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The tyranny of queer theory Even if you're gay, being monogamous is seen as reactionary — if not outright bigoted

Gone to the dogs: pup play devotees at Pride in Toronto (Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Gone to the dogs: pup play devotees at Pride in Toronto (Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)


October 15, 2020   6 mins

With hindsight, it probably was bad manners to bring a male one-night stand back to the lesbian commune where I lived.

At the time, in Noughties London, I really believed that what I was doing was radical and creative: embracing fluidity, self-construction and impermanence, against the rigid constraints of a single-sex environment and the gender binary.

I blame some of this insufferability on queer theory, whose ideas I absorbed as an undergraduate. From (among others) Judith Butler I learned that the identity categories of sex and sexuality are imposed on us by oppressive outside forces, while (confusingly) also being open to constant individual reinvention.

In this worldview ‘gay’ and ‘straight’ aren’t stable categories, and neither are ‘man’ and ‘woman’, except inasmuch as they’re imposed by un-hip Forces of Bad: the oppressive ‘cisheteropatriarchal status quo’. And the only way to stick two fingers up at this dread hegemon is to mess about with the categories. Hence feeling so pleased with myself, 15 years ago, for doing something as ground-breakingly subversive as calling myself a lesbian, moving in with a bunch of lesbians and then hooking up with a man.

I share this not especially stellar episode not just as belated apology to my ex-housemates, but because since then queer theory has eaten culture. Everyone’s subverting identity categories now. The abbreviation ‘LGB’, which seemed more than expansive enough in the late nineties when I started university, has ballooned to ‘LGBTQQIAAP’ with activists still pushing for further inclusions. Facebook offers an ever-lengthening list of genders to put on your profile (71 at the last count). And the rainbow flag associated with the Pride marches has multiplied, with at least 24 different ones now available to wave, including a ‘Pup Pride’ one for people who like to roleplay as dogs.

Anyone boring enough to simply accept the identity assigned them by the ‘heteropatriarchy’ is marked with the (supposedly descriptive but really derogatory) epithet ‘cishet’. This is a mark of ignominy, as one Reddit user made clear, asking: “What is a ‘cishet’ and why is it bad?’. “I keep seeing the word cishet in the context of tumblr and my SJW type acquaintances,” the post explains, “usually with them saying that the cishets cause all of their problems and need to die.” One reply cuts to the chase: using cishet is “like derisively calling someone else a ‘normie’.”

In this ‘anti-normie-ism’ we hear echoes not just of the name, but also the ideas, contained in the Reformation-era Christian heresy of ‘antinomianism’. This doctrine held that salvation is available solely through faith and divine grace, and true believers are under no obligation to follow rules, laws or traditions. While antinomianism was rejected by mainstream Protestantism, it ended up having the last laugh: for today the heretics are those who resist the wholesale attack on rules, norms and traditions that characterises anti-normie-ism.

Far from being condemned as heresy, like antinomianism, anti-normie-ism is celebrated in the annual festival of Pride Month, during which millions join in a peculiarly modern ritual of simultaneously celebrating and subverting shared identity. Big brands fall over themselves to monetise the festival.

This moment, and movement, has been some time in the making. In 1793, having defeated the Ancien Régime, the victors in the French Revolution set out to sweep away all the irrational and traditionalist remnants of reactionary Catholicism in favour of a new, atheistic religion of rationality. To this end, they held a Festival of Reason in Notre Dame; where the altar had stood, a papier-mâché mountain was raised on which an actress dressed as Liberty bowed to the flame of Reason.

In that moment, anti-normie-ism dispensed even with the polite antinomian fiction of having God on direct-dial as justification for binning the rules. The Catholic political theorist Adrian Vermeule characterises the subsequent history of our fight against normie-dom, and in favour of individual freedom and self-expression, as continuing the tradition of that 1793 Festival. The Festival of Reason is ongoing: the old must be smashed, traditions swept away, sacred items burned and the march of progress celebrated, a dynamic and relentless drive which “constantly, and at an ever-increasing tempo, disrupts deeply-cherished traditions among its subject populations”.

But over time, as once-edgy positions become mainstream, the Festival’s appetite turns cannibal. Having solidified into social norms, progressive victories become in turn targets for demolition. And this is the position in which many formerly progressive gay and lesbian people find themselves today.

The onward march of same-sex equality has been steady over the last half-century: gay sex was decriminalised in 1967, when the Conservative peer Lord Arran explained that his reason for sponsoring the Sexual Offences Act was his two life goals “to stop people buggering badgers, and to stop people badgering buggers”. The same-sex age of consent was 21 when I was a teenager in the Nineties, and is now equalised at 16 with the heterosexual one. Thanks to another Conservative, David Cameron, same-sex marriage today has the same civil standing as the heterosexual sort.

