mudcub (mudcub) wrote,
mudcub
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"Homo/Hetero: The Struggle for Sexual Identity" by Joseph Epstein



I was reminded of this essay from then-editor Joseph Epstein in Harper's Magazine:

"If I had the power to do so, I would wish homosexuality off the face of this earth. I would do so because I think that it brings infinitely more pain than pleasure to those who are forced to live with it; because I think there is no resolution for this pain in our lifetime, only, for the overwhelming majority of homosexuals, more pain and various degrees of exacerbating adjustment; and because, wholly selfishly, I find myself completely incapable of coming to turns with it...

They are different front the rest of us. Homosexuals are different, moreover, in a way that cuts deeper than other kinds of human differences—religious, class, racial—in a way that is, somehow, more fundamental. Cursed without clear cause, afflicted without apparent cure, they are an affront to our rationality, living evidence of our despair of ever finding a sensible, an explainable, design to the world. One can tolerate homosexuality, a small enough price to be asked to pay for someone else's pain, but accepting it, really accepting it, is another thing altogether. I find I can accept it least of all when I look at my children. There is much my four sons can do in their lives that might cause me anguish, that might outrage me, that might make me ashamed of them and of myself as their father. But nothing they could ever do would make me sadder than if any of them were to become homosexual. For then I should know them condemned to a state of permanent niggerdom among men, their lives, whatever adjustment they might make to their condition, to be lived out as part of the pain of the earth."


I scanned in the rest of the article, and posted it on my website. Though Harper's was flooded with letters to the editor in subsequent issues (even up to the 1980s), the author Joseph Epstein never disavowed the article. If anything, he doubled down in a 2002 follow-up, claiming that people who called him a homophobe weren't capable of "textured thought".
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