On Repressive Sentimentalism

Mark Greif in n + 1:

ScreenHunter_02 Oct. 17 10.42 Gays are our utopian heroes. Many things changed in the twentieth century. No change was more momentous and utopian than that men could choose men for love objects, and women choose women, to remake the sexual household. If the household organization of three thousand years of recorded history could be altered simply in the interest of what people wanted, in the interest of desire, then anything could be changed.

Traditional society choked this down—some more progressive parts of it did, anyway—by attributing same-sex love to brain chemistry, or a gay gene, and an eternal sexual identity that must be rigid and ineluctable. It hypothesized three millennia of men and women who must have been closeted, before they had such wonderfully enlightened friends and neighbors as we are. Only in this restricted way could society understand homosexuality without gayness threatening to reveal more new choices.

The utopians among us held our peace.

More here.