I think this California Bill requiring "schools to buy textbooks 'accurately' portraying 'the sexual diversity of our society'" is a bit silly. I'm not entirely against "gay studies" -- but 1) it shouldn't be mandatory in public schools, and 2) more interestingly, most of the new ______________ studies (fill in the PC blank) programs seem to me to be a demand for "equal time" against the disproportionately European male human accomplishers most responsible for what we know of as "the Western Canon." And as I will argue, given that gays appear to be disproportionately responsible for that Canon, gays clearly don't need such "special time." Indeed, given the relatively small percentage of gays in the population, "equal time" would only shrink the coverage we give to the great gay minds and talent of the past.
Not that there aren't brilliant female and non-Western European artists and thinkers; there are and they shouldn't be given short-shrift (and the injustices -- sexism and institutional homemaking -- which prevented such "on par" achievement should be also duly noted). But "greatness," not "equal time" or "diversity" should be the standard. The equal time standard, by its very nature, gives more time to works that, while they may be good, don't belong in the Canon next to Shakespeare, Milton or Proust.
For instance, we can't give "equal time" to female classical composers because, for whatever variety of reasons, 50% of the great composers have not been female (although let me point out that at 16, my classical guitar teacher rightly told me that the greatest living classical guitarist was a female, Sharon Isbin, who also happens to be a lesbian and first cousin of the late great gay libertarian radio talk show host David Brudnoy).
See this classic article by Bruce Bawer on the matter, where he writes:
It's also confining, for there's no part of the cultural landscape without a gay element. Even if gays constitute as much as fifteen percent of the population, the gay contribution to Western art, architecture, music, and literature far exceeds what it should be statistically. If you accept the right-wing claim that only one in a hundred people is gay, then the gay contribution is truly extraordinary. Think about it: A group comprising one percent of the population producing Erasmus, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Marlowe, Bacon, Hölderlin, Hans Christian Andersen, Tchaikovsky, Proust ... the list goes on and on to include three of the four major nineteenth-century American novelists, one (perhaps both) of the two great nineteenth-century American poets, and two of the three most noted mid-twentieth-century American dramatists.
Or as Richard Posner writes in Sex and Reason:
A person who knows that James I, Francis Bacon, Oscar Wilde, Henry James, Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, E.M. Forster, Pyotr Illich Tchaikovsky, George Santayana, T.E. Lawrence, Alan Turing, and Ludwig Wittgenstein were homosexuals, and that Sophocles, Socrates, Plato, Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Richard the Lion-Hearted may have been, is not so likely to believe that homosexuality is merely a ghastly blight. p. 141.
I'm all for honestly discussing the homosexuality of these great figures. But clearly, gays don't need any "special attention" in terms of historical artistic and intellectual achievements.
A more interesting question might be, why it is that gays seem to have over accomplished? An honest answer would be "got me?". Gay men have been "stereotyped" as having "female" psychology. However, it's historically been men and not women who have been the greatest artists and achievers, and disproportionately gay men. In some ways, like the need for sexual release, gay male psychology is stereotypically male, not female (perhaps because of their male biology and the testosterone that goes with it).
Camille Paglia has an interesting theory. In Vamps & Tramps, she writes:
For me, civilization is art, and art is the highest record of humanity. One day, when we represent ourselves to inhabitants of distant galaxies, it will be by our art that we will want to be known. Therefore, anything that contributes to art must be nurtured and preserved. What seems irrefutable from my studies is that male homosexuality is intricately intertwined with art, for reasons we have yet to determine. p. 22.
She then gives what the reason could be:
It is possible that gay men are caught midway between the male and female brains and therefore share the best of both. Talent in the visual arts may be related to a sensory or perceptual openness, detectable (as responsiveness to light and color) in early childhood and perhaps related to autism, where the flux of sensations is cognitively uncontrolled. The gay male brain seems to me permanently switched "on." p. 75
I remember once being involved in an email exchange with a prominent anti-gay sociobiologist/conservative columnist (I think you can guess), who once wrote of the day when we could test for homosexuality in the womb and "correct it." And if, as Paglia argues, "civilization is art, and art is the highest record of humanity" and "anything that contributes to art must be nurtured and preserved" and "[w]hat seems irrefutable...is that male homosexuality is intricately intertwined with art," it might not be such a good idea for humanity to "wipe" homosexuality from human nature.
Perhaps because I came on a little too strong, he dismissed the premise as "homopropaganda." I think I initially gave him some cognitive dissonance. On the one hand, he was a homophobe. On the other, he championed the extremely controversial idea that certain social groups have accomplished more civilization than others and that IQ scores reflect those differences. I even noted to him that some studies demonstrate that gays have higher incomes, possess more wealth and are better educated. And the social science which he lauds connects higher rates of wealth, income and education with higher IQ. (And indeed, look at the typical real estate values of the neighborhoods where gays congregate.) Thus, it was likely that gays have higher IQs.
Of course, given the closet and the ultimate uncertainly as to who really is and was gay or bisexual, there will always be room for reasonably doubting these group differences. You do have to do a little "dot connecting" to arrive at the assertion that gays are greater Human Accomplishers.
Though, I have to note, a few months after my email exchange, it was with delicious irony that I read this article by him lauding Charles Murray's book Human Accomplishment while he picked out one figure whom he thought best represented human accomplishment of the 20th Century. And he picked...Cole Porter, a gay man (duly noted in the article).