Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Altruism and Homosexuality

Posted by Jerry on February 6, 2007

My friend and I were having a discussion on the notion of unearned guilt and its altruistic roots. Somehow, we got into a discussion of homosexuality, and I analytically explored the altruistic roots of homosexual life, particularly in the context of Indian society.

My being gay is certainly a huge cause of worry for me because of the impending explosion it will create in my ultra-Catholic home. At some time, indeed sometime rather soon in the future, I will have to decisively come out to my mom and dad.

I worry about my mom in particular because her whole life has been one of dedication to her God and religion. In addition to that, her explicitly stated purpose in life is to ensure that her children “reach God in heaven by living a pure and religious life here on Earth.” This, she considers, her duty in life and purpose of being a parent.

Thus, my homosexuality will not merely be a shocking revelation to her regarding my identity; it will be, to her, the spelling out of my very soul’s destiny in hell. It will not only be a failure of her life’s purpose but an inexplicably agonizing realization that her son’s soul will be lost forever.

To say that she will spend the rest of her life crying, praying, hiding her face from society, seeking for answers from priests, and being tormented by the burden of my “dirty” secret is to not even hint at the magnitude of her suffering.

I can say with all certainty that, upon learning of my homosexuality, she would want to commit suicide, and the only thing that will stop her from killing herself will be the fact that the Catholic Church categorically denounces suicide as a mortal sin. Her soul will go to hell if she were to commit suicide–and this is the only thing that will stop her. In fact, as I write this, I can imagine that her urge to kill herself might be so strong, her shame so unbearable, and her grief so deep, that she might after all choose to end it despite her belief that it would mean spending an eternity in hell.

And I love my mom. The last thing in the world I want to do is cause her such profound grief, let alone drive her to the point of committing suicide. But I cannot escape the fact that this is an impending scenario. I must–and I will have to–come out to her someday… soon. This is the unearned guilt I am being forced to carry: being forced to feel the guilt for causing such a scenario to happen, for having to someday cause my mom this kind of worry, emotional devastation, shame, and grief.

The altruistic thing to do would be to sacrifice myself, my own happiness, my identity, for the sake of my mom who I love very much; to remain in the closet and do as she pleases.

But because I choose not to be altruistic and sacrifice my life for her sake, her moral code forces me to carry an unearned guilt. Her moral code–her religious and societal moral code–portrays me as the selfish son who chooses his own selfish happiness over his own mother’s. Of course, along with rejecting her moral code, I reject the possibility of carrying any unearned guilt. I fully realize that whatever the extent of her grief, I will not have been the cause of it. The true cause of her grief (and more importantly, of my worry and predicament) is her irrational moral code–which includes the altruism and mysticism she holds, which is also common to the country and society we live under.

Therein lies the evil of altruism; as Ayn Rand properly identified it, in its most essential sense, altruism is the moral code of hatred for humanity. It forces you to validate, legitimize, and justify your love for another person by sacrificing yourself and your happiness for them.

Thus, love (and, indeed, any other human relationship) is symbolized by self-sacrifice, and humans are merely sacrificial animals for one another. In the end, it’s a bloody world full of human corpses dying in an orgy of self-sacrifice on the altar of altruism.

I love my mom. But I love myself more. I choose not to sanction my own victimization by my mom’s evil moral code. Hence, I choose my life over hers.

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14 Responses to “Altruism and Homosexuality”

  1. Asher Wolfstein said

    Good job!

  2. RnBram said

    You wrote,
    “But because I choose not to be altruistic and sacrifice my life for her sake, her moral code forces me to carry an unearned guilt.”

    No one, not even your situation, can force you to carry an unearned guilt. You value your mother, but her values clash with yours. This is not even a cause for guilt, it is just a technical difficulty in dealing with your family.

    Keeping your homosexuality from your parents may be the more sensible thing to do. Only the homophobia of others, especially the false moral ‘principles’ of the church, would make one feel guilt, and lead them to believe they have to either hide their sexuality or confess it.

    Don’t be subtley influenced by their morality, just manage your social and family life to eliminate contradictions while keeping privacy. Your confessing too much could be tragically altruistic and damage you.

  3. Ergo said

    I would have to disagree with you, strongly. I do not intend to keep my homosexuality from my parents. I believe that they should know this aspect of their son, and more importantly, I *want* them to know exactly and completely who their son is.

    Moreover, the guilt being forced upon me by the altruistic moral code is that of making my mom suffer (which she will upon knowing of my sexual identity), which is not desirable to me and yet unavoidable. The moral code demands that I remain silent otherwise my mom’s life will be sacrificed for my happiness. Such is the nature of altruism, someone has to do the sacrificing.

    If my mom had embraced a rational moral code, I would not be in a situation where my coming out would result in her suffering and grief. It is a situation wherein there is no unearned guilt, no victims, and no sacrifices.

    Obviously, I do not carry the guilt because I realize that I will not be the cause of her suffering but it is her own moral code that is responsible for her suffering. My point is that altruism makes you believe that you are responsible (guilty) for the suffering of your parents when you come out, thus demanding that if you love your parents and wish to spare them the suffering, you should stay silent, in the closet, and sacrifice your happiness for theirs.

