My fear in rereading the chapter on Male Homosexuality in David Reuben’s 1969 book, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask), something I had not read since I was fourteen or fifteen, was that his sick distortions about homosexuality would get inside my head. When I finally did reread the chapter, it was so outlandish in its portrayal of homosexuality that it seemed laughable and sad at the same time. Ruben’s utter contempt, breezy sneering, and high minded superiority for homosexuality have an ugly and evil quality.
This is the book that so many of us growing up in the 1970s read because there simply was no other source of information that existed. There was no internet. You could not go to the library and ask for the gay section without the librarian looking down upon you with a knowing sneer.
In reality, there was almost nothing in the card catalog of my local library about homosexuality in 1972. I remember walking around the library looking up every reference to homosexuality that was in the card catalog, but it was like being in a desert with no water. There was almost nothing to find.
So we read Ruben, because our parents had the book, and we hated ourselves for who we were. We hated the life and lifestyle he described that we would live. We hated the sick, degrading, pathetic world of homosexuality that he described. And we looked for a way out of our situation.
This morning, as I had sex with my boyfriend, I found phrases from Ruben’s book creeping into my mind. It was insidious how his words, so inaccurate yet so vividly written, found their way into my thoughts. “Get out of my head,” I shouted to myself and they did. But then they would creep back in and again I would shout them away again.
Evil is insidious. It has a way of lurking around corners. Ruben’s words have such a powerful effect on me as a teenager, and for so many years I saw the gay world through his sick lens, that even with all the ways I have fought my internalized homophobia, his words still can find an old place to anchor.
Well, I say no! Get out of my head Ruben. Get your lying, evil ass out of my head. You hurt the lives of an entire generation of gay men. Your description of homosexuality was completely fabricated and self-serving. The gay world you described never existed but had enough tidbits that seemed accurate to make us, as naive teenagers, to think your entire description was real.
I am grateful for my life today and for the loving, tender relationship I can have with a man. I love the deep intimacy I can have with my partner and the utter sexiness of his hairy chest and smooth butt. Neither of us wants to be the woman, sorry Ruben. We are both men who like men. We both love the intimacy of embracing each other, naked chest to chest, as we kiss passionately. We are men who both find the others hairy chest, nipples and cocks, sexy and lovely. This kind of sexiness and intimacy was deemed not to exist in Ruben’s world. But it does exist in my world today. And I am so glad I lived to find it.