Today a Well-Meaning Friend Recommended the Bio of a Gay and Jewish Holocaust Survivor!
He, and i in particular, were very surprised at the vehemence of my reaction.
The general tone of my first reaction was: What with all of the gay Nazis i have known or know of, and what with the intertwining histories of fascism, militarism, male-chauvinism, and men who have sex or at least might desire sex with men (My first thought was Ernst Röhm, “homo-nationalism”, gay hyper-masculinity, etc.), it would behoove present day gay men to do some deep soul searching before arousing the impression they had anything what so ever in common with someone who had survived the Shoah as a gay and Jewish person in the Third Reich.
But why didn’t i feel this biography was for me? Some thoughts below …
"Todgeschlagen Todgeschwiegen, Den homosexuellen Opfern des Nationalsozialismus" (murdered and hushed-up, for the homosexual victims of National Socialism) – the inscription on the memorial plaque on the southern facade of Berlin’s Nollendorfplatz U-Bahn (subway) station commemorating the homosexual victims of National Socialism in the Third Reich. (Source: James Steakley @ Wikimedia. Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0)
… and one more thing that occurred to me as i pondered what exactly had got my dander up.
It irks me that gay men see themselves as the victims, and seek to identify with people who suffered under National Socialism. Most white, cis, gay men in the urban centers of the West cannot in their wildest nightmares imagine what persecution of the kind prevalent in Fascist Germany of the 30’s and 40’s must have been like. The circumstances of our current lives have not the least in common with what Beck must have gone through those 12 years, and there after. For Beck to be conciliatory is a sign of greatness, psychological necessity, or it is merely resignation in the face of the human condition – perhaps some admixture of the above. For victims of atrocities “coming to terms” is very difficult and important, however i’m not the victim in this case. I am the perpetrator, as i also am in the context of present day injustices.
As a white, cis, man of middle income back-ground (though i have settled in the working class), fully literate with access to every conceivable amenity, i am the one in whose name the horrors of rapacious present day capitalism (ie. of the West) are being undertaken. As if that weren’t, enough my “homosexuality” is being employed by spin specialist to give the entire blood frenzy the air of self-defense. Has it never come to your attention how many of our so-called enemies have a “poor record on women’s and gay rights”, and how many of our allies who are equally chauvinistic are seldom described in this light? Take Azerbaijan for example. The Aliyev government is not what one generally calls enlightened … and yet you could hear pin drop on the subjects that provoke cries of “mordeo” in the West when talking about Iran, or Russia, or in the case of organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood. Is it not striking that since nine-eleven, people who before then could not have given a rat’s arse about women and “sexual minorities” are suddenly ablaze with the cause of their/our defense?
I am aware that there is great comfort in perceiving one’s self as the victim, and that many five and six digit income gay men would more than eagerly see themselves as the heirs of whose lives were mutilated and lost during the Shoah. For my part i am convinced that i am not the victim, but quite the contrary, and it would shame me to even appear to be adopting Beck as my a role model in coming to terms with my life. Role models for me can be people like Helmut Schmidt, Willie Brandt, Peter Scholl-Latour, Christian Ströbele, John Waters, etc. Cis, white men like myself who believe(d) in working to give those perceived to be un-like us the chances we took for granted. Men who did/do not expect society to apologize to them for the privilege they have through no fault of their own.
It is maddening to me to watch gay men put on their fancy clothes, get in their fancy cars, and drive to the health club and the natural food store, all at the expense of the rest of humanity, and then expect others to see any parallel between them(us) and the likes of Beck. Beck’s biography is not their(our) literature. We are not the persecuted but the persecutors. We do not need to learn to forgive, we need to learn to relinquish power and privilege so that others may live decent lives. For us to try to use the story of people like Beck in order to blackmail the world into granting us still more privilege than we already have is though typical, utterly unacceptable to say the least."
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