto that distinguishes “we” (gay) from “they” (straight) means favoring discrimination.
Let me make another example: a sign of the social mentality in the matter of equality of sexual orientation is found in the large libraries. In some large libraries there is a “gay” section; in others the gay-themed books are not placed in a separate department and, for example, among love novels there are also gay love novels and among Sociology books there are also those of sociology of homosexuality, etc.
Another crucial point, beyond the overcoming of the ghetto, is the normality of behaviors. In many countries, public coming out and family coming out are considered critical moments in the life of a gay guy because they are seen as formal and therefore risky moments, where guys are exposed to the judgment of others. It should be remembered that coming out is not a moral duty for anyone, but only an opportunity, if, and I emphasize the “if”, it can be achieved without substantial risks, otherwise it is a choice to avoid because it could be self-punishing. It should be borne in mind that often, in families who are not prepared for the idea of having a gay son, the coming out of the son may be disruptive for parents.
If we try to observe what happens to the straight guys, we can have a pattern of “normal” behavior that should be extended to gays. The straight guys don’t go by their fathers to say, “Daddy, I must tell you something very important!” just to tell them, “Daddy, I am straight!” The young straight guys begin to have straight behaviors from the earliest age, without officially declaring anything at all.
For gays, the road should be similar: attending other boys, taking them home, going out with a boy telling the truth to parents without any further specification, spending Saturday or Sunday with that boy, not answering too much questions.
Let me give an example: “But why do you always go out with that guy?” “Because he is very nice!” Gays often go to crisis because they have internalized the idea that being gay is somehow transgressive and that’s why gays need approvals and justifications.
While it is true that gays, albeit with rare exceptions, grow in highly straight-oriented environments, it’s also true that once they acquire awareness not only of their sexual orientation but of the dignity of any sexual orientation, they should automatically overcome the idea of being somehow subordinate, but this unfortunately does not happen because social pressures are very strong.
To clarify the concept, it’s useful to refer to the obsessive compulsive disorder, the so-called OCD. It is well known that some people, who have a tendency towards obsessive-compulsive character, can develop heavily-structured obsessive-compulsive behaviors around a well-defined thematic core that coincides with the content from which the person is most intimidated. For an old man suffering from an OCD, obsession can be linked to the idea that robbers can rob him and compulsive behaviors, in this case will concretize in armoring doors and windows, in the installation of latest generation anti-theft devices, and in hiding all valuables. Similarly, for a nun with OCD, obsession may be that of sin and compulsion may be that of confessing every day, always remaining with the perpetual idea of omitting something. For a heterosexual young man, obsession can easily be the obsessive fear of being gay and compulsions can manifest in an infinite series of tests (from tests of masturbation with gay fantasies to the use of gay pornography) that, of course, never provide any answer that can be considered definitive and clarifying.
So, if we observe the incidence of the gay-themed OCD, which I repeat is a typical disorder of 100% heterosexual guys, it is noted that gay-themed OCD is common in Southern Europe of Catholic tradition and in Latin America, while it is very less common in Protestant countries (where the opening to gay couples is much more common than in the Catholic Church.) In some countries in northern Europe, where serious and mandatory sexual education exists, from the earliest age, and where homosexuality is no longer a scarecrow for anyone, the gay-themed OCD, in practice, doesn’t exist at all.
This is a clear sign that negative social judgment on homosexuality deeply affects the straight guys themselves, and causes some of them an obsessive fear of being gay. If this is the effect on heterosexual guys, the result on gay guys is certainly not less. The classic example can be found in the effort that gay guys have to make to accept their being gay as a value, because the Catholic Church affirms in a peremptory way that homosexuality, or rather homosexual acts, are a serious sin against nature. It is certainly no coincidence that a lot of gays in the countries of southern Europe, even though they are substantially Christians, are nevertheless far from the Catholic Church.
Here comes another idea that generally finds a lot of favor among the gays, namely the idea that the diffusion of scientific thought would be extremely helpful in favoring greater rationality among the new generations.
In 1797, Francisco Goya called an etching of his “El sueño de la razón produce monstruos ” (the dream of reason generates monsters) and in fact, discriminations, which are totally irrational, are precisely the sign that reason has fallen asleep.
Awakening reason leads not to fear the ghosts, to rationally examine each statement before giving it some value. Mythical thought leads to the elation and the blackout of reason, rational thought leads on the contrary to sobriety and to the critical evaluation of events and ideas.
Even morality can be mythical or rational. A mythical morality is dogmatic, its content is stated in principle without any motivation. Rational morality is really such when it resists any criticism because it is endowed with objective evidence.
Personally, I believe that gays have often given impetus to deep innovations in the field of thought, favoring its openness to broader horizons and overcoming dogmatism. Philosophy, literature or art elaborated by a person are the result of the individual experience of that person, that is, they are somehow the daughters of individual psychology, and in a circular movement they tend to change the individual experience and the life itself of other people. That’s why commitment must be maximum: fighting ignorance and prejudice is not only useful for gays but it contributes to the improvement of society as a whole.