But the march of progress hasn’t stopped. The word queer, once a term of abuse, was first reclaimed by gay and lesbian people — and is now the territory of anyone, including heterosexuals, who don’t want to be shamed as cishet.

suggested reading
The tyranny of queer theory

By Sarah ditum

The actor Nico Tortorella, for example, has been in what to me looks suspiciously like a heterosexual relationship for some 14 years, with the ‘lifestyle entrepreneur and LGBTQ activist’ Bethany Meyers. The couple even married in 2018. But Tortorella identifies as non-binary and prefers to be referred to as ‘they’ and ‘them’, while Meyers identifies as a lesbian. Thus despite having an (in the biological sense) entirely ordinary heterosexual relationship, Tortorella and Meyers are celebrated as a ‘queer couple’.

And their embrace of polyamory means that Tortorella and Meyer arguably are more anti-normie than of those stodgy gay people who prefer dull old monogamy. And Meyer’s re-interpretation of ‘lesbian’ is expansive enough to survive a 14-year relationship with a biological male, a fact that surely queers our understanding of sex and gender far more radically than those reactionary homos who insist on excluding people from their pool of potential partners on the grounds of anatomy.

Thus, by queering ‘queer’, the new heteroqueers have wrestled the baton of queerness from those lesbian and gay people who might once have been targeted for ‘queer-bashing’. And thanks to the ongoing Festival of Reason, the exclusively same-sex-attracted sexuality that launched the whole ‘queer rights’ enterprise has in turn come to seem conservative, if not outright bigoted.

My late great-aunt epitomised this kind of non-queer gayness. She was a staunch Tory and local councillor, wore trouser suits and kept her hair short, and lived her entire adult life with the same ‘friend’, in a relationship that was indistinguishable from any other petit-bourgeois marriage except that both of them were women. They went on cruises, finished each other’s sentences, were pillars of the local community — and didn’t have a ‘rainbow’ bone in their bodies.

She died around the same time as I was misbehaving in houseshares, and I never discussed my own reflections on queer theory with her. I wish I had, as it would have given me much to think about. For my great-aunt was many things: a public servant, a citizen, a lesbian (though I don’t think she would have used that word) but one thing her devoted relationship absolutely wasn’t was ‘queer’.

And this in turn gives us a clue to the nature of ‘queerness’ as it’s celebrated today. “Love is love”, claims the Pride slogan, merrily sweeping aside millennia of philosophical and theological thought on the ways love may in fact differ from love. In his influential 1936 theological work Agape and Eros, for example, the Swedish bishop Anders Nygren unpicks the distinction between eros, the ego-centric, acquisitive and desire-based version of love first delineated in Plato’s Symposium, and agape, the Christian understanding of a love based in self-giving and a willingness to sacrifice self for others.

To complicate things further, the ancient Greeks had three words for love: eros, agape and philia, love for friends and family. Nygren argued that over time, even in Christian theology, agape became subordinate to eros — that is, to desire; while Nygren was criticised by other theologians for himself ignoring philia. But today, the juggernaut of Queer Theory, for all that it claims the mantle of ‘love’, ignores both philia and agape. Instead, ‘love’ in the queer theory sense is pure eros: desire.

And this is the bait-and-switch at the heart of queer theory. Decent, compassionate mainstream people hear ‘love’ and think of those same-sex couples they know whose lives embrace all three — the passionate eros, the sociable philia and selfless agape. Few in modern Britain would disagree that these can and do flourish just as well in same-sex as opposite-sex partnerships. Having won sympathy by gesturing at philia and agape, though, the juggernaut of queerness aggressively promotes only an eros increasingly impatient of any constraint.

This means monogamists of all orientations go under the bus: for inasmuch as monogamy constrains desire, it’s by definition un-queer. We see this reflex, for example, in the brickbats flung at too-monogamous-to-be-queer Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg; or sneery terms like ‘homonormativity’. And all such jibes share the same loathing of any social structure that calls not for unchained desire but fellow-feeling (philia) or self-sacrifice (agape).

And in this way, the political campaign for gay acceptance has been colonised, cannibalised and ultimately displaced by a consumer marketing campaign for the limitless expansion of desire. It was 2004 when the Pride march in London stopped being classified as a political protest and became a ‘parade’; that change, questioned by many LGB people at the time, marks the decisive shift in balance of power from gay acceptance to anti-normie-ism. And this is a problem for gay normies.

