Reflections after the Stonewall Riots: Mario Mieli

Photograph of a costume party held at the Institute for Sexual Research (Institut für Sexualwissenschaft) on an unknown date. Magnus Hirschfeld is in glasses, right, holding hands with his partner, the archivist Karl Giese — Source (Credit: Magnus-Hirschfeld-Gesellschaft e.V., Berlin. Not public domain)

To come over to our side means, quite literally, to be fucked in the ass, and to discover that this is one of the most beautiful of pleasures. It means to marry your pleasure to mine without castrating chains, without matrimony. It means enjoyment without the Norm, without laws. It is only your inhibitions that prevent you from seeing that only by coming over to our side can we achieve our revolution. And communism can only be ours, i.e. belonging to us all, to those of us able to love: why would you want to be left out?

It is capital that still so insistently opposes you to us. What you have to fear is not being fucked in the ass, but rather remaining what you at present still are, heterosexual males as the Norm wants you to be, even in crisis, as if it was not high time to oppose yourselves forever to crisis, to castration, to guilt. As if it was not time to gayly reject the discontent that the present society has imposed on us, and to stop the totalitarian machine of capital in its tracks by realising new and totalising relations: and as we are bodies, erotic relations among us all.

Mario Mieli was one of the principal protagonists of radical homosexual politics in Italy in the 1970s, rejecting “reformist, politic party politics” and sclerotic “revolutionary” theory, Mieli would in his short life endeavour to articulate what he called a gay communism.

Chapter 6: Towards a Gay Communism

Transvestism, Homosexuality and ‘Homosexualisation’

There is more to be learned from wearing a dress for a day, than there is from wearing a suit for life.[1]

As we have seen, ‘schizophrenia’ sheds light on the transsexual substratum of the psyche, our bodily being-in-becoming (the mind is part of the body, and the body as a whole is far from completely monosexual). We have also established that it is via the liberation of homoeroticism, among other things, that transsexuality is concretely attained; and however much homosexuality is put down by the system today, we gays are among those persons most aware of the transsexual ‘nature’ that lies within us all. Fantasies of a transsexual character often spring to our consciousness, and many of us have had more or less transsexual experiences.

Which is not to exclude the fact that many transsexuals (and transvestites) today are predominantly hetero. For example, Rachel, the American founder of the Transvestites and Transsexuals Group of the London section of the Gay Liberation Front, defines herself as a ‘lesbian’, but – from the genital-anatomical point of view – is male. In other words: despite being equipped with sexual characteristics that are both primarily and secondarily coded as male, Rachel feels herself to be, and understands herself as, a woman, and so she acts and dresses as such (her style recalls that of many feminists, and Rachel is a feminist). As a lesbian, she is homosexual, but she is also heterosexual, because s/he likes women, and is even married and only rarely has sexual relations with men, who she finds unattractive in so far as they are usually phallocratic and obsessed with virility. When she lived in London, she was also considered a ‘woman’ by the comrades of the Women’s Liberation Front: as far as I know, Rachel was the only person I know of male sex admitted to the meetings of the English feminists. Judith, her wife, is homosexual, and, with the exception made for Rachel (but Rachel, in reality, truly constitutes an exception), she has sexual relations only with women.[2]

‘Heterosexuals’ aware of their transsexuality, however, are at present far less numerous than gays who have undertaken the transsexual trip. This is because heterosexuals, as a general rule, have adapted to their mutilated role of man or woman as something ‘normal’, obvious and taken for granted, whereas we gays almost invariably experience it as a burden that we have to be exclusively men or women, and suffer from the resistance with which we, and our desire, are opposed by heterosexuals of the same sex as ourselves. The hermaphrodite fantasy, dream and ideal occupy a major place in the gay existential universe.

Society attacks transsexuals or those who might appear as such with special violence: the butch lesbians, the fags, and the ‘effeminate’ male homosexual bear a greater brunt of public execration and contempt, and are frequently criticised even by those reactionary homosexuals who are better adapted to the system, the ‘straight gays’ who have managed to pass as ‘normal’ or heterosexual. These reactionary homosexuals (these homo-cops) insist that outrageous queens and transvestites ‘trash the gay scene and the image of homosexuality in the eyes of all’. For our part, we outrageous gays see them as queens disguised as straight, as disgraced people who are forced to camouflage themselves, to act a ‘natural’ life in the role imposed by the system, and to justify their position as consenting slaves with ideological arguments. They wonder ‘what it is the gay movement wants, what it is fighting for, because nowadays our society accepts diversity. True, even today we can’t make love freely wherever we feel like it, on the buses or on the sidewalks of Via Corso: but then again, not even heteros are allowed to do that. So things aren’t that bad. Well, misery loves company …

Many feminists criticise us queens because we often tend in our dress and behaviour to copy the stereotyped ‘feminine’ fetish that women have to fight. But if a woman dressed like Caterina Caselli or like Camilla Cederna is normal for the system today, a man dressed like Caterina Boratto or Germaine Greer[3] is quite abnormal, as far as ‘normal’ people are concerned, and so our transvestism has a clear revolutionary character. There is no harm in us fags having our bit of fantasy: we demand the freedom to dress as we like, to choose a definite style one day and an ambiguous one the day after, to wear both feathers and ties, leopard-skin and rompers, the leather queen’s chains, black leather and whip, the greasy rags of the street porter or a tulle maternity dress. We enjoy the bizarre, digging into (pre)history, the dustbins and uniforms of yesterday, today and tomorrow, the trumpery, costumes and symbols that best express the mood of the moment. As Antonio Donato puts it, we want to communicate by our clothing, too, the ‘schizophrenia’ that underlies social life, hidden behind the censorious screen of the unrecognised transvestism of everyday. From our vantage point, in fact, it is ‘normal’ people who are the true transvestites. Just as the absolute heterosexuality that is so proudly flaunted masks the polymorphous but sadly inhibited disposition of their desire, so their standard outfits hide and debase the marvellous human being that lies suppressed within. Our transvestism is condemned because it shows up for all to see the funereal reality of the general transvestism, which has to remain silent, and is simply taken for granted.

Far from being particularly odd, the transvestite exposes how tragically ridiculous the great majority of people are in their monstrous uniforms of man and ‘woman’. Ever taken a ride on the underground? If the transvestite seems ridiculous to the ‘normal’ person who encounters him, far more ridiculous and sad, for the transvestite, is the nudity of the person, so properly dressed, who laughs in his face.

For a man, to dress as a ‘woman’ does not necessarily mean projecting the ‘woman-object’; above all, because he is not a woman, and the male fetishism imposed by capital decrees that he should be dressed quite differently, reified in a quite different guise, dressed as a man or at least in unisex. Besides, a frock can be very comfortable, fresh and light when it’s hot, and warm and cosy when it’s cold. We can’t just assume that women who normally go around dressed as men, swathed tightly in jeans, feel more comfortable than a queen dressed up as a witch, with full-bodied cloak and wide-brimmed hat.

But a man can also get pleasure from wearing a very uncomfortable ‘feminine’ garb. It can be exciting, and quite trippy, for a gay man to wear high heels, elaborate make-up, suspender belt and satin panties. Once again, those feminists who attack us gays, and in particular transvestites, for dressing as the ‘woman-object’, are serving to guilt-trip us for gay humour, the transsexual aesthetic, and the craziness of crazy queens: they introduce a new morality that is, in fact, the very old anti-gay morality, simply given a new gloss by modern categories and stuffed with an ideological feminism, ideological because it provides a cover for the anti-homosexual taboo, for the fear of homosexuality, for the intention to reform the Norm without eliminating it.

Heterosexual feminists fail to hit the mark when they discuss homosexuality. And we queens, moreover, have no intention of being put down by women any more than by men. In the course of our lives, many of the educastrated educastrators we have encountered have been women, and there are certainly far more women still opposed to homosexuality today than there are gay men who are male supremacist and enslaved by the dominant ideology. Many women have abused and do abuse us, they have ridiculed and do ridicule us, they have oppressed and do oppress us. These women cannot but be opposed to us, and we cannot but ‘oppose’ them, if we intend, from the gay standpoint, to wage a struggle for universal liberation (a struggle, therefore, which involves them as well, fighting against their prejudices, with a view to dissolving all anti-gay resistances). I have already shown how the contradiction between men and women and the contradiction between heterosexuality and homosexuality are intertwined. And so if feminists cannot but oppose the persistence of male supremacy among us queens, we cannot but challenge fundamentally the heterosexual ‘normality’ with which the women’s movement is still suffused, despite the new fashion or ideology of ‘homosexuality’ that has become widespread in it.

Franco Berardi (Bifo), a heterosexual man, speaks of the ‘homosexualisation’ of the women’s movement, a ‘homosexualisation’ (the term could hardly sound less gay) which he supports, as a heterosexual male in crisis (but not too much so). And yet Bifo’s ‘homosexualisation’ has little in common with the struggle of us queens for the liberation of the gay desire. The concept of ‘homosexualisation’ is all too reminiscent, beneath the ‘feminist’ camouflage of Men’s Liberation, of the male supremacist bisexuality of the hustlers. But Bifo will not understand, in fact he cannot understand. To do so, he would have to savour the fragrance of the urinals, and feel in his own person the full weight of oppression that bears down on the shoulders of us gays. For the moment, please, let us speak about homosexuality, we who have come out in the open; homosexual is something one uncovers, not something one becomes. I would like to get her in bed, that Bifo, and confront her ‘homosexualisation’ with my homosexuality. And this is a gay desire – it is an advance,[4] not a concept.

There are also feminists for whom the ‘new homosexuality’ discovered by the women’s movement is not the same thing as lesbianism, which – they hold – is still marked by a male model. Some of them say they came to accept homosexuality after realising the impossibility of going on with relationships with men, and that the homosexual choice is a necessary one for women as long as their struggle has not yet radically changed men and therefore their relations with them. Once again, homosexuality is presented as a substitute choice, a palliative, a surrogate sexual dimension in which the libido withdrawn from male ‘objects’ is politically channelled.

This is what the new ‘homosexual’ fashion among feminists amounts to, a fashion that is quickly recuperated by the system (the Corriere della Sera has articles about it on its feature page), and which, despite appearances, is simply a new form of the old anti-gay exorcism. The ‘new homosexuality’ of feminism is worth little more than the ‘homosexualisation’ of someone like Bifo. It boasts a ‘homo’ mask, but this actually serves to (un)veil the genuinely latent gay desire, and above all the conscious heterosexual desire that wears the mask. If this mystification is the ‘new homosexuality’ of women, or at least of certain feminists, then it is quite true that it has little in common with lesbianism. Lesbians are right if they refuse to identify with the general heterosexual atmosphere of the feminist movement, and continue to organise in autonomous (‘homonomous’) groups.

When there are women who criticise us gays if we dress as ‘women’, we should not ignore the pulpit from which this preaching comes. I have never been attacked by a lesbian for my make-up, my floral gowns or my silver heels. It is true, of course, that, if for centuries women have been forced by male power to dress up in an oppressive manner, the great creators of fashion, the couturiers, hair-stylists, etc. have almost always been gay men. But the homosexual fantasy has simply been exploited by the system – it still is[5] – in order to oppress women and adorn them in the way that men want to see them. For centuries, the system has exploited the work of homosexuals to subjugate women, just as it has made abundant use of women to oppress gays (any gay man need only recall his mother). For this reason, if it is very important for women today to reject certain ways of dress, i.e. being dressed and undressed by men, it is equally important that gays should recapture and reinvent for themselves the aesthetic that they were obliged for centuries to project onto women.

