Comment 3 of 13, added on July 5th, 2005 at 2:00 PM.
Maybe, maybe not. The thing is, even if Whitman was gay, this poem in
particular is not about homosexuality or it would be titled "We Two Boys
Let's forget all that we know about behavior for a moment. Let's forget
that putting your hands backwards on your hips or swishing when you walk is
supposed to be effeminate. And remember that WE define (on a daily basis)
what words, postures, pronunciations, manners are "normal," "gay,"
"serious," "rude," et cetera In the Middle East, men hold hands and kiss
each other and it is not in a sexual context. One hundred years ago, women
would wear garments that constricted their breathing and caused health
problems, because those were the social norms. Imagine what we will be
doing a hundred years from now. Will we look back on our contemporary
writing and just assume that everyone was gay?
Hey, sometimes a spade is a spade. Sometimes we read a passage and think,
"hey, is this veiled language? Is the writer talking about... THAT?" And
sometimes he is. But Whitman's writing makes you think that a LOT. Look
at "Ashes of Soldiers," (which by our standards sounds a whole lot like a
passionate love letter to beautiful dead soldiers) or "Pensive on Her
Dead..." where he talks about the dead "young men's beautiful bodies." I
don't think he's being sexually attracted here, but rather he is using
exquisite language; words that, yes, in our day and age raise some eyebrows
and set off some gay-dars.
But do not judge behavior or writing based on your own values or point of
view. Though it is often right, it will often be wrong, and it will ALWAYS
certainly betray an ignorance of the observed behavior or writing.
from United States