Letters to the Editor

Published in: March-April 2008 issue.


Unreported Passages

To the Editor:

The last Gay and Lesbian Review had a list of obituaries of prominent Americans who died in 2007. Below are three significant deaths that were not included.

Arthur Cyrus Warner died on July 22 at age 89. Educated at Princeton, Warner went on to obtain degrees from Harvard Law School and then served in the Navy as a second lieutenant. After 1945, he got a Ph.D. in history at Harvard and taught college for four years. Around the same time he joined “The League,” a homophile group formed in New York City. Soon thereafter he became the legal adviser to Mattachine East Society, where he was eventually upstaged by Frank Kameny. After that he formed his own organization, which had several incarnations, of which the most important was the National Committee for Sexual Liberties (NCSL), which was instrumental in early efforts, before Stonewall, to decriminalize homosexuality. He is one of the unsung heroes of gay liberation who was not afraid to stand up for equality and human rights for gays when it was dangerous to do so.

Massimo Consoli died on November 4 at age 61. Known as the father of the Italian gay movement, Consoli was a prodigious writer, theorist, and historian with over forty books on homosexuality. He was also a tireless and talented lifelong organizer who pioneered the first modern Italian gay organizations. Consoli also wrote Homocaust about the Nazi persecution of gay people. His Ecce Homo was an account of homosexuality in the Bible. His 1999 autobiography, Affetti Speciali, records the birth and progress of the Italian gay movement. Consoli organized the Gay May Day in Rome in 1972 and the first annual Italian commemoration of Stonewall riots on June 28, 1976. He was the first person to request a meeting with the Roman police regarding crimes against gays, resulting in a drastic reduction in homophobic crimes.

Dr. James Hemming died on December 25 at age 98. The British gay equality activist was vice president of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association, a child psychologist, and an early proponent of comprehensive sex education. Hemming was especially active in the 1980’s fighting the heterosexist legislation of the Conservative government that forbade the teaching of homosexuality in schools. He criticized efforts to water down sex education, saying, “What is necessary for children is that they should have a complete, profound understanding of the full range of human sexuality.” Hemming denounced the so-called Blasphemy Law, censorious legislation used by the government to prosecute Gay News after it ran a poem “The Love That Dares to Speak Its Name.” Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association secretary Cliff James said, “We are very sad to lose Dr. Hemming, a great humanist and defender of free thought.”

William A. Percy, Boston


The Homosexual Imperative

Dear Editor:

To follow up on Dr. Roughgarden’s views in “Nature Abhors a Category” in the January-February 08 issue: there have been a great many articles on the occurrence of homosexuality among humans and animals in general, but very little on exactly why it occurs. Many researchers have delved into possible genetic, biological, or hormonal origins of homosexuality, but I’m not aware of any who ponder why it even appears at all. What’s its purpose? After all, the earth and everything on it is aimed at survival, and the only way any one species survives is through reproduction. So why would nature come up with such a non-procreative phenomenon as homosexuality?

The answer is pretty simple. Homosexual attractions in whatever species are nature’s most fundamental means of controlling the population, its own method of birth control. Were it not for homosexuality, any one species could face enormous pressures on space and food sources. Threats to its very survival would grow. Far from being a threat to the survival of the species, as some right wingers would have it, we homosexuals are a necessary component, a complement to the overriding demands of our species to survive through reproduction.

Some gay and lesbian activists may read this and feel sickened that this concept reduces our entire lives to a purely biological function. Yet why else has nature made us the way we are? For the good of the species, it’s in the best interests of public policy that we be accepted not just as a vital part of human society, but encouraged to live our lives as we see fit. What could be more human than that?

David Williams, Louisville, Kentucky