If Marlene Dietrich in her glitter is an emblem of the oppression of women, she is at the same time a gay symbol, she is gay, and her image, her voice, her sequins form part of a homosexual culture, a desire that we queens recognise in ourselves. It is true that for a woman today to present herself like a Vogue cover girl is in general anti-feminist and reactionary. But for a gay man to dress as he pleases, boldly expressing a fantasy which capital has relegated to the reified pages of Vogue, has a certain revolutionary cutting edge, even today. We are fed up with dressing as men. We ask our sisters in the women’s movement, then, don’t burn the clothes that you cast off. They might be useful to someone, and we have in fact always longed for them. In due course, moreover, we shall invite you all to our great coming-out ball.

There can be no doubt that queens, ‘effeminate’ homosexuals and transvestites are among those men closest to transsexuality (even if frequently, because of oppression, they live their transsexual desire in alienated forms, infected by false guilt). Queens and transvestites are those ‘men’ who, even though they are ‘men’, understand better what it means to be a woman in this society, where the men most disparaged are not the brutes, phallocrats or violent individualists, but rather those who most resemble women. It is precisely the harsh condemnation of ‘effeminacy’ that sometimes leads gay men to behave in a way that is functional to the system, to become their own jailors. They then balance their ‘abnormal’ adoration for the male, the tough guy, the hoodlum, with a ‘normal’ and neurotic anti-woman attitude, which is counterrevolutionary and male supremacist. But the homosexual struggle is abolishing this historical figure of the queen enslaved by the system (the ‘queer men’ whom Larry Mitchell distinguishes from ‘faggots’), and creating new homosexuals, whom the liberation of homoeroticism and transsexual desire brings ever closer to women, new homosexuals who are the true comrades of women, to the point that they can see no other way of life except among other homosexuals and among women, given the increasingly detestable character of heterosexual males. Whenever we gays see ‘normal’ males discussing one another, or rather tearing one another to pieces, whenever we see them butting against one another, with a profusion of fucks!, as if they were fucking, then we truly do think they have understood fuck all, at least if they are still unaware of the homoerotic desire that pushes them towards one another yet confuses them because it is repressed. And if the gay struggle elevates the acidic and put-down queen (acidic even when she’s not on acid), transforming her into a folle, a gay comrade who is ever more transsexual, it also negates the heterosexual man, since it tends towards the liberation of the queen that is in him too.

Anxiety and Repression. Gay ‘Filthiness’

The particular behaviour and fantasies of homosexuals have their counterpart in the blindness and ignorance with which the majority of people respond to the entire sexual question, and the homosexual question in particular. Most of them are still far too unaware of the limitations involved in the opposition between the sexes, even though this may well play a substantial part in their own suffering. Why?

This lack of awareness is the product of the repression they have undergone, and it serves in turn to perpetuate this repression. A severe mental and social censorship conceals what has taken place: their original polymorphous, ‘perverse’ and undifferentiated erotic disposition was condemned and repressed in the course of infancy, so that the weight of condemnation gradually drags them down into the hell of the adult world, of which the hell of childhood is only the antechamber. Repressed, and thus constricted and deformed, the existence of this tendentiously polymorphous disposition has been relegated to the harsh prison of the unconscious, like the foot of a Chinese woman tortured during imperial times. Restrained by the censorial walls of this prison, each individual has to internalise the sexual values and customs of the heterosexual male model that are imposed by patriarchal society (and in our case, capitalist society in particular). In the words of Norman O. Brown:

“The pattern of normal adult sexuality (in Freud’s terminology, genital organisation) is a tyranny of one component in infantile sexuality, a tyranny which suppresses some of the other components altogether and subordinates the rest to itself.”[6]

The gay movement maintains that the tyranny of genital heterosexuality by no means completely suppresses the polymorphous tendencies of infantile sexuality but simply subjugates them to the yoke of repression. The struggle for the liberation of Eros can release even the most hidden of desires (for example the coprophagous and necrophilic).

In any case, genital tyranny produces anxiety and suffering in us all. The harsher the repression, the stronger the anxiety induced, in our experience, by persons, events and situations which conjure up the wide scope of the repressed contents and tend to disrupt the repression itself. Thus the homosexual is mistreated by the heterosexual because he ‘reawakens’ in him the homoerotic desire that has been forced to lie dormant for so long. This ‘reawakening’ is rarely complete, generally taking the form of an unsettling stirring, the presentiment of an earthquake that would threaten the rigid structure of his ego, based as this is on the repression of homoeroticism. The heterosexual insults, provokes and threatens the homosexual because he feels himself challenged by his presence, which besieges his ‘normal’ equilibrium by suggesting that he might himself be both object and subject of the gay desire.

According to Groddeck, as I have already pointed out, homosexuality is not completely repressed. Rather than repression, it is a question of a daily self-deception, a quasi-repression, a bad faith that leads the heterosexual to present himself as exclusively such, even though he knows in fact that he does have gay desires.[7] It is symptomatic of this that so many men maintain they have never wanted sexual relations with other men; they fear this might please them too much, and that they might become gay themselves …

As a general rule, the heterosexual views the queer as ‘filthy’. This is due, above all, to the fact that the ‘normal’ individual sees reflected in the gay person the homoerotic component of his own desire, negated and repressed in its anal eroticism, urophilia, coprophilia, etc. ‘Normal’ people consider ‘filthy’ any sexual acts bound up with those erotic tendencies which repression has induced them to renounce, giving rise in them – via the induced guilt of their repressed desire – to a particular authoritarian morality, which induces further guilt in its turn. ‘Normal’ people become maniacs of a certain type of orderliness (of order itself), of a certain type of cleanliness and of the police.[8]

Homosexuals who go out cruising – and almost all gay men do so – know perfectly well that their pleasure very often involves them in breaking the law, disrupting order (even in those countries where homosexuality is not as such a criminal offence). We gays have almost invariably made love in the streets, in parks, in public toilets, in cinemas, museums, churches, in the Tuileries. We have been fucked behind barrack walls, we have sucked each other off kneeling in front of the tomb of Santa Croce, we have held splendid orgies under railway bridges. ‘Normal’ people can only see it as ‘filthy’ that we like to eat sperm and be fucked in the ass and that we perhaps do it in the churchyard of the Duomo, at noon, in front of people, and with them. Consider, for example, what the professor Franco Fornari said in reference to a challenge made against him during one of his lectures at the State University of Milan by the homosexuals of the ex-Fuori! Autonomous Collective (today called the Milanese Homosexual Collective): ‘Homosexuals cannot stop me from doing my job by pretending to have a debate over an argument that doesn’t concern my course: it’s as if a group of sausage-makers interrupted my lesson to discuss proscuitto and salami.’[9]

From a psychoanalytic perspective, what this reveals is how the association made in this case by Fornari between homosexuals and sausage-makers is far from casual, denouncing in reality his essentially derogatory conception of homoeroticism: if, in fact, the ‘proscuitto and salami’ are meat from pigs [porco], and hence filth [porcate],[10] the homosexual-sausage-maker association allows Fornari to assert, indirectly, that homosexuals cannot come interrupt his class on psychology by forcing a debate about their filth. Moreover, the image of the salami obviously symbolizes a penis, while that of prosciutto the rear, the butt. In a word, Franco Fornari cannot tolerate that to his class have come those who want to discuss anal sex, those who are, according to him, filthy pigs.

One might note that Fornari, who in the pages of Corriere della Sera[11] has written, in spite of his true incompetence, of prosciutto and salami as one does of homosexuality, should at the very least expect to be contested in the university, that place in which he appears publicly, by sausage-makers, who would surely come forward in defence of their own interests and their own real competence in matters of pork.

Lastly, one can’t forget that the sausage-maker slices and hacks apart the flesh of the pig. Fornari might therefore affirm: ‘How dare those miserable sausage-makers come in to the university and interrupt my class to teach me my own trade of butchering?’ But he would not say that: because in fact, what has so offended him was not the intervention of sausage-makers, which, beyond the pride of the butcher, could only prove an instinctive solidarity (the rivalry of the shopkeepers …), but rather an intervention by filthy pigs, or rather by homosexuals, by human beings who he can only fathom as if swine, ready for slaughter.

Fear of Castration and the Parable of War

Elvio Fachinelli asks what lies ‘at the root of the rejection of homosexuality (essentially of male homosexuality, given that female homosexuality today speaks a language that is very different and less significant, for reasons connected with the historic position of women)’. It would be interesting to know why Fachinelli sees less significance in the ‘language’ of female homosexuality. Perhaps because he is a man and is thus concerned above all with his own rejection of male homosexuality. Anyway . . . let’s see what he says later.

“It is essentially, on the part of the heterosexual male, the fear of losing his masculinity in contact with the homosexual, i.e. something very deeply bound up with his personal identity. For the homosexual, he feels almost as if his very position as a male were being challenged, and hence his individual self-definition; it is as if this proved unexpectedly precarious or insecure, far more so than it generally is. Hence the reactions of rejection and disparagement, hence the various well-known behaviour patterns of aggressive hypermasculinity, which are often surprisingly accompanied by a certain solicitude for the homosexual in as much as he acts like a woman. If the homosexual falls into this trap (and falls easily, or willingly), the heterosexual can attack him all the more easily and reassure himself in the process. We can say, therefore, that the homosexual reawakens, as a male who seems to have suffered castration, the fear of castration that is latent in every man. And as simultaneously both male (which he ultimately is) and female, he is often experienced by the heterosexual as endowed with a paradoxical castrating and assimilating capacity.”[12]

What Fachinelli says here is on the whole a valid interpretation, even if I would see it as risky to consider it an explanation of what ‘lies at the root of the rejection of homosexuality’. Heterosexuals, as a general rule, tend to give over-hasty replies to the homosexual question (if rarely anything like as intelligent as this). We can add, however, that, if the homosexual usually reawakens the ‘fear of castration’ in the male heterosexual, this is also due to the fact that the heterosexual sees his own castration shown up by the gay man, i.e. the castration he has suffered with respect to his homoerotic desire. The heterosexual male fears losing his masculinity, and hence his heterosexual identity, because he knows this is all that remains to him of an Eros that has already been mutilated. And it is precisely because of this castration of his homosexual desire that he does not manage to understand homoeroticism as the totalising, satisfactory, full sexuality that it is, and so fears falling into a void were he to let himself be seduced into a gay experience. Since he knows his heterosexuality to be based on the loss of homosexuality (which does not necessarily mean he is consciously aware of this), the male is afraid of losing his heterosexual identity, should he abandon himself to his unknown homosexuality. In other words, he has internalised the evident if mysterious law of the system: either heterosexuality or homosexuality. Either-or.

According to the Milan Fuori! collective, the continuous violence inflicted on homosexuals,

“just like that exercised against women, is indissolubly bound up with the male’s fear of losing his power over women. The man who goes to bed with another man is jeopardising his power, betraying the ‘solidarity’ among males, and this is why he brings all their repression down on himself.”[13]

For many heterosexual men, the homosexual liberation struggle is a war waged against their Norm. Now in war, every army seeks ways of aiding desertion from the other side. And in these last few years, the number of heterosexual males who desert has steadily grown, experimenting with homosexuality and experiencing the emancipating influence of the gay movement.

