Here's a pertinent fact that we're all ignoring [with discussions about signifiers / signified]:Let's start with the word "homosexual". It looks like an ancient Greek expression [actually, it doesn't, it looks like a latin word, but let's move on], but word and concept are modern inventions: the expression was coined in 1869 by the Hungarian physician Karoly Maria Benkert (1824-1882). It took several decades for the word to become current. In ancient Greece, there never was a word to describe homosexual practices: they were simply part of aphrodisia, love, which included men and women alike.
- Citation. K J Dover "Greek Homosexuality" 1978 (dubious source, but where this all comes from)It was certainly shameful when a man with a beard remained the passive partner (pathikos) and it was even worse when a man allowed himself to be penetrated by another grown-up man. The Greeks even had a pejorative expression for these people, whom were called kinaidoi. They were the targets of ridicule by the other citizens, especially comedy writers. For example, Aristophanes (c.445-c.380) shows them dressed like women, with a bra, a wig and a gown, and calls them euryprôktoi, "wide arses"
Ok. So homophobia (or rather, culturally sensitive homophobia visa vie patriarchal leanings) isn't new. Let us all also please remember that "pornography" as a word was coined in the 19th C by people shocked at their cultural ancestors putting up a load of "shocking" mosaics. [Citation - just look into Pompeii, history of pornography and so on] - meaning that before this time, in Rome, you could quite happily have sexually explicit mosaics as your entrance hall.
Um, but it wasn't at first. The answer is, as ever, "Plato did it" - mainly to undermine Socrates' reputation, and replace it with his own version of philosophy (which is regarded as dualist and requiring a separation between the 'higher' forms and 'lower' base instincts. Eros Dikaios
(2000)Charles Huppert is a good start.
We can skip through the history all the way doing this... but essentially, you're all arguing over a division made a long time ago, that never really existed. One that actually didn't function in society: there has always been a split between the praxis and language here. A fucking great massive split. Lesbian poetry - check! (Citation Catullus - or you could go read online Who's who in gay and lesbian history: from antiquity to World War II, Volume 1
by Robert Aldrich, Garry Wotherspoon)
"You might as well reclaim the Swastika". Um. No. They're not all the same http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika
Obviously that's one of those cultural things: Tibet / India never had to "reclaim" it, as they viewed the European usage as a bastardisation anyhow.
Back to the planet Zog:
If we're not going to hold our hands up here (given that "gay" originates in labeling women as basically prostitutes, C18) and state that this has much more to do with our own particular society, and hang ups, than anything else, then meh. For example: 'we the people' consider Victorian Britain to be all stiff upper lip and sexual repression. Balls. Total and utter BALLS. Sexual experimentation, esp. with the influx of Indian culture that came with owning that part of the world, lead to massive amounts of kinky sex. Oscar Wilde, and so on. Homosexuality was common, and only imagined as a crime as it would 'threaten society'
. Public / private split, obviously, and goes right back to Plato.
Ahem. As I said a while back, and tried to suggest with the 12 yr old girl not ascribing the word "gay" to intentional subjects:
We're all being old fogeys here. Language has already
moved on. If you want to change this pattern, then change the society that creates it.
Thus why Swastikas in Central / East Asia really aren't a problem.
Yes, there are many people in Europe who view the American stance on sexuality as:
a) Puerile / Infantile
b) Deeply psychotic
c) Ironically closer to Islam than you would ever admit.
Run c) through a though process or two. Islam has more respect for women because it doesn't show them as objectified whores? Or... is not showing any kind of human sexuality but lots of violence a signifier of exactly the same thing. Just not with an AK47 in your hand? *shrug*