"The propulsion of revulsion" by Michael Alvear; "The last acceptable prejudice" by David Bowman

By Salon Staff
Published August 21, 2000 7:59PM (EDT)

Read "The propulsion of revulsion"

Read "The last acceptable prejudice"

Thanks for your review of "Homophobia: A History," and the reviewer's cogent and well-written words. My only quibble: It's listed under "Sex"; I thought I had written a "book."

Even if the book is about "sex," it's about more, and one of the attitudes that supports homophobia is the assumption that gay people, and books about us or by us, are really only "about" sex.

-- Byrne Fone

Just to set the record straight, the Jewish prohibition against male homosexuality is found in Leviticus and is not derived from the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. In the Jewish tradition, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because the people there were cruel and lacking in compassion, brutalizing any stranger who came to their town and punishing anyone who showed kindness to the needy and weak. The Sodomites' lack of basic human decency, not their sexual practices, brought about their destruction.

The depiction of homosexuality as practiced by the Greeks is quite disturbing and seems to be, rather than an expression of romantic love, a method for teaching young men their place in male society. The younger protigis become the sexual toys of their mentors, and are considered effeminate (oh the horror, the horror!) if they enjoy fellating their elders or being penetrated by them. Once the ordeal is over, they then get to assert their masculinity by abusing their young charges as they were once abused. Ah, the glory that was Greece! Ick.

And people make fun of the Jews for believing that men and women are of the same essence, created by G-d, and that it is our job, through marriage, to recreate that primal union of our sundered selves: "A man shall cleave to his wife and they will become one flesh." What a radical idea.

-- Earl Hartman

I've heard of lesbian invisibility, but this is ridiculous. Michael Alvear has managed to write an entire review of a book about homosexuality and homophobia without once mentioning love between women, let alone the ways in which it has been denied, erased and punished throughout history. Furthermore, he discusses without so much as a critical word the ancient (and not-so-ancient) idea that being the "passive" or penetrated party in a sex act is woman-like and thus repulsive and contemptible. It's quite a feat to ignore AND insult women so deftly within one article, but Alvear has managed to do it.

-- Rebecca Whisnant

After reading the interview with Byrne Fone I just had to pass on an astonishing realization that came to me while perusing the Web site for Stop Prisoner Rape (www.spr.org). It seems that a common result of the horrifying victimizations that commonly occur in our jails and prisons is an intense campaign of "queer bashing" that takes place after many of these guys are released. This results from the fact that the perpetrators of prison rape consider themselves to be heterosexual and, as a consequence, insist that their "punks" become their "wives" and refer to them as "bitches," etc. And so now, whenever I read about gay bashing or even extremes of homophobia, I wonder if that person has ever been incarcerated.

Oh, did I say "commonly occur"? It seems that over 45,000 unwanted sexual acts take place behind bars in the United States every day. This happens to over 100,000 different persons in prisons and over 250,000 in jails during the course of a year. Anyone you know?

-- Steve Murray

Isn't it interesting how the foundation of society's intolerance of homosexuality is "gender inappropriate" behavior?

Strangely enough, those who transgress gender stereotypes usually find themselves unaccepted by mainstream gay culture as well. You may be a bottom in the sack, but on the street? Be "a man." These still remain the biggest bogeymen of them all: effeminate men and masculine women.

It is worth noting that when such gender stereotypes began to be enforced by edict, the disempowerment and persecution of gay culture began. It's not over either. Just try living in San Francisco's gay community as an out "gender variant" and see what I mean.

The root of all evil toward gay people is the enforcement of stereotypical gender roles and the intolerance of those who cross the line, or blur that line by nature as in the case of intersexuals (hermaphrodites, etc.) like me.

-- Tasha L. Thompson

Salon Staff

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