In a conflict, however, someone who deserts is generally exposed to a greater risk (at least if the army from which he deserts is not completely and irreversibly in rout), the risk of dying a shameful and infamous death, being labelled a traitor and accused of cowardice. Hence any army that fights intelligently understands the importance of positively attracting deserters from the enemy to its own ranks, and carries out propaganda of disaffection directed at the enemy camp. Propaganda of this kind can prove a deadly weapon, able to destroy a whole army without firing a shot (think of the puppet army of South Vietnam, literally broken apart by desertion).

If, on the other hand, the deserter is uncertain of his fate, and expects to face the inextinguishable hatred of the other side, if he fears risking a cruel death, should he take refuge in the opposing army, or being degraded by deprecation for his cowardice (the fate that his own side would inflict), then he will refrain from putting his planned desertion into practice, however sadly, and remain with his old comrades, continuing to depend on them for his physical survival.

Clearly, any desertion is going to be met with a certain diffidence. It must be, at the very least, individual and unreserved. The deserter will be enrolled in a company of trusty veterans, and certainly not left together with other deserters. Above all, the desertion of an entire enemy unit that wants to maintain its integral character is a cause for suspicion: men’s awareness groups, for example, or the gangs of ‘neo-homosexual’ comrades, if we are to apply the metaphor to the present confrontation between gays and the heterosexual Norm, the deserters being those straight men ‘in crisis’ who can no longer fit completely into the army of normality and its ideology. Men’s awareness groups have no other purpose than to prolong their dithering between the sacred ‘normality’ of the system and a gay, total opposition to it. We look forward to their dissolution, and to the participation of their former members in the revolutionary homosexual movement, particularly in its pleasures, in our particular pleasures.

To return to the war, given that little boys are so fond of playing at toy soldiers (whereas we queens prefer to be played with by toy soldiers). In the case of a group desertion, it is an elementary security measure to

break up the deserting unit and distribute it in small nuclei among one’s front line formations, those most experienced in combat (to put David Cooper in with the Gazolines, for example, or Franco Berardi with Our Lady of the Flowers).[14] More must be expected of the deserter than of any other soldier, just as he needs to be ensured of the fullest support and solidarity of his new comrades. To give a final example. Let us assume that straight men are fighting in an all too normal colonial army engaged in massacring a colonised (read ‘gay’) population, who are nevertheless reacting courageously with ever bolder guerilla actions. The hetero colonialist males, despite the fact that their army still controls the main centres and road junctions in the region, and has formidable technical instruments of repression at its command, are unable to carry on. They are sickened by the reprisals which they have had to take part in, and by the atrocities in which they have been accomplices. The last village that they razed to the ground prevented them from sleeping. And so, after having carried out a commendable work of dissatisfaction in their platoon, they decide to desert en masse, bringing all the weapons that they can smuggle out – first among these a perfect knowledge of the mentality and methods of their former army. They venture out into the jungle that surrounds the occupied cities, in which the guerrillas are forced to hide. They are both frightened and fascinated. What holds them back is their uncertainty that the guerrillas will spare them once they reach their camp. In other words, they have deserted from the colonialist army, but they’re still afraid of being fucked in the ass.

They take to the hills and begin to fight the colonialist army, and yet they still maintain operational autonomy, undertaking guerrilla actions and sabotage independently from the colonised guerrillas. The latter then have various options. They know very well that the presence of an independent white unit could have a decisive demoralising effect on the colonial army, and they are also aware that acceptance of a united struggle might involve innumerable dangers for the coordination and effectiveness of their actions. On the other hand, however, there is the risk that the deserters, still unrepentant colonialists, might degenerate into simple acts of brigandage against both armies: these are the bisexuals.

It would be opportune for the guerrillas to enter into negotiations with a view to co-opting the deserters. They can certainly agree that these should maintain their autonomy for a certain period of time, as long as they have not sufficiently given proof of their gayness; i.e. to see to what point the bisexuals, absolute heterosexuals until yesterday, are genuine deserters, and form part of the liberation struggle against the Norm.

The solution to this problem lies in the victory of the revolution, in the creation of communism, in the ending of all war, and the definitive withdrawal of all armies. Today, the revolution is being prepared, among other things, by the conflict between the gay movement and the Norm, and by the encounter between homosexuals and deserters from the army of normality. The heterosexual males ‘in crisis’ must understand that we do not want war: we are forced to struggle because we have always been persecuted, because the policemen of the heterosexual law have repressed us, because we look forward to the universal liberation of the gay desire, which can only be realised when your heterosexual identity is broken down. We are not struggling against you, but only against your ‘normality’. We have no intention of castrating you. We want on the contrary to free you from your castration complex. Your ass has not really been amputated; it has only been accused [imputato], along with your entire body.

To come over to our side means, quite literally, to be fucked in the ass, and to discover that this is one of the most beautiful of pleasures. It means to marry your pleasure to mine without castrating chains, without matrimony. It means enjoyment without the Norm, without laws. It is only your inhibitions that prevent you from seeing that only by coming over to our side can we achieve our revolution. And communism can only be ours, i.e. belonging to us all, to those of us able to love: why would you want to be left out?

It is capital that still so insistently opposes you to us. What you have to fear is not being fucked in the ass, but rather remaining what you at present still are, heterosexual males as the Norm wants you to be, even in crisis, as if it was not high time to oppose yourselves forever to crisis, to castration, to guilt. As if it was not time to gayly reject the discontent that the present society has imposed on us, and to stop the totalitarian machine of capital in its tracks by realising new and totalising relations: and as we are bodies, erotic relations among us all.

You fear us on account of the taboo you have internalised, and which you still uphold. But this taboo is the mark of the system in you. And we don’t want to be led into the catastrophe that is threatening, nor do we want the struggle for liberation, which has only one genuine enemy, capital, to be crippled by your resistances, dogmas and ditherings, by your susceptibility to images and your submission to the Father-system. Your terror of homosexuality is the capitalist terror; it is the paternal terror, the terror of the father that you have not overcome.

There have been wars in which the oppressors, sullied by atrocities, have degenerated to such a point that the only way for the oppressed to conquer has been to eliminate them to a man. In a case of this kind, it is impossible to expect many deserters. We find this in the Biblical wars: God commanded that none of the inhabitants of Jericho should survive the fall of the city. Instead of the ‘Internationale’, they play the Degüello.[15] They blow the trumpet of Jericho.

But we don’t want to play those calls. What we propose is an erotic understanding: we don’t want any more destruction, and it is exactly for this reason why we still have to struggle. Revolutionary wars are never anything like the destruction of Jericho.

In 1917 the Bolsheviks and all other revolutionaries proclaimed war on war and preached defeatism in all armies. The Russian revolutionary soldiers fraternised with the German ‘victors’, they danced together, embraced one another on the occupied Russian soil and shared their bread. Germany was defeated by the revolution brought home by the soldiers. The Red Army that was taking shape was created with the intent to fight war.

Only if the revolution had succeeded in Germany could Russia have been saved. The real loss wasn’t at Brest-Litovsk but in Berlin. The French fleet’s ammunition saved Russia from allied invasion. Isolated, Hungary, Bavaria, and the Ruhr fell one after another. Russia survived and would assume a new and more perfect repressive role.

We’ve all been defeated, therefore, in Warsaw. And each of us has their own Kronstadt. But the May that grows within us obliges us now, with gay clarity, to wage real war against capital and no one else. Eros to you and to us, captivating sisters and attractive brothers of the universal incest that is announced and impending!

The Sublimation of Eros in Labour

“And meanwhile the proletariat, the great class embracing all the producers of civilised nations, the class which in freeing itself will free humanity from servile toil and will make of the human animal a free being – the proletariat, betraying its instincts, despising its historic mission, has let itself be perverted by the dogma of work. Rude and terrible has been its punishment. All its individual and social woes are born of its passion for work.” – Lafargue”[16]

According to the metaphysical theory that sees the process of civilisation as the conversion of powerful libidinal forces, their deviation from the sexual aim into labour and culture, repressed Eros may be viewed as the motive force of history, and labour as the sublimation of Eros.

In Freud’s words:

“The tendency on the part of civilisation to restrict sexual life is no less clear than its other tendency to expand the cultural unit [. . .] Civilisation is obeying the law of economic necessity, since a large amount of the psychical energy which it uses for its own purposes has to be withdrawn from sexuality […] Fear of a revolt by the suppressed elements drives it to stricter precautionary measures.”[17]

Civilisation, therefore, is seen as having repressed those erotic tendencies that are subsequently defined as ‘perverse’, in order to sublimate this libidinal energy into the economic sphere (and into the social sphere, too: we have seen how Freud deemed the sublimation of homoeroticism a useful guarantee of social cohesion).[18] This is one of the most interesting hypotheses on the historical imposition of the anti-homosexual taboo, something that cannot be viewed in isolation, but must be considered in relation with other things, particularly the heterosexual Norm, marriage and the family, and the institutionalisation of woman’s subjugation to man.

According to Marcuse:

“Against a society which employs sexuality as means for a useful end, the perversions uphold sexuality as an end in itself; they thus place themselves outside the dominion of the performance principle and challenge its very foundation. They establish libidinal relationships which society must ostracise because they threaten to reverse the process of civilisation which turned the organism into an instrument of work.”[19]

This is already somewhat out of date, and needs to be revised. Today it is clear that our society makes very good use of the ‘perversions’; you need only go into a newsagent or to the cinema to be made well aware of this. ‘Perversion’ is sold both wholesale and retail; it is studied, classified, valued, marketed, accepted, discussed. It becomes a fashion, going in and out of style. It becomes culture, science, printed paper, money – if not, then who would publish this book? The unconscious is sold in slices over the butcher’s counter.

If for millennia, therefore, societies have repressed the so-called ‘perverse’ components of Eros in order to sublimate them in labour, the present system liberalises these ‘perversions’ with a view to their further exploitation in the economic sphere, and to subordinating all erotic tendencies to the goals of production and consumption. This liberalisation, as I have already argued, is functional only to a commodification in the deadly purposes of capital. Repressed ‘perversion’, then, no longer provides simply the energy required for labour, but is also to be found, fetishised, in the alienating product of alienated labour, which capital puts on the market in reified form. Precisely in order to be liberalised – which is to say and marketed – ‘perversion’ has to remain in essence repressed, and the libidinal energy that is specific to it must continue in large measure to be sublimated in labour and exploited: repressive desublimation is hence involved in the perpetuation of the coerced sublimation of Eros in labour. It is obvious that those erotic tendencies defined as ‘perverse’ cannot but remain repressed, as long as people continue to accept the truly obscene and perverted products that capital puts onto the market under the label of ‘perverse’ sexuality, and as long as there are still those who are content for their ‘particular’ impulses to be vented in a way that gives them a mediocre titillation from the squalid fetishes of sex marketed by the system. The struggle for the liberation of Eros is today, among other things, the rejection of a sexuality that is liberalised and packaged for sale by the permissive society: it is the refusal of sexual consumerism.

