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November 21st, 2023

Hafer’s Homosexuality: Legitimate Alternate Deathstyle – A Personal Review (continued…)

Chapter One – (The Bell & Weinberg Study)

Hafer casts his comic book as “A basic primer on the homosexual movement for those who do not know the Facts.” His problems with Facts begin almost immediately at the start of Chapter One. 

I’m going to have to split up my review of Chapter One into multiple parts, and possibly all the other chapters too, but this one especially because the very first thing Hafer does is lie about the book that became the seed of my own Gay Studies bookshelves. I’ll explain when we get to it.

But first…you may recall in our last episode…Larry, the very model of an impartial middle between two extremes (Chester and Sodomite) invites his foils and the reader to listen while he tells them what a homosexual Is. “Do you know what a homosexual couple is?” He asks.

Chester, with a thought balloon over his head of gay domestic bliss, avers it’s when one does the cooking and the other does the cleaning.

NO.” Says Larry. “It’s two men who prefer to have sexual relations with each other rather than a woman!”

Chester is appalled. “That’s sick!!” he shouts. You have to suspend belief for a moment and actually think that someone like Chester, who was just bellyaching about fags and homos couple of pages ago, does not know that homosexuals have sex. And not only sick, he says, but impossible. “Not if you’re imaginative!” replies Sodomite. Larry agrees  they’re both right…to a degree. “By any ‘normal’ biological standards it is impossible.”

There is so much to unpack here. What are the “biological standards” he refers to? Hafer doesn’t say at this point, but I’ll hazard a guess that it involves reproduction. But sexual relations to the point of orgasm between same sex couples is not only possible, it’s simple. You don’t have to be imaginative, just…well…homosexual. What’s missing from Larry/Dick’s definition is desire. Homosexual males sexually desire males. That is why they prefer to have sex with them. Simple, yes? But if you’re trying to convince everyone that homosexuality is a sickness, and an acquired one at that, that’s much easier when you erase desire from the equation. As we will see, Hafer later tells the reader that homosexuals don’t really like having sex with other homosexuals, but are trapped in a behavior they can’t escape. There is no desire, only behavior.

Let’s take a look at that unspoken definition of “homosexual couple” (Do you know what a homosexual couple is?). In Hafer’s view that’s any two men who hook up for sex. What is strikingly missing from Hafer’s definition is any recognition that love and romance might be involved.

Vito Russo, author of The Celluloid Closet, puts it this way:

It is an old stereotype, that homosexuality has to do only with sex while heterosexuality is multifaceted and embraces love and romance.

So right at the starting line we see where Hafer intends to go with this. Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. He makes that explicit almost immediately. But even the sex they have isn’t what they want. It’s a sexual behavior not a sexual desire.

Sodomite says it’s no different from the love between a man and a woman. Hafer can’t help but have Sodomite add under his breath “A woman? Ugh!! Icky poo!!” Because that’s how homosexuals think and talk.

Now we start getting down to brass tacks. Mr. Impartial Middle Ground Between Two Extremes Larry tells him “There’s one of our first major disagreements,” and asks if you would call it love if a man had sexual relations with six or eight different women in his life. To which Chester angrily replies that would be lust pure and simple, adding that a man who is unfaithful to his wife…or promiscuous…is not a decent man in his book. Larry adds that such a man would not be very decent in God’s book either. This is the first hint of the religious basis for everything about the comic book, but Hafer wants to add that to the mix slowly, probably knowing that if readers see the book is nothing more than an extended Jack Chick tract they’ll discard its message. 

I’m unable to determine Hafer’s exact religious denomination. He was a Maryland resident (sorry) and the bulk of his output is of a religious nature. There are religions that forbid divorce and remarriage, my mom was a Baptist (Yankee, not Southern…I have to make that distinction these days) who believed to her dying day she could not remarry after divorcing dad. But that may have been an excuse not to. She loved dad to her dying day and just didn’t want anyone else. When I was finally able to meet him in my teens, I could tell they still loved each other very much. All this is to say that I can see where he’s coming from on a religious basis. But not on a human one.

Many good and decent people practice a kind of serial monogamy. Other’s simply want no strings, just a good time in the sack. That does not preclude things like trustworthiness, honesty, kindness…decency. In fact it only goes to show that monogamy is not a moral value, it’s a temperament. Probably one confined largely to those of us, like myself, with very mild libidoes. The moral values are things like trustworthiness, honesty, kindness. Without those things we don’t have civilization. But for the religious fanatic, the only value is obedience. 

So in Hafer’s book, since his religion apparently forbids having multiple sex partners, that automatically determines a man as indecent if he has many, and never mind how well he treats them. But to be homosexual is even worse, and Hafer has to make sure we all know it.

