The following text appeared in the first print issue of TROU NOIR magazine, May 2022.
TROU NOIR magazine has set itself the task of bringing together scattered fragments dealing with the forces of desire and how they work on bodies, ideas and sexualities. Not a new grand theory, but a constellation of differences capable of contributing to the emergence of an emancipatory politics.
Towards a gay communism
Translation: Ryan Montgomery
Citations are taken from Mario Mieli’s Towards a Gay Communism: Elements of Homosexual Critique, translated by David Fernbach and Evan Calder Williams (London: Pluto Press, 2018).
« YES, I HOLD THE VIEW THAT ALL PEOPLE ARE HOMOSEXUAL, HOLD IT SO FIRMLY THAT IT IS DIFFICULT FOR ME TO REALISE HOW ANYONE CAN THINK DIFFERENTLY »
Georg Groddek, The Book of the It (London: C.W. Daniel, 1935), p. 230.
Nothing is stranger nor more incomprehensible than heterosexuality. In freer and more truthful times, we’ll look back, no doubt with some degree of sadness, on those poor men who wasted so many years mutilating themselves for no good reason. Homosexuality is not just a sexual practice. Above all, it is a limited and partisan perspective which aspires towards universal understanding: a gay knowledge. In this sense, it’s easy to see, for example, the queen so fiercely folded away inside every heterosexual man. Everything—even fagbashing—can be explained if we take this as our starting point. Heterosexuality is neither a taste nor a preference (still less, of course, a nature), but a political regime predicated on the repression of both Self and Others. If it were natural, why should the orgasm which we feel in the prostate be that much more intense than the experience of ejaculation? And were heterosexuality a matter of taste or preference, we’d still be none the wiser about men’s reasons for humiliating women, nor could we explain the pervasiveness of misogyny. “Heterosexual males see in women that portion of themselves which they have been forced from infancy to conceal and repress, and this is why they ‘love’ women in such a sadly inadequate way”.
The goal of the faggot struggle is not, then, the recognition of an identity, but the practical implementation of the universalism that is homosexual desire. In that sense, the battle is only just beginning; none of the “progress” which some observe in society has changed anything. Anyone who accepts that, very well, it’s a free country, I can be a fag if I want to; eat shit, wear a dress—but please God, just don’t shove it down my throat—is a political opponent: a liberal. Homosexual desire is not a particularism. It is a universalism, and one of the few, perhaps, which is genuinely acceptable. “Psychoanalysis defines the first expressions of eroticism as ‘undifferentiated,’ or only a little so. In other words, the selection of an object, for the infant, is due more to circumstances than to biological sex (and to circumstances that can change even in the course of a day). All little girls are also dykes, and all little boys are also fags”. You don’t need a degree in psychoanalysis to know that jealousy, for instance, is just a front for one man’s desire to sleep, vicariously and through the body of a woman, with her male lover. And we need only note how widespread homosocial behaviours are, to understand their role as camouflage for men’s desire to sleep with one another. That’s why lads beat each other up after a game of football: it’s a way of letting out their pent-up frustrations. This holds true, even, when it comes to the image of the cover girl, plucked straight off the catwalk or out of the advertising pages: dressed and made over by gay men (who make up the majority in this milieu), she reveals that the image of heterosexuality is really a male fantasy. Only the most unabashed, revolutionary fags will, in the first instance, be able to unveil the repressed desires of ‘the Straights’. The faggot movement aims not for homosexual liberation, but for the liberation of the homosexuality which lies within all straight men. There are so many holes for us to break in—so many, in fact, that the task might seem daunting or exhausting… we’ll need a lot of courage, comrades!