On the other hand, as capital has reached its phase of real domination – i.e. given that capitalist concentration and centralisation, inseparably bound up with the progress of the productive forces and the ‘technological translation of science into industrial machinery’ (H. J. Krahl) have reduced to a minimum the amount of necessary labour – the maximum portion of working hours now constitutes surplus labour, such that there is what Marcuse calls ‘a change in the character of the basic instruments of production’.[20] This process was already foreseen by Marx in the Grundrisse:

“In this transformation, it is neither the direct human labour he himself performs, nor the time during which he works, but rather the appropriation of his own general productive power, his understanding of nature and his mastery over it by virtue of his presence as a social body – it is, in a word, the development of the social individual which appears as the great foundation-stone of production and of wealth.”[21]

This transformation creates the essential premises for making the total qualitative leap realised in the communist revolution. And Marx adds:

“As soon as labour in the direct form has ceased to be the great wellspring of wealth, labour-time ceases and must cease to be its measure, and hence exchange-value [must cease to be the measure] of use-value. The surplus labour of the mass has ceased to be the condition for the development of the general wealth, just as the non-labour of the few, for the development of the general powers of the human head. With that, production based on exchange-value breaks down, and then direct, material production process is stripped of the form of penury and antithesis. The free development of individualities, and hence not the reduction of necessary labour-time so as to posit surplus labour, but rather the general reduction of the necessary labour of society to a minimum, which then corresponds to the artistic, scientific etc. development of the individuals in the time set free, and with the means created, for all of them.”[22]

In the face of this qualitative leap, standing as we do before the prospect of revolution and communism, sexual repression is obsolete and only serves as an obstacle. In fact, it maintains the forced sublimation that permits economic exploitation, ‘the theft of alien labour-time’ (Marx), the theft of pleasure (time) from woman and man, the constriction of the human being to a labour that is no longer necessary in itself, but only indispensable to the rule of capital. Labour, today, serves to preserve the outmoded relations of production, and to ensure the stability of the social edifice that is built upon these.

“‘Capital’”, writes Virginia Finzi Ghisi,

“has made use up till now of the erotic nature of labour in order to force man into this, having preventively withdrawn from him any other sexual adventure (relations with the woman-wife-mother in the family circle are no adventure, but only an extended substitution) […] Heterosexuality becomes the condition for capitalist production, as a modality of loss of the body, a habituation to seeing this elsewhere, and generalised.”[23]

The struggle for communism today must manifest itself also in the negation of the heterosexual Norm founded on the repression of Eros and essential for maintaining the rule of capital over the species. The ‘perversions’, and homosexuality in particular, are a rebellion against the subjugation of sexuality by the established order, against the almost total enslavement of eroticism (repressed or repressively desublimated) to the ‘performance principle’, to production and reproduction (of labour-power).

The increase in the means of production has already virtually abolished poverty, which is perpetuated today only by capitalism. And if the sublimation of the ‘perverse’ tendencies of Eros into labour is thus no longer economically necessary, it is even less necessary to channel all libidinal energies into reproduction, given that our planet is already suffering from over-population. Clearly, repressive legislation on the number of children, abortion, and the wars and famines decreed by capital, will not resolve the problem of population increase. Such things can only serve to contain it within limits that are functional to the preservation and expansion of the capitalist mode of production. They serve to increase the war industry and to maintain the Third World in conditions of poverty and backwardness that are favourable to the establishment of capitalist economic and political control. The problem of over-population can be genuinely resolved by the spread of homosexuality, the (re) conquest of autoerotic pleasure, and the communist revolution. What will positively resolve the demographic tragedy is not the restriction of Eros, but its liberation.

The harnessing of Eros to procreation, in fact, has never been really necessary, since free sexuality, in conditions that are more or less favourable, naturally reproduces the species without needing to be subject to any type of constraint. On the other hand, if the struggle for the liberation of homosexuality is decisively opposed to the heterosexual Norm, one of its objectives is the realisation of new gay relations between women and men, relations that are totally different from the traditional couple, and are aimed, among other things, at a new form of gay procreation and paedophilic coexistence with children.

In a relatively distant future, the consequent transsexual freedom may well contribute to determining alterations in the biological and anatomical structure of the human being that will transform us, for example, into a gynandry reproducing by parthenogenesis, or else a new two-way type of procreation (or three-way, or ten-way?). Nor do we know what the situation is on the billions of other planets in the galaxy, many of which, at least, must be far more advanced than ourselves.

If we can thus understand how the repression and sublimation of Eros, and the heterosexual Norm, are absolutely no longer necessary for the goals of civilisation and the achievement of communism, being in fact indispensable only for the perpetuation of capitalism and its barbarism, then it is not hard to discover in the expression of homoerotic desire a fertile potential for revolutionary subversion. And it is to this potential

that is linked the ‘promise of happiness’ that Marcuse recognises as a peculiar character of the ‘perversions’.

Finally, let us have done once and for all with the argument that the homosexual question is ‘superstructural’, and that priority should be given to the socio-economic (structural) level over the sexual struggle. Leaving aside the critique, no matter how important, of the mechanistic, undialectical, and post-Marxist sclerosis demonstrated by many so-called Marxists in their adoption of the notions of ‘structure’ and ‘superstructure’, it is nevertheless a grievous mistake to continue to treat the sexual question as only ‘superstructural’, given that labour itself, and hence the entire economic structure of society, depends on the sublimation of Eros. At the foundation of the economy, there is sexuality: Eros is substructural.

Even before this conception of the psychoanalytic matrix of economics and the fundamental function of libido in the process of civilisation, Marxism already affirmed the structural character of the sexual function, even though from a certain historically limited standpoint, since, among other things, its conception was heterosexual and thus partially ideological. As Engels wrote:

“According to the materialist conception, the determining factor in history is, in the final instance, the production and reproduction of immediate life. This, again, is of a twofold character: on the one side, the production of the means of existence, of food, clothing and shelter and the tools necessary for that production; on the other side, the production of human beings themselves, the propagation of the species. The social organisation under which the people of a particular historical epoch and a particular country live is determined by both kinds of production.”[24]

Here we can see how the rigidly heterosexual social institutions of nineteenth-century Europe were the condition of the Engelsian idea of sexuality as a determining moment of history only in its procreative role. Engels, in particular, was strongly against homosexuality: in the Origin of the Family, he referred in particular to the men of ancient Greece who ‘fell into the abominable practice of sodomy and degraded alike their gods and themselves with the myth of Ganymede’.[25] Today, the materialist conception has recognised the structural importance of desire, which cannot be reduced to coincide with the procreative instinct alone. And on the other hand, our revolutionary critique must eliminate the prejudices present within Marxism itself, its masculine spirit that would ‘ask a proletariat corrupted by capitalist ethics, to take a manly resolution …’[26]

As for our heterosexual ‘comrades’, only if they free themselves from their structural fixations, from the mental superstructure that leads them to act in the way that the system allows, will they be able to grasp why the liberation of homosexuality is indispensable to human emancipation as a whole. At the present time, it is above all the repression of their own gay desire and their acceptance of the anti-homosexual taboo so dear to the system that leads them to treat the homosexual question in a capitalist fashion, and essentially to negate it.

The Absolutisation of Genitality, or, Heterosexual Idiocy

In ‘Homosexuality and Culture’, an article that appeared in Corriere della Sera in February 1975, Franco Fornari takes up the Freudian thesis on the origin of male homosexuality, expounded in Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego.[27] He wrote:

“The homosexual identifies himself with his own mother and imagines his own partner as a substitute for himself as a child. Adapting himself to representing his mother and his partner as the substitute for himself, the homosexual does not just want to recuperate, in an autarchic fashion, the irrecuperable relation of infantile love, but perform this operation through a confusing semantics, analogous to that of Narcissus, who mistakes his own reflected image for that of an other.”

Ipse dixit: a Freudian hypothesis is transformed into absolute certainty under Fornari’s pen, where it takes on the force of a court judgment on the unequivocally ‘confused’ character of gay ‘semantics’. But the ‘semantics’ of homosexual relations are ‘confused’ only to the degree in which they confuse Fornari, who doesn’t know fuck all: and on the other hand, it’s obvious that only we gays are capable of eviscerating and understanding the ‘semantics’ of homoeroticism. We homosexuals want heteros to quit condemning manifestations of gay desire, which starts from their own rigorous repression of that desire in themselves. If they censor a part of themselves and are convinced that all is going fine, how can they speak to those who live that part, if not in a prejudiced way?

In any case, before proceeding to examine Fornari’s affirmations one by one, it seems opportune to me that we tackle one idea of his theory of sexuality. As Aldo Tagliaferri clearly delineated in his study On the Dialectic Between Sexuality and Politics, where he polemicises against the ideology of genitality illustrated by Fornari in Genitality and Culture:

“Fornari, with the commendable intent of resolving the antagonism between the natural and cultural, cuts the Gordian (and Freudian) knot of the relation between genitality and pregenitaltiy by cleanly distinguishing the two principles and illustrating the meaning of genital primacy, the ‘apex of human development’. He judges pregenitality to be substantially extraneous to coupling and delineates its structure, antagonistic with respect to that of genitality, by following a symmetrical schema that we can therefore outline here. Genital relation is founded on exchange. It gives rise to controlled orgasm: it implies consensus and contractuality. The object reaches maximum valorization. It responds to a correct examination. Meanwhile pregenital relation is founded on predatory infantile appropriation. It gives rise to a pregenital orgasm that is not controlled by the Ego. It presides over the friend-enemy schema. It celebrates the omnipotence of the subject through a drive to appropriate. It is of an illusive nature.”[28]

According to Fornari, the genital relation is exclusively heterosexual, while homosexuality re-enters in the pregenital sphere. In Genitality and Culture, he writes:

“As reflection hinges on the meaning of the perversions as a confused discourse and on the denial of dependence on the genital object and the overvaluation of the pregenital object, in reality it refers also to inversion. Ignoring the anal relations that can appear in homosexuals, inversion appears above to be the product, beyond any corporal confusion, as a confusion of persons, both in reference to the self and the non-self.”[29]

And here he repeats the old rigamarole about ‘introjective’ and ‘confused’ identification of the homosexual with the mother, and the ‘projective’ and still ‘confused’ identification, on the part of the homosexual, of their partner with himself.

Before going further, I want to dwell for a moment on the ‘anal relations that can appear in homosexuals’ (which Fornari indeed ignores). Why in homosexuals? Why not between homosexuals? Evidently, what preoccupies our psychoanalyst above all, that which one really cannot ignore, is ass fucking:[30] the fact that someone can come inside you. But what of heterosexual ass fucking? Fornari leaps over that one too.

