Further Thoughts on Homosexuality
Yesterday I mentioned Gregory Cochran’s view that homosexuality is a disease. And then I started wondering how much of a reproductive hit gay men really have taken, historically. Even in the West up until recently, lots of gay men still got married and had kids. And in segregated societies, there seems to be a lot of homosexuality (as in prisons and the navy). For example, there were recently stories about US soldiers discovering that Pashtuns like to take boy lovers:
For centuries, Afghan men have taken boys, roughly 9 to 15 years old, as lovers. Some research suggests that half the Pashtun tribal members in Kandahar and other southern towns are bacha baz, the term for an older man with a boy lover. Literally it means “boy player.” The men like to boast about it.
“Having a boy has become a custom for us,” Enayatullah, a 42-year-old in Baghlan province, told a Reuters reporter. “Whoever wants to show off should have a boy.”
Here’s the best bit:
Even after marriage, many men keep their boys, suggesting a loveless life at home. A favored Afghan expression goes: “Women are for children, boys are for pleasure.”
Reading Plato’s dialogues, it’s clear a lot of Greeks felt this way, too. Socrates was married, but the Charmides has a charming passage in which he gets flustered after getting a peek inside a boy’s cloak. And the Symposium has a passage praising the military value of homosexuality: you’re not going to run away if your lover is also in the lines.
To sum up the thought: maybe homosexuality hasn’t had much of reproductive cost until recently? Might it even help in male bonding? Perhaps a willingness to engage in homosexual sex is even a safety outlet in conservative societies?