Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “homosexuality”

Beebo Brinker: book review

Beebo BrinkerBeebo Brinker by Ann Bannon

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Today it is 50 years since I read this book, so I’ll simply quote what I wrote in my diary then, as I can’t remember anything about it, other than what I wrote at the time, 9th November 1962:

Ma says I am a corrupter — possibly so. She moans and makes a big issue of that book I bought, Beebo Brinker. It’s about a female homosexual who falls in love with two women, and makes a big balls-up before she decides who to live with. It was forced upon the stupid bitch in the end when she shacked up with a film star whose husband kicked her out. I don’t blame the husband — not that his marriage was much of a marriage at all — there were about three previous divorces. However the author is obviously a lesbian who is making propaganda for gays. She sanctions the selfish attitude taken by the “heroine” Beebo Brinker, when she expects to get off with a married woman.

Though I wrote in my diary that I bought it, I don’t have the book now. Since my mother disapproved of it, she probably threw it out when I was away at university. So I can’t write anything more about the book itself than that.

What I can recall, though, is why I bought it, and my thoughts about it. I had a couple of friends who were gay, and a couple more who had recently decided to become gay (I wrote something about one of them here). I couldn’t remember who the author was, so I Googled for it, and found this description of the book: “Beebo Brinker is a lesbian pulp fiction novel written in 1962 by Ann Bannon. It is the last in a series of pulp fiction novels that eventually came to be known as The Beebo Brinker Chronicles”. It also said that the author’s real name was Ann Weldy.

I’d read a couple of other gay pulp fiction novels by then, which had been lent to me by another of my gay friends. Back then, both in South Africa and in the countries where the books were published, homosexual sexual relations (at least between males) were illegal, and so the plots of many of these novels revolved around the fear of discovery. They seemed to me to be more propaganda than art, and in Beebo Brinker the thing that struck me most was the essential self-centredness of the protagonist. Books written by gay people don’t have to be like that, though writers in that genre manage to create that impression. Homosexual writers like E.M. Forster and Jean Genet, for example, have written books (and in the case of Genet, plays) of real literary merit.

There have been many stories about adultery, and some of them have also taken their place in great literature. King Arthur was conceived in adultery with the connivance of Merlin. It is central to the plot of Chaucer’s Miller’s tale. But in the case of Beebo Brinker only the Afrikaans word for adulterer seems to fit: eg breker, which literally means “marriage breaker”, and the focus of the story is on the essential self-centredness of the protagonist. I suppose I didn’t like Beebo Brinker for the same reason that I didn’t like Ayn Rand’s books. Beebo Brinker and Dagny Taggart had the same approach to life. Perhaps, since Beebo Brinker, Dagny Taggart and Ayn Rand are female (two fictional and one real), that makes me a misogynist, at least in the eyes of some people. But I suspect that there might be some females, and even some gay females, who would interpret Beebo Brinker in the same way that I do.

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Recurring issues

Tip of the day: if you can’t work out what to do to stop an issue from recurring, you probably haven’t found the root cause.

Someone posted that on Twitter recently.

Two issues that I find keep recurring are abortion and homosexuality.

Wherever I look in online forums people keep discussing them ad nauseam and ad bored-I-am.

American Evangelical Christians seem to be obsessed with the former, while Anglicans everywhere are obsessed with the latter.

And it is indeed quite probable that I have not found the root cause.

If anyone has found the root cause, please let me know.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

I woke up at 4:09 am.

As I usually do, I looked at my diary for 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 years ago and saw it was 40 years ago today that Willy Lamprecht was fired from the Windhoek Advertiser. Willy had come from England to be the assistant editor, and his wife Madeleine, who was a strong feminist, began writing about women’s liberation issues in the women’s pages at a time when most women in Windhoek were anything but liberated. Willy had only been with the paper for a few months before he was fired, and they then went to Johannesburg where Willy worked as a sub-editor on the Rand Daily Mail. They had a daughter Shanti, named after Shanti Naidoo, who was detained by the Security Police at the time. I lost touch with them after that, and so this morning I Googled to see if Willy or Madeleine were on Facebook or something like that, but could not find them.

But that reminded me of another old friend, Don Lamprecht, who had e-mailed me out of the blue about five years ago. So I thought I’d Google for him and discovered that he had died last year, though there was a page in memory of him on Facebook. He was an actor, perhaps best known for his role as Tjokkie in P.J. Du Plessis’s play Siener in die suburbs, though when I knew him, he was a B.Com student at Wits University. So I learnt something about his death, and that his friends in the theatre world thought very highly of him.

