“The Missing Myth: A New Vision of Same-Sex Love” by Gilles Herrada— Is Homosexuality an Issue?

the missing myth

Herrada, Gilles. “The Missing Myth: A New Vision of Same-Sex Love”, Select Books, 2013.

Is Homosexuality an Issue?

Amos Lassen

How do we really feel about homosexuality? This is the question that Gilles Herrada deals with in his new book, “The Missing Myth: A New Vision of Same-Sex Love”. He surveys history and science to discover what is the real meaning of homosexuality, why it has been so persecuted and yet accepted in Western societies. He then presents us with his interpretation and lets us decide how to react. We are not asked to agree but simply to learn—he has done the work for us by reading and assimilating the literature from the classics to modern genetic studies using trans-disciplinary scholarship. I was stunned at how much I do not know. Herrada returns humanity to homosexuals whose existence has been discounted and give us new ways to look at the origins and importance of same-sex relations and where they fit in the evolution of man.

The way that homosexuality has been looked at over time is the basic theme of the book as the author tries to find a new and authentic way of looking at it. As the LGBT community struggles and has struggled for equality, Herrada looks at the community as a whole and tells us not only what the community is today but he tells us what it might look like in a more enlightened future. He is well aware of what people consider to be the controversies of homosexual behavior, divides them into nine categories and tears them down, one by one. Looking at the argument that so many see as the main reason that homosexuality is unnatural—the controversial claim that it is aberrant behavior from the reproductive standpoint, he asks why then is homosexuality so widespread (and not just among humans)? It obviously has it place in the evolutionary scale. If it is a problem morally as religious beliefs say, why is it that there were more exterminations of homosexuals during secular reigns such as Communism and Nazism then there were during the Inquisition that came directly out of the Church? Has homosexuality always been paradoxical? Here are two very clear and simple points that we do not hear much about.

Herrada confronts the role of homosexuality and its place in evolution and its meaning in the way civilization had developed. These are fascinating questions: “What evolutionary edge same-sex relationships have given our species? What biological mechanisms generate the sexual diversity that we observe? What lead to homosexual behavior being prohibited worldwide? Why has homophobia persisted throughout history? Why–after millennia of oppression–did the homosexual community resurface in post-World War II America?” As these questions are answered we get a new vision of homosexuality which is an integration of biology, sociology, psychology, spirituality, culture and ethics. We see the historical connection between homosexuality as a social status and same-sex love and see how it has been depicted in popular cultures. The time has come, states Herrada, to create a new definition, a new mythos, if you will, which contains elements from all fields of knowledge that places emphasis on truth, beauty, goodness and same-sex love.

Herrada gives us what he considers to be nine controversial claims about homosexuality and shows what is wrong with each of them.

1.)      Biological and anthropological data do not support the existence of a “gay” gene but “are consistent with the existence of a complex biological mechanism (the “loose switch”) responsible for generating the spectrum of sexual preferences that we observe among people”.

2.)       We are aware of the “evolutionary advantage” provided by homosexual behavior as a reinforcement of social bonds that strengthen the coherence of the group.

3.)      There is inaccuracy in the claim that homosexuals can’t or don’t reproduce. Homosexuality historically was never considered to be incompatible with reproduction. It today’s society would let them invent a new kind of family not based on the heterosexual model, they would reproduce.

4.)      The only true indicator of whether homosexual relationships are integrated or not this is culture is the way the homosexual acts, loves and desires as seen in cultural myths.

5.)      Judeo-Christianity is singularized by the total lack of positive depiction of homosexual love and desire in its mythos.

6.)      Homosexual love still lacks a connection with and to the sacred.

7.)       Modern homosexuality is not the same as that of the ancient world. It has come into being because of the modern “Christian relational ideal”, something that the church and gay theorists do not acknowledge.

8.)      The strong homophobia of Judeo-Christian culture was responsible for the creation of the evolutionary context that has hindered and has brought us modern homosexuality.

9.)      Menopause and not homosexuality is the greatest evolutionary puzzle and most women past age 50 cannot reproduce.

Herrada uses a holistic, interdisciplinary approach that unites science, history and philosophy to gives new ideas about homosexuality and with the potential to give new strength to the field of LGBT studies and to bring about a new understanding of LGBT people. Herrada says that while modern homosexuality exists in both body and mind, it has no soul. It is from this point that he uses his approach to restore that soul. While it is necessary to agree with what he says totally, we cannot ignore his evidence as he discusses what it means today to be a homosexual in light of what he has found. Every sentence here is fascinating and food for thought.

2 thoughts on ““The Missing Myth: A New Vision of Same-Sex Love” by Gilles Herrada— Is Homosexuality an Issue?

  1. perrybrass

    This sounds like a really fascinating book, although a lot of the territory Gilles Herrada claims to cover has been covered before by other books—many other books. But I liked the question of why gay liberation came to light in America, rather than in Europe, especially in England, the home of a number of queer eccentrics, like Edward Carpenter, the leader of the “Uranian” movement, or Germany which had a short “Gay Spring” during the Weimar era. America was the home of the automobile and the frontier: young men could leave home and travel by car. They could have their own life, away from family suppression. I always said that the modern gay liberation movement, post Stonewall, post-1969, came about due to drugs and the media: a heady combo. The media would keep nothing a secret; if 40 people gathered together at a church under the aegis of the Gay Liberation Front, it was media news: Time Magazine covered it. As for drugs: suddenly something opened up your brain to influences other than Ozzy and Harriet, Leave It to Beaver, and the American Legion. There was another world to explore.

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  2. Jacob Zeek Campbell

    Amos! I asked you for a recommendation of something “really good to read” and out of two or three suggestions you made, you settled on this as the best choice. Pre-ordered, my copy finally arrived, and delayed in reading due to terribly sick pets, I finally have read this book and it has changed my life. I am suddenly in possession of the talisman, the alchemical stone, the philosopher’s golden amulet. Hey! Some book! I think it will change a lot of minds about the nature and place socially of gay people. In this time of great cultural change I would think more people would want to know the profound dynamics behind the great social changes we’re living to see regarding homosexuality. This book, although a challenge for some who would have trouble with the modality of the study (utilizing primate research, anthropological and sociological research and engaging in theoretical argument) is a masterpiece. It has sparked the desire for me to pause in writing fiction, reassess the lifetime of psychiatric social work and community organization I did as a social worker and to synthesize the elements of my own experience that are parallels to the findings of this study. I have nothing of the depth or profundity that Heradda possesses, but I’m inspired by his insights. It is nothing new for a book or a poem or an essay to evoke in me the desire to write a sympathetic piece of my own, so I am not promising such a work, as sometimes they don’t materialize, but I’ve already written a foreword to such a book and give Amos Lassen due credit for guiding me to such enlightenment…or potential enlightenment, as it remains to be seen that I’m enlightened! In all seriousness–this was a magnificent recommendation from you! Zeek

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