“How can it be called ‘love’ when the average homosexual has 300 to 500 sex partners in their lifetime?” Middle Ground Larry asks. And here Hafer gives us the first of his citations:

A.P. Bell and M.S. Weinberg, Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women, NY : Simon and Schuster 1978.

Ah yes…this book. I know it well. Notice Hafer does not include pages numbers in that cite. Probably because he understands his target audience isn’t going to bother fact checking him, and the militant homosexuals like me who will aren’t anything to care much about.

That quote about homosexual men having upwards of 500 sex partners was a go-to point among the kook pews back in my USENET days. They would wave it in our faces whenever we tried to assert our feelings of love and devotion against their insistence that homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. I heard it over and over and eventually, being the geek child I am, I had to go find a copy of this book so I could see what the monkey tree was howling about. I found it, and serendipitously also a copy of the Kinsey Report, “Sexual Behavior In The Human Male” in a second hand bookstore in Havre de Grace. And I snapped them both up and took them home.

It was immediately clear why the Kinsey Report was so easy for them to lie about….it’s page after page after page of dry statistical analysis and tables and charts. He was speaking to other academics. Few were going to wade through all of that, and fewer still with the statistical understanding to look at it critically. So it’s easy to pluck something out of it (they call it “proof texting” when they do it to the Bible) and wave it in people’s faces, confident you won’t be fact checked.

Homosexualities is something like that. A lot of dry analysis, but at least there is something of a narrative to it. I found the quote the kook pews were waving in our faces pretty quickly…it’s on page 85 (Findings: Men (table 7))…

Almost one-half of the white homosexual males(WHMs) and one-third of the black homosexual males (BHMs) said they had at least five hundred sexual partners during the course of their homosexual careers. Another third of the WHMs and a quarter of the BHMs reported having had between one hundred and five hundred partners.

Sounds pretty promiscuous. I used to joke that there was a gay guy out there who got my share of the sex we were all having and I was going to throttle him when I got my hands on him. Actually I find having that much sex a bit creepy, but then my libido doesn’t go there. I need the romance along with the sex. But as I read that, I saw a footnote next to it. You almost never hear them read the footnote when they quote these numbers, but it’s right there on the page:

We are aware, of course, that these figures may reflect exaggeration on the part of some respondents.

Well who the heck exaggerates about having that much fucking? To understand that, you need to read the whole fucking thing.

Tell me you’ve never read Homosexualities without telling me you’ve never read it. Like they do with the Bible, these people simply mine a source for good quotes to throw back at everyone, and Homosexualities gave them a motherlode. But it’s also stunningly clear they don’t bother to even read the Introduction, or if they do their eyes just glaze over. And the irony is that Bell and Weinberg did their study to show the diversity of experience among homosexuals, that there is no one single gay lifestyle, but many. It’s in the friggin title of the book! 

What they try to make the reader understand about their study is right there in the Introduction:

The present investigation was undertaken with several purposes in mind. First, we attempted to identify various sexual dimensions of homosexual experience and then to indicate the whereabouts of our homosexual respondents on each of these dimensions. Of course, as with heterosexuality, homosexuality encompasses far more than the direction of one’s sexual preferences… (page 21)

And so of course the howling monkey tree uses it to prove the opposite. Because that’s what they do.

Most heterosexuals, unfamiliar with homosexual adults, tend to believe that homosexuals – regardless of their sex, race, age or socio-economic status – are alike in how they manage their homosexuality. These folk notions, or stereotypes, are reviewed in the present volume and examined for the extent to which our data support them… (page 21)

But there’s a problem with the data, and Bell and Weinberg freely acknowledge it up front. They couldn’t get a representative sample. Even in 1978, almost a decade after Stonewall, that would have been nearly impossible. 

The problem for science, then and to a degree even now, is how do you do verifiable, repeatable, science on a subset of the human family that is largely terrified of being discovered, and especially in the 1970s. It was still a time when you could be arrested, lose your job, lose your professional licenses, your family, your children. Why would anyone want to out themselves in that sort of environment for the sake of science. For all you know science is your enemy, since it’s been telling everyone that you are sick and dangerous…telling you that, regardless of what you know about your own life. Making you believe it.

It should be pointed out that not every member of a homophile organization welcomed the study or volunteered to be interviewed. In fact, some very active members of the gay community claimed that time time and energy they had invested in other research projects had done little to enhance the quality of life in the community. Some, indeed, had felt that previous researchers they had assisted were prejudiced against them. (page 32)

Mind you, they are talking here about gay people who were willing to join these organizations. In 1979, how do you reach the ones living quiet lives of desperation in the closet. Perhaps they have found their significant other and settled down with them. Perhaps they cruise the bars if they happen to live in the urban zones where there are gay bars. Perhaps they have a network of friends whose company they enjoy, and with whom they occasionally have sex with. And they emphatically don’t want the rest of their families and neighbors finding out that they are homosexual. It’s a matter of survival. So they’ve blended in. Perhaps they’ve even married. How do you even find them, to ask them if they want to help the science better understand them? Why would they want to?

