It is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form of affection. There is nothing unnatural about it. It is intellectual, and it repeatedly exists between an elder and a younger man, when the elder man has intellect, and the younger man has all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him. That it should be so the world does not understand (Oscar Wilde).
The world did not, and does not, understand. How curious that the man identified with bringing homosexuality into the public sphere in modern times had a specific intellectual agenda to broadcast with respect to love. The public attempts to reduce the man’s reputation to the level of the gutter were met with references to poetry, philosophy and spirituality - to eros. And to where, might we ask, has this intellectual quotient disappeared?
I begin this entry knowing that I will displease some, but I have repeatedly been asked to write upon it, and can shirk the responsibility no longer. I wish, at the very least, to get one thing straight: men have always sought sexual intimacy with other men, but only very recently has this had anything at all to do with identity. Nothing within the pages of Being Manly is exclusionary, precisely because I believe that being manly is within the purview of any man, regardless of his physical persuasions, if he gives the matter due attention.
People have become very confused in recent years about what homosexuality means. Literally, it defines a sexual preference and nothing more. Unfortunately, a great burden has been placed upon men who desire other men to conform to a cultural standard, which sweeps up their sexuality with a gender identity, namely being ‘gay’ or ‘queer’. I have seen this happen: the public emergence as homosexual seems to entail a wholesale transformation of lifestyle, manners, morals and speech (especially intonation). I confess to being bewildered by this.
There are, within this culture, realities that sit at odds with what I tentatively call common decency. Please don’t mistake this sentence as prudish, bigoted or hypocritical. To my mind, it is just as lax and impolite for a heterosexual person to behave with wanton abandon, marking notches on the bedpost and publicly announcing, even flaunting, his promiscuity. I refuse to associate with straight men like this for they show a complete disregard for those who place discretion as a cornerstone of propriety. Unfortunately, just as in the case of the justly maligned macho man, many gay men feel an expectation to behave in this way – it is something of a cultural standard – and it does a great discredit to the many men who are sober, faithful partners (or who at least would appreciate fidelity), and who believe in the qualitative value of relationships, the bonds of love, and all the signs of an upstanding man in modern society. Discretion is the better part of valour. All men would do well to remember this, regardless of with whom they care to sleep.
Therefore, let us talk of love, come one, come all; but let us talk no more of unclothed activities, for they are and should be matters of the private life.