Tuesday, August 19, 2003

I'm intrigued by a recent news item about a British zoologist who proposes that gay people are more highly "evolved" than their hetero peers because they remain in the state of infantilism longer -- ie, the playful, creative phase which most adults are encouraged to grow out of sometime around high school graduation.

I'm not entirely convinced by the argument, but I appreciate the way it turns conventional thinking on its head. Thanks to years of cultural bombardment, one of the things I've always wrestled with as a gay man, particularly one with, er, artistic tendencies, is the lingering suspicion that I haven't fully matured (and presumably never will) because I won't be meeting some nice girl, settling down, and raising a family. And on those occasions when I find myself in a gay club after midnight with a roomful of bare-chested men who are dancing the night away, I can't helping thinking how different their/our lives are from those of most adults in mainstream culture. So this scientist Clive Bromhall's assertion (apparently fleshed out in his new book The Eternal Child) essentially celebrates that difference rather than bemoaning it.

Following that same logic, it seems to me, fetishists must be at the very peak of the evolutionary ladder, since most fetishes are drawn from unresolved childhood attachments. I spend an embarrassing percentage of my waking hours in the realm of comic books, cop fantasies, superhero-themed tv series and movies (like tonight's cable-tv-facilitated choice between Spider-Man and The Phantom), and costumed play. How delightful to be able to claim that being so in touch with my "eternal child" is not a symptom of arrested development but a sign of my higher state of consciousness!

PS. Speaking of comics, the minute I finished The Long Halloween, I raced back to the store to pick up the sequel, Dark Victory. That one's not nearly as good -- it's sort of like 2010, the completely unnecessary followup to 2001 that tied up every conceivable loose end from the original, when a little ambiguity and unfinished business is really not such a bad thing. Still some excellent artwork -- and the writer, who shares my preference for a solitary Batman, still finds an interesting way to incorporate young Robin. (Tip: don't even think of reading Victory before Halloween.)

Coincidentally, there is much in both books, and other recent bat-lore, about Bruce Wayne's own obsession with unfinished business from his childhood. Pretty much every serious bat-story these days seems to feature a flashback to the traumatic night when his parents took him to see Zorro and wound up murdered. Everything Wayne does from that night on is devoted to avenging their deaths. Like me, he dresses up in funny clothes and spends the wee hours of the night doing things his neighbors would never dream of -- and yet he still seems pretty unquestionably adult (as fictional characters go, that is).

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