For as Vermeule points out, the Festival’s inexorable appetite foments “unrest, animosity, and eventually political reaction and backlash”. And indeed, evidence suggests that support for LGBTQ rights has peaked and is now falling again. The marketing campaign for unchained eros is today actively undermining public acceptance of same-sex relationships.

The campaign to de-stigmatise same-sex relationships was a huge gain for human dignity. I don’t want to see that reversed by the oncoming reaction against our now established religion of anti-normie-ism. The only beneficiaries of the takeover are brands selling rainbow leisurewear in Pride Month. But the front-line casualties, when the reaction begins in earnest, will be those gay normies who only ever wanted to be left in peace.


Mary Harrington is a contributing editor at UnHerd.

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Derek Bryce
Derek Bryce
3 years ago

It is strange indeed for LGB people who fought the good fight for equality back in the day (the 90s and early noughties in my case) to be turned upon by those who, not satisfied by the space we opened up to express their own identities, wish to trash our relationships and denigrate us as ‘cis’, ‘TERF’ or ‘normies’.

I’ll accept that as I age, new identities and sensibilities sometimes pass me by. I’m accepting of them, by and large. I remember a couple of years back sitting with my younger, heterosexual, brother on a flight within Canada. He was leafing through the inflight magazine and came upon an article on gay-friendly destinations and asked me, ‘LGBQT2S? I get what that means up to 2S, what’s that big brother?’ After some gentle, good humoured faux offence at his assumption that I would know, I had to confess I’d no idea. Upon landing, we consulted our phones and discovered it refers to ‘2 Spirit’, a term encompassing the traditional role of 3rd gender people within First Nations in Canada and the US. I’m absolutely fine with that, seeing it as part of a growing awareness of the complexity of human sexuality and its expression in various cultures. In fact – confession time – in the ribald bacchanal of my 90s gay youth, I used to joke that LGB ought to changed to LGKTS, with the KTS standing for ‘kidding themselves’. I matured, learned, and my views changed. I like that.

However, I don’t understand the sheer ahistoricism of those younger folk who sneer at the experiences of people of my generation and those before who literally fought to achieve the conditions which give scope to other queer identities today. I guess I was too busy back in the 90s being beaten almost to death by a gang of neo-Nazis; participating in one of the first gay pride marches in Calgary, Canada where I lived at the time (not a gay-friendly place in them thar days!), during which I was spat at and verbally abused by passersby, to give much thought that the acceptance of same-sex attraction and relationships I was fighting for would, 25 years later, be considered exclusionary and cis-normative (or whatever) by some.

My partner and I are pretty content, low key, middle aged guys who simply wish to enjoy the acceptance that we’ve gained and wouldn’t dream of standing in the way of the ever multiplying ‘queer’ identities that that’s enabled, even if we don’t always understand them. It has come as some surprise, though, to discover that, because we are two blokes who came together in a monogamous relationship because we fancy other blokes, we are now considered ‘transphobic’ by some because transmen weren’t included in our constellation of potential partners. May I simply offer this appeal to those Woke and Trans folk leading the assault on our relationships: by all means identify, live and love openly as you please but respect the right of those of us LG ‘cis-normies’ to not be obliged to plunge headfirst into your abstract ladygardens or to be rogered by your metaphorical schlongs. Other than that, chill out, accept, respect our contribution to what you have and get on with finding your own route to happiness without denigrating that of others.

Mike SampleName
Mike SampleName
3 years ago
Reply to  Derek Bryce

Your experience and pov mirrors quite a few of my LG friends. But better-written, and worded without any of the rantier elements they normally include!

