This monograph consists of two letters that Paul wrote to me. Letter No. 1 is titled "A Discussion of the Nature of Sex and Celebration and an Examination of the Causes of Homophobia in the Gay Community." Letter No. 2 is titled "On the Formation of Inner Identity in the Growing Child."
When Paul first came to New York in February 1963 he moved right into the heart of Greenwich Village, on Waverly Place just west of Washington Square. This was more or less the gay capitol of the world then and, while Paul found it easy to find gay clients and make gay friends, he wasn't always happy with the gay community.
The psychology of any oppressed subculture is a mass of contradictions, of course. We gays claim to be proud of our differences from straight people, but, to be politically expedient, we also say we're as "normal" as they are. And we are often in denial about unhealthy behavior patterns that became ingrained during longs years of social ostracism. Take sexual promiscuity, please.
Any New York gay man in the 60's knew about Christopher Street, where sex was easy, habituating, and empty. Those who were looking for love in all the wrong places eventually learned that when sex comes first, people never have the time to get to know one another. And without a true courtship, love is replaced by obsession, compulsion and hysteria.
When we opened the Center in 1973, Paul made a big fuss over the "Christopher Street scene" and how far it had drifted from anything healthy or wholesome, anything that might illustrate our slogan, "Homosexuality is More Than Sex." Although he was reluctant to criticize the gay community in print, when he finally felt his writing days were ending he decided he had nothing to lose. He went after this enemy of the people — which with delicious irony he now called "homophobia in the gay community" — with a vengeance. Maybe he put it in the form of a letter to me so he couldn't be accused of publicly betraying the movement. If he had asked me, I would have said that no movement has served its purpose until it is ripe for condemnation by the next movement.
The second letter was my fault. Paul was the thinker in our family, doggedly pursuing truth wherever the brick edifice of the unknown showed signs of crumbling. I was the eager student, full of the obvious questions regardless of whether any real foundation had yet been laid for their resolution. One of my obvious questions was, why do sons polarize with their fathers rather than their mothers? I didn't doubt that they did. I saw it clearly in my own family and in those of my friends. But children need to ask why. It's their way of asserting their equality.
At the end of his life, Paul finally tried to sketch out an answer to this question but, perhaps because he wasn't completely sure about it, he put it in the form of a private letter to me — which was, to be sure, circulated at the Center.
I don't think I understand much about what he's saying in this letter. I'll read it again in a few years and see if it makes any more sense by then. I've learned to do things like that.
I prefer to record my insights into sexual and celebrative mechanisms in the form of a letter to you. I do not want to direct this material to a more general audience, aware as I am that it will be received as prohibitionistic and provocative by many gay persons. The understanding of sex and celebration is essential to the defining of what it is to be a homosexual. When homosexuality is seen exclusively in terms of sexual feelings and behavior, the real heart of the homosexual experience remains unrecognized. If homosexuality is defined as the ability to fall in love with someone of the same gender, bringing into focus the mated mechanism with its accompanying polarity, its courtship behavior, and its commitment to shared growth between the partners, the homosexual life style reveals itself to have a potentially powerful impact on the quality of life. Since many homosexuals find that this invitation to deepen and broaden their personalities brings an unwelcome challenge to their psychological resources, they prefer to retreat behind the image of a sexual life operating as a thing in itself, divorced from any serious influence on the rest of their psychic existence. Of all the homophobic influences at work in today's society, the one most difficult to expose is the one found in the gay community itself. It takes a stubborn position when homosexuality is identified as a pathway to genuine psychological independence. When the visible members of the gay community are invited to take responsibility for their own maturity, using their homosexuality to develop psychic assets of potential value to all mankind, they react as if their sexual and celebrative life were in danger, resisting any such approach as if it had inevitable prohibitionistic implications. The fact of the matter is that there is corrupt and perverse homosexual sex as well as healthy sex which promotes psychological maturity. In the same way, there is wild and mindless celebration as well as healthy celebration in gay relationships. In order to identify sex and celebration which is harmonious with psychological growth, the entire dynamics of the growth process must be understood