In his call for a gay state, he invoked Hannah Arendt’s description of the threat facing Jews: ‘As Arendt pointed out, Zionism’s solution was not one of fighting anti-Semitism on its own ground, that is, wherever it existed, but to escape it
Elli helps Ethan unravel the mystery of the sabotaged shipment. A military project on the planet Cetaganda bred humans capable of telepathy, but when they grew up they rebelled and escaped to freedom. The only telepath who survived, Terrence Cee, switched the shipment 33 Ethan was meant to receive so it contained the last ovary with telepathic DNA. He hoped that if this ovary reached Athos, it would spread safely, since it would be the only set of female genes used on a planet with no other women, producing as a byproduct a race of gay telepaths. In gratitude for Ethan’s help, Elli donates an ovary to Athos, but with the knowledge that this batch too will die out and Athos will eventually need to search for new ovaries all over again. At the last minute, Ethan realises the benefits of Terrence’s plan: if all gay men became telepaths, they could use this power to safely steal ovaries from the rest of the universe in perpetuity. He sneaks the telepathic DNA back to Athos and raises a family with Terrence, who reveals a hitherto secret attraction to Ethan and becomes his ‘designated alternative’.
Terrence’s scheme, however, was foiled when a woman whose gay son had fled to Athos sabotaged the first shipment in order, as he puts it, to ‘cut you unnatural motherless bastards off’ – exemplifying the homophobia that remains in the universe outside Athos
Ethan is faced with a dilemma: accept that reproducing a gay planet depends on the generosity of women in a way he can never control, or attempt to maintain a purity that places his gay planet forever at war with the outside world, condemned to launch raiding parties to steal new ovaries every couple of hundred years. To preserve a gay planet, he believes: ‘There are only two choices in the long run that don’t risk race war or genocide: all, or nothing.’ In the end, Ethan chooses Terrence’s ovary. He chooses all, he chooses purity, he chooses war.
Ethan’s dilemma isn’t just a plot twist in an obscure science-fiction novel: it runs throughout the unconscious of modern gay identity. Gay identity – in distinction to identities like the homosexual, the poof, the sissy, or the queen – was born out of the counter-cultural movements of the 1960s, from which the gay liberation movement borrowed some radical beliefs. One of these was the idea that gay culture, and indeed gay people, could only survive when separated from the rest of society. In 1969, Don Jackson of the LA Gay Liberation Front proposed that hundreds of gay men should move to the sparsely populated Alpine Country in the California mountains and set up ‘Stonewall Nation’ as a ‘Gay Homeland’. Planning advanced far enough to consider strategies for gathering gay children from state institutions and care homes across the US, thus relieving the government of a financial burden. The organisers also considered sending diplomatic contacts to gain recognition for their new state from the Algerian government, which at the time also provided a haven for Black Panthers – among them Stokely Carmichael – in an attempt to undermine what it saw as American Cold War imperialism. ‘Stonewall Nation’, according to Jackson, would be an exclusively ‘Gay territory’. Like Athos, he insisted, the colony ‘could become the Gay symbol of liberty, a world centre for the Gay counter-culture, and a shining symbol of hope to Gay people in the world.’
The Alpine Country project ultimately failed: the largely Christian existing residents refused to sell their land, and the once-keen gay activists blanched at the thought of camping out in the mountains all winter while waiting for a chance to buy property. However, the belief that a separate gay state was the only way to secure the preservation of a newly self-defined gay people was, if not widespread in the 1970s, not exactly er, the AIDS activist and founder of ACT UP, saw the state of Israel as a model for gay liberation. .. Tragically, with the devastation of AIDS, gay power in San Francisco has waned considerably…. We don’t have Zionism as a hopeful haven from the world’s hatred of us.’ Kramer believed that gay men during the AIDS crisis were like Jews during the Holocaust, threatened with extinction CasualX gratis by a hostile world. … “The simple truth is that Jews will have to fight anti-Semitism everywhere or else be exterminated everywhere.”’ Arendt’s argument was, in actual fact, the opposite of what Kramer intended: writing in 1946, she warned that a separate state would not protect Jews from anti-Semitism, and that in fact it could weaken the commitment to eradicating anti-Semitism by implying that all one had to do to escape it was move to Israel. Perhaps Kramer’s mistake was caused by the pressure of the AIDS crisis at its peak, perhaps by political expediency, ‘Israel’ being a metaphor for an acceptable form of separatism. Perhaps it was caused by a willed ignorance to the sufferings of others, not just those who suffered due to the establishment of the state of Israel, but to those neither gay, nor male, nor white, who also suffered – and still do – the devastation of AIDS, and who presumably would find no hopeful haven in Kramer’s gay state. Undoubtedly, Kramer’s desire for a gay state involved ignoring the specificity of Zionism as a response to anti-Semitism. Instead he saw a model where a way of life became an identity which, in turn, became a people requiring a state to protect them: otherwise, that people would become extinct.