Tagliaferri reveals how Fornari extracts and separates genitality from the ‘non-genital’ or ‘pre-genital’:

“However, it’s truly this that demonstrates the dependence of genitality on pregenitality. That which remains as qualifying as adult genitality is the so-called ‘exchange drive’. But the drive is first and foremost elementary, and this elementary involves the unidirectionality of its originary intensity. That a drive could be considered as a component in the project of exchange is quite reasonable, but for this to be so, from its originary state, from its birth state, presenting itself as composite and mediated through the operation of exchange which it will itself lead, is in total contradiction with the very concept of drive. Drive in itself therefore brings us back (both historical and logically) to the intensive and prelogical world of infantile sexuality, which Fornari tries in vain to exorcize.”[31]

In Homosexuality and Culture, Fornari also asserts that those who argue, like Pasolini in a much-discussed article on abortion, that we should encourage homosexual relations so as to confront the problem of population growth – i.e. more deviancy, less pregnancy – are pushing for a return of the collective repressed. And up to this point we can only agree with him. However, according to him, this repression constitutes the subconscious ‘forest’ of the imaginary, concealed in everyone underneath the primacy of heterosexual genitality.[32] Therefore, if only heterosexuality is considered ‘normal’ by ‘culture’, this happens because culture is a ‘cultivation’ set against that ‘forest’. According to Fornari, however, to desire the spread of homosexuality is to set oneself against the ‘real’, opting instead for ‘the imaginary in power’: ‘But while this can be a valid operation when it comes to bringing about a poetic project, entirely subject to human discretion, it certainly isn’t when we’re dealing with a political project, that’s to say, a real cultural project centered on human survival […] To survive requires that that we procreate’, and if we all have nostalgia for those ‘maternal waters’, reality has taught us that no one would find themselves in those waters if there wasn’t heterosexual coitus to create them.’[33]

But the ‘reality’ Fornari is referring to (that of the ‘real’ as opposed to the ‘imaginary’) is not reality in an absolute sense, because absolute reality doesn’t exist: just as ‘cultivation-culture’ today is ideology, custom, and capitalist science, it is ‘culture on the side of determined culture that Fornari accepts as Culture’ (Tagliaferri). So too the ‘reality’ he deals with, which is merely the reality of capital, contingent and transitory despite pretending to be necessary and absolution, and against which the revolutionary communist movement fights. We are dealing with the reality that, from the perspective of revolution and human emancipation, must be wiped out forever rather than just altered with partial modifications that pile reality on reality and merely reform cultural ‘cultivation’.

On the other hand, it is not in fact true that ‘perversions’, and in particular homosexuality, do not reckon daily with the reality principle, which certainly can’t be reduced to the hypostasis of this determinate reality that Fornari holds to. Aldo Tagliaferri specifies:

“The pleasure principle and the reality principle are two abstract polarities that, as such, i.e. as absolute concepts, can be sustained separately only through a ridiculous operation. Fornari uses this radical separation only in order to discredit one of the two. However […] we might take a specific point of view, that of the dialectical synthesis of the two principles, which conserves the positive sides of their natures. It conserves, I’d suggest, in the pleasure principle the qualification of ends and, in the reality principle, that of means […] Both at the existential and the theoretical level, and as can be easily demonstrated, the projects aimed at recuperating pregenitality, other than those of an artistic nature, can be accompanied by a conscious examination of reality. When the reality principle that structures Marxism tries to extend by analogy to the sexual, its examination of reality must consist in taking sex into consideration in its real specificity, through a process of the scientific examination of the reality of the pleasure principle. It is therefore necessary to renounce the effort to cleanly separate, in reality, at least those behaviors that are linked to both principles, and to renounce the accompanying judgment that the pleasure principle must renounce the logic of the real.”[34]

As for the ‘forest’ hidden beneath the actual form of ‘cultivation’, this is nothing more than a hypothesis that Fornari passes off as absolute truth in hopes of absolutising the actual form of ‘reality’. We still know too little of our unconscious and our imaginary to describe it as a ‘forest’ as opposed to a ‘luxurious garden’.

It is true that the psychic substrate which is ‘projected’ and focussed by ‘schizophrenics’ appears, above all in the eyes of ‘normal’ people, to be truly insane (though, at the same time, surprisingly frank and honest): the ‘schizophrenic’ trip undoubtedly undermines the ideological order. And it’s also true that, in the unconscious, one finds ‘the primitive man, as he stands revealed to us in the light of the research of archeology and ethnology’.[35] Nevertheless, if the experience of the ‘schizophrenic’ appears chaotic, that is due to the fact that the ‘mad’, isolated and marginalised, ‘project’ their interior universe onto the contorted world of capital, where ‘reality’ is more precisely the appearance which (un)covers the reality of legal exploitation, of masculine privilege and sexual repression. ‘Reality’ is today the appearance that conceals an absurd and rational irrationality, the true reality of capital. And, vice versa, our interiority is thrown into disorder insofar as it reflects the chaotic characteristics and savage repression of the system. To conclude: the real forest is capitalist ‘cultivation’, which protects the heterosexual Norm and strangles all the branches of desire defined as ‘perverse’.

We’ve seen how, if on one hand the perpetuation of the Norm guarantees the repression of Eros and its sublimation of labour, on the other this sublimation and this labour serve only to prolong the dominion of capital and barbarism. Today, there are above all useless factories that produce useless commodities, and useless and destructive reality (the whole of advertising serves to flog superfluous products). Today, it is a suffocating and cancerous ‘cultivation’ that dominates: we lack life, lack green, lack houses, lack breath. Our existence and our psyches are largely constructed like the polluted city of capital: too much useless and alienated work, too much absurd reality, too much unhappiness and non-communication that is choking out the human being within each of us, as within the society that is composed of us all.

The movement of communists struggles for the determination of a free future, for the realisation of that garden of intersubjective existence in which each plucks at will and according to their needs the fruits of the tree of pleasure, of knowledge, and of that ‘science’ that will be a gay science. The human being will have won its millenarian battle with nature: and then we will be able to enter into a harmonious relation with it and with ourselves.

Today, the historical premises necessary for the realisation of the ‘reign of freedom’ (Marx) have developed. Today, we aim to overthrow capital, which, forever uselessly and to its own exclusive advantage, pushes this struggle of human versus nature, and destroys them both. We revolutionary homosexuals are for life. That is, for total transformations. We must rescue humanity from its entire past, from that dark prehistory that weighs heavy inside us all.

Today, as it has always been since the dissolution of primitive communities, the repression of women forms the base of class exploitation which has now transformed into the real domination of capital over the species: ‘The first class opposition that appears in history coincides with the development of the antagonism between man and woman in monogamous marriage, and the first class oppression coincides with that of the female sex by the male’ (Engels).[36] Such oppression constitutes the substrate of the entire prehistoric dialectic of the opposition of classes up to our current time, and heterosexuality, or simply the Norm, performs an essential function for such oppression.

If it is true, as Fornari asserts, that we homosexuals identify with the mother instead of the father, it’s also true that in this we can see one of the revolutionary potentials of our condition: the negation, however embryonic, of the antithesis of man and woman.

As for the theory of homosexual narcissism, it’s clear that only a mentality calibrated by the sense of guilt and remorse linked to masturbation would speak of narcissism in only a negative way. And, if we do find narcissism in homosexual relations, it is in this very capacity to recognise ourselves in others that these relations can bring about a markedly revolutionary disruption, a revolt towards the attainment of communist intersubjectivity and the overcoming of that shimmering illusion of atomised individuality.

So if for Fornari seeing oneself in the other means disregarding the other, for us, on the contrary, it means recognising the other and what is common between us. Narcissus himself thought that he had found an other in that stream: the homosexual discovers himself in others, grasping humanity as such through the diversity that marks individuals. If Narcissus, in reaching to the water and to the world, poetically breaches the walls between I and not-I that are at the roots of the Western neuroses of the opposition between matter and mind, today it is impossible to have a totalising revolutionary reconciliation between human beings without that which we recognise in each other, in nature, in our bodies and the communal communist project. Narcissus, today, may well be taken up as a revolutionary symbol. NARCISO: Nuclei ‘armati’ rivoluzionari comunisti internazionalisti sovversivi omosessuali [Cells of ‘armed’ revolutionary communist internationalist subversive homosexuals].[37]

But could it be true, as Fornari maintains, that a homosexual sees in their partner a ‘substitute for himself as a child?’ I don’t believe in

the theory of the substitute, even if I believe that in moments of erotic intimacy, every person, whether heterosexual or homosexual, at times brings out the ‘little kid’ in their partner, the one that remains in every adult (and that, as the other is revealed at heart to be, so we are reminded of the kids we were and that we still guard within ourselves). Georg Groddeck writes of,

“this childishness from which we never emerge, for never do we quite grow up; we manage it rarely, and then only on the surface; we merely play at being grown up as a child plays at being big […] Life begins with childhood, and by a thousand devious paths through maturity attains its single goal, once more to be a child, and the one and only difference between people lies in the fact that some grow childish, and some child-like.”[38]

When a homosexual makes love with a man much older than him, he can certainly get folded into the role of the child; but more frequently, he’ll find ‘ghosts’ stirred up in him that, if we really want to tie it back to childhood, remind him of adults he knew in the past, when he was a kid.

Love is beautiful because it is various: only Fornari would think to generalise, for all homosexuals, a single type of erotic situation (which, if understood properly, isn’t even what actually happens in the terms he has established).

But, in Genitality and Culture, Fornari goes even further. In fact, he asserts that after having ‘consummated’ a sexual relation, gays always experience a sensation of immediate disgust for each other and for themselves. This is such idiocy that I don’t think it’s worth responding to, even if, when faced with an affirmation of this kind, you can’t help reflecting for a moment on what portentous lies our professors pawn off as ‘reality’ and ‘science’. Fornari maintains that the homosexual, repeating certain ‘distortions of infantile sexuality’, hoodwinked by the illusory symbolic equation of ‘breasts = butt’: in plain terms, the homosexual would exchange their partner’s ass for the lost maternal breast if they could. And so,

“in the moment when, during an act of pederasty, a boy or young man becomes a sexual object, the yearning for the maternal-breast comes alive in the illusion of a total possession of those lost breasts, which become part of himself, through parts of a fantastic object that is at once part of him and of the mother. However, the fact that the buttocks, on the plane of the real [i.e. rather than imaginary], are not plausible as containers of milk but are instead containers of faeces, shows the infantile illusions that rest behind the homosexual tendency to collapse after achieving satisfaction, having fallen for the swindle that is implicit in the phrase ‘being taken for an ass’. The construction of homosexual libido […] has to reckon with the inevitable delusion to which anal omnipotence exposes itself, through the way in which it tries to ward off a threatening sensation by forcibly envisioning as an exchange of good things what is in truth actually an exchange of bad things.”[39]

As for what counts as those ‘bad things’, we have to ask Fornari when was the last time he ate shit and found it bad . . . That shit is bad, as Fornari maintains, is a pre-judgment: give it a taste and then let us know (holding aside the fact that coprophilia doesn’t have to end in coprophagy).

As for the expression ‘being taken for an ass’, the meaning of the ‘swindle’ must be attributed to the ‘culture’ of male heterosexuality, sex-phobic and anti-gay as it is: for us homosexuals, need we repeat this, to take it in the ass isn’t a swindle or scam, but the real deal, so pleasurable and having nothing whatsoever to do with some illusory equation of ‘butt = breast’. My ass is mine, and I know damn well that a breast is a different part of the body. So when we desire to fuck someone else in the ass, it isn’t because we keep confusing their butt with Mama’s breast: and even if this were the case, on some deep level, would that be so bad? We know well how the associations of the unconscious – of everybody’s unconscious, including the ‘normal’ ones – are rather ‘original’ and bizarre, and certainly don’t line up with the ‘logical’ relations of an illusion that Fornari considers as ‘reality’. In any case, it would be worth establishing on the basis of what extraordinary intellectual faculty Fornari manages to root out the truth of our interiority better than any of us fags can hope to manage (though we’ve at least got a little sense of humour).[40] By the way: what are we to say about all those men who, during their heterosexual encounters, get a few fingers up the ass from women? Have they confused the finger of their partner for the long-desired dick of the father? Or were they nursed with a bottle?

Evidently, pawning off these facile interpretations as ‘reality’ is just the easiest way to disregard reality, to deform it and to simultaneously secure yourself a chair of Psychiatry in the capitalist university, along with a little space in the culture pages of Corriere della Sera.

