Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Homophobia is a slippery subject – like a man’s unconscious grip on the proverbial bar of soap in the showers, it manages to neutralise itself, by playing-off extreme threat (anal rape) against extreme lameness of material. In the homo-prism of the men’s showers, a threat that was never likely, itself a joke that was never funny, nonetheless somehow defuses the sexual tension. Perhaps, on the theory that bad jokes (like smelly farts) make everything go opaque, the collective grip on the soap brings on a veil of mutual modesty. A simpler explanation is that, like the soap joke, homophobia is not meant to withstand scrutiny, anyway – in its fleeting lightness of touch, it manages to out-gay even gayness itself.

Which paradox neatly explains the tenacity of the homophobe’s grip over his palmful of thin air. Writing around this topic recently, that well-known gay activist (NOT) Thomas Keneally reminded his readers of (just some of?) George Pell’s pithy admonitions for soap-holders on the brink of dropping it: ‘Homosexuality is not an “inescapable” condition, and only “a few” homosexuals have no choice about their sexuality’.*

In other words, the old soap joke, but told in reverse. Mysterious, hardened incorrigibles may be lurking in the showers, even in front of your own eyes and behind your own butt-cheeks.

If that’s how you personally imagine it, that’s fine, George – just wake the rest of us up when you think of a punch-line. Seriously, Archbishop Pell, if you really think that your Homophobia! NEW and IMPROVED! empty box is going to sell, you’re going to have to re-think the packaging. My friendly advice for you is to just stick with the old soap routine instead – hold on, hold on, hold on to it, for all it’s worth, because it's probably all you've got and are ever gonna get.

* Thomas Keneally, “Cold Sanctuary” The Age, 30 November 2002; extracted from The Best Australian Essays 2002, ed Peter Craven.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?