In Sexual Desire: A Philosophical Investigation , Roger Scruton pinpoints the ethical and metaphysical issue in same-sex sexuality: “The heterosexual ventures towards an individual whose gender confines him within another world. The homosexual unites with an individual who does not lie beyond the divide which separates the world of men from the world of women. Hence the homosexual has a peculiar inward familiarity with what his partner feels. His discovery of his partner’s sexual nature is the discovery of what he knows.” There is a structural self-regard inherent in same-sex relations: “In the heterosexual act, it might be said, I move out from my body towards the other, whose flesh is unknown to me; while in the homosexual act I remain locked within my body, narcissistically contemplating in the other an excitement that is the mirror of my own.”

This points takes very concrete form. Sexual desire and arousal are, of course, very various, but there is a real distinction between male and female sexual desire. It takes time, patience, attentiveness, and openness to difference for a man to learn to give sexual satisfaction to a woman, and vice versa. The scope of sexual exploration is much more narrow in same-sex relations. A man already understands how males are sexually aroused, as a woman understands female sexual desire. Same-sex sexuality is not too edgy and risky, but far too tame.

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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