"Unpersons" of the Past and Present - Letter to the Editor by Stephen W. Foster - The Gay and Lesbian Review March-April 2012 Issue

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“Unpersons” of the Past and Present

To the Editor:

Trevor Duncan complained in a recent letter [Jan.-Feb. 2012] about the conspiracy of silence surrounding pederasty in gay publications. The matter goes far deeper than that. I wish to point out the similarity between the treatment of pederasts in the homosexual community and the treatment of polygamists in the Mormon community. In the 19th century, most if not all Mormon men were polygamists. But beginning in 1890, under pressure from the federal government, polygamy was abolished or went underground. The remaining polygamists were expelled from the LDS church. To this day there are a number of breakaway sects that practice polygamy, which are not recognized by the main church.

In exactly the same way, beginning in 1977, the homosexual community began rejecting and expelling the pederasts, even though pederasty had once been the dominant or even exclusive form of male homosexuality. It is easy and convenient to forget that pederasty only a few decades ago was still accepted in the homosexual community to a degree now considered astonishing. Edmund White, for example, in his book States of Desire included a section on a pederast without the slightest hint of disapproval. I could also draw a parallel, perhaps grotesque, between this and the expulsion of the Trotskyites by the Stalinists. What we have now within the homosexual community is a form of air-brushing in which the pederast disappears from the photo, becoming what Orwell called an “unperson”—someone who ceases to be mentioned and whose very existence is denied. The dominant position today is to assert that pederasty is not a form of homosexuality.

Stephen W. Foster, Miami, FL

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