Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The campaign for gay equality has opened the door to far freakier demands.

Last Saturday, the state of Florida finally banned sex with animals. It’s hard to believe that it’s taken so long, but it wasn't a big issue before now. A rash of cases heavily reported in local tabloids convinced the state legislature that something needed to be done. A 54-year-old was arrested in June after his grandson walked into a bedroom and discovered him attempting to mate with the family bulldog. In 2009, a Panhandle man asphyxiated a goat while trying to have sex with it (protestors at his trial wore t-shirts that read “Baaa means no!”) and in 2005 a lonely blind man was caught in flagrante with his guide dog.

Every society has its tragic perverts. What makes this new generation of bestialists different is their political and cultural savvy. They have latched onto the language of “rights” and are trying to identify themselves with other sexual minorities. Michele Bachmann must be overjoyed. This somewhat validates the Christian Right’s prediction that the campaign for gay equality has accidentally opened the door to some far freakier demands.

The push for the normalisaton of bestiality is astonishing for its candour. Animal sex advocate Malcolm Brenner (who is also, predictably, a Wiccan), is republishing a memoir he wrote about a nine-month sexual relationship with a theme park dolphin. Brenner asks, “What is repulsive about a relationship where both partners feel and express love for each other? I know what I'm talking about here because after we made love, the dolphin put her snout on my shoulder, embraced me with her flippers and we stared into each others' eyes for about a minute.”

Like other bestialists, Brenner cleverly adopts the language of minority persecution in defence of his “relationship”. It puts the reader onto a back foot, forcing them to justify their own “prejudice”. Another activist,Cody Beck, compares talking about his attraction to dogs and horses to a gay teenager coming out. Harbouring a crush on a Dachshund is apparently “like being gay in the 1950s. You feel like you have to hide, that if you say it out loud, people will look at you like a freak.” Beck says that he and a network of zoophile or “zoos” are the logical extension of the sexual rights movement. Gay rights campaigners feel very differently; Beck finds that his calls for help go unanswered. He says, “Some gays resent [the comparison with bestialists] because they feel it contributes to the insane 'slippery slope' argument and may interfere with their own efforts." But, he argues, the slippery slope slides both ways: "If you allow zoos to be persecuted, who next? Gays?"

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