A New York construction worker is suing a hospital for performing a rectal exam to check for spinal injury after a wooden beam hit his forehead.
I'm not going to get into the specifics of the case because the hospital isn't commenting and the AP story leaves a lot to the imagination.
But the dude had an obvious issue with things going up his butt, even in a medical context. And he isn't the only person out there like that....
The AIDS crisis in the 80's only reinforced the existing idea among heterosexual men that sodomy is death. Even to this day homophobes obsess over various gay sex acts, usually sodomy, to try to justify and spread their homo- and eroto-phobia (take any of Paul Cameron's "studies", for example).
And it might have been part of the impetus behind developing a sex-less gay-right politics, one that sees us as a minority seeking civil rights instead of people seeking sexual liberation. One can only imagine what a gay rights movement would look like if contemporary performances of masculinity didn't so easily lend themselves to sodo-phobia.
We live in a culture where performing masculinity is the name of the game, in mainstream society and among gay men, and masculinity itself is seen as a position of power over others. There wouldn't be quite so many gay men claiming to be "straight-acting tops" if this dynamic weren't pervasive.
One of the reasons I got involved in the gay blogging was a dissatisfaction with the current sex-less rhetoric surrounding the politics of sexuality. "It's not about sex, it's about love," "What I do in my bedroom is no one's business but my own," "The gay community has to grow up and stop obsessing over sex like adolescents" - all of that sounds like "Don't worry, we hate sex just as much as you do!" to me.
And where does that erotophobia leave us? Well, when we're trying to advance a sexually liberative message, when we're talking about funding for research to cure STD's, about getting comprehensive sexual education in the classroom, and about ending discrimination (both public and private) against queers, it leaves us in a pretty hard place. How can we discuss these issues and their causes (like cultural anxiety around sodomy, fear of teen sexuality, and the use of sex to oppress women) if we aren't creating a space for a substantive discourse on sex?
I can see how many people would like to short-circuit arguments like Cameron's by pushing the idea that sex is/should be completely private (unless it's Britney not wearing underwear). It's a whole lot easier and might give us some short-term success.
And that's generally the explanation as to why mainstream gays try to buy into sexual normativity. But maybe the representations have less to do with seeking "normal" and more to do with power and upsetting others by tapping into their anxieties about sodomy - if we remind people of something that they think can kill them (psychologically), can we get them to think rationally about civil rights legislation? If we admit that many of us in fact love an act that so closely tied to disempowerment, will we be seen as a powerful cultural and political force?
Important questions, and I'm not going to pretend like I have all the answers.
But while defining ourselves as a civil rights movement might help in getting a few benefits quickly, we can't fully liberate a sexuality without sexual liberation. And if we can't help America move past its anxiety around sodomy, I don't see how we can persuade people to stop hating gay men.
And because I was thinking of it throughout this entire post, here's Sir Mix Alot's "Baby got Back":