What did you think when you read the title of this post. I'll wager it had nothing to do with happiness.
My oldest son came into the room a few minutes ago having just watched an episode of "Get Smart."
"That is a good example of how things have changed," he said. "(Smart) just said, 'What happened, you used to be so alive and gay'... If someone had said that now days people would say, 'what is she lesbian or something?' "
The word has been co-opted by a movement. As has the whole idea of male friendship.
It reminded me of an article that I read some time ago at Touchstone on language and the death of male friendship:
Sam Gamgee has been fool enough to follow his beloved master Frodo into Mordor, the realm of death. To rescue Frodo from the orcs who have taken him captive and who will slay him as soon as he ceases to be of use in finding the Ring, Sam has fought the monstrous spider Shelob, has eluded the pursuit of the orcs, and has dispatched a few of them to their merited deaths.
Finally he finds Frodo in the upper room of a small filthy cell, naked, half-conscious, lying in a heap in a corner. “Frodo! Mr. Frodo, my dear!” he cries. “It’s Sam, I’ve come!” With a bluff tenderness he clasps him to his breast, assuring him that it is really he, Sam, in the flesh.
Still groggy, Frodo can hardly believe it, but he clutches at his friend. It seems to him all the tissue of a dream—that an orc with a whip has turned into Sam—and it is all mixed up with the sound of singing that he thought he heard and tried to answer. “That was me singing,” says Sam, shaking his head and saying that he had all but given up hope of ever finding his friend again. He cradles Frodo’s head, as one would comfort a troubled child.
At that a snigger rises from the audience in the theater. “What, are they gay?”...
...Language is not language if it is not communal; it is a neat trick of political abracadabra to argue for an individual’s right to change the very medium of our thought and our social intercourse. If clothing is optional on a beach, then that is a nude beach. It cannot be a nude beach for some and an ordinary beach for others; to wear clothes at that beach at the very least means something that it had not meant before. If you may paint your house phosphorescent orange and violet, and you persuade a couple of your neighbors to do likewise, you no longer have what anybody would call a historic neighborhood.
If all of Kate’s friends leap into bed with whatever male gives them a hearty dinner at Burger King and a round of miniature golf, and Kate chooses instead to kiss her date once on the cheek and leave him on the porch, she will suggest to everybody that she is a prude. She may be, or may not be; she may be more firmly in the grip of lust than they are, for all we know, and may just detest the boy. But her actions have connotations they did not use to have.
Imagine a world wherein the taboo has been broken and incest is loudly and defiantly celebrated. Your wife’s unmarried brother puts his hand on your daughter’s shoulder. That gesture, once innocent, must now mean something, or at least suggest something. If the uncle were wise and considerate, he would not make it in the first place. You see a father hugging his teenage daughter as she leaves the car to go to school. The possibility flits before your mind. The language has changed, and the individual can do nothing about it.
By now the reader must see the point. I might say that of all human actions there is nothing more powerfully public than what two consenting adults do with their bodies behind (we hope) closed doors. Open homosexuality, loudly and defiantly celebrated, changes the language for everyone. If a man throws his arm around another man’s waist, it is now a sign—whether he is on the political right or the left, whether he believes in biblical proscriptions of homosexuality or not.
If a man cradles the head of his weeping friend, the shadow of suspicion must cross your mind. If a teenage boy is found skinny-dipping with another boy—not five of them, but two—it is the first thing you will think, and you will think it despite the obvious fact that until swim trunks were invented this was exactly how two men or boys would go for a swim.
Because language is communal, the individual can choose to make a sign or not. He cannot determine what the sign is to mean, not to others, not to the one he signals, and not even to himself. ...
...On three great bonds of love do all cultures depend: the love between man and woman in marriage; the love between a mother and her child; and the camaraderie among men, a bond that used to be strong enough to move mountains. The first two have suffered greatly; the third has almost ceased to exist....(more)
It's a good article. Close, intimate male friendship is no longer possible to the degree it once was. And every man has suffered for it. Frankly, so have women.