ericaconrick
ericaconrick
3 years ago
Reply to  Derek Bryce

Actually, Derek, it is the LGB people who are doing the turning and betraying the roots of the movement. Trans people were central to the original movement. By some accounts, a trans woman named Marsha P. Johnson began the Stonewall Riot by throwing the “shot glass heard round the world.” In most accounts a second trans woman, Sylvia Rivera, threw the first Molotov cocktail. A third trans woman, Miss Major, was the focus of much of the violence outside the Stonewall Inn that evening. Without transgender people there would have been no riot, no movement, no gay marriage and no Ozzie and Ozzie bores like yourselves.You have the history wrong, Derek, and that’s sadly typical for Self-Identified “normal” gays like yourselves. By 1973, the year that the (properly-named) LGBTQ movement staged the first mass rally for gay rights in NYC’s Washington Square Park, organizers requested that Sylvia Rivera not speak. Anyone whose heart does not break upon seeing her plea for inclusion, “I have been beaten, I have had my nose broken, I have been thrown in jail!….I lost my job, I lost my apartment for gay liberation”¦ and you all treat me this way?” in front a jeering crowd calling her many of the names that people here on Unherd still call us trans people has no heart to break.But what’s this to you, Derek? Or to Mary Harrington for that matter? You have your middle class respectability, your cozy lives where nobody bothers you and the comfort needed to lash out at anyone less fortunate. Meanwhile, trans people suffer from every social ill (high suicide rate, unemployment, drug addiction etc.) imaginable to a degree many times more than those like you. They must deserve it, you reason, because they are so darn weird.Did it ever occur to you that that’s exactly what people would be saying about you without the blood spilled (literally in many cases) by trans women (and men!)? Or is that to expect too much? After all, it must be terrible to be set upon by activists who expect you to give back or at least give a damn about somebody other than yourself.One last question. Did it ever occur to you or to any of the other bigots who have betrayed the movement here on Unherd that your bloviations on gender theory (most of which are sadly inaccurate) have a direct impact on people? The more you spit venom and split the movement, the more you empower the haters who don’t post about trans people, they commit acts of violence against them. Shame on you.Nobody, least of all me would suggest that gender theory should not be revisited. And I’ll even agree that the initials are excessive (in most contexts LGBTQ will do) and that some people claim to be “queer” for selfish reasons like media exposure, and that media coverage on the issue in the mainstream media can be preachy and shrill. But none of this adds up to a justification for the regular abuse directed at trans people on this site. Shame on you and shame on the rest of you. You are betraying the gay rights movement, empowering homophobic and transphobic bigotry and, worst of all, fooling yourselves.

Alex Mitchell
Alex Mitchell
3 years ago
Reply to  Derek Bryce

Nicely stated. It seems that there are two types (without wishing to limit options for new initials) of progressivists in areas like this. Those, as you appear to be, simply wishing for equal treatment and those that are overtly reactionary. The latter are never satisfied and their quest for something to push against will inevitably turn on the former. The interesting question is what will the reactionaries be doing in five or ten years time. I recently used identifying as animals as an absurd example in this context, but that seems to be here already.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

It’s interesting when someone is struck by the reality of activism, no matter the cause: the activism exists for its own sake. There is no goal line, so to speak. If a perceived end point is reached, then a new one will be created and the activist will pretend that nothing has really changed and that “there is so much more to do.” The ever-expanding sexual alphabet soup is just one example.

But the march of progress hasn’t stopped.
Are you sure? And is it really progress anymore when people are attacked for such radical thought as “only women have periods”? This is the flaw within activism writ large, its inability to recognize victory and take yes for an answer. I stopped caring a long time ago what consenting adults do, but the activist community insists that I be made to care and, when possible, forced to cheer things I may not want to cheer. It’s not a persuasive tactic.

Bengt Dhover
Bengt Dhover
3 years ago

I have been happily married to the same woman for 22 years and couldn’t be happier.In this day and age on the American left coast, I suppose that makes me a true radical. I’m not even joking or being purposefully flippant. Rather odd, that.

Jim Richards
Jim Richards
3 years ago

It’s all reminiscent of what happened in Algeria when the Islamists got more and more extreme, turned on each other in arguments over doctrinal purity and basically ended up with about half a dozen of them up a mountain killing each other.

I used to be quite active in supporting gay rights and none of my opinions have changed but activists will be activists and many of them resemble soldiers who can’t accept the fighting has stopped even though they’ve won. They don’t see quite how much damage they’re doing, it seems it’s not enough for others to accept them as they are, the others must be vilified for their failure to be like the activists. It won’t end well

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Jim Richards

many of them resemble soldiers who can’t accept the fighting has stopped even though they’ve won.
this is true of the activists in any cause and is a very good point. The inability to claim victory exists because the concept was never considered and, as such, cannot be recognized. That means activism exists for its own sake, and for the aggrandizement of those who make a living from it.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
3 years ago

I think missing from this is the condemnation, from the trans-community, of lesbians who will not date transwomen with penises. In this transwomen seem to be paralleling the Incels with their sense of thwarted entitlement.

Jemmy Bloocher
Jemmy Bloocher
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

Absolutely. It’s very obvious in its absence.

Pat Davers
Pat Davers
3 years ago

This article got me thinking: if I started to identify as female, while remaining attracted to my wife, that would make me a lesbian, and if she remained attracted to me, which continuing to identify as a woman, that would make her a lesbian too. So, we would both be lesbians!

But then, if she started to identify as male, that would mean that I was a female attracted to a male, and she would be a male attracted to a female, so we would both be straight again!

But then, if I no longer identified as female, the I would be a man attracted to another man, and so would she, so we would both be gay men!

Admittedly it seems a bit silly but if it makes us seems more interesting than we really are, then why not!