For Fornari, then, homosexuality is regressive because it is founded on the desire to recreate in love the lost infantile relation between the mother and son. So what does this therefore say about heterosexuality, that, on the man’s part, it is directly centred on the unconscious desire to reenter into the maternal womb, to return to the fetal state? Clearly Fornari seems to have forgotten the Ferenczi of Thalassa, that masterful work which for Freud defined the Hungarian psychoanalyst, who had been his disciple, as now his master. But let’s borrow from Groddeck again. According to him, it is actually male heterosexuality that is based on the desire to recreate the lost amorous relations with the mother. Moreover,

“A much more important question for me than the love for one’s own sex, which necessarily follows upon self-love, is the development of love for the opposite sex. The matter seems simple in the case of the boy. The life within the mother’s body, the years of dependence on woman’s care, all the tenderness, joys, delights and wish-fulfillments which only the mother gives or can give him, these are so mighty a counterbalance to his narcissism that one need seek no further.”[41]

And finally, is it true, as Fornari proclaims, that heterosexual coitus must always precede conception, both now and in the future? It isn’t so: many feminists and many homosexuals aren’t in agreement with Fornari and see this absolutisation of the world of actual reproduction as phallocentric. It doesn’t help to speak of artificial insemination or the like, because it is already difficult enough to imagine what enormous consequences will follow from the liberation of women and Eros. To reiterate: Fornari, skulking in the shadows cast by the dazzle of heterosexual capitalist ideology, tries to assert the absolute hypostasis of a reality, whose future overthrow is, in fact, exceedingly possible to imagine, just as it was possible to theorise (like Ferenczi, for example) the hypothetical origin of the long-ago past of living species.

Heterosexuality is not eternosexuality. Heterosexual procreation is not eternal, no matter the obstinacy with which reactionary heterosexuals, Fornari among them, strictly bind the absolutisation of the primacy of their genitality to a use that is arbitrary, anti-materialist, un-dialectic, and derived from a truly obscurantist concept of ‘nature’. Again and again, committed heterosexuals hail the dichotomy between ‘nature’ and ‘against nature’, as if to assure themselves – it’s a small step – that heterosexuality reigns supreme thanks for the grace of God. Oh my gay God![42]

‘Normals’ Faced with Transvestites. Notes on the Family

So-called ‘normal’ people are so adapted to the male heterosexual code that they are in no position to understand, as a general rule, the relativity, contingency and limitation of the concept of ‘normality’.

Fornari played it well to give them nonsense to swill, from the pages of newspapers to those of his treatises. ‘Normal’ persons ask for nothing more than to have their own prejudices confirmed by some authority: they are ready to sing the praises of whoever, as long as that person sustains that Science, Culture, and Reality co-validates what the Norm sanctions. The ‘normals’ search for a tautological relation with ‘science’: they pretend that those who study predict that which has always constituted the ideological pre-given in which they can see reflected back their identity as ‘normal’.

Thus if heterosexuals have always seen homoeroticism as a vice, some psychologist will come along and maintain that homosexuals are ‘immature and confused’. ‘Perversions’ have to be stigmatised, today by a ‘scientific’ veil made up of the most insolent lies: ‘as if they exerted a seductive influence; as if at bottom a secret envy of those who enjoy them had to be strangled’.[43]

‘Normal’ people do not tolerate gays, and not just because, by our very presence, we display a dimension of pleasure that is covered by a taboo, but because we also confront anyone who meets us with the confusion of his monosexual existence, mutilated and beset by repression, induced to renunciation and adaptation to a ‘reality’ imposed by the system as the most normal of destinies.

We can observe, for example, the attitude of ‘normal’ people towards transvestites. Their general reaction is one of disgust, irritation, scandal. And laughter: we can well say that anyone who laughs at a transvestite is simply laughing at a distorted image of himself, like a reflection in a fairground mirror. In this absurd reflection he recognises, without admitting it, the absurdity of his own image, and responds to this absurdity with laughter. In effect, transvestism translates the tragedy contained in the polarity of the sexes onto the level of comedy.

It is not hard to grasp the common denominator that links, in a relationship of affinity, all the various attitudes people assume towards queens, and towards transvestites in particular. These reactions, whether of laughter or something far more dangerous, only express, in different degree and in differing qualitative forms, a desire extraverted under the negative sign of aggression and fear – or more precisely, anxiety. It is not really the queen or transvestite who is an object of fear for ‘normal’ people. We only represent the image that provides a medium between the orbit of their conscious observations and an obscure object of radical fear in their unconscious. This anxiety is converted into laughter, often accompanied by forms of verbal and even physical abuse.

The person who laughs at a transvestite is reacting to the faint intuition of this absurdity that he already has – as has every human being – and which the man dressed as a woman, who suddenly appears before him, externalises in the ‘absurdity’ of his external appearance. The encounter with the transvestite reawakens anxiety because it shakes to their foundations the rigidly dichotomous categories of the sexual duality, categories instilled into all of us by the male heterosexual culture, particularly by way of the family, which right from the start offers the child the opposition of father and mother, the ‘sacred’ personifications of the sexes in their relationship of master and slave. We all form and establish our conceptions of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ on the models of our parents, the one as virility, privilege and power, the other as femininity and subjection. To these models, which bind us to them thanks to the hallowed web of family ties that determines our personality, we adapt our conception of anyone who, in the course of life, we encounter or even merely think of. We think only in terms of ‘man’ or ‘woman’, to the point that we cannot even imagine anything but ‘men’ or ‘women’. In ourselves, too, we can recognise only the ‘man’ or the ‘woman’, despite our underlying transsexual nature and despite our formation in the family, where our existential misery is determined by our relationship to mother or father. The child of the master-slave relationship between the sexes sees in him- or herself only one single sex. This singleness does not seem contradicted by the evident fact that we are born from a fusion of the sexes. And yet we need only look in the mirror (during a trip) to see clearly in our features both our mother and our father. Monosexuality springs from the repression of transsexuality, and transsexuality is already denied before birth. Conception itself, in fact, proceeds from the totalitarian negation of the female sex by the proclaimed uniqueness of the phallus as sexual organ in coitus and its ‘power’ in the parental couple.

But the phallus does not coincide exactly with the penis, even if it is superimposed on it. While the penis is what distinguishes the male anatomically, the phallus represents the patriarchal absolutising of the idea (of male power) which the penis embodies, an idea that characterises all history to date as his-story. In a world of symbols, the ideal symbology of power assumes a phallic form.

Concretely, this ‘power’ is based on the repression of Eros, which is a repression of the mind, the body and the penis itself, and above all the negation of femininity. In the present prehistory, it is first and foremost a function of the oppression of women.

From the negation of the female sex in the heterosexual relationship, individuals are born either male or female, the former sexual (as bearers of the penis, the bodily vehicle of the unique sexual organ in the patriarchal phallic conception), the latter ‘female eunuchs’. Either, or. The tragedy is that ‘normal’ people cannot tolerate the transvestite showing up the grotesque aspects of this process, committing an act of sacrilege in confusing the sacred opposition between the sexes, given that he combines in himself both sexes, daring to impose a femininity which has been reduced to a mere appearance onto the reality of a male self. The transvestite sins very gravely, demanding vengeance from the guardians of the phallus.

If the child of the heterosexual relation is a male, he finds himself forced to suffocate his own ‘femininity’ and transsexuality, since educastration obliges him to identify with the masculine model of the father. The son has to identify with a mutilated parent, who has already negated his own ‘femininity’ and who bases his privilege in the family and in society precisely on his mutilation. The father is unaware of this process, or does not want to be aware of it, but presents as a ‘natural mutilation’ both the natural difference of women and their mutilation as the work of male ‘power’, which he, as the guardian of the order, perpetuates. The father negates the mother sexually, a fate to which she was already condemned from birth (since from the patriarchal standpoint she is only a second-class human being, lacking a penis); even before birth, since the repression of femininity and of women has prevailed for millennia.[44] In his sexual relations with the mother, the father generally absolutises the passive role of the woman, her function as hole and receptacle for the phallus with which he is endowed, and which is presented, visibly active, as the sole sexual organ, establishing a symbolic form in which female sexuality – in fact all sexuality – is alienated. The child sees this clearly in all aspects of the relationship between the parents.

If the child is a girl, then the daughter of the heterosexual couple is condemned to view herself in the stereotype of ‘femininity’, as the negation of woman, and by way of education she is forced to identify with the servile model of her mother. Educastration consists not only in the concealment of the clitoris, but also in the repression of homosexual desire and transsexuality, of woman’ s whole erotic existence. Female (trans)sexuality has to be violently repressed so that the woman can appear ‘feminine’, can be subjected to the male and to the insults inflicted on her by his sexuality, the ‘only true sexuality.’ On the basis of the Norm, female sexuality cannot exist except as something subordinate. It must not exist in and for itself, but only outside itself, for someone else.

‘All this removes any surprise from the fact that historically, femininity has always been perceived as castration, so that according to Freud, at a certain moment the child sees the mother as a mutilated creature, and from then on always lives in fear of castration’.[45] Or as Adorno puts it (and these are both only male views):

“Whatever is in the context of bourgeois delusion called nature, is merely the scar of social mutilation. If the psychoanalytical theory is correct that women experience their physical constitution as a consequence of castration, their neurosis gives them an inkling of the truth. The woman who feels herself a wound when she bleeds knows more about herself than the one who imagines herself a flower because that suits her husband. The lie consists not only in the claim that nature exists where it has been tolerated or adapted, but what passes for nature in civilisation is by its very substance furthest from all nature, its own self-chosen object. The femininity which appeals to instinct, is always exactly what every woman has to force herself by violence – masculine violence – to become: a she-man.”[46]

In the name of the phallus, the male is forced to deny the sensuality of his ass, and his erotic fullness in general. Ashamed of the ass for being a hole, and yet (in Sartre’s phrase) ‘the presence of an absence’ as much as the vagina and the woman’s ass, he comes to conceive it as ‘the absence of a presence’: i.e. he does not realise that he could enjoy his ass, and sees it as the greatest shame and dishonour to have its sexuality recognised and exercised on himself. The male sentiment of honour springs in fact from shame. The Arabs, among whom male homosexuality is almost universal, paradoxically view it as highly dishonourable for a man to be fucked. They abhor the ‘passive role’.[47] This kind of discrimination, and the sexual fascism it involves, is very widespread also among the Italians, the Latin peoples in general, and very many others. ‘Double males’ are even to be found in Greenland.

Forced to murder his own ‘femininity’, so as to meet the imperative model of the father, the male child cannot love a woman for what she is, since he would then have to recognise the existence of female sexuality, finding in it a reflection of the ‘femininity’ within himself. He comes to love women above all as objectifications and holes, and hence does not really love them at all. He tends rather to subjugate them, in the same way that he has already subjugated the subterranean presence of ‘femininity’ in himself, on the altar of virility.

For him, heterosexual love is the negation of woman, the mutilation of the transsexual Eros. It is a tangle of projections and alienations. ‘You are my anima, I am your animus. With you I sense only having overcome isolation. I see nothing of you but that which you do not see of me.’ The system sanctions the negation of love, institutionalising it in the heterosexual Norm and hence in that ‘ normality’ which is the law of the sole sexuality of the phallus. And it condemns homosexuality as a rebellion against the subjection of Eros to the order of production and reproduction, and against the institutions (in particular the family) that safeguard this order.

