The Ontology of Gay and Queer

Homosexuality: History, Politics, Ethics

April /2001

Table of Contents

Introduction………………………………………………….. p. 2-4

Definitions and Genealogy of Homosexuality……………… p. 5-

Genealogy of Ontology………………………………………. p.

Coming Out of the Closet:

Conversion and Inaugeration or Integration……….. p.

Genetic Ontology, Social Artifice and Orientations………... p.

Conclusion: The Sexual Tower of Babel

and Politics of Ontology………………………………. p.


In recent years, the gay community has become fractured. While some would say that it was never whole, a certain shift in understanding of gay identity has taken place. A battle is raging between self-respecting fags in the trenches of political action, the institutional gay bar, the vast interweaving internet and chat communities, and greatest of all in academia. One need only navigate a popular gay website, PlanetOut[1], to see the differentiation taking place. On the website’s popular personal ads section, one sees the delineation. Internet personal ads have provided a great way of gay men and women to meet and “hook-up.” They allow for an almost personalized shopping list of information, describing ethnicity, weight, religious preference, personal photos, and even some personal commentary. In a community that is becoming suburbanized, the internet has provided for a new coming together, similar to what gay bars and urban cities once did and are still doing. When choosing an identity (or perhaps, lack thereof), the web surfer is confronted with varying options. On top of the categories that have been common throughout the GLBT[2] community, such as “gay” or “bisexual,” the surfer is now given the option of the indefinite “queer.”

Many people, including this author, did not know of any previous delineation. People in the gay community itself, do not seem to recognize a difference much of the time[3]. The terms “gay” and “queer” seemed to indicate the same things: same-sex attraction. However, the shift seems to have taken place in the early nineteen-nineties, with an advent of aggressive “queer” scholarship and cultural formation. Annamarie Jagose in her book, Queer Theory: An Introduction, characterizes this shift as such:

Once the term ‘queer’ was, at best, slang for homosexual, and worst, a term of homophobic abuse. In recent years ‘queer’ has come to be used differently, sometimes as an umbrella term for a coalition of culturally marginal sexual self-identifications and at other times to describe a nascent theoretical model which has developed out of a more traditional lesbian and gay studies. What is clear, even from this brief and partial account of its contemporary deployment, is that queer is very much a category in the process of formation [italics mine].[4]

Authors such as Eve Sedgwick, Judith Bulter, and Michael Warner, to name a few, have inaugurated a new (or perhaps older) understanding of homosexual identity, being, and politics, based on a more fluid identity structure and anarchist tendencies. Depending on continental French and German philosophy and psychoanalysis, these authors have opened up a fresh world focusing not on a naturalized and normalized sexual identity divorced from sex acts, but one that embraces all the messiness of “fuck buddies,” orgies, “bare backing,” and “one night stands,” that characterize much of the formerly known gay community. Sexual acts and being, and the social community of gay life, are interwoven for the new “queer.” Unabashedly sexual and counter-cultural, the new queer stands apart as a Dionysian demon scarring the landscape of heterosexual normativity. The demon willfully subverts the meaning of being human, as a rational and domesticated person. In short, much like early Anabaptists who thwarted the societal structures and being human in Reformation Europe, the new queer thwarts the social structures indicative and thought commonsensical in Western Society. The very nature of the word, “deviating from the expected or normal; strange,”[5] connotes this disquieting subversive process and act of queer being. Queers are revolutionaries and as such, as Michael Warner characterizes it, have trouble with “normal.”[6]

In contrast, gay has come to term a more “mainstream” homosexuality. Focusing on genetic determinism and even social determinism, it locks in a fixed ontology. Gay people have formulated their ontology through a foundationalist system that normalizes and legitimizes their sexuality. Instead of a viewing sex in all its multifaceted variance, the domesticated gay views his/her sexuality in terms of a fixed genesis and end, echoing the words of their critics “its always been that way.” Organizations such as, the