Imagine a left-wing activist, even, let’s say, one who sees past the charade of parliamentary politics. He demands the utmost tolerance but secretly harbours an overwhelming desire to play the protector. Leftists like fags because they make them laugh; they feel more sophistiqué around a fag, they get off on it, even; they feel more democratic, Open and Smart. Just head down to Ménilmontant, and make your way to the Saint-Saveur… Here, in this antifascist bar coursing with testosterone, your eye will soon be drawn to the spectacle of the most virile guys dancing awkwardly on the floor, their skintight jeans nicely emphasising the contours of their cocks—proof that “virility is simply the neurotic and cumbersome introjection by men of a homosexual desire for one another which is both very strong and tightly censored: it coarsens and hardens the male human being, transforming him into a crude caricature of maleness. There is nothing more ridiculous and wholly fragile than this would-be virile heterosexual who boasts of his violent and ‘absolute’ potency and in this way only negates himself, forcibly repressing the human being – particularly the ‘woman’ and the queer – within himself and making himself a cop for the phallic power system. There is nothing more feeble than this ‘virile’ male who beneath it all fears impotence and castration, since in reality he already is, as an absolute male, a mutilated human being”.
Above all, these delicate little men don’t want us going anywhere near their holes, lest we cast doubt on their peacock-like virility. In response to an activist, Mieli once said: “Dear comrade, have you ever wondered why you clam up when someone puts into question the repression of your homosexual desire? Your withered homosexuality? And don’t tell me: ‘You can do what you like among yourselves, but don’t interfere with me’, when you are not free to desire me, to make love with me, to enjoy sensual communication between your body and mine; when you rule out the possibility of having a sexual relation with me. If you are not free, then how can I be free? Revolutionary freedom is not something individual, but a relation of reciprocity: my homosexuality is your homosexuality. And as for the sequins, they are neither over the top nor violent, at least not any more than my desire to enjoy your homosexuality, our homosexuality, dear comrade…”. It’s not about making the straights feel guilty, though; we’re not trying to submit them to a regimented, masochistic existence, desperately doing whatever it takes to shake off their desire for women in the name of ideological conformity. Our battleground is freedom, not guilt. Guilt has never freed anyone from anything; on the contrary, and more often than not, it makes us lash out like a wounded animal. As the feminists of Milan used to say, freedom is the only path to freedom.
Let’s take another example: the etero-checca, or “hetero-queen”. There’s something always so fascinating about how certain Straights love to pass themselves off as fags—about how it satisfies a boundless desire to be the centre of attention, a desire to seduce (even guys, if it’s too hard with girls), to cultivate a sense of mystery…. but all the while holding on to their own little persons (as the Latin etymology suggests, their masks). “Hetero-queenery, too, must be seen as a phenomenon closely connected with the sublimation of homoerotism. The hetero-queen is a heterosexual who, while unaware of the gay component of his own desire, and thus not having homosexual relations, has all the ways (if not the savoir faire) of a queen”. Capital, like its corollary, capitalist man, is quite capable of imitating the vague image of homosexuality as the ultimate line of defence of the heterosexual status quo. The commercialisation of homoeroticism marked an all-out and deviously effective counterattack against the worrying spread of homosexual desire. “Capital liberalises desire while channelling it into a consumerist outlet. Far from being genuinely liberated, homosexuality thus plays a key role in the totalitarian capitalist spectacle. Nowadays, there is no commercial ‘artistic’ expression which does not take into account, to a greater or lesser extent, the homoerotic content of desire”. The hetero-queen is proof of this decidedly liberal cowardice—a stance which, in truth, can only liberate new territories of exchange value. When, as it has done with feminism, Capital makes homosexuality fashionable, it turns it into a “new motif” to be integrated into the cultural industry. But this has nothing to do with a genuine shift in values: it’s simply the addition of a new shelf in the supermarket. Moral norms will not change until we have entirely extricated ourselves from the capitalist economy, for the simple reason that heterosexual morals line up perfectly with the value/s of Capital. In the aftermath of devaluation in 1971, Capital could only sustain itself through credit and speculation. Hence the need to invent a new, secularised theology. Capital endures through the (re)assertion of its own symbolic universe. This is why we must not mistake the liberalisation of homosexuality—now, ostensibly, accepted and normalised—for anything other than a (re)affirmation of the heterosexual symbolic order.