Hal Lives
Hal Lives
3 years ago
Reply to  Pat Davers

My favourite statement on this type of confusion is from the wonderful Eddie Izzard when he described himself as being a Male Lesbian when he’s “dressed.”

I understand he was roundly trashed for this shameful heresy by the type of LGBTQ activists the author decries.

staffsstudentvicky
staffsstudentvicky
3 years ago
Reply to  Hal Lives

He would be a man in womens clothes, a man cannot be a lesbian

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago

His point was that he was definitely gay but that he loved women.

Alex Tickell
Alex Tickell
3 years ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

I am heterosexual, but “love” lots of people. It is NOT about “love”, it is about sex. The Gay campaign convinced the public that the issue was “love” but they were totally wrong.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Pat Davers

In one of those bizarre discussions we sometimes have with our children, I was trying to explain the J K Rowling point of view on single sex spaces. So I announced that maybe tomorrow I would be Nancy and head off to the local swimming pool to use the female changing rooms with 3 days growth of stubble on my chin. She objected that I am not even remotely likely to become female. I chided her for refusing to consider the possibility that I might and suggested to my wife that if I did, she should become Sid. I then asked my children who are “Sid and Nancy” and they did not have a clue – kids these days there is no hope for them!

Michael Whittock
Michael Whittock
3 years ago
Reply to  Pat Davers

When a PhD student is researching the more ludicrous flights from intellectual and moral reality of the early 21st.century he or she will rejoice when they happen upon your post. It illustrates magnificently the depths of stupidity we have reached. The philosophers historians and theologians will find our generation very difficult to understand.

jcurwin
jcurwin
3 years ago
Reply to  Pat Davers

The NDP party in British Columbia Canada, required that all new candidates for the provincial legislature be something other than straight white males. Suddenly one the (male) candidates, who had been happily married to a woman for many years, decided that he was bisexual. There are advantages.

Caroline Galwey
Caroline Galwey
3 years ago

Very good column.
Those chaps in the photograph really need to do something about their weight. Been hitting the doggy treats too hard?

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
3 years ago

It’s odd to think that somewhere in the World – probably China – there is a company designing and manufacturing these masks. “Can I suggest our Alsatian, Sir? It’s very popular with our larger clients.”

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

Yes, indeed. Much like the electronic male chastity cages manufactured in China that all of a sudden malfunctioned, causing a bunch of men to find themselves in very uncomfortable positions.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 years ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

I saw that in the news and was newly learning despite my best efforts to stay informed. I had no idea that male chastity had become such a popular theme of denial. But an electronic control is excellent marketing.

Derek Bryce
Derek Bryce
3 years ago

Don’t be fattist or the word-police will come an’ getcha. Besides, some of us enjoy a little cushion for the pushin’.

😉

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
3 years ago

Probably. And are they attracted to lampposts?

Jim Richards
Jim Richards
3 years ago
Reply to  Ralph Windsor

And do their partners allow them on the sofa?

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
3 years ago
Reply to  Jim Richards

Only after the application of flea powder,

Jim Richards
Jim Richards
3 years ago
Reply to  Ralph Windsor

Is it all fuelled by a wish that you could lick your own genitals? My dog appears to do little else

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago

You obviously have not heard of fat studies. What a horribly fattist remark to make. We should not oppress people due to their size – it is the way they are and ending up like Jabba the Hut through being lazy and stuffing their faces is just a social construct and not bad for their health, even if it is, we should not be ablist as disability is just another social construct aimed at unfairly oppressing the disabled.

Jemmy Bloocher
Jemmy Bloocher
3 years ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

This made me laugh out loud. Many thanks.

Mark Bretherto
Mark Bretherto
3 years ago

That’s fatist that is! They identify as a perfect physical specimen, therefore they are a perfect physical specimen.
You should write a grovelling apology about how you are ‘ashamed of your statement’, how you’ve ‘reached out’ to the ‘fat community’ and you’ll use this as a ‘learning point’ on your ‘journey’.

Dominic Straiton
Dominic Straiton
3 years ago

Being gay used to be subversive. It was interesting. A counter culture. Today its a boring, sad shadow of its once dull self. Where you put your p***s has never been that interesting. Pushing against the grain always was . Today its all snorsvill which is why Stonewall has to invent a whole new range of the oppressed. This time, however they are not preying on “fresh meat” or “boys” which actually had a point in the culture, but are targeting innocent children. How depressing.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

Defining oneself and also demanding that one be defined by others and society in general almost solely by one’s sexual proclivities not least because they become ever less ‘defining’ and less driven as one ages, is a complete mystery to me, but maybe that’s a little naïve, particularly in the current climate?

