Jan 1974




Reflecting bigotry


The letter of Norman Smith and Ray Hoffman reflects exactly that sort of bigotry through ignorance which the USO Gay Referral Service is seeking to combat.  The inept sarcasm with which these two fellows group together rape, transvestitism and exhibitionism with homosexuality as deviant behavior indicates a view of sexuality which is completely nonsensical, as well as potentially dangerous. This I hope to show by means of the –following.

Rape is a crime with a victim. Someone is forced to have sex and is degraded and often harmed in the process.

Exhibitionism also involves a victim, but one who is physically unharmed. Psychological harm results only from, social convention which makes nudity terrifying to someone and terror titillating to someone else. Alter the convention and the act will lose its thrill.

Transvestitism affects only those who consent to be involved. There are no victims. Public disapproval is simply the product of convention.

Homosexuality involves private expressions of affection between consenting partners, also without victims. In addition, unless gay people announce themselves, the activity goes unnoticed. Society is denied an understanding of a whole style of life and not only of a few, acts. Society is allowed, through ignorance, to develop all sorts of misconceptions which reinforce the old taboos, among these the notion of homosexuality as deviance.

As well as being nonsensical, the view implicit in Smith and Hoffman’s letter is fast losing its grip on society. It is becoming a minority response, one which deviates from an  increased social recognition of the validity of gay modes of life: The letter also creates victims, fostering what prejudice remains against all those who wish to determine their own forms of sexual expression.  Indeed a Deviant Referral Service might prove useful to the authors of the letter, if to anybody. Our Gay Referral Service has two main purposes: to inform the public about what the gay life is, and to provide competent assistance to any persons who have difficulty in dealing with their own sexuality or that of friends or loved ones. We are concerned with homosexuality and with educating society and not with any given group of people.

Thomas Willenbecher