Everybody knows that it’s alright to give the gays their own chic little neighbourhoods. Let them have their sex clubs! Gay men make for excellent fashion retailers; they do reproductive labour just as well as women—even better, you might add, they don’t take maternity leave; at any rate, it’s a way of making sure that everything stays between us guys. In this context, the hetero-queen is the subjective embodiment of a certain economic model, one which took off in the shadow of the ruins of the Gold Standard (a phase which, we hope, will prove merely transitory). The hetero-queen projects his own repressed desires onto gay pop stars, and this projection validates, in turn, the status quo. “The streets of London are thronged with young heterosexual couples who are dressed, made-up and coiffured in the manner of their gay rock-star idols. But they are still heterosexual couples and—apart from a few rare exceptions who only prove the rule—so they remain”. Hetero-queen, it’ll take more than to be a true revolutionary…
The struggle of the revolutionary fags—those who fight to liberate repressed homosexual desires—joins that of the feminists combatting male chauvinist domination and sexual violence. “The man-woman contradiction and the contradiction between heterosexuality and homosexuality are interwoven. If a gay male behaves in a way antithetical to the heterosexual Norm that is functional to the system, he is still willy-nilly, whether more or less consciously, tied to the phallocentrism that governs this system”. There’s no shying away from the fact that some gay men are misogynists—misogyny, after all, is the most dangerous trap a gay man could fall into—but less so those fags who accept their own femininity. It’s when we repress our own femininity, our desire to become queens, that we engage in misogynistic behaviour. We, as faggots, must learn to openly accept the femininity which some of us have repressed in order to assume our social roles, in accordance with the codes of the heterosexual Order. We might even accept our femininity in the extreme, taking on the most well-worn of stereotypes, become divas—knowing all the while that such roles and stereotypes are entirely empty of meaning. We share with women the common experience of having been considered, even if only once, as Hole: a “sexual object on which the male, convinced of his own ‘superiority’, inflicts a mediocre, neurotic and egoistic desire”. Guys who want to “give it a try”, only to decide that that it’s not really “their thing”, aren’t letting themselves enjoy an erotic relationship with us—they’re only going through the motions, just trying to prove to themselves that they—their egos—are still on top. Until they learn to rethink how they relate to other men, these heterosexual males will never see a change in their relationships with women. “For the time being, from the sexual point of view (and not this alone), they want to do with women what, because of the repression of their homosexuality, they cannot tolerate doing among themselves. They want to fuck women but are terrified of being fucked; they like ejaculating against women, but feel horror at the very idea of another male coming over them. This is all part of the heterosexual equation and its absurdity. For the time being, from the standpoint of the revolution, heterosexual males still represent far too greatly capital, the enemy, domination and alienation. Only the struggle of women can change this. Only our homosexual struggle, only gay pleasure, can make straight men into fags too. And a few men are beginning to understand this, at last: you don’t say!...”.
Let’s hope for “a ‘sexual general strike’ of women against heterosexual males, and the creation of new totalising relationships between women, the complete liberation of female homosexuality. ‘Stop making love with men, let women make love with one another, and with us!’ That is our gay proposal to women. And it is a doubly interesting proposition for us, since, if on the one hand we have an interest in deepening our gay relationship with women, on the other hand it is in our interest that all heterosexual males should be at our disposal ... that should be very entertaining”. There’s always something funny about a feminist who, though fastidious in matters of heterosexual relations, never once stops to think about her own repressed homosexuality. Perhaps this is why Mona Chollet gets as much airtime as Éric Zemmour: seeing her on screen sets us at ease, reminding us that everything will be alright… we’ll all be safe, so long as we shelter in place. Be brave, comrade: GET RID OF YOURSELF! Dogmatic though it may sound, the idea that “feminism is the theory, lesbianism the practice” (T. Grace Atkinson) will no doubt get the attention of that particular demographic of yoga-loving feminists who so enjoy divining subversion in their grey hairs as if they were coffee grounds. “If I did believe in the idea of a vanguard, I would say that the vanguard of the revolution would be made up of lesbians. In any case, the revolution will be lesbian”.