Matt Lucas’s, ‘I’m the only gay in the village’ Little Britain sketches skewered this absolute, divisive absurdity perfectly as he regularly went about bemoaning how he, the outrageously ‘provocatively’ dressed Daffyd Thomas, imagined he was constantly oppressed by both the largely disinterested and often well-meaning people around him quietly going about their own lives, whilst taking any and every opportunity to draw attention to the fact that he was so obviously gay.

What the well-known, highly successful gay comic was trying to point out I assumed was obvious to anyone with two eyes and ears in their head ie it genuinely doesn’t make a jot of difference to most people what floats your boat as long as it’s between consenting adults and doesn’t impinge unnecessarily on their own, often complicated, messy private lives.

The sad thing is he has been regularly forced to now defend (rather weakly on his part in my opinion, saying that they were misjudged, of their time and just meant to ‘entertain’) those pitch perfect and still funny sketches against the frankly bizarre, completely false accusation that they themselves in some way directly contributed to apparently hitherto non-existent homophobic behaviours against young people.

Rob Austin
Rob Austin
3 years ago

Tremendous read. More please, Mary

Daniel Goldstein
Daniel Goldstein
3 years ago

“And indeed, evidence suggests that support for LGBTQ rights has peaked and is now falling again.”
In America.

My conclusion is that campaigns based around gender and sexuality need separating from each other. Same-sex attraction and rights are a different matter from gender issues. A man who transitions into a woman and is then in a relationship with another man is not in a lesbian or same-sex relationship. Hence the T won’t really relate to the LGB.

Mark Gourley
Mark Gourley
3 years ago

Thank you very much for this splendid and eloquent article. My only regret is never having met your great-aunt.

100sander1967
100sander1967
3 years ago

I don’t think I’m the onIy one who has noticed that in today’s worId that some peopIe seem to spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about where to stick their d**k or their diIdo; and expecting the rest of us to join them in the conversation. Sorry, not interested.

John Dowling
John Dowling
3 years ago

“Master Richard, when you cut down all the trees of the law, where then will you hide?” A man for all seasons. Destroy everything, and a wasteland results.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
3 years ago

For this nonsense to seem important to anyone, how tiny does their horizon have to be?

It just makes me so glad to be me, to be normal, and to have a life.

Alex Tickell
Alex Tickell
3 years ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

It is extremely important in its effect on society, most people over 50 must surely have noticed that?

Karen Lindquist
Karen Lindquist
3 years ago

I’m glad people are dragging this into the light of day. I’m so sick of the hateful, witch hunting mentality of people shaming others for being monogamous, truly gay, or (gasp) heterosexual.
Makes me wish women would just stop having kids. Cuz, adding fuel to this dumpster fire known as humanity isn’t helping. Let’s agree to make a fire break and stop breeding.
The fake queer community policing everyone needs to stop. It doesn’t fly at all with me. Anyone frail in their self knowledge best not trot out the tags and slurs, as I’m happy to break them down.
Ironically, these snot nosed brats pushing this nonesense can’t maintain a relationship in real life with anyone from what I see. Commitment phobes, hiding behind lofty concepts like being “pan sexual,” which seems to be an arena where those who were never deemed fuckable take shelter to seem cooler and henceforth more fuckable. Sorry, it’s not working. Still a hard pass. Try developing an actual self, that seems to help.
But honestly, when we celebrate people with the mental issues and anxieties that make them believe they are born in the wrong body as “brave,” what do we expect?
The new queer activism seems like a place breeding a future where sexual assault and consent come full circle as edgy and liberated, and to say no to anyone or anything is a crime.

honorclaire
honorclaire
3 years ago

Excellent read.

Love is love, is a great statement in our sound-bite world.

I think this seems to a phobia of being ‘normal’, and it fails to acknowledge the challenges others have faced in the 70s, 80s, 90s etc in the fight to be accepted as they are and be their normal.

Perhaps another sound-bite should be considered, ‘Be careful what you wish for, as it might come true.’

Paul Davies
Paul Davies
3 years ago

I must be getting old. I understood the article but then again I didnt understand it because I just do not understand garbage made up verbiage.

jim payne
jim payne
3 years ago

Maybe it’s an age thing, but I firstly, cannot keep up with all the new words for what in my younger days, we would call queer or d**e. Didn’t make any difference to me then and wouldn’t now. If the LBGTetc. (can’t remember the rest) din’t scream and shout so much, maybe we could all just get on with our lives in peace.

Stephen Murray
Stephen Murray
3 years ago
Reply to  jim payne

Too true. I don’t care what a couple do behind locked doors, but I don’t appreciate constantly having my nose rubbed in it.

