Murray has dug deep into the historical Western construction of homosexuality as immoral, and in doing so has left us cognisant that homophobia has not shed its historical roots but has shift-shaped into new forms.
Book Review by Heather Brunskell-Evans
Given the celebratory hullabaloo about homosexuality in the broadcast media in the summer of 2017, some of us may have taken comfort that homophobia is now an outmoded, reactionary, cruel prejudice that has no place in liberal society. Indeed, we could be forgiven for thinking homosexuality, rather than being the unnatural, deviant or immoral form of sexuality that it has been historically characterised, possesses a capacity for joy and freedom of which heterosexuals, at least of the male, hidebound variety, may be justifiably envious. Fifty years after it was first decriminalised in the UK (for consenting adults over 21), it appears that homosexuality has now achieved a certain cultural cachet. In becoming aligned with other groups collectively described as LGBT, it ranks with all things Queer. Queer, it seems, finally kicks the norms, constraints, conventions, and perhaps the sheer boringness, of heterosexuality into touch. Media ‘stars’, actors, writers, poets, political activists and others highlighted, through personal testimony, the iniquity and barbarity of the policing of their homosexuality before 1967 and after the change in the law. The collective broadcast stories have thus narrated not only the journeys of individuals, but also of society’s trajectory from the historical dark ages of homosexual suppression and punishment, so recent in our memory, to the emerging liberal tolerance and acceptance of which decriminalisation was one important milestone. Although the tyrannies of homophobia may still be alive in some shadowy and uneducated pockets, it seems that society (on the whole) is now prepared to accept that homosexuality is merely one natural form of sexuality amongst others.
Is this happy picture of a sexually progressive society accurate? Or, more importantly, can this depiction of current freedoms, individual liberties and society’s enlightenment be both true and untrue at the same time? Terri Murray, author of Thinking Straight about Being Gay: Why it Matters if We’re Born That Way (2015, AuthorHouse; UK) , provides sobering responses. She cautions against the surface appearance that homophobia is increasingly consigned to a previous age and alerts us to a powerful substratum of homophobia which rumbles away whilst we’re not paying attention, and even while we are but looking in the wrong direction. Whilst the liberal left is congratulating itself, the legacy of Christian naturalist ethics, the discourses of social Darwinism, gene therapy, and the use to which gene therapy can currently be put by American liberal eugenics, are spectres that not only mooch around the edges of the current party but laud their wares in the full light of day. Homosexuality, they variously declare, is a crime against nature even if it is given in nature. Natural ethics declares something must be done to restore the values of the heterosexual God-given or biological moral order!