At the end of September 1959 I moved with my mother in to Quintondale Flats, in Cheltondale, Johannesburg. Two days after we had moved in, on 1 October, Don Lamprecht and another bloke knocked at the door and introduced themselves. Like me they were students at Wits, where Don was studying for a B.Com and I was studying for a B.A. The introduction was clearly on Don’s initiative, because I never saw the other bloke much (I think his name was Stuart Bromfield) , but within a few days Don and I had become close friends. Don lived in a flat one floor up with his parents and younger sister Lindsay, who was about 8. Don told me she was adopted.

Don was the chairman of the youth group at St Luke’s Anglican Church, which was just up the road in Orchards, but I continued to go to St Augustine’s Church in Orange Grove, where most of my friends were. St Augustine’s youth group belonged to a worldwide organisation called the Anglican Young People’s Association (AYPA), and I persuaded Don to get the St Luke’s youth group to join the AYPA as well.

A few days after meeting him I wrote in my diary on 9 October 1959:

I went up to see John Lamprecht. It was half-past-four and he was having lunch. His mother invited me to have some hot bread and I played with the budgie while John phoned to see if he had an exam the following day. A cub came for bob-a-job and he had to plait Lindsay Lamprecht’s hair. His name was Vivian Cronjé, and a more self-confident little brat I never did see. John signed his card and under “type of work” he put “Doing kid sister’s hair”. Then he came down to my place and I played him “Li biamo, li biamo calici” from La Traviata, and parts of Mozart’s 39th symphony. He showed me his Lambretta 150, which was very heavy. It had bouncy suspension and an electric starter. That evening he took me to a play rehearsal at St Luke’s, He drove like a maniac in his DKW, and then afterwards we went to the Dolls House.[1]

Perhaps the play rehearsal at St Luke’s was the start of his acting career.

Don and his mother were interested in spiritualism. Don told me that he was a member of two “bands” of dead boys who had committed suicide, or died by reason of some sexual offence. He lent me a book, The dead companions, that had been given to him by his “sugar-daddy” in Pretoria, a Major Alan Howgrave-Graham, and it was mostly about an 11-year-old boy who had shot himself because he couldn’t do his homework. I once took Don’s mother to a Spiritualist Church in Troyeville. The service was held in a darkened room, where the only illumination was a cross made from small red light bulbs. The minister, or medium, or whoever he was performed a “spiritual operation” on Mrs Lamprecht, and said he had removed something from her, but a few months later she died of cancer.

Don had a girlfriend, Sylvia Gaulden, and when they were going steady I didn’t see so much of him, but then on 25 March 1961 Don rather nervously told me that he thought he was gay, and was going to try the gay life as an experiment. I suggested that he hook up with a gay friend of mine and chat about it with him, but he went off to discuss it with his “sugar-daddy”. He later told me that he had been rather shocked by my response. I was the first of his friends he had told about it, and he had screwed up his courage to make this dramatic announcement, and I had treated it quite casually and matter-of-factly, and suggested that he discuss it with another gay friend. I was most concerned about Sylvia, who seemed very fond of Don, but he seemed quite casual about breaking up with her.

After that Don began moving in the circles of the Johannesburg gay sub-culture, and introduced me to several of his gay friends. That was actually the first time I had heard the word “gay” used to mean “homosexual”, and it was then very much confined to the subculture, which had a rather romantic air about it, as homosexual acts were illegal in those days. But some of the subculture also seemed rather rough. The head honcho was a guy called Mike, who was referred to as “Mother”, and looked as tough as nails, and looked as if he would beat up anyone who crossed him. Don told me that he did, too.

Don may have originally intended to try the gay life as an experiment, but he stuck with it the rest of his life. Six months later he told me that he had met his true love, whom he described as tubby, nine years older than himself, a Doctor of Philosophy and a teacher at the German school, and the last sort of person her would have imagined himself falling in love with. His name was Aart de Villiers, and shortly afterwards Don moved away to shack up with him. When Don contacted me out of the blue five years ago he told me that Aart had died a few months before, and so their relationship had indeed been “until death us do part”.[2]

I went to visit Don a few times after he moved away, but usually found that no one was home, and so lost touch. Ten years later I was living in Durban and the play Siener in die suburbs came to town, and I saw that it had Don Lamprecht in it, and Val and I went to see it, partly because I was curious to see if the Don Lamprecht in it was my old friend and neighbour from Cheltondale. It was, and the part of Tjokkie, the “Seer of the Suburbs”, suited him, I suppose, with his two bands of dead boys and his mother’s spiritual operations. He played it well, though we didn’t get to talk to him afterwards. What amazed me too, was the stage set. Sowaar, they had transported a house from Regents Park, Johannesburg, complete with tricycle on the roof, and plonked it on the stage of the Alhambra in Durban.