Bill Dawson
Bill Dawson
3 years ago

I think the ‘younger generation’ always looks at the status quo and questions, and often rejects elements which seem limiting of or harmful to the human spirit. So it is normal, if I may use that word, for young people to seek to innovate their views to attempt to make things better, e.g. less bigoted, more open and free, etc. I think each generation, in some ways and to some degree, rejects at least some aspects of the culture they inherited from their parents’ generation, as they seek to improve things, to make a better way. Every generation is then at least a little bit “anti-normie”, a little innovative, in their approach to making their world, their culture, better.

But the rejection of the norm in favor of the new isn’t necessarily always an improvement. Sometimes we need to oppose certain elements of what is considered normal, when those elements are destructive to the human spirit. But if being “against normal” becomes the goal, rather than improving the culture and the world around us, then we run the risk of rejecting improvements which have achieved “normal status” which actually benefit us all.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago

I am a male, and sorry, but I tried to read it all but ended up skimming, because I wanted to read on how it went – the one night stand. I either missed that part of you felt it was not important, but it was why I read through it all, again, sorry, but, well,I just was curious.

Alex Tickell
Alex Tickell
3 years ago

“The campaign to de-stigmatise same-sex relationships was a huge gain for human dignity”……….Oh no it wasn’t. It was a huge loss for society at large. Stigma is demonised, but exists for a very good reason in most cases. People who beat their wives, stole from their neighbours, were needlessly cruel, or any number of offences against society were stigmatised and in most cases the fact that stigma existed proved a deterrent. In the case of homosexuality the stigma was because of the huge sexual health problems associated with male same sex relationships, These health problems have massively increased over the last couple of decades and show no sign of decreasing. HIV is not cured and requires a lifetime treatment with strong drugs, almost 90% of new syphilis cases are within 1,5% of the population. male homosexuals, yet Homosexuality is celebrated everywhere, the rainbow flag covers all. The woke media and their followers have now moved on to the indoctrination of children and encouraging them to question their sexual identity, I personally know of a friend who’s grand daughter is being prepared for surgery after several years of “conditioning” in primary and secondary schools, The poor lass has serious mental problems according to my friend, but those have been pushed aside in favour of new gender assignment. We are well on our way to a future with no rules and no right or wrong.

Otto Christensen
Otto Christensen
3 years ago

Age of reason? Neros fiddle while Rome burns.

cjhartnett1
cjhartnett1
3 years ago

Think that there’s at least one other form of love in Greek.
Stauros maybe? Certainly it’s a word that embodies parental, dutiful love from an elder to a younger, a caring love for someone weaker.
The Pride People may have 71 emojis or loony variations of their own imaginings?
But we only need four, although there are a few others I’m sure.
The segmenting, narcissistic( and THATS yet another) self labelling branding of theirs is madness. Don’t indulge it.

Penny Gallagher
Penny Gallagher
3 years ago

All I can say is thank God I never went to university. What a load of gobbledegook.

letheon44
letheon44
3 years ago

What gender is a topless person in a kilt, wearing a leather dog hood?

Andrew D
Andrew D
3 years ago
Reply to  letheon44

BMAS (barking mad attention-seeker)

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago

The greatest supporters of the LGBQT movement are also its greatest deterrents. It was perhaps fun in the gay 90s when it was mostly about experimentation, but now it has morphed into a pernicious movement whose end goal I won’t go into here.

For more information check out ‘Queer Theory Jeopardy’ on YT.

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
3 years ago

I can’t wait for Mary to write her memoirs.

Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
3 years ago

i have found three things about myself as I have grown older.

I can love all kinds of people in many different ways and it is all profoundly satisfying.

If I am pursuing what seems to be called sex which I call intimacy I am something of a Long Hauler.

I tend to enjoy dressing to suit the occasion and love the way people deal with you differently if you look like you have just come in from a hike as opposed to full on war paint and paraphernalia. Thats a lovely game.

None of the above has a label except maybe the clothes I am wearing.

Though a beautifully written article I just find myself thinking there is so much else to think about and do. Taking all of my time to define myself seems terribly distracting. Just do it seems to work for me. Maybe because of that I find no lack of respect or recognition or acceptance or whatever else all this is seeking.

Leslie Steele
Leslie Steele
3 years ago

Great article. However there are not three but four Greek words for love analysed by C. S. Lewis in his book “The Four Loves”. ‘Storage’ is the missing one.

Leslie Steele
Leslie Steele
3 years ago
Reply to  Leslie Steele

Storge !!!!!

Michael Whittock
Michael Whittock
3 years ago
Reply to  Leslie Steele

Sorry I should have read to the end of the contributions.

