News & Politics

How Gay Is It To Be Gay?


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October 11, 1962, Vol. VII, No. 51

The Homosexual’s Labyrinth

By Stephanie Gervis

Just how gay is it to be gay?

How gay is it to be a sexual oddity, a social pariah, a moral “deviate,” a menace to American youth, a lawbreaker, an unemployable, a threat to the morale and discipline of the United States Armed Forces, and a security risk to the nation?

The indictment is staggering, but according to law and folklore it is the profile of a sizable segment of America’s male population. Considering that after the third offense a homosexual is liable to a maximum prison sentence — ten years in most states, twenty in many others, life in some — one Village homosexual estimates that if a homosexual of 30 has committed an average of one act of sodomy a week for ten years, his debt to society amounts to 5117 years in jail. What has he done to deserve it? How does he live in the face of it? Is there a final solution to the homosexual question?

The psychiatrists, psychologists, sexologists, sociologists, and the homosexuals themselves cannot agree on the causes of homosexuality and whether it can be cured…

In fact, the homosexual is forced to lead as many lives as former Communist Herbert Philbrick. If he wants to keep his job, preserve his marriage, mix in heterosexual circles, he cannot be himself. In some cases he must become a caricature of maleness. The irony is that one reason homosexuals are able to “pass” so easily (even into the Army, where they deceive doctors and psychiatrists) is that, out of bed, they are so much like other men.

Only about fifteen per cent of the homosexuals in this country are “campy,” estimates the president of the Mattachine Society of New York. These, the types who inhabit Cherry Grove on Fire Island, “have no interest in waging any struggle,” says one gay Villager. “They can get anything they want.” Many of them are in the arts or other permissive professions where they do not suffer financially for the direction of their sex lives. “I think they would be happy to vote for McCarthy,” the Villager continued. “As long as it doesn’t touch on their problems, they’ll vote to put the Communists in jail.” These are the real hedonists of the “gay” world…

Because of this loneliness and the strain of constant pretense, homosexuals become gay almost to the point of hilarity when they are among their own, at parties or in bars. It is a kind of hysterical relief. “The hilarity in gay bars is due to the openness,” the Village informant explains…

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]


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