Article Title

Christ's Ganymede


Richard Rambuss


Both lauded within its own West Hollywood industry and seized during a St. Valentine's Day police raid on the Bijou Theatre in Chicago, the recent gay porn videotape More of a Manopens, as these things go, with its leading man Vito down on his knees.' Before him is a naked male form. Vito, still on his knees, hoarsely to the same: "You name it, I'll do it." That this solicitation is staged in an empty church to pealing bells and votive candles, and that the unclothed male form Vito addresses is an effigy of Jesus on the cross dangling from the rosary beads bound up in Vito's hands - Jesus' being only the first of the denuded male bodies to be exhibited across the pornographic field of vision - all this could be taken as a wittily profane gesture. But the conceit that the naked Christ is not out of place within gay porn's carnival of desired and desiring male bodies can also be seen as a provocation more than a little overdetermined by the contradictory, closeted libidinalities of Christianity itself. For what is to be said of an institution whose influential assessment of same-sex desire is, maybe now more than ever, predominantly censorious, yet which has always sought to stimulate devotion by the display made of Christ on the cross, an arresting spectacularization of the male body uncovered in extremis - a naked man offered up to our gazes ("Ecce homo") for worship, desire, and even identification? Considered in these terms, Christianity cuts a rather peculiar figure as a censurer of male homoeroticism. Indeed, as theorist-of-the-closet Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick has remarked, "The scandal of [Christ's displayed body] within a homophobic economy of the male gaze doesn't seem to abate: efforts to disembody this body ... only entangle it the more compromisingly among various modem figurations of the homosexual."