Pat Davers
Pat Davers
3 years ago
Reply to  Leslie Steele

Is that the same as “cupboard love” ?

staffsstudentvicky
staffsstudentvicky
3 years ago
Reply to  Pat Davers

The love a parent feels fir their child. And no, NOT incest

Kirsten Walstedt
Kirsten Walstedt
3 years ago
Reply to  Leslie Steele

As in Tupperware?

Michael Whittock
Michael Whittock
3 years ago
Reply to  Leslie Steele

I’m sure it’s a print error but it’s STORGE the instinctual love within families.

Trishia A
Trishia A
3 years ago

test

Don Lightband
Don Lightband
3 years ago

Just need to pipe up and express the thought that the recourse to ancient terminology, no matter how ‘useful’ for any essayist, presents its own problems: eg if philia is to be contrasted with, even proposed as ‘alternative’ to, eros, then what of an intervening term such as paedophilia? If there is any semantic continuity at work in any of this at all, then might we say paedophilia’s objective is the achievement of truest felllow-feeling between two otherwise now distinct species, the “child” and the “adult”, grimly regarding one another from opposite sides of a border as, respectively, freak-of-innocence and freak-of-guilt?

bamboo rice recipes
bamboo rice recipes
2 years ago

Great content material and great layout. Your website deserves all of the positive feedback it’s been getting.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

What is all this tosh?

The greatest Empire the world has ever seen, the Roman, was quite happy with all forms of homosexuality, as had been the brilliant Hellenes (Greeks) before them.

So where does all this arrant nonsense come from? The Bible off course!

Deeply held Semitic prejudice, has spread through Western Civilisation like a virus on this subject, over many centuries, as off course, has the parallel absurdity of misogyny.

Come back Caesar, all is forgiven.

Alex Tickell
Alex Tickell
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

The context is the difference!

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Tickell

Is that an oblique reference to buggering badgers by chance?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Tickell

That’s no excuse.

ericaconrick
ericaconrick
3 years ago

Nobody, least of all me would suggest that gender theory should not be revisited. And I’ll even agree that the initials are excessive (in most contexts LGBTQ will do) and that some people claim to be “queer” for selfish reasons like media exposure, and that media coverage on the issue in the mainstream media can be preachy and shrill. But none of this adds up to a justification for the regular abuse directed at trans people on this site. Shame on you and shame on the rest of you. You are betraying the gay rights movement, empowering homophobic and transphobic bigotry and, worst of all, fooling yourselves.People like Ms. Harrington are betraying the roots of their own liberation. Trans people were central to the original movement. By some accounts, a trans woman named Marsha P. Johnson began the Stonewall Riot by throwing the “shot glass heard round the world.” In most accounts a second trans woman, Sylvia Rivera, threw the first Molotov cocktail. A third trans woman, Miss Major, was the focus of much of the violence outside the Stonewall Inn that evening. Without transgender people there would have been no riot, no movement, no gay marriage and no Ozzie and Ozzie or Harriet and Harriet bores like yourselves.You have the history wrong, Ms. Harrington, and that’s sadly typical for Self-Identified “normal” gays like yourselves. By 1973, the year that the (properly-named) LGBTQ movement staged the first mass rally for gay rights in NYC’s Washington Square Park, organizers requested that Sylvia Rivera not speak. They considered her an embarrassment to the movement. Anyone whose heart does not break upon hearing her plea for inclusion, “I have been beaten, I have had my nose broken, I have been thrown in jail!….I lost my job, I lost my apartment for gay liberation”¦ and you all treat me this way?” in front a jeering crowd calling her many of the names that people here on Unherd still call us trans people has no heart to break.But what’s this Mary Harrington? You have your middle class respectability, your cozy lives where nobody bothers you and the comfort needed to lash out at anyone less fortunate. Meanwhile, trans people suffer from every social ill (high suicide rate, unemployment, drug addiction etc.) imaginable to a degree many times more than those like you. They must deserve it, you reason, because they are so darn weird.Did it ever occur to you that that’s exactly what people would be saying about you without the blood spilled (literally in many cases) by trans women (and men!)? Or is that to expect too much? After all, it must be terrible to be set upon by activists who expect you to give back–or at least give a damn–about somebody other than yourself.One last question. Did it ever occur to you or to any of the other gay bigots who have betrayed the movement here on Unherd that your bloviations on gender theory (most of which are sadly inaccurate) have a direct impact on people? The more you spit venom and split the movement, the more you empower the haters who don’t post about trans people, they commit acts of violence against them. Shame on you. Your freedom came at a cost and it is stomach-churning to have you stick your head in the sand and say otherwise.

David Newton
David Newton
1 month ago
Reply to  ericaconrick