That was the last time I saw Don, and he didn’t see me.

Oh, and I was fired from the Windhoek Advertiser a year after Willy Lamprecht was.

1. Don Lamprecht’s real name was John David Blatt Lamprecht, and it was only later that I began to call him Don. The real name of the “Dolls House” was “The Doll House”, and it was a roadhouse up the road in Louis Botha Avenue, where we would go for double-thick chocolate milkshakes. There was once a chain of them in several places — Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria and Germiston at least. Only the Louis Botha Avenue one is still there. Don referred to the Lambretta scooter as his “roarpony”, the literal translation of the Afrikaans “bromponie”.

2. Perhaps Don and Aart’s relationship raises the issue of homosexual marriage. As I have said elsewhere, I don’t believe such a thing is ontologically possible, but I don’t think it is my business to pass judgement on Don and Aart. And I do think that Don was probably better off with his tubby Ph.D. than with the hairy (and scary) bruiser “Mother” Mike.

Methodists: gays out of the closet and refugees under the carpet?

One of the bigger news items last week was the suspension of Methodist bishop Paul Verryn by his ecclesiastical superiors. This came as quite a shock to many of us who know him, and one of the places I naturally looked to for information was some of my Methodist blogging friends. There are quite a few Methodist bloggers in South Africa, so one hoped to learn something from them.

Paul Verryn has been in the news lately for opening the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg to homeless refugees, mostly from Zimbabwe.

Dion Forster wrote about him a few months ago in Dion’s random ramblings: Central Methodist Mission, Bishop Paul Verryn and compassion

A couple of years ago Anglican bishop Desmond Tutu remarked that Anglicans seemed to be obsessed with sex, and were discussing sex to the exclusion of more important issues, such as HIV/Aids, Zimbabwe, and the situation in Darfur (see BBC NEWS: Anglicans ‘obsessed’ by gay issue), and indeed some Anglican blogs, not just in South Africa, but in other parts of the world, seem to focus on little else but sexual morality. I blogged about it at Notes from underground: Anglican introversion, and one Baptist blogger (Matt Stone of Australia) remarked “Consumerism, pluralism, spirituality, collapse of Christian credibility and moral authority in the media and public discourse … don’t these issues deserve some attention? I don’t recall Jesus being that sex obsessed” (the link on his blog has changed, and I can no longer find it, but he did say it).

Now it seems to be the turn of Methodists. Several Methodist bloggers have been blogging about homosexuality recently, but I haven’t been able to find any who has mentioned the suspension of Paul Verryn. I blogged about it here, and people from other Christian groups in South Africa have Twittered about it, but there seems to be a great silence from South African Methodist bloggers.

Now perhaps I’m sticking my neck out too far here, but it seems to me that Paul Verryn is the Methodist Desmond Tutu, one of those church leaders who make the “don’t rock the boat” kind of leaders uncomfortable because they “speak the truth to power”. And to me as an outsider the whole thing is beginning to look more and more like a hatchet job. When Jesus was arrested it was a plot hatched by the secular rulers and the religious authorities between them, and a very mixed bunch came to arrest him. And something similar seems to be happening here, with the addition of the media jumping in as well.

In December 2003 an informal group of Johannesburg church leaders of different denominations urged the South African government to be more active in opposing human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. Paul Verryn was one of the prime movers of this. The group was attacked by other church leaders who were close to the government at the time, notably Frank Chikane and Cedric Mayson, and they likened Paul Verryn and the other Johannesburg leaders to George Bush. The comparison is utterly ridiculous, because at the same time Paul Verryn was investigating possible ways of having George Bush charged with war crimes. In the very same week Desmond Tutu appeared on the front pages of newspapers, attacking the South African government for failing to criticise the Mugabe regime for human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

No one knows how many Zimbabwe refugees there are in South Africa, but very few of them have been granted political asylum, because the South African government does not want to acknowledge the gross human rights abuses that have been taking place in Zimbabwe. One of the South African groups that has been aware of those abuses is Cosatu, the Congress of South African trade unions (the Mugabe regime has been particularly hard on trade unionists), and Cosatu has recently been under sustained attack from the ANC youth league, one of its political alliance partners.