    To be silent is to victimize yourself and validate/legitimize the evil morality of altruism. That is the whole theme behind the strike in Atlas Shrugged too. So, RnBram, I have to vehemently reject your suggestion.

  4. Jason said

    I’ve been thinking of this post since I read it earlier today… wishing I had the words to bring you a modicum of comfort as you face this hurdle…

    It is a gigantic hurdle–overcoming the religious ties, risking disbarment, irreparable harm…

    But as you and I both know, prison just isn’t worth the price…

    I hope you’re wrong about your mother’s reaction, although you would know her as well as anyone would. But I could have sworn I would have been banished from my family when I came out–I was expecting it, had prepared myself for it, and faced up to it–and was surprised, as well as happy, as to where we are in our relationships now, 9 years later. It was a hard road–there were tears, the blame game, the proseletizing and condemnations…

    But a funny thing happened in our journey in my family… The parental oversight was replaced, at first grudgingly, then more openly, with an adult-to-adult respect, a genuine, if at times disagreeing, friendship, and an open communication I don’t think any of my siblings have wit my parents. Is this all just by coming out? No, but anytime great upheavel invades our most sacred places, our inner circle of blood and flesh, either that flesh reaches out and forms different, stronger bonds, or it leaves irreparable damage…

    I hope the blood that ties you all together is stronger than physical plumbing in the bedroom…

  5. Ergo said

    Jason, I can only hope that events in my life play out similarly in this regard. Though, it’s is so unlikely that I am almost certain it won’t happen.
    Of course, I don’t intend to feel an ounce of guilt for whatever transpires. I am not the cause. However, I do worry, and I worry because I love.

  6. Rubicund said

    Hmm. I’m currently irreligious, but this reminds me somewhat of something I discovered this summer. After my youngest brother finally asked me about my sexuality (“we all figured”), he told me that my parents had gone to see the pastor at their church some years ago with their fear that I may be gay. The priest apparently asked them if I was happy, and said that was all that mattered. Apparently, the priest was not concerned with my eternal damnation; he seemed to think that if I lived a “good” life and all that, the sexuality wouldn’t matter. This fits squarely with my memories of growing up in the Catholic church. It was a loving environment, and I wasn’t taught to hate anyone or any thing. It is so strange to hear these stories of oppression and abuse. I just hope your mom finds a priest who’ll tell her that buttsex is not equal to a certain and permanent date with Lucifer

    Whoa, “a bloody world full of human corpses dying in an orgy of self-sacrifice on the altar of altruism”? I was just thinking how much your writing has improved since you’ve been at this “new” job – no small feat, since it wasn’t crappy before – and then you bludgeon me with this! Oy… it hurts!

  7. Ergo said

    “Whoa, “a bloody world full of human corpses dying in an orgy of self-sacrifice on the altar of altruism”? I was just thinking how much your writing has improved since you’ve been at this “new” job – no small feat, since it wasn’t crappy before – and then you bludgeon me with this! Oy… it hurts!”

    Rubicund,

    I cannot think of a better way to describe it than the way I did. Hope you’re not too badly hurt!

  8. Rubicund said

    Oh no, Ergo, no worries. I actually rather enjoyed that flair. Besides, my new year’s resolution was to become impervious to pain.

  9. JR said

    Yeah, I deliver Meals On Wheels because I’m evil and hate humanity. What a load of shite.

  10. Ergo said

    JR, in response, I shall simply quote your own words that are so apt in this context here:

    “Quite consistently, generalizing = good, oversimplifying = bad.”

    Further, as a generous consession to you–for purely self-interested reasons–I have pasted a brief exposition of the moral code of altruism from Don Watkin’s brilliant series of articles, “Defending Objectivism – Part III“:

    According to [altruism], the man who gives a birthday gift to a friend deserves less moral credit than the man who sacrifices his life for starving children. Just as Rand claimed, altruism enshrines self-sacrifice, self-destruction, self-immolation. But it cannot do so explicitly; the results are too ugly. Instead, it must group together actions according to a non-essential attribute–whether the actions are good for others–so that anyone who claims to oppose altruism will be asked, “You mean you wouldn’t give a friend a birthday gift?” Or, “You wouldn’t risk your life to save your child’s?” Or, “You wouldn’t be late for a meeting to rescue a baby from drowning?”

    The question egoism raises is not “should one do good for others?” The question is, should one sacrifice one’s own interest for others? Rand’s answer, egoism’s answer, life’s answer is, never. Whether one should do good for others depends on who that other is and what doing good for him consists of. If that person is a value to you, then his interests are encompassed, to a degree, by your own. If that person and you share a common goal, then to that extent, serving his interest is your means of serving your own. But in all cases, the standard is: Your life. Your values. Your interests.

  11. […] I had concerns about my mother’s emotionally distraught state when she comes to learn that her son is gay; but I realize that her emotional state would not be caused by me or my gayness but by her own […]

  12. Upandhi said

    In response to the original post… My biggest problem with traditional culture is the whole notion of what children owe their parents. The child is responsible for and indebted first to safe-guarding his own well-being, followed by the well-being of his progeny, and thirdly his parents. By this I think it equally wrong when parents believe that their only obligation to to their children.

  13. T. Ross said

    “The world is perishing from an orgy of self-sacrificing.” -Ayn Rand

  14. Freeda said

    So have you told your mother yet that you are gay ?

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