"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Tale Of Tommy Talbott–Off The Gender Spectrum But Happier Than Anyone On It

The ‘Gender Spectrum’ has been the term used to describe the reconfiguration of sexual identity away from bi-polarity to a more flexible and less prescriptive scale.  There is no such thing as sexual bi-polarity, say gender reformers.  'Male’ and ‘female’ describe a decreasing number of Americans, most of whom are now can more realistically pick from a much broader range of sexual options.

According to the new gender canon, one’s sexuality is a matter of choice and preference, dictated by inner conviction and facilitated by education and example.  A young boy who feels an attraction to other boys may not necessarily be ‘gay’ and should not be closeted within that restrictive category, for as he matures he may find that his sexuality is more attuned to the Male Woman, once crudely and previously described as transvestite, but now more appropriately classified as ‘intersex’.  Or he might just as easily be attracted to the paradigmatic mirror image – the Female Man, the same intersex configuration, but this time the female transvestite.

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The gender spectrum is far more nuanced than these gross distinctions suggest.  For example ‘genderqueer’, a person who does not subscribe to conventional gender distinctions but identifies with neither, both, or a combination of male and female, is not only more aware and woke to the infinite possibilities of sexual identity, but more evolved in understanding the shifting, endlessly variant nature of human sexuality.  Sexual identity is never fixed, spectrum advocates say, but always shifting, subject to inner longings and external influences. There is no box to check for the genderqueer whose selection is only a temporal matter, likely to change.

A variant or subcategory of gender queer is ‘neutrois’ - Neutral-gender , Null-gender, Neither Male nor Female, Genderless, or Agender.  Neutrois represent an even more subtle evolutionary movement, away from sex entirely to a more metaphorical or existential non-sexual being.  Neutrois have by nature, nurture, or philosophical insight, realized that other than animal procreation, sex is irrelevant to the human experience, that intimate relationships can exist on a much higher, non-physical plane – one closer to spirituality than sexuality.

The gender spectrum, however, is only an academic system of classification which while accurate in its description of the most common sexual identities, does not take into account the more visceral, day-to-day expressions of sexual choice. That’s what sex shops are for; and the market in leather, toys, instruments, and paraphernalia, catering to the increasing demand for highly-specific gadgets and dress, is booming.

The Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco is a perfect example of this new sexually indeterminate age.  Classically and traditionally gay, the Fair is the best expression of sexual diversity.  Whether one is Cis-gender, transgender, genderqueer, neutrois, or any one of a hundred other permutations, the opportunity for a more transfiguring moment is on Folsom Street.  The acting out of gender identity(ies) in a plurality of ways is a far more potently accurate signifier than any list of sexual options.  No one definitional category can possibly account for the ‘archangels of the sexual soul’, as one transgender poet described the ‘maelstrom of sexual wildness’ that inhabits every human heart.

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Tommy Talbott grew up in a very traditional Connecticut town – an exact reflection of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, a place of political conservatism, profound religious belief, and social conformity.  The citizens of the town were well aware of their particular if not peculiar identity, and proud of it.  They held on to and preserved the old-fashioned ethos of the town well into the disruptive Sixties. The idea of an any aberration from the norm was impossible and never considered; and the idea of sexual aberration was the farthest from their minds.  Although they admitted that homosexuality had indeed always existed within human societies, it had always been condemned; and one had only to look at the Bible for reference.  However, thanks to serendipity or good fortune, the town was as doctrinally pure.  Although the town had been forced to listen to modern views of sexuality, it had not, thanks to a stable, well-off, and secure population with unbroken ties to the past, had to adopt them.