A few months ago government officials and politicans visited the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg where homeless refugees, most of them from Zimbabwe, have been given shelter, and threatened to close the church, and blamed Paul Verryn for the problems there. The real cause of the problem, of course, is the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe, from which most of the refugees come, and the secondary cause is the South African government, which fails to acknowledge the problem and make provision for the refugees. People like Paul Verryn try to apply a private enterprise solution, and get attacked for it.

There have been reports of sexual immorality and criminal activity among the refugees staying in the Central Methodist Church. I am not surprised. Just because people are refugees does not mean that they are all necessarily good people.

But the announcement of the suspension of Paul Verryn by the authorities of the Methodist Church made no mention of the disciplinary charges against him, allowing, perhaps deliberately, some very nasty media speculation and innuendoes. On Friday the Johannesburg Star published the most unflattering picture of him they could find, while other press reports practically invited readers to infer that he was a criminal, running a bordello, and deliberately allowing criminals to operate unchecked on the church premises.

So I am really quite anxious to know what Methodist bloggers think of this, rather than abstract questions of sexual morality. The gays may be coming out of the closet, but why are the refugees apparently being swept under the carpet?

Are you homophobic?

I came across this quiz about “Are you homophobic?”

“Homophobic” is not a word I like very much, partly because I’m a language pedant, and believe it should mean “fear of the same”, and therefore be partly the opposite of “xenophobic”, which means fearing strangers.

Another reason that I don’t like it is that it is often used as an insult or accusation — it is used by bigots to accuse other people of bigotry.

But I accept that the way the word is generally used nowadays, it means to regard homosexuals with fear and loathing.

So I took the test, partly to see what the result would be, but also partly to see what the test would be. Some of these tests are themselves a manifestation of bigotry, as I mentioned above.

Here’s the result:

And you’re not homophobic in the least 🙂

You Are 18% Homophobic

You’re open minded, tolerant, and accepting.

Before reading any further, I suggest that you take the test — first to see what the test thinks of you, and secondly to see what you think of the test.

I think that the test is fairly accurate, and measures “homophobia” as it is generally defined today, that is, the degree to which people regard homosexual people with fear and loathing.

So what do I mean when I say that the word “homophobic” is sometimes used by bigots to accuse other people of bigotry?

This is also related to being a language pedant, but it is about things that are rather more important than the etymology of “homophobic”.

People sometimes ask “Is homosexuality a sin?”

And my answer is “No”.

Homosexuality is a sexual orientation, as people say nowadays. Sexual orientation means what people find sexually attractive. People are homosexual if they find people of the same sex sexually attractive. From the point of view of Christian morality, finding people sexually attractive, whether they are of the same or the opposite sex, is not a sin. What is a sin is to allow that to develop into lust, and possibly sexual activity with another person. What is sinful is not homosexuality, but fornication and adultery.

And as a Christian, I believe that if I perform such acts, or even dwell on lustful thoughts, whether about people of the opposite sex or the same sex, those are sins that I must confess.

There are lots of people who fornicate or commit adultery, with people of the same sex or the opposite sex. Should I shun such people and avoid them socially? Should I refuse to work with such people because they are sinners? No, because I am a sinner too.

And why should we regard it as necessary to shun someone who commits adultery with someone of the same sex, but not those who commit adultery with someone of the opposite sex?

If I am to shun and avoid anyone for being a sinner, then I must first of all shun and avoid myself. Orthodox Christians pray frequently during Lent, “Yea, O Lord and King! Grant me to see my own transgressions and not to judge my brother.”

We are not to engage in the relatively undemanding activity of confessing other people’s sins. Nor are we to excuse our own sins as minor, and regard those of others as much more serious. Again, as Orthodox Christians we pray before receiving the holy communion, “I believe, O Lord, and I confess that Thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who camest into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first“.

Jesus did not shun notorious sinners, and was criticised for failing to do so. He met socially with social outcasts like Zacchaeus, and if he, who was sinless, could do that, how can I, who am the first of sinners, refuse to do so on account of my supposed moral superiority?

One of the questions in the quiz concerned same-sex marriage. I believe that such a thing is ontologically impossible, but I won’t go into that here. I’ve dealt with that in some detail in another blog post on the theology of Christian marriage.

But I will say that that concerns same-sex marriage, or homosexual marriage. People often talk loosely of “gay marriage”, but that is not the same thing at all. There is nothing that I know to prevent gay people from marrying, and some have. It might even be possible for two gay people to marry each other. They might need to think about it carefully, and consider the difficulties that there might be in such a relationship. As a limerick puts it:

There was a young queer of Khartoum
who took a lesbian up to his room
they argued all night
over who had the right
to do what, and with what, and to whom.

