When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

CLARIN

Is Argentina In An Era Of "Post-Homosexuality"?

Sociologist Ernest Meccia explains how Argentina — one of the first countries in the world to introduce gay marriage — accepted and even embraced homosexuality.

A couple kissing during the Buenos Aires LBGTIQ Pride Parade in 2013
A couple kissing during the Buenos Aires LBGTIQ Pride Parade in 2013
Claudio Martyniuk

BUENOS AIRES — Homosexuals used to be held in contempt — they were ridiculed, attacked, even dismissed as "abnormal." In some ways, that added to the intensity of identifying as gay. Then came the AIDS epidemic. And then, at some point, gay people became cool in Argentina. Six years ago, the country introduced equal marriage.

For more insight into this trajectory, I spoke with Ernesto Meccia, a sociologist who studies the evolving lives of people in the gay community. Meccia has tracked people as they've aged, followed new erotic paths and transitioned into an era he dubs "post-homosexual."

CLARIN: What are the particular traits one sees among non-heterosexuals as they transition to old age?

ERNESTO MECCIA: We don't know that much. Films have presented us with decadent images of non-heterosexual old age. Consider Fellini or Visconti's Death in Venice, or the Franco-Argentine filmmaker Daniel Tinayre. The impression is of aging in isolation, depressed and desperate, and that aging could only bring more crisis to already troubled minds.

But some studies show a different picture. For older gays, old age does not mean crisis in the manner of their heterosexual peers. These, for example, must learn how to manage themselves when they are widowed, often without their children's help and in a society moving at a feverish pace. They have to learn for the first time to deal with adversity, so arriving at old age is more of a crisis for them.

But among older gays, those who were young in the 1950s, 60s or 70s, family rejection and discrimination forced them to always fend for themselves and face adversity. So they don't perceive old age as the "start" of a crisis, or not as much. The storms have already passed and they grow old with prior training, as it were. They are better prepared for aging.

How does the daily routine evolve as the years go by? What happens when the erotic element, which is sometimes so crucial, dies out?

We've been taught, particularly men, that the erotic experience has to do exclusively with genitals. On top of that, the man's reputation mostly depends on the sexual capital he is presumed to wield. It's horrible but true. The "penile culture" is part of this corporal ideology that removes a whole lot of possibilities from the imagination.

But again, other studies challenge this. They suggest that the focus only on genitals is more common for heterosexual men than gays. The difference is the aptitude gays have for using other parts of the body as erogenous zones, as well as accessories. That is nothing new. French writer MichelFoucault, in his last period in the United States, found in the fetish bars there a "protest" against the genital "reductionism" accepted by most gays of all ages.

In your research, what are some of the conclusions AIDS survivors have reached about the past?

The people I interviewed, who were from the generations decimated by the epidemic, talked very little about it. I was surprised. But silence does not mean oblivion, just the impossibility of processing this extreme trauma. Faced with the cruelty and inhumanity of traumatic experiences, victims may prefer not to speak, as they learned in oppressive situations that it was better to keep quiet. They know talking could provoke misunderstandings. Or maybe the victims chose not to talk because they did not know how to, or not yet. But the cruelty of so many attacks and adversity may have developed a subjective skepticism about the very existence of a discourse able to represent the accumulated sadness. So the suffering remains where it was, dormant.

What is post-homosexuality?

It is synonymous with "gayness." It is a sum of social, cultural, legal and political manifestations related to positively recognizing this sexual orientation. It is about non-differentiation, through a process of reducing distinctions or differentiation between straight and gay people. This has reduced the sense of "otherness" that had previously been imposed on gays. Gays are still seen as different, just not as much from heterosexuals.

How does this manifest itself?

It's part of a process of opening up in spatial, relational and representational terms. For starters, gays stop occupying specific, ghetto-type areas in the city. Second, there's expansion of social relations. And third, a diversification of the images they can use to define themselves. In the old homosexual regime, gay life existed in a territorial enclave where relations emerged and ended, and it was regulated by fiercely differentiating medical, psychiatric and religious discourses.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Geopolitics

How To Welcome Russians Fleeing Conscription? Europe Should Be Careful

Europe should welcome the exodus of conscientious objectors from Russia. But the conditions vary across the continent, and there needs to be some security precautions.

Russian nationals entering Georgia at the Verkhny Lars checkpoint on the Russian-Georgian border.

Jacques Schuster

-Analysis-

BERLIN — Russia's President Vladimir Putin is currently suffering his greatest defeat in the battle for terrain, but also public opinion.

The Kremlin may spread as much propaganda as it likes, but the pictures of kilometer-long lines of cars at the borders and thousands of young men fleeing abroad to avoid the draft with hastily packed bags show clearly what the Russian population thinks of Moscow's war of aggression.

In this sense, one can only hope that the stream will continue to flow for a long time.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

But how should European governments deal with the mass of fleeing conscientious objectors?

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