What’s in a Name?

Satisfactory Essays
What’s in a Name?

Throughout his book Virtually Normal, Andrew Sullivan explains how people of all different kinds of beliefs think about and treat homosexuals and homosexual behavior in society. He labels the four most commonly held viewpoints on homosexuality (liberationist, conservative, liberal, and prohibitionist) and poses his own politics of homosexuality. According to Sullivan's labels, gay and lesbian activist Urvashi Vaid would be considered a liberal. Vaid is a liberal because even though she may support some aspects of the other four viewpoints, the main points that the other four entail clash considerably with her own beliefs. Vaid is not a prohibitionist, a conservative, a liberationist, or a believer in Sullivan's own politics; she is a liberal under Sullivan's classification.

Prohibitionists, according to Sullivan, are those who “wish to cure or punish people who prac­tice homosexual acts, and to deter all the others who might be tempted to stray into the homosexual milieu” (Sullivan 22). These people believe that homosexuality is a choice, and that homosexuality violates a natural law. This natural law is the prohibitionist view that heterosexuality is the normal, natural form of human sexuality and that all other deviance, inducing homosexuality, is not normal and not natural. Scripture, and this natural law philosophy, are some of the intellectual ammunition prohi­bitionists use. They want to stop tolerance of homosexuality at all costs. Urvashi Vaid, on the other hand, wants complete tolerance for homosexuals. She argues against these “evils” for equal rights for gays. She desires liberation of gay people, so they do not have to live in closets or in gay ghettos, and she wants the end of discrimination against gay and lesbian people. She will not settle for virtual equal­ity, and her goal of complete equality is against all a prohibitionist stands for.

Andrew Sullivan describes his conservatives as people who are inconsistent, people who have a hypocritical stance on the issue of homosexuality. These people “combine a private tolerance of homosexuals with a public disapproval of homosexuality. While they do not want to see legal persecution of homosexuals, they see no problem with the discouragement and disparagement of homosexual sexual behavior” (Sullivan 97). They believe that people's private lives are their own, but in public the heterosexual form is the right form, and anything publicly against that norm will hurt society. So if homosexual people keep quiet about their homosexuality and let heterosexual dominance continue, then all will be well.
Get Access