But marriage is never plain sailing all the time, and even marriages when both parties are heterosexual often end in divorce.

Another question about words and meanings is raised by the term “gay lifestyle” which some people bandy about.

It’s a strange term, because I doubt very much that there is such a thing as a “gay lifestyle” any more than there is such a thing as a “heterosexual lifestyle”. Gay people can have as wide a variety of interests and engage in as wide a range of activities as heterosexual people. Some gay people are promiscious, and some are not, just as some heterosexual people are promiscuous and some are not. Some gay people are celibate and some are not, just as some heterosexual people are celibate and some are not.

There is, however, one exception to this.

There are gay subcultures, and among these subcultures, there is something that could be called a “gay lifestyle”, but it is important to realise that only a small minority of gay people identify with such subcultures or participate in their activities.

There was a time when homosexual activity was illegal in South Africa, as it was in many other countries. And in those days there was a gay subculture, which had the rather romantic aura of a persecuted minority. It had its own argot, and even the word “gay” was not known to people outside the subculture, probably not even to homosexual people outside the subculture. What drew them together was not just the fact of being gay but the fact of being persecuted, and they had that in common with the communist and liberal and black nationalist subcultures of those days.

Some (not all) members of the gay subcultures were actvists, and they wanted the laws against homosexual activity repealed. And under our democratic constitution those laws have been repealed, and it is illegal to discriminate against people on the grounds of sexual orientation, though I’m not sure that that provision of the constitution is as fully observed as it might be, nevertheless, it is there and can be appealed to.

One of the main arguments for the repeal of the laws against homosexual activity was that the law should not concern itself with what was done by consenting adults in the privacy of their bedrooms, and eventually those laws were repealed, as they have been in many other countries.

But some “gay activists” went further.

There was an Anglican bishop of Johannesburg, Timothy Bavin, who after some years left and became Bishop of Portsmouth. He was unmarried, and a group of gay activists decided that he was gay, and began a campaign of actively persecuting him and demanding that he “come out”.

I have no idea whether he was gay or not, but from what I do know of him, he believed that he was called by God to celibacy, and he was abused by a group of “gay activists” who were little more than fascist bullies.

And it seems to be somewhat dishonest to say on the one hand that one’s sexual orientation is one’s own business and that what one does in one’s own bedroom is not the concern of the law and anyone else, and then to go flaunting one’s sexual orientation in “gay pride” parades, and demand that other people flaunt theirs by “coming out”, and persecuting them if they do not. There is homophobic bigotry, and there is gay activist bigotry, but the so-called “gay lifestyle” is characteristic of only a small minority of gay people. It is the bigots and fascist bullies, on both sides, who make the most noise.


This post has been linked to the Synchroblog for October 2010: Same-sex marriage synchroblog | Khanya. Click on the link to see the other posts in the synchroblog.


After the US Supreme court approved of homosexual marriage, there was another wave of bigoted comments from both those who approved and those who disapproved. Here’s what someone else posted on that For He is Good and Loves Mankind: The Church, the Culture, Tolerance, Repentance and Love. Wisdom! Let us attend.

Muslim parents ask UK schools to shelve pro-homosexual storybooks for 5-year-olds

Muslim parents ask UK schools to shelve pro-homosexual storybooks for 5-year-olds: “Two primary schools have withdrawn storybooks about same-sex relationships after objections from Muslim parents.

Up to 90 gathered at the schools to complain about the books which are aimed at pupils as young as five.

One story, titled King & King, is a fairytale about a prince who turns down three princesses before marrying one of their brothers.”

The mind boggles.

Will the gay “community” now burn down the Bristol mosque?

I wonder how this will affect the “Buy Danish” community?

Remember, those are the ones who put little stripes in their blogs saying “Buy Danish” after a Denish newspaper published some anti-Islamic cartoons.

And what will the 5-year-old community do?

The bated-breath community is on tenterhooks.

What are conservatives looking for?

What are conservatives looking for?

The stats page at Statistics – Conservapedia shows:

Most viewed pages

1. Main Page‎ [1,904,028]
2. Homosexuality‎ [1,553,890]
3. Homosexuality and Hepatitis‎ [516,945]
4. Homosexuality and Promiscuity‎ [420,450]
5. Homosexuality and Parasites‎ [387,937]
6. Homosexuality and Domestic Violence‎ [356,828]
7. Gay Bowel Syndrome‎ [349,077]
8. Homosexuality and Gonorrhea‎ [331,267]
9. Homosexuality and Mental Health‎ [282,372]
10. Homosexuality and Syphilis‎ [265,250]

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