Though I found it fascinating, I was kind of reluctant to post this story on the prevalenceof gay participation in fascist parties. In the end, I thought it would be better for LGBTple and Allies to read and discuss it here rather than that other “warrior” themed Marquette-community blog, whose custodian is given to unfair and sweeping generalizations, and use of the majestic plural.
Anyway, self-described “left-wing” gay British journalist Johann Hari examine’s Europe’s “weird, disproportionate overlap between homosexuality and fascism”:
Jorg Haider blasted Austria’s cosy post-Nazi politics to rubble in 2000 when his neo-fascist ‘Freedom Party’ won a quarter of the vote and joined the country’s government as a coalition partner. Several facts always cropped up in the international press coverage: his square jaw, his muscled torso, his SS-supporting father, his rabid anti-Semitism, his hatred of immigrants, his description of Auschwitz and Dachau as “punishment centres”. A few newspapers mentioned that he is always surrounded by fit, fanatical young men. A handful went further and pointed out that several of these young men are openly gay. Then one left-wing German paper broke the story everybody else was hinting at. They alleged Haider is gay.
Rumours of an Indian waiter with “intimate details” of Haider’s body broke into the press. The Freedom Party’s general manager Gerald Miscka quickly quit, amid accusations that he was Haider’s lover. Haider’s close gay friend Walter Kohler – who has been photographed showing off a holstered pistol while Haider chuckled – declared his opposition to outing politicians. Haider – who was married and has two children – kept quiet while his functionaries denied the rumours. The revelation that he died after leaving a gay bar suggests these rumours were true.
On and on it goes. If you inter-railed across Europe, only stopping with gay fascists, there aren’t many sights you’d miss. France’s leading post-war fascist was Edouard Pfieffer, who was not batting for the straight side. Germany’s leading neo-Nazi all through the eighties was called Michael Kuhnen; he died of AIDS in 1991 a few years after coming out. Martin Lee, author of a study of European fascism, explains, “For Kuhnen, there was something supermacho about being a Nazi, as well as being a homosexual, both of which enforced his sense of living on the edge, of belonging to an elite that was destined to make an impact. He told a West German journalist that homosexuals were ‘especially well-suited for our task, because they do not want ties to wife, children and family…'”
And this Gaystapo has an icon to revere, an alternative Fuhrer to worship: the lost gay fascist leader Ernst Rohm. Along with Adolf Hitler, Rohm was the founding father of Nazism. Born to conservative Bavarian civil servants in 1887, Ernst Rohm’s life began – in his view – in the “heroic” trenches of the First World War. Like so many of the generation who formed the Nazi Party, he was nurtured by and obsessed with the homoerotic myth of the trenches – heroic, beautiful boys prepared to die for their brothers and their country.
He emerged from the war with a bullet-scarred face and a reverence for war. As he put it in his autobiography, “Since I am an immature and wicked man, war and unrest appeal to me more than the good bourgeois order.” After being disbanded, he tried half-heartedly to get a foothold in civilian life, but he saw it as alien, bourgeois, boring. He had no political beliefs, only prejudices – particularly hatred of Jews. Historian Joachim Fest describes Rohm’s generation of alienated, demobbed young men humiliated by defeat as “agents of a permanent revolution without any revolutionary idea of the future, only a wish to eternalize the values of the trenches.”
It was Rohm who first spotted the potential of a soap-box ranter called Adolf Hitler. He saw him as the demagogue he needed to mobilize support for his plan to overthrow democracy and establish a “soldier’s state” where the army ruled untrammelled. He introduced the young fascist to local politicians and military leaders; they knew him for many years as “Rohm’s boy.” Gay historian Frank Rector notes, “Hitler was, to a substantial extent, Rohm’s protégé.” Rohm integrated Hitler into his underground movement to overthrow the Weimar Republic.
Rohm’s blatant, out homosexuality seems bizarre now, given the gay genocide that was to follow. He talked openly about his fondness for gay bars and Turkish baths, and was known for his virility. He believed that gay people were superior to straights, and saw homosexuality as a key principle of his proposed Brave New Fascist Order. As historian Louis Snyder explains, Rohm “projected a social order in which homosexuality would be regarded as a human behaviour pattern of high repute… He flaunted his homosexuality in public and insisted his cronies do the same. He believed straight people weren’t as adept at bullying and aggression as homosexuals, so homosexuality was given a high premium in the SA.” They promoted an aggressive, hypermasculine form of homosexuality, condemning “hysterical women of both sexes”, in reference to feminine gay men.
This belief in the superiority of homosexuality had a strong German tradition that grew up at the turn of the twentieth century around Adolf Brand, publisher of the country’s first gay magazine. You could call it ‘Queer as Volk’: they preached that gay men were the foundation of all nation-states and represented an elite, warrior caste that should rule. They venerated the ancient warrior cults of Sparta, Thebes and Athens.
