Androphilia: Replacing gay identity for real men :  Published March  2007 All Rights Reserved


Androphilia: Replacing gay identity for real men

Kiss those gay bars and gay pride parades good-bye as a new generation of homosexual men rise to empower themselves away from stereotypes evolved out of the infamous Stonewall riots of June 1969. The time is right to define a new identity said author Jack Malebranche of Portland, OR.

Androphilia: A Manifesto Rejecting the Gay Identity, Reclaiming Masculinity, written by Jack Malebranche describes the "gay lifestyle" as one that replaced true masculinity with self-loathing, perpetual victim hood, effeminacy, and overall a synthetic approach to life.

Homosexual desires are not fixed-oriented or a sexual fetish, but Malebranche, 32, declares it is simply put: The love of men. It is time for homosexual men to break away from a "politically charged gay community that does not represent their interests or values," he said and suggested men reject any notion that limits male identity," and reclaim their rightful place among the brotherhood of men.

"In this age of tolerance there is ample opportunity for those critical of gay culture to found a new homo-masculinist culture, not as a mere subset of gay culture but in tribute to the rich history of masculine culture itself," Malebranche said.
Jack Malebranche
Androphilia author Jack Malebranche
Photo by Kenji Mizumori

Think & Ask caught up with Malebranche to discuss his book Androphilia, which is scheduled for release in mid-March 2007.

He said there is a lot of baggage with the term "gay" and prefers to use the term homo (or homosexual.)

"Being gay still means being effeminate to most people, and I think there must be a great deal of fear --as I think there is with many young men who decide they are attracted to other males-- that this discovery of sexual preference is demands a sort of psychological castration. Manhood is very important to most men --it's a powerful thing-- and gays and straights alike promote the idea that manhood and homosexuality are incompatible.

"Challenging that idea is really what my work is about," he said.

While Malebranche does not imply that all homosexuals embody or embrace the stereotypes often used to define "gay men" he points to the differences between those men who are sold on what "radical academics, activists" and corporations define as a potential marketing niche. "Whenever advocates for the gay community speak out against stereotypical portrayals, I find it hard to swallow. The gay world itself celebrates gay stereotypes that others see as negative," he said.

When Malebranche was a teen, which was well after Stonewall,  he recalls how the gay stereotype did not fit his world, and even since that time there has been a far more acceptance for homosexual teens and men. "Young homos seem to be more and more comfortable with their sexuality simply being their sexuality, which is a key theme in Androphilia. The need for this separate gay identity is decreasing, because young homos and bisexuals are better assimilated and their peers and are far more desensitized to the idea of homosexuality."

Ridicule and harassment continues he said, but such practice is limited today. "Growing up is hard. Being different is hard. It always will be. Everyone has some sort of bullshit they have to deal with in life." At this stage however, Malebranche determined that being a homosexual is not the worst identity to own.  "And kids are seeing that it doesn't have to define them. They deal with the fact that they're a little different and get on with their lives. I think that's great," Malebranche said.

Young homosexual men don't need to define themselves by moving to what is often referred to as gay ghettos of San Francisco's Castro, West Hollywood, CA, or New York City's Chelsea neighborhood. "I'm going to sound like a dad here...but I really think the best thing for young men who feel they may have some same-sex attractions is to bond with guys their own age -- homo or hetero or whatever." A same-sex attraction should not disenfranchise a young man from his peers, but to surround one's self with males who are genuinely kind.

"A lot of gays will try to convince young people with same-sex attractions that they're really different and that they don't belong with straight guys, and that gays are 'their people,'" said Malebranche.

Since homosexual men make up roughly 4 percent of the population the relatively small group of men have a limited audience with each other to fulfill needs women cannot. "It's a different kind of friendship, a unique dynamic that can be really rewarding in its own way." Male to male friendships, even outside of the homosexual realm, are different all together explained Malebranche. "Being able to relate to and bond successfully with other men is really important for most men; it gives them a sense of well-being and confidence.

"I think it's wrong and unhealthy to encourage homos to cut themselves off from that. When they self-segregate, they miss out on a whole world of experience and as they become increasingly dissociated from other men, that ultimately becomes a sort of social handicap. It's extremely limiting," he said.

