Flickr Creative Commons/Nicole Beaulac
One thing I can tell you from personal experience about sexual orientation is that it’s very easy to go for years telling NO ONE about your deviant nature.
I realized with vivid clarity that I was gay at the age of 12. I didn’t make contact with another gay person until I was 21, and I didn’t tell any of my friends or family until I was 23. At age 15, I was given a medical questionnaire that inquired about my sexual orientation; I lied. Even though I was bold enough never openly to profess interest in the opposite sex, I dated a few girls whom friends had arranged for me, and had a seemingly typical boy-girl relationship with the girl I took out to prom. I knew she was planning to leave the region and move far away after she graduated, but no one else perceived this as a factor that made it possible for me to date her.
My mainstream Christian religious background held homosexual acts to be sinful, but such matters weren’t among its high priorities. My local community was also uniformly anti-gay, but we were exposed to print media where gay liberation was discussed. I had hope for a future where I could live with myself. But what if I hadn’t had that hope? What if I’d come from a society that was very clear that my impulses were entirely sinful, a society where I’d never, realistically, be able to tell anyone about myself? What would my life, then, seem to be worth?
All societies based on religions condemning deviant sexualities have to have some place to dispose of the people they alienate from self-acceptance.
In Christian societies with a tradition of priestly or monastic celibacy, clearly the place to go if you were queer was into the clergy. You’d be preserved from sinful sex, in theory, by the celibacy rules; and you’d be doing religious service to offset the damage done to the creation by the your sinful existence. Given a little creativity or corruption in the ranks of the religious, you might even be able to have a sex life, especially if you could find some way to portray your actions as controlling sin. Think of Milwaukee priest Lawrence Murphy, who caught boys at a deaf school doing sexual actions with each other, and then punished them by engaging them in masturbation involving himself, supposedly to show them how private masturbation was done ‘properly.’
Sunni Islam, diverse as it is, is mostly anti-monastic, and it promotes marriage rather than life-long celibacy. Though Muslim countries tend to have an underground tradition of same-sex sex among unmarried young males – one boy playing the available hole and the others playing the ‘real men’ making use of it – there is no long-term place in that world for anyone who knows he is purely homosexual. All he can do is hoax a woman into marriage and do his best to pretend to be heterosexual.
And then there are deviants who are, let’s say, ‘more deviant’ than gays. There are diverse fetishists, who may or may not be able to have sexual relations outside their fetish. There are pedophiles, who may, if attracted to females, be able to marry a 9-year-old girl in Yemen, but who won’t be loved for it and won’t rise in her esteem as she ages out of attraction range. There are pedophiles and pederasts attracted to males who are absolutely beyond the borders of accepted life.
Warlike sects within Sunni society have long offered a position of honour for these deviants, who are given every incentive to rate themselves as worthless and unfitting for normal family life. They can become martyrs. People imagine that martyrs in Islam are horny heterosexual males who find the promised virgins of paradise a strong come-on. We are led to suppose that the availability, in real life, of up to four wives who may be divorced and replaced isn’t sufficient variety for these randy al-dudes. Actually, the idea that one may become attracted to such virgins may be real the come-on. In any event, from the viewpoint of the deviant, one certainly has no place remaining on the world below. It’s far better to consummate one’s religion and die a martyr than it is to carry on as a sneaking pervert, loved only by those who don’t yet know you well enough to hate you. Martyrdom is the only consummation you will know, the only release to infinite spiritual union.
Many suicide bombers are deviants. I guarantee you that. Whether they’ve been married, whether they’ve had children, whether they’ve complained that girls ignore them, whether they’ve seemed to be ironclad religious fanatics – these are people who are convinced they are expendable. They have no place on Earth, even though the armies they support need plenty of children who can become the soldiers of the future. These people can’t be of child-raising service, except at the cost of hypocrisy and personal psychosexual agony. Their only value lies in the capital raised for their religious mentors by their deaths.
I don’t subscribe to any view that supposes that the general population of gays, or of any other sexual minority, has more callous, venal or self-serving people in it than does the general population of ‘normal’ people. There is no inherent tendency of gays or voyeurs or zoophiles or pedophiles to engage in killing of the innocent. But when one’s life is valueless except as a living bomb, then one can only be tempted to explode. If religion tells you that those who you’re blowing up are only kaffirs anyway, degraded and dehumanized by their lack of true religion, then your niche in heroism becomes clear.
The best part of blowing yourself up is that you never have to tell anyone about your deviancy. Your intolerable urge to make contact with the human race and plead for yourself is ended. You can take your secret to your Earthly grave, and then be rewarded with acceptability in paradise. For surely, you wouldn’t arrive there in all Allah’s honour and still be a pervert. Eternal life is eternal secrecy.
Therefore, I believe anyone wishing to combat Islamic suicide attacks should begin to take the liberation of sexual minorities in Muslim countries very seriously. The key to this effort, with regard to gays, is to understand that traditional Islam, like traditional Christianity, confused gay relations with opportunistic same-sex sex among horny and frustrated heterosexual males. Notice that the problem of what you should do if you find you are ONLY attracted to your own sex is NEVER discussed in scriptures. Only stray acts of craven lust by people who are assumed to be essentially heterosexual are discussed. Real homosexuals are completely off the hook for this condemnation. They are not perverting their natural heterosexuality with unbounded lust. They don’t have a heterosexuality to pervert. If male, they are what the Quran calls, kindly, ‘men who have no natural power with women.’ What such men should do with their lives is not fleshed out, except to say that they may legally look upon the nakedness of women to whom they are not married, and thus be personal servants.
For extensive discussion of all surrounding details and queries, and reconciliation of homosexuality with all relevant quotations from the Quran and hadiths, read through the three-part illustrative story starting here.
As for non-gay deviants, the western combination of tolerance for those who may safely practice their paraphilias, and helpful therapy for those who may not, are great improvements upon the existing funnel into destructive martyrdom.
We must take sexual politics in Islamic societies as a top priority. Give hope to the legions of expendable selves who are created by conservative religious traditions. Solicit LGBT refugees and treat them as prizes for human rights. Let every deviant from Marrakesh to Mecca to Maluku know that life has more to offer than having his or her sinful flesh blown to pieces.
And repeat the basic understanding as often and as prominently as you can: we know that most suicide bombers are probably sexual deviants. To engage in suicide combat is a confession of self-perceived unfitness to live. We will all know you were a pervert if you explode. Your secrecy is over. You’ve not only been blown up – you’ve been outed.