Rohm often referred to the ancient Greek tradition of sending gay solider couples into battle, because they were believed to be the most ferocious fighters. The famous pass of Thermopylae, for example was held by 300 soldiers – who consisted of 150 gay couples…
Rohm is venerated on the Homo-Nazi sites that have bred on the internet like germs in a wound. They have names like Gays Against Semitism (with the charming acronym GAS), and the Aryan Resistance Corps (ARC). Their Rohmite philosophy is simple: while white men are superior to other races, gay men are “the masters of the Master Race”. They alone are endowed with the “capacity for pure male bonding” and the “superior intellect” that is needed for “a fascist revolution.” The ARC even organises holiday “get-togethers” for its members where “you can relax amongst the company of our fellow white brothers.”
So it’s fairly easy to establish that gay people are not inoculated from fascism. They have often been at its heart. This begs the bigger question: why? How did gay people – so often victims of oppression and hate – become integral to the most hateful and evil political movement of all? Is it just an extreme form of self-harm, the political equivalent to the gay kids who slash their own arms to ribbons out of self-hate?
I decided to track down some gay fascists and ask them directly. Wyatt Powers, director of the ARC, says, “I always knew in my heart racist and gay were both morally right. I don’t see any conflict between them. It’s only the Jew-owned gay press that tries to convince us that racialism is the same thing as homophobia. You can be an extreme nationalist and gay without any contradiction at all.”
One comment board on a gay racist website goes even further into racist lunacy. One gay man from Ohio says, “Even if you are gay and white, or retarded and white, YOU ARE WHITE, BOTTOM LINE! Instead of letting the white race go extinct because of worthless races such as the Africans or Mexicans popping out literally millions of babies a day, we have to fight this fucked up shit they are doing. They are raping our country.” It’s true that racism and homophobia do not necessarily overlap – but as Rabbi Bernard Melchman explains, “Homophobia and anti-Semitism are so often part of the same disease.” Racists are usually homophobic. Even after reading all their web rantings, I didn’t feel any closer to understanding why so many gay men ally themselves with people who will almost always turn on them in the end, just as the Nazis did.
Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has a sensitive and intriguing explanation. “There are many reasons for this kind of thing,” he says. “Some of them are in denial. They are going for hyper-masculinity, the most extreme possible way of being a man. It’s a way of ostentatiously rejecting the perceived effeminacy of the homosexual ‘Other’. These troubled men have a simple belief in their minds: ‘Straight men are tough. Queers are weak. Therefore if I’m tough I can’t be queer.’ It’s a desperate way of proving their manhood.”
‘Searchlight’ magazine – the bible of the British anti-fascist movement, with moles in every major far-right organisation – offers an alternative explanation. “Generally condemned by a society that continues to be largely hostile to gays, some men may find refuge and a new power status in the far right,” one of their writers has explained. “Through adherence to the politics espoused by fascist groups, a new identity emerges – one where they aren’t outcasts, because they are White Men, superior to everyone else. They render the gay part of their identity invisible – or reject the socially less acceptable parts, like being feminine – while vaunting what they see as superior.”
It makes sense the already-marginalized would find some species of security in a marginalized movement desperate for warm bodies. The appeals makes even more sense when the movement offers a hypermasculine identity to men made to feel insecure within a gender binary. (It just goes to show how rigidly enforced gender expectations really do hurt everyone. A propensity towards destruction and xenophobia stirs in every human breast; but wars are generally declared by people with Something to Prove.) Speaking from experience–and possibly exempting Green Party politics–most people I know on the fringes of polity have been male. Think of all the libertarians you know personally. Now think about the gender breakdown.
(Not that I’m comparing libertarians to fascists. Well, Von Mises Institute libertarians, maybe. Objectivists, of course, are given to hero-worship, dogmatism, and a species of social “Darwinism” that fulfils the antisocial, heartless caricature laissez faire theorists. But Cato Institute and Reason Foundation sympathizers are imminently talk-to-able, for all their global-warming denialism.)
None of this is to say gays are somehow predisposed to illiberal politics; experience and statistics testify against this. Just because many fascists are gays doesn’t mean most gays are fascists. But these movements appear to have some aspects appealing to homosexuals. It also must be considered that Hari’s demography of fascism was in no way scientific. He mentioned the “dis-proportionality” of gays in such movements, but offers only anecdotal as evidence, and proffers no solid numbers. This sketch may be a misrepresentation of the actual state of ultra-nationalist movements.
I hope you all appreciate my restraint in not going with my original, playfully antisocial headline, “Fascism is gay.” Also:
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