Childhood and the 'Compadre'

Malebranche grew-up in rural Pennsylvania and he described his parents as good, hardworking people. As is normal by all standards there was some friction of course, "but I'm kind of an extreme personality," he said. As an adult, Malebranche describes his relationship with family as appreciative, supportive, and said his sexuality is not an issue. Furthermore his family accepts and gets-on well with Malebranche's partner, whom the author refers to as his "compadre" Lucio.  

The couple will have been together nine years in April 2007. Malebranche said that key to having a successful male-to-male relationship is honesty, trust, and respect. "I think a big part of it is balance. Some people assume there's some sort of yin-yang balance to it, but I find that kind of offensive."

Neither of the men fills what Malebranche calls a female role in the relationship, which is a point played out in Androphilia. "It's more like the balance that any two guys who depend on each other are going to find --  a balance of personality traits, strengths and weaknesses. I always say that at the end of the day it's not a husband, wife thing, it's Bert and Ernie or Joey and Chandler [television characters in the United States.] We're two guys who live together and who take care of and respect each other," Malebranche said.

"Lucio gives me a lot of support and patiently listens to all of my crazy ideas... He made a lot of sacrifices so I could devote my time and energy to the book. I do think being in a relationship gave me the confidence to speak with authority about what a good male-to-male relationship might feel or look like. So many 'relationship experts' seem barely able to keep their own houses in order," he added.

As with Malebranche's approach in Androphilia, the stereotypical ‘gay’ press did not publish the book. The author meet the owners of Scapegoat Publishing, who are heterosexual men, and the publishers were eager to put Androphilia to press. The book was in the making for about two years and evolved over time as Malebranche researched identity issues. "The final version took a few months of constant work, but at that point I knew where I was going," he said.

"They'd read some of my early essays on homosexuality and thought I was saying something that needed to be said. They're also interested in controversial material that really makes people think and question popular assumptions," Malebranche said.

And perhaps one could even conclude that by reflecting upon his circle of friends, which is largely representative of the male population in general, how indeed Malebranche was able to redefine a homosexual male.

"There's this idea out there that men are emotionally stunted Neanderthals who can't express themselves or connect with one another. I don't see it that way.  Men often form really intense bonds.

"Women think men are unable to express themselves because men don't express themselves in the same way that women do. But really good male friends are really there for each other. Men have often formed fraternities to promote this sort of 'brotherly love.' Many soldiers that serve together remain friends through old age -- they've been known to form extremely profound bonds that surpass even the bonds they have with their wives," Malebranche said.

Androphilia, at a simple level, reflects one man's desire to add the sexual component to a strong bond between men. "Some men are into that. Some aren't. As long as we respect each other's preferences here, as long as we respect each other's manhood and personal sovereignty, it can almost be that simple."

Men and Masculinity

Well before Androphilia went to press, Malebranche set-out to discuss his thoughts on Internet message boards. The results were largely mixed, and some attacked the author's ideas head-on as a true threat to the "gay community." According to Malebranche such criticism is part of reinvention and change. He also believes that from discussions there is great interest in his book from heterosexual men.

"I've joked that Androphilia  is for homosexual men who really liked the movie Fight Club -- for reasons more profound than a shirtless Brad Pitt. Homos who never really bought into gay culture, who always wondered why the culture of men who love men, was so emasculated and victimized. Guys who have always imagined something more male-culture oriented, who don't just love men for how they look, but who love who men are and what they do."

The study of men is an ongoing issue Malebranche contended. "People love to complicate that issue with exceptions and all sorts of bitchy rhetorical masturbation. But there's also a simple universality to it." He added that there is plenty of opportunity to redefine and examine male relationships, for which he said could eventually lead to another book.

Until then, Malebranche says of men that they are best defined by strength. "Not just physical strength, but strength of character. A willingness to stand your ground, carry your own weight, assert yourself when necessary, to get the job done when others won't do it."

"If you look at what is considered effeminate behavior, you'll see a lot of signals, actions and gestures that objectively telegraph a willingness to submit. Being a man all seems to come back to strength, assertiveness, and self-reliance. I've read arguments that say this is a modern, industrialized version of manhood, but that's so plainly ridiculous that I'm amazed how many academics are willing to give it credence. I can't think of any culture that has ever idealized manhood in a way that encouraged the majority of its males to be weak, passive, or dependent."

The author defines masculinity in Androphilia as a religious ideal - or an idealism that comes naturally for males to bridge harmony of surroundings with the physical condition, which is in direct opposition with the so-called gay agenda that sets to separate homosexual men (and include transsexuals and transgender, which has no common thread with homosexual men) from all others.