What is a representative sample? How to you even know that you have one? Bell and Weinberg understood this, and right in the introduction to the book, tried to tell their readers their sample was not, could not possibly be, a representative sample.

It should be pointed out that reaching any consensus about the exact number of homosexual men or women exhibiting this or that characteristic is not an aim of the present study. The nonrepresentative nature of other investigators samples as well as of our own precludes any generalization about the incidence of a particular phenomenon even to persons living in the local where the interviews were conducted, much less to homosexual in general. Nowhere has a random sample of American homosexual men and women ever been obtained, and given the variety of circumstances which discourage homosexuals from participating in research studies, it is unlikely that any investigator ever will be in a position to say that this or that is true of a given percentage of all homosexuals. We cannot stress too much that ours is not a representative sample. (page 22 – emphasis mine)

Now look again at what Middle Ground Larry said, “How can it be called ‘love’ when the average homosexual has 300 to 500 sex partners in their lifetime?” The average homosexual. The average homosexual. Really? And for this…fact…Hafer cites Homosexualities. But it doesn’t say that. The authors take pains to say their study cannot say anything like that. Hafer’s very first cite in his comic book he says is for those who do not know the facts, is a lie.

We cannot stress too much that ours is not a representative sample. You look at how they went about recruiting their participants and this becomes staringly obvious. They set up their field office in San Francisco, because, obviously, that was where they knew they were most likely to get respondents. They recruited with advertisements in the local San Francisco newspapers, recruited among the members of gay organizations, in gay bars and gay baths (pages 30-31). Let me repeat that: they recruited in the bars and baths

It was the 1970s. The summer of love had segued into the summers of disco. Short-shorts and tight low rise blue jeans were the fashion among heterosexual and homosexual twenty-somethings (lord how I miss those days). A real man had lots of babes. Urban gay men in their thirties were emerging from their closets and getting caught up with all the sex they’d been missing out on. Do you get now what Bell and Weinberg thought some of their respondents might have been bragging?

Well guess who doesn’t think so. Middle Ground Between Extremes Larry, who says that if a heterosexual had an obsession with sex like that they’d be considered a pervert. Tell you what Larry/Dick, lets go interview the heterosexual men down in Baltimore’s “Block”, or any major city’s red light district, we get some figures we won’t distinguish from bragging, and I tell you that they represent the average of heterosexual sexual contacts, and oh by the way if you’re one of them you’re probably a pervert too. Then let’s go watch some movies from the period aimed at heterosexual men. How many babes do you think James Bond has fucked? But he’s not a pervert, he’s a hero.

Ah yes…I know…I know…you condemn that behavior among heterosexuals too. But you’re a bigot Dick…you can’t see the people for the homosexuals. You cracked open the pages of a study meant to illuminate the diversity among homosexuals, and you saw only want you wanted to see. Because…as Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. once said (and I’m paraphrasing it a tad here) a bigot’s mind is like an eye: the more light you shine on it the tighter it closes.

Years ago, back in my USENET days, I got an eyeful seeing firsthand how bigots routinely lie about the sources they quote, the better to lie about their homosexual neighbor. What ninth commandment? It wasn’t even a matter of differing opinions about the source material: these were just straight up lies. I admit to being stunned by how blatant it was. They knew they were lying, they had to. But they also knew their readers didn’t care. Hafer says his book is for those who do not know the Facts. No. It’s for those for whom the facts are unimportant. Hafer’s comic book is for those who want something…anything…they can throw back at the people they hate. They don’t care whether any of it is true. They care that it feels good to throw it at that hated Other.

One of my favorite authors, Jacob Bronowski, wrote in his book Science and Human Values, the following as a social axiom:

We OUGHT to act in such a way that what IS true can be verified to be so.

You will never find anyone on the religious right who believes that, let alone behaves that way. But that is the way of science. It depends on those things without which we do not have civilization. Trustworthiness. Honesty. The courage to ask questions, and let nature speak for itself. The integrity to change your mind about something when new facts emerge. If a bigot’s mind is like an eye that closes, the mind of the civilized person is one that is always curious, always looking at what it sees, always asking what do I know and how do I know it.

And so began my collection of books, newspapers, magazines and articles about homosexuals and homosexuality. And it keeps growing a little every year. And staring into that open sewer Hafer’s kind calls a conscience still manages to shock. But calling out the lies is good honest work and I’m going to go on with it.

Let’s continue with Chapter One later. I’ll probably put up other posts in the meantime but I am not letting go of this. I’ve been looking over your appendixes Hafer, and I’ve got the receipts.

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