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Tommy knew from an early age that sexuality was a more complicated issue than his horny friends said, and he prematurely understood its dimensions and possibilities.  Of course, growing up where he did, he did not have the advantage of the progressive educators common in New York, and thus had only a sprinkling of information coming into the town second-hand.  Jimmy’s Smoke Shop had always stocked plenty of X-rated girlie magazines in the back of the store, and he let boys from the high school in the back if they bought something up front; but well after the sexual revolution in America had taken hold in America, Jimmy still carried nothing out of the sexual ordinary.  The Internet was in its infancy, the library was still wholesome, and the warnings from Father Brophy’s pulpit were still only about illicit heterosexual sex; and on this matter he was one of the most effective speakers in the diocese.  No one escaped his litany of sins and his severe, punitive approach to holiness.

None of this bothered Tommy much – he was his own man from an early age – and he was just as horny as anyone; but there was something niggling, then irritating, then frustrating about the town’s sexual rectitude.  He was not interested in exploring the gender spectrum, even if he had known what it was; but only felt that traditional sexual behavior – one man, one woman fidelity, sexual temperance, and routine – was missing something.  The first sign of sexual awakening in Tommy Talbot was not his interest in the women in Hot!, Cunt!, and Pussy in the back of Jimmy’s Smoke Shop; but the sense that a sexual smorgasbord awaited him.  While not tempted by anyone other than women, he was sure that his future would be filled with all women, all kinds, all the time.  If the progressive enablers of the gender spectrum had been less doctrinal in their approach to sexual diversity, they would have added a category to include the Tommy Talbots, Casanovas, Lotharios, and Valmonts – the insatiably curious male, straight lovers delighted with women, their eccentricities,  their particular sexuality, and their style.

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This Pan Straight category never existed nor would it exist, for from the very beginning of the sexual diversity movement, heterosexual sex was relegated to a barely significant category, an example of retrograde sexual thinking; yet there Tommy was, perhaps the best example of what had been pejoratively called ‘libertinage’, but was more correctly characterized (if indeed there could be a label) as sexually voracious.

This category was as unique as any of the other hundred-odd on the progressive list.  The fact that it had been erased, forgotten, and ignored did not eliminate it.  There were those who knew Tommy suspected that he was a Lawrentian man, a Lady Chatterley’s lover, a sexual partner who looked for epiphany, a spiritual high from sexual union; but he was nothing of the kind.  He had no belief in the transformative powers of sex, none of Lawrence’s ying-yang, Tantric vision, nor any sense of mystical union.  What distinguished Tommy from others was his absolute, unremitting love of women; his delight in everything feminine – dress, style, attitude, allure; and soft, yielding, welcoming bodies.  Women in all their complexity and subtlety were far more interesting than men; and the more women he knew, the more he understood them, the more he delighted in them, and the more he understood the nature of sexuality.

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As he got older and as the gender spectrum juggernaut picked up speed, momentum, and inertia, Tommy was more and more perplexed.  How could such a socially-mediated, political construct have made it this far?  If progressives could convince Americans that sexual diversity was the heart and soul of ‘inclusivity’; that is, once one accepted that the most fundamental element of human nature, sexuality, was value-neutral, fungible, and spectral, then ipso facto one would have to accept the same premise for human society.  A nice try, an agile, deft, and canny political move; but one which would have its day.  People are simply not that stupid.

So everywhere on the Coasts, the theory – the assumption of a gender spectrum – took hold, became received wisdom, and was well on its way to canon.  There were simply too few Tommy Talbotts to mount a defense.  So much the better, thought Tommy, for the way to his pleasure was more open than ever.  Women, despite their declarations of fidelity to the canon, were never fully rehabilitated.  “Many a slip between the cup and the lip”, far easier to accept cant than to practice it, and women as they always had, fell to the charms of the interested, confident, respectful, pursuing male.

Unreconstructed women loved the unreconstructed Tommy, for he was patient with them.  He listened, and the more he listened, the more they forgot their re-education and political correctness.

So while Tommy watched many men of younger generations leave behind sexual certainty, human nature, and genetic determinism to pick a spot on the gender spectrum, he paid them no mind.  He had as many women as he wanted, and he was a happy, unconflicted, satisfied man.

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