"Many adult straight men are comfortable enough with themselves to accept homosexual men as friends, but they also have no interest in hearing about the latest Cher dance remix," Malebranche said.

"The book is a pretty harsh indictment of gay activists, extreme queens and those who wrap themselves up in their gay identity and allow it to determine their views, aesthetics, interests, etcetera," he said.

Malebranche expects there will be no love lost from his male critics and gender feminists who "control any discussion about masculinity as if being a female feminist somehow makes one an authority on being a man."

Androphilia is not about sex with children Malebranche points out. "A lot of gays are rather phobic about the pedophilia association. I can see why they would have been in the past, when pederasty was the most common form of homosexuality, but at this point most people are thinking 'Adam and Steve,' not 'creepy child molester' when they think about homosexuals."

While it is relatively unknown how many homosexual adults had been taken advantage of as boys (sexually) Malebranche said that part sexual abuse comes down to identity from strict lines drawn by society in terms of homosexuality versus heterosexuality.

"I think the gay movement, in its quest to create solidarity, has actually made that line harder to cross—if you enjoy the experience in any way [which can be the case for boys molested by adult men] then you are believed by gays and straights alike to be completely homosexual," Malebranche said.

"I don't know if I have anything to offer victims of sexual abuse specifically, but I do think if we allow men who have sex with men to remain men, the trauma caused by an unwanted sexual scenario at a young age could become easier to cope with," he added.

Same-sex Marriage and Religion

Androphilia addressed the same-sex marriage movement in detail. Malebranche, who is not keen on the idea, said marriage as defined today does not fit male-to-male relationships. "When I was a kid, there was this children's book I had called Me too, Iguana. In the story, an iguana tries to be everything (except) an iguana and just ends up looking goofy, until her friends convince her that there was something worthwhile about just being an iguana."

Malebranche describes the frantic push for same-sex marriage as a reform measure cloaked in anger by those being told they cannot marry.

"My position is that, because men and women are different, homosexual relationships are simply different than heterosexual ones. I don't think they are inferior in any way. Just different. And I think it's OK to have a different institution too."

Malebranche would like to see a practical discussion about the real needs of same-sex relationships without emotional arguments based upon simply being denied rights.

"There are other solutions to many of the problems same-sex couples face, and some of the bells and whistles of marriage are, for the most part, unnecessary and maybe even a bad idea. I think a one-stop domestic partnership agreement that guarantees things like hospital visitation and emergency decision-making status is really all most homosexual couples need. And I think a majority of Americans would be happy to extend those benefits to same-sex couples.

"However, gays have telegraphed that marriage is the ultimate goal, and I think this overall strategy hurts more pragmatic efforts," Malebranche said.

During his self-discovery process Malebranche came across the Satanic Bible.  "And I read it just for fun. I was really surprised to find that the epicurean, materialist, no-bullshit philosophy that Anton LaVey codified best described my understanding of the world around me."

Malebranche describes the Church of Satan as a way to avoid self-delusion, without angry nihilism. "It's about seeing both, the beauty and the cruelty of nature --human nature included-- and living life to the fullest with no blinders on." The church has no elements of devil worship, nor does it practice the supernatural. In the view of a Satanist, he is his own God, according to the Church of Satan website. "Satanists treasure individualism...encourages traditional values in art and literature," just to name a few points from founder's documentation. To read more visit their website.

Coming full-circle, Androphilia challenges those blinders Malebranche contends that most people use based upon institutional theory disallowing one to  question. "Because of this, some members of the Church of Satan are the most interesting people I know. They traffic in forbidden ideas --not just for the shock value-- but because they are simply not afraid to explore or identify themselves with ideas that others avoid. I think that in certain circles, especially gay and feminist ones, true masculinity (beyond tongue-in-cheek posing) has nearly become an outré idea."

Malebranche is a Priest with the Church of Satan and in his words the role gives him the authority to speak publicly about  the  organization in certain situations.

"The Priesthood is by invitation only, so in a sense it is also an honorific title, indicating both a mastery of Satanic philosophy  and the ability to apply it," Malebranche said. He can marry couples and perform other rituals that members would prefer ordained priests to perform, but Satanists tend to be fairly reclusive and independent,  "so, there's not a huge demand for that," he said.

"I may do a private wedding this spring for a great couple I met with recently," Malebranche said.


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