Far from murdering his father so as to espouse his mother, the son rather murders his own ‘femininity’ so as to identify with the father. He is subsequently forced to blind himself by repressing into the shades of the unconscious, the vision of the tragedy he was forced to perpetrate, so that the ‘femininity’ he condemned to death will not revive in the darkness of the established patriarchal destiny. For Freud, heterosexuality is the ‘normal dissolution’ of the Oedipus complex. Homosexuality, which is the inverted solution to the tragedy, the homosexuality which, as Ferenczi put it, is an ‘inversion on a mass scale’, is condemned and excluded because it involves the risk, for male ‘power’, that the real version of the tragedy will become clear, to be genuinely dissolved and overcome for ever more. ‘Only a particular love’, wrote Virginia Finzi Ghisi, ‘can perhaps show up the particular nature of the universal relation par excellence, i.e. the natural sexual relationship, the love of man and woman that reflects in the little magic circle of the family or couple the identical structure both founded on it and founding it, the structure of the big family (the office, factory, community, the world market).’ Homosexuality makes possible ‘the decomposition of the roles that the generalised natural relationship has crystallised, and the recomposition of new roles, complex and bizarre, and rich in shading: ‘All men are women and all women are men.’[48]

Homosexuality is a relation between persons of the same sex. Between women, it proclaims the autonomous existence of female sexuality, independent of the phallus. Between men, even though historically marked by phallocracy, homosexuality multiplies the sexual ‘uniqueness’ of the phallus, thus in a certain respect negating it, and discloses the availability of the ass for intercourse and erotic pleasure. Moreover:

“In the homosexual relation between both men and women, power and its agency are put in question. Two social victors or two social vanquished find themselves equally forced to abandon and reassemble affection/power/absence of power, they cannot simply distribute them according to the social division of roles. This might seem very trivial, but it puts in crisis the foundations of the distributive order of the present society, its mode of politics, and the structure of political groups themselves.”[49]

Repetition Compulsion. The Ghetto. Coming Out at Work.

The union of male bodies, though paradoxically the union of penises, undermines the authoritarian abstraction of the phallus. But male homosexuality can also present itself as doubly phallic, or – in the ideology of the ‘double male’ – as maximally repressed, an unreserved mimicry of the heterosexual model. In such a case, the sexual relation between men is an alienating lack of communication. Given that homosexuality is considered and socially treated as an ‘aberration’ – or rather, that passive homosexuality is deemed dishonourable and disreputable, as in the Islamic countries among others – the gay desire, made guilty in this way, can find a certain justification by fully adapting to the laws of male ‘power’, becoming an actual champion of this. Even lesbians can be forced into such behaviour.

It is necessary at this point to remember that the homosexual, just like the heterosexual, is subject to a fixation to norms and values, the heritage of Oedipal phallocentric educastration, and to the compulsion to repeat. Educastration, as Corrado Levi shows, ‘tends to predispose and crystallise the libido of us all, by continuous acts of repression and examination, into images and models that subsequently underlie successive behaviours, in the coerced tendency to seek these and act them out’.[50] These images and models are all bound up with the values presently in force in the capitalist context.

“The crystallising of desire onto acquired images tends to lead, and at times in an unambiguous way, to ruling out all other images that are different from these. Only certain images of man and woman are sought (whether heterosexual or homosexual), and we pursue physical types that we have associated with these images: young or old, blond or dark, with or without beard, bourgeois or proletarian, male or female, etc., tending to selectively rule out …”

one of the two terms. The fixation of behaviour to family models, moreover, determines the type of relationship with the partner: ‘as a couple, a threesome, active, passive, paternal, maternal, filial, etc. Only through these filters and diaphragms can we then act, and see both ourselves and those persons we are involved with, who respond in their turn with analogous mechanisms’. Models, images and behaviour tend in general to be delineated in a perspective of male capitalist values: domination, subordination, property, hierarchy, etc., ‘and this is connected’, Corrado Levi concludes, ‘with both the contents of the models followed and the mechanism by which they are pursued’.

Yet if these filters and diaphragms, these mechanisms, are in part common to both heterosexuals and gays, it is also true that, on the basis of the flaw that our behaviour, as a transgression of the Norm, represents for the present society, we homosexuals are in a position to put them in question, by discovering in our own lives a deep gap between the

rules transgressed and the norms still accepted, and by the contradiction this creates in the system of prevailing values. It may well be that the growth of our movement has not yet led us to a complete unfixing of the internalised models and the compulsion to repeat and pursue them. But it has at least led us to question them, developing in us the desire to experiment, and suggesting new and different behaviours alongside and as a gradual replacement for the repetitive and coerced ones. This has happened above all in the USA, where the gay movement is so far much stronger than in Europe, and has brought about a considerable change in the social and existential conditions of homosexuals (in some States in particular), despite the insufferable continuation of the rule of capital. In America above all, we can see the rebirth of sexual desire between gays, which in our part of the world is still to a large degree latent, the fantasy of the heterosexual male, the bête, the ‘supreme object’ of desire, being still very much alive in many of us.

But the situation in the ghetto is certainly far from rosy, in America and in Europe, Japan or Australia. Often, many of us still tend to oscillate between repression and exaggerated ostentation, putting (deliberately) in doubt the genuineness of our ‘effeminacy’. This leads to a situation in which all spontaneity and sincerity is outlawed, and replaced by the pantomime of ‘normality’ or an ‘abnormality’ which is simply its mirror image. The exponents of such spectacles often end up making the ghetto appear monstrous to our own eyes, not to mention to those more or less scandalised by the far more monstrous heterosexual society that surrounds it.

One particular iron rule seems often to apply in the ghetto. Lack of spontaneity, of naturalness and affection, is often made into a sacrosanct norm, ‘communication’ taking place by way of a series of witty quips, spectacular entrances and exits, arrows directed with unheard-of precision (unheard-of for heterosexuals). The ghetto queen is a past mistress not only of decking out herself and her apartment, in creating a certain atmosphere, in managing her own mask better than anyone else (which from daily use becomes an identification), she is also mistress of fazing other queens. Many homosexuals today wear the uniform of their persecutors, just as in the Nazi concentration camps. Only it is no longer the pink triangle that is in vogue, but rather a casing that covers the body from head to foot, a mask that conceals the physiognomy, a carapace that constrains the body like a crustacean.

The system has ghettoised and colonised us so deeply that it frequently leads us to reproduce, in a grotesque and tragicomic form, the same roles and the same spectacle as the society that excludes us. This is precisely why we gays can often see through the misery that surrounds ‘our’ ghetto, and at times with exceptional aesthetic sense and irony. And yet if the present society can come to terms with the ironic finesse that some of us display, and is entertained by the inverted homosexual reflection of its own image, at the same time it does not contain its disgust at the real ghetto (or what it sees of it), and attacks it in a racist fashion.

But the ghetto is not outside the society that has built it. It is an aspect of the system itself. Moreover, the awareness of marginalisation and the sense of guilt induced by social condemnation poison the ghetto, leading it to assume the same distorted sneer as the society that derides it. And if homosexuals are very often not attracted by one another, this is very largely due to the ghetto atmosphere, which is anti-homosexual, precisely because it’s held together by a false guilt and a very real marginalisation.

Homosexuals have been so much led always to see themselves as sick that at times they actually believe themselves to be so. This is our real sickness, the illusion of sickness that can even make people really sick. In a similar manner, people shut up for long enough in mental hospitals can end up showing the stereotyped signs of ‘madness’, i.e. the traces of the persecution they have experienced, its ‘therapy’ internalised in the form of sickness. Doctors (psychiatrists and anti-psychiatrists alike) are the real plague spreaders, and the real sickness is the ‘treatment’.

Often, the illusion of being in some way sick affects the homosexual to such a point that he tries to disguise his own being, a distortion that he is forced to live as a deformation. If we homosexuals sometimes appear ridiculous, pathetic or grotesque, this is because we are not allowed the alternative of feeling ourselves to be human beings. ‘Mad’ people, blacks, and poor people all bear on their brow the mark of the oppression they have undergone.

But this mark can be transformed into a sign of new life. The face of a transvestite can burn with the gayness of liberated desire, an energy pointing towards the creation of communism. The war against capital has not been lost. Ever more homosexuals today, instead of struggling in silence against themselves, in individual anxiety and the seclusion of the ghetto, are beginning to fight[51] gayly with their eyes open, with bodies open, for the revolution.

It is no time now to conceal our homosexuality. We must live it always and everywhere, in the most open way possible – even at our jobs, too, if we are not to be accomplices of all who still oppress us. Anyone who is afraid of losing his job can come out with moderation, and if necessary, it is possible to maintain a certain reserve without making shabby compromises with the Norm. Things can still be clearly said without using so many words, and one can act in a way that is compatible with one’s ideas and desire while avoiding, for the time being, coming out explicitly, if this is impossible without getting sacked. True, the situation is far more difficult for gays in small towns in the provinces. But we can hope that soon the positive effects of the liberation movement will make themselves felt even here.

Given that people are forced to work in factories and offices, it is good that homosexual collectives should be formed here too. Union gives the strength to come out openly, and gay groups in schools and colleges are also steadily on the rise, even in Italy.

I have a friend who works in a bank, where he gets through the good and bad times with wit and wisdom. He recently marched past his colleagues and bosses, mimicking a parade of spring and summer fashions for bank clerks. His colleagues were entertained, and when one of them stupidly asked what the meaning of it all was, he replied: ‘I’m crazy’, leaving it to the others to wonder whether he really was crazy, or if he indeed takes it in the ass.

In this and who knows how many other ways, the cause of liberation makes headway, without heroism, without even risking the sack. Every queen does what she can, according to the situation in which she finds herself. The important thing is to do one’s best (i.e. to work out how one can obtain the best results), and to avoid being trapped by and resigning oneself to the Norm.

To spread homosexuality in one’s place of work, today, means spurring people to reject a labour that no longer has any reason to exist, and which largely consists of sublimated homoerotic desire. It is sufficient to enter an office or a factory to immediately sense how the degrading atmosphere of the workplace is pervaded with repressed and sublimated homosexuality. ‘Colleagues’ at work, while rigorously respecting the anti-homosexual taboo as capital would have them, make sexual advances to each other eight hours a day in the most extraordinary manner, as well as exhibiting themselves as rivals towards women. In this way, however, they only play the game of capital, establishing a false solidarity between men, a negative solidarity that sets them against women and against one another in the purposeless (and hardly gratifying) perspective of rivalry, of competition to be tougher, more masculine, more brutish, less fucked over in the general fucking over, which – despite the label – has no other purpose save enslavement to the capitalist machine, to alienated labour, and forced consent to the deadly repression of the human species, of the proletariat.

If the gay desire among ‘colleagues’ at work were liberated, they would then become genuine colleagues, able to recognise and satisfy the desire that has always bound them together; able to create, via their rediscovered mutual attraction, a new and genuine solidarity between both men and women; able to embody together, women and queers, the New Revolutionary Proletariat. Able to say ‘enough’ to labour and ‘yes’ to communism.

Subjection and the Revolutionary Subject

I believe it follows from the arguments put forward in these pages that only those who find themselves in opposition to the institutionalised Norm can play a fully critical role. In other words, only feminist self-consciousness and homosexual awareness[52] can give life to a vision of the world that is completely different from the male heterosexual one, and to a clear and revolutionary interpretation of important themes that have been obscured for centuries, if not actually proscribed, by patriarchal dogma and the absolutising of the Norm. Women represent the basic opposition potential to male ‘power’, which, as we have seen, is in every way functional to the perpetuation of capitalism.

