Over thirty years ago, Larry Kramer, a Pulitzer-nominated playwright, screenwriter, author, and homosexual-rights activist, made a name for himself by criticizing the gay community’s culture of promiscuity. In a recent interview with Salon.com (warning: contains crude language), Kramer once again laments “meaningless sex.” But what exactly does that mean to him?
Salon: What has frustrated you about the move toward gay marriage in the country?
Kramer: Just that it’s taken forever. I don’t think we should have taken the state by state approach because it just makes it go on, and then you have to re-sue and defend. Things need to go to the Supreme Court as fast as possible. There were ways it could have gone to the Supreme Court a lot earlier. If we lose at the Supreme Court, which everyone was afraid of, you just come back again. These [state] marriage we have don’t amount to anything. They’re feel-good marriages. They make relationships stronger and all that, but they don’t amount to a hill of beans in terms of anything legal or financial. You still need to pay federal taxes and you don’t get any of these benefits the government pays you if you’re heterosexually married.
Salon: The play suggests that one of the reasons there was so much meaningless sex in the gay community in the 1980s was because there was no gay marriage. Now that state marriages exist, do you think there’s been a cultural shift away from that meaningless sexual culture?
Kramer: I think there’s still an awful lot of meaningless sex going on and the infection figures are still much too high and going up, so obviously there’s still too much careless sex going on. I don’t want to come out of this sounding like this prude.
Unfortunately, the rest of the quote is too explicit to excerpt. From this sample, though, you might get the impression that a man who supports same-sex marriage and opposes “promiscuity” and “meaningless “sex” would be in favor of monogamy. Of course if you’ve read the other entries in this series, you can guess what Kramer is going to say next:
Salon: Are you familiar with Grindr, the iPhone gay sex app?
Salon: It’s an iPhone application that shows you how far away other gay men are, so you can have sex with them.
Kramer: No. I’d be happy to use it now if I thought it would do anything. I get horny just like anybody else, and David [Webster, Kramer’s partner] and I have been together a long time, so our relationship is now something else. I joined Daddyhunt or Manhunt and all those things, and posted my pictures, and filled out my questionnaire. And I got absolutely no response from anyone and it led me to wonder: What do older men do? It’s very sad that suddenly there’s no way to partake in all of this.
Salon: The interesting thing about Grindr is that it creates this map of your surroundings that’s really catered to gay men. You can log into it in your apartment and suddenly there are 100 people around you looking to hook up.
Kramer: It sounds wonderful. I’m not against sex, I’m against being irresponsible. We have bodies and we should enjoy them, but we shouldn’t treat each other as things. That’s what it came to be in the [1970s] height of Fire Island [the gay party mecca], and I guess you could say the same about this Grindr thing.
Kramer isn’t the exception in the gay community. He’s part of the norm in a culture that believes monogamy is a heterosexual construct. As I’ve asked before: Are religious supporters of same-sex marriage ready to redefine marriage in a way that leaves out monogamy?