By obsessing over “neo-liberalism” and “biopolitics”—in short, by obsessively parroting Foucault from the ivory towers of the university—we’ve almost entirely forgotten to talk about Kapital, or exchange value, or reification. And so, there’s nothing hypocritical about an artist who dresses the Dior catwalk in neon lights in the spirit of an avowedly feminist practice (look no further than Claire Fontaine… ). So much ink has been spilled around the ‘production of subjectivities’ that we’ve scarcely even bothered to analyse the capitalist system of production. As with the question of identities, what is at stake here is not the redistribution of wealth, but rather its production. In this sense, there is a certain affinity, albeit hidden, between a category-specific critique of capitalism, and so of work and of the economy, and a critique of the binarism of identities such as ‘man’ and woman’, ‘straight’ vs. ‘gay’. Only those who think of capitalism as a vampiric drain on The Good Economy, as a parasite which—God knows how—need simply be expelled from an otherwise healthy body, will see in their newfound legal rights the aegis of their Guardian, will view protection by the State as progress, or read demands for a guaranteed income as an emancipatory struggle. “To tolerate the homosexual minority, without the majority questioning the repression of their own homoerotic desire, means recognising the right of those who are ‘deviant’ to live on the basis of their ‘deviance’ and hence to be marginalised. And this favours the highly increased exploitation of homosexuals on the part of the system that marginalises them”. The anthropomorphosis of capital, as described by a young Camatte (in his pre-1974 incarnation), describes the process by which the struggle goes to die, out on the now-obsolete battlefield of “politics”. When Capital makes itself man, it does more than submit the individual to a regime of profit. It goes inwards, investing in the interior, so as to reduce man to an individualised social being. The social redistribution of antagonism renders politics nothing more than the flipside of Capital; there is nothing to be achieved through politics for the revolutionary movement. “I believe that homosexuals are revolutionary today in as much as we have overcome politics. The revolution for which we are fighting is, among other things, the negation of all male supremacist political rackets (based among other things on sublimated homosexuality), since it is the negation and overcoming of capital and its politics, which find their way into all groups of the left, which characterize them, sustain them, and make them counterrevolutionary. On the other hand, my asshole doesn’t want to be political, because it is not for sale to any racket of the left in exchange for a bit of putrid opportunist and political ‘protection’. Meanwhile, the asshole of the ‘comrades’ in the groups will be revolutionary only when they have managed to enjoy them with others, and when they have stopped covering them up with the ideology of tolerance for the queers. As long as they hide behind the shield of politics, the heterosexual ‘comrades’ will not know what is hidden behind their thighs”.
Carrying on with the charade of “politics” means confirming our status as victims; it means speaking in numbers and statistics—in short, speaking the rotten language of sociology. We should not aspire to be another category of sociological analysis; we need to abolish the system of categories altogether. “The harsh repression of homosexuality” has, to be sure, “led us gays to greatly constrict our identity as homosexuals”, since “to defend and assert ourselves, we must before all else be able to resist, and be homosexuals”. But this is no longer a necessity. We still cling on to that identity as others do to the Nation—let’s get outside, run away, become exiles from our own selves. Let’s make liberty an everyday practice. If we think of ourselves as victims, all we end up doing is vindicating the authority of the oppressor. There’s nothing which reassures a regime more than the existence of victims who see themselves as such: things become clear-cut, illuminated—made visible—by the police officer’s MagLite. “Revolutionary homosexuals have decided to no longer play the role of victim and have begun to reject, once and for all, being simply an exception that proves the rule. The task facing us is to abolish forever a Norm which debases and oppresses us. The role of victim is no longer gratifying enough, nor indeed has it ever been. (Even if it would still be worth our while to write a detailed Martyrology of Gay Persecution.) We intend to enjoy freely, without interference, our own homosexuality and that of others, just as our own (and others’) masochistic tendencies” (132). It might be fun, after all, to commit ourselves to destroying the repressive tolerance of Capital—a game to be played, and one which requires the utmost urgency. As I drag my busted hole through the streets of Paris, my love for the world is channelled into my love for humanity—and I desire gay communism.
A group of gay cats, crazy in love with communism March - 2020.