And if it is the male heterosexual code that prevents us achieving that qualitative leap leading to the liberation of transsexuality which desire fundamentally strives towards, we cannot avoid accepting the potential and now actual subversive force of homosexuality in the dialectic of sexual ‘tendencies’, just as we cannot deny the revolutionary position occupied by women in the dialectic of the sexes.

To those anti-psychiatrists who have worked to understand the repressed transsexual nature of desire, I would maintain that the liberation of a transsexuality that has up till now been unconscious cannot be obtained by a male and heterosexual redeployment of the classical psychoanalytic categories (substituting for Oedipus, for example, an Anti-Oedipus), but only by the revolution of women against male supremacy and the homosexual revolution against the heterosexual Norm. And only the standpoint of women and gays, above all of gay women, can indicate the very important nexus that exists between their subordination and the general social subordination, drawing the thread that unites class oppression, sexual oppression and the suppression of homosexuality.

In women as subjected to male ‘power’, in the proletariat subjected to capitalist exploitation, in the subjection of homosexuals to the Norm and in that of black people to white racism, we can recognise the concrete historical subjects in a position to overthrow the entire present social, sexual and racial dialectic, for the achievement of the ‘realm of freedom’. True human subjectivity is not to be found in that personification of the thing par excellence, i.e. capital and the phallus, but rather in the subject position of women, homosexuals, children, blacks, ‘schizophrenics’, old people, etc. to the power that exploits and oppresses them. This revolutionary or potentially revolutionary subjectivity arises from subjection.

There are here a series of serious contradictions, which have to be overcome so that the true Revolution can be achieved. Still today, in fact, the subversive potential of the majority is held in check by their adherence to one form of power or another. Too many proletarians, for example, and too many women as well, still keenly defend the heterosexual Norm, and hence male privilege and the domination of capital. And yet Elvio Fachinelli can already say: ‘We are not far from the day when the peaceful and moderately efficient heterosexual will find himself fired upon by his homosexual comrade’.[53]

But Fachinelli knows better than I do that the gun is a phallic symbol. We queens have no intention of shooting anyone to bits, even if we are prepared to defend ourselves as best we can, and will be better prepared in the future. Our revolution is opposed to capital and its Norm, and its goal is universal liberation. Death and gratuitous violence we can willingly leave to capital, and to those still in thrall to its inhuman ideology. Fachinelli, as a good heterosexual, fears gays armed with guns because he fears homosexual relations. It is only to be hoped that this heterosexual fear will be transformed into gay desire and not into terror, forcing us really to take up the gun. I believe the movement for the liberation of homosexuality is irreversible, in the broader context of human emancipation as a whole. It is up to all of us to make this emancipation a reality. There is certainly no time to lose.


[1] Larry Mitchell, The Faggots and Their Friends (unpublished) (New York, 1975).

[2] See Mario Mieli, ‘London Gay Liberation Front, Angry Brigade, piume & paillettes’, in Fuori!, n. 5 (November 1972).

[3] [Translator’s note: Caselli is an Italian record producer, Cederna a journalist and writer, Boratto an actress famous for parts in films such as Pasolini’s Salò, and Greer the Australian feminist writer and author of The Female Eunuch. Relevant for the point that Mieli is making here is that all four were seen to dress and cut their hair in ways considered ‘masculine’ or severe.]

[4] [Translator’s note: Mieli writes une avance in French.]

[5] See Chapter 6, section 1.

[6] Brown, Life Against Death, p. 27.

[7] Groddeck, The Book of the It, p. 231.

[8] [Translator’s note: Mieli here plays on a set of linguistic echoes and double meanings: ordine means both ‘orderliness’ and ‘order’ (in the sense of ‘the forces of law and order’), while he sets up a pair between pulizia (cleanliness) and polizia (police).]

[9] See ‘Omosessuali: parliamone in aula’, in Panorama, n. 502 (4 December 1975).

[10] [Translator’s note: In Italian, as in English, the word porco (pig) can be used to disparage someone who is seen as gluttonous, filthy, and low, although the adjective porcate carries a stronger connotation of filth, excrement, and disgust than ‘piggish’ would in English.]

[11] See the articles ‘Omosessualità e cultura’, in Corriere della Sera, (12 February 1975) and ‘Il difficile amore diverso’, (12 November 1975).

[12] Elvio Fachinelli, ‘Travesti’, L’Erba Voglio 11, (May–June 1973), p. 38.

[13] Di omosessualità si muore, a leaflet published by the Milan Fuori! collective on 25 October 1975, just one week before the death of Pasolini.

[14] The Gazolines were the most outrageous group of queens and transvestites from the old Paris FHAR; Nostra Signora dei Fiori is a theatrical group within the Milan Homosexual Collective.

[15] [Translator’s note: ‘El Degüello’ is a bugle call, most famous for its use by Mexican buglers in the Siege of the Alamo, where it signified that the attacking forces would show no mercy and give no quarter to those in the fort.]

[16] Paul Lafargue, The Right to be Lazy (Chicago: C. H. Kerr, 1975), p. 38.

[17] ‘Civilization and its Discontents’, Standard Edition Vol. 21 (London: Vintage, 2001), p. 104. According to the ‘mature’ Freud, notes Francesco Santini, ‘it is not just sexuality that civilisation represses and sublimates in economic activity, but also the death instinct, which is thus also put in the service of the reality principle and externalised in the aggressive conquest of nature. Man conquers and destroys his environment, and in this way avoids destroying himself, prolonging his journey towards death’. See ‘Note sull’avenire del nostro passato’, Comune Futura 1, ( June 1975).

[18] See Chapter 3, section 7.

[19] Herbert Marcuse, Eros and Civilization (New York: Vintage Books, 1962), p. 46.

[20] Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man, p. 38.

[21] Marx, Grundrisse, p. 705.

[22] Ibid., pp. 705–6. (Marx’s emphases.)

[23] Virginia Finzi Ghisi, ‘Le strutture dell’Eros’, an essay published as an appendix to the Italian edition of the French FHAR’s Rapport contre la normalité.

[24] Frederick Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, pp. 71–2.

[25] Ibid., p. 128.

[26] Paul Lafargue, The Right to be Lazy, p. 66.

[27] See Chapter 1, section 8.

[28] Aldo Tagliaferri, Sulla dialettica tra sessualità e politica, in Sessualità e politica: Documenti del congresso internazionale di psicoanalisi, Milano 25-28 novembre 1975 (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1976), p. 225.

[29] Fornari, Genitalità e culture, p. 27.

[30] [Translator’s note: In Italian, the word is inculare, which would literally translate as ‘to put in the ass’, or even more literally, ‘to in-ass’. Mieli italicises the prefix of inculare to emphasise this sense, which cannot be conveyed by any single English word. He also uses a complex parenthetical – (inter)venergli – to suggest that someone coming (venire) inside you is also a form of ‘intervening’ in atomised subjectivity.]

[31] Tagliaferri, Sulla dialettica, p. 226.

[32] [Translator’s note: The word that I have translated as ‘forest’ throughout this section is selva, which might also be rendered as ‘woods’ or ‘woodland’. It is crucial to note, however, that the word shares etymological roots and a general tone with the word selvaggio, which means ‘wild’ or ‘savage’.]

[33] Fornari, ‘Omosessualità e cultura’, p. 226.

[34] Tagliaferri, Sulla dialettica, p. 228.

[35] Freud, ‘Psycho-Analytic Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia’, p. 82.

[36] Friedrich Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1972), p. 129.

[37] [Translator’s note: As is obvious, Mieli’s reworking of the Italian name for Narcissus into a revolutionary acronym is largely untranslatable. However, it is worth noting here one specific element of his language: the word nuclei, which might be rendered as ‘groups’ or ‘cells’, had a particular resonance in the 1970s, as the word was used by far-left groups to mark a horizontal, potentially proliferating form of organisation that would allow the formation of small cadres, rather than a single unified party form. Mieli’s imagined group name riffs especially off of Nuclei Armati Proletari (Armed Proletarian Groups/Cells), a radical organisation formed in Naples that was active from 1974 to 1977. Inspired in particular by Frantz Fanon and George Jackson, NAP carried out a string of kidnappings, bombings, and assassinations, and they placed particular focus on the liberation of, and solidarity with, those who were incarcerated.]

[38] Groddeck, The Book of the It, pp. 18–19.

[39] Fornari, Genitalità e cultura, p. 67.

[40] [Translator’s note: Mieli writes sense of humour in English in the original.]

[41] Groddeck, The Book of the It, p. 234.

[42] [Translator’s note: this final sentence is in English in the original.]

[43] Freud, ‘A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis’, quoted by Marcuse, Eros and Civilization, p. 45.

[44] Matriarchal society began to break down in the period that Engels, following Morgan, refers to as ‘barbarism’ (8000–3000 bc), giving way to ‘civilisation’. According to Engels: ‘The overthrow of mother right was the world-historical defeat of the female sex’ (Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, p. 120).

[45] Francesco Santini, Comune Futura 1, p. 28.

[46] Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia (London: Verso, 2005), pp. 95–6.

[47] See Piero Fassoni annd Mario Mieli, ‘Marcocco miraggio omosessuale’, Fuori! (4 October 1972), also ‘Les arabes et nous’, in Grande Encyclopédie des Homoséxualités, pp. 10–27, and the following articles. Very little is known in Europe of the situation of homosexuality among the Arab peoples, and the Islamic nations in general. In fact, homosexuality forms part of the Islamic religious tradition. In a contradictory fashion, this accepts active homosexuality while condemning the passive role. For the meddeb, the teacher in the Koranic school, it is quite proper to have sexual relations with his young disciples. Yet this should not give the impression that homosexuality only takes the form of sexual attraction towards adolescents. If this were the case, then the limitation of adults to an active role would be simpler to explain. The ephebe, in the patriarchal view of things, unites the woman and the man, and this determines his fixation to the passive role. The Arabs, however, are happy to fuck adult men as well, and frequently do so. It is as if the moral blame that their religion ascribes to a man who is fucked does not involve them, although they will often enough suggest the activity.

[48] Virginia Finzi Ghisi, ‘Le strutture dell’Eros’, p. 172.

[49] ‘I gruppi di fronte alia questione omosessuale’, Re Nudo (5 November 1975).

[50] Corrado Levi, ‘Problematiche e contributi dal lavoro di presa di coscienza del coliettivo Fuori! di Milano’, 1973 . These quotations are drawn from the printed version of this essay, published as an appendix to Un tifo (Milan, 1973).

[51] [Translator’s note: Mieli once more uses his untranslatable pun, which means both to fight and to cruise.]

[52] This does not mean that I support uncritically all the feminist and gay groups that presently exist, still less put them blindly on a pedestal; see Chapter 2, section 6. It is necessary to point out the counter-revolutionary aspects of the politics of some groups, and to deplore the male supremacy of gay men and the anti-homosexual attitude still current among too many feminists. But a critical analysis of the situations in which feminist and gay groups are debating will precisely demonstrate the immense importance of the issues that they are confronting. Their great merit is to have been the first to raise certain fundamental questions that have been repressed from a very remote time, and they are consequently in the best position to resolve these in practice.

[53] Elvio Fachinelli, ‘Travesti’, p. 38.

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The full text of Mario Mieli’s essay, in english, is available here.

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