A 180:
I shall use the term “gay,” for what we used to mean by “homosexual.”  Although it seems to me a pity to lose a word for “happy,” and a specific meaning for happy to my ear – sort of a superficial but harmless happy – and gain a word that does not introduce a new concept, I make the change because I think it is modern usage and I am always ready to drop anything no matter how much I like it if something else is trendy because I am an intellectual fashion slave.  Besides “gay” is easier to type and my shoulder is really sore.

A few years ago I was chatting with a friend, and the subject of gayety came up.  I confessed that although I had a number of gay friends whom I liked I was usually a bit uncomfortable around them for fear I say something and inadvertently hurt somebody’s feelings.  He said, “They won’t mind.  They’ll laugh at your jokes and mean it so long as you don’t drag them out behind the bar and beat them up.”  I thought that was at last a standard of etiquette I could manage.  I once started keeping track of all the things I had not done that would make me feel bad, and then over the years things kept dropping off the list.  So for superstitious reasons I won’t say I shall never break that rule, but since I have never had an urge to and certainly intend never to I shall not make the promise. 

So if you find anything herein offensive, forgive me, instruct me and know that I’m trying to be polite.  Besides although this essay is on topic it is not really earth shaking, just rather ironic.  Skip it if it bothers you. 

Life used to be so simple.  All day you worked and played, socialized at meals, did your piano practice and if school was in session homework, brushed your teeth and went to bed at night.  And except for chores of personal hygiene you kept your pants on all day.  We all did it.  That was obvious.  Nobody complained.  It seemed to be the natural order of things.

If you got married, then you took your pants off for sexual purposes; everybody knew that.  And you did that in the context of emotional commitment, financial commitment, vows of fidelity and preparation for children.  That seemed the natural order as well. 

We all knew that there were people who went against this natural order.  They had sex with people they were not married to and indeed had no intention of marrying.  We knew the down sides.  There was the question of pregnancy.  There was the risk of disease.  And most importantly there was that emotional commitment.  How in the world could you manage the emotional demands of casual sex if committed sex was as much emotional work as a human could bear? 

We, the nice children, disapproved.  That didn’t mean we would grab a guy who had extramarital sex and drag him out behind the bar and beat the snot out of him unless maybe if it was your own girl friend I suppose, but we disapproved. 

And we knew the gayety existed.  We disapproved of that, too, but not any more than any other offense against the natural order.  At least the question of pregnancy wasn’t an issue. 

In medical school we were taught that gayety was a disease although not necessarily a serious one.  The logic seemed sound enough at the time: life is based on evolution, evolution only counts babies, gayety makes no babies so it is not completely healthy.  My how things have changed, eh?  Also they told us that gay affairs between young adolescent males were quite normal and generally led to a normal adult life. 

Then contraceptive devices and the pill came along.  They worked pretty well at reducing the likelihood of pregnancy.  So just like that a million years of social monogamy went right out of the window.  Promiscuity was no longer disapproved of.  It was a right. 

Fast forward a few years, and I read a book called, Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Payton.  When I now review the plot summary I recognize none of it except the African setting.  So perhaps I am thinking of a different book.  The story I did read I remember as being lyrical, wistful and rather sad.  In it the action gets rolling when a boy who has been the lover of a priest decides it is time to grow up and take an interest in girls.  There is a flap that does not reflect well on the Church.  What we are told is that for the local tribe such an arrangement between a boy and a man is quite normal, in fact gay affairs generally are quite within the order of nature, but all the troubles come from the fact that the decadent Western culture to which the pure natives are being exposed simply can’t accept this.

I made a mental note that my childhood disapproval was not politically correct (in effect, but this was before the phrase was introduced), and I had been chastised.  The notion that there might be more gayety in Africa than where I was did not lower my esteem for them; it was their lives and they could live them as they saw fit.

Then came HIV.  The virus spread in the US early and conspicuously among gay men in California bath houses. Then it was discovered that the virus had come from Africa.  And in Africa the disease was spread only by woebegone intercourse.  Suddenly all that gayety had vanished.  I was skeptical.  Estimates I had heard of the fraction of men who are gay ranged from 10% to the word of one doctor who told me a third of men are gay, a third bisexual and a third woebegone.  Zero seemed a bit unlikely.

Well now things are different.  (Linda Nordling, African Academics Challenge Homophobic Laws NATURE vol.. 522 no. 7555 June 11, 2015 page 135) The gay are now thought to be 2% or more compared with a worldwide average of 1.5%.  So the novel was right on that one.  And far from being accepted, it is criminalized.  In some countries there is the death penalty.  I scream in protest and indignation.  And once again they are placing the blame on Western missionaries.  I know not whether that includes Muslims. 

The ironic thing is that the chastisement I once discerned now hits home.  Of course outside powers have disrupted functional village units, which have had untold eons to adapt to human needs.  And this disruption is not good.

Of course what I have learned is that for long term survival of a population, say a village, you want to limit your mating pool, say everyone under 40, to about seventh cousins.  Go out much beyond that, and after some generations the population will die.  Seventh cousins are about 128 people, of whom half roughly will be your own sex.  Frown on incest, first cousins and to a degree second cousins and your social horizon drops from 64 to maybe 50 or a trifle over one per year.

Girls mature before boys, and women live longer than men, so rationally speaking a wife should be her husband’s age or older.  For reasons opaque to me we go the other way.  So say you are a male youth.  There will be a young woman your age, one a year younger and one two years younger.  That is three or a bit more.  And you might be able to fudge that 128 number a bit.  But any way you cut it you don’t have a half dozen biologically compatible possible mates.  And that’s under the best of circumstances.  In the US circumstances are not ideal.  You might go your whole life without meeting a fourth cousin or higher, and if you do that person is likely not to be close to your age and what’s worse you need to meet when both of you are at the courting age, which is just a few years.  Then there’s the emotional compatibility thing.  In short the book was right.  The untouched-by-modern-culture villages might be able to survive the onslaught.  Our Western culture, bar great change and perhaps even despite any conceivable effort, does appear to be decadent and doomed.

There have been 234 visitors over the past month and 75 times the video “Children Triumph over Evil” has been opened, possibly mostly by me.

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