How to Fly a Plane Into a Loft

An opening statement

“Where does that leave us?” I said. “I mean homosexuals? They won’t tolerate the Homintern-the Homosexual International.”

“That’s a marvelous portmanteau word, Harold,” he said. “Very clever. Did you coin it?” I nodded.

Harold Norse speaking to W.H. Auden, autumn 1939

HOMINTERN is not a good magazine. We do not claim to be polished, avant-garde, or trenchant. Much of what appears under our banner will turn out to be misguided or plain wrong; we hope that much will in time be rendered irrelevant. Being published here will not lead you to a repurposed loft or river cruise on which to tipple, gossip, and network. In short, we are an utter failure by the standards set for a luxury literary publication. The fashionable American left is bursting at the seams with websites and magazines exceeding those standards admirably. Our hope at HOMINTERN is that, by avoiding the canons of good taste in which these publications operate, we will also avoid their lemonade-stand game of making the new old and the old marketable. These institutions have been built around networking. We plan to substitute conspiracy.

HOMINTERN, a ‘marvelous’ portmanteau. The academic and poet Geoffrey Woods, in a book also titled ‘Homintern’, finds at least five credible claimants to the coinage of the word, including both Auden and Norse above, suggesting a world-historic ease to the neat wordplay. In its early life, it was a lighthearted term for a loose network of mostly European gay men, stitched together through salons, book credits, fluid exchange. Years later, at the height of McCarthy’s crusade, any whimsy the term had left was gone, crushed under the severity of anticommunists, who used it to warn of an unholy alliance of lavender and red, an international network of communist (and usually Jewish) gays. Of course, the Soviets had their own ideas about a homo-conspiracy, but they certainly weren’t suspecting their own gays of being more communist than themselves. As the years dragged, HOMINTERN fell into disuse, first replaced by the gay/velvet/lavender mafia and then achieving obsolescence as communism left the spotlight of American anxiety. As for the lasting political potential of the homosexuals that had managed to huddle together through the horrors of the mid-20th? We needn’t hash out here the sad particularities of the end of the gay liberation movement and the growing assimilation of a certain kind of homosexual into the imperial order, a dance number ending right at the Army recruiter’s door.

Today, as a homosexual, you can put on your boots and march over to save your brethren from his own – no conspiracy needed, no entry fee aside from a barrel of crude, or maybe some tickets to the Pride parade in Tel Aviv. Or, you could be sodomized with a broomstick by a soon-to-be veteran of the War Against Terrorism in a prison 32 kilometers west of Baghdad, the military policeman only acting out the civilising fantasy of the United States of Amerikkka – behave, or be gay anal raped in jail. And maybe, if you’re good, you’ll answer phones for $1.50 an hour in your issued jumpsuit, assuaging parental anxieties over the toxicity of the talking plastic bauble their poor spawn has put in its mouth. Never mind the migrant teen that screwed the halves together in Yangzhou, or the child picking minerals necessary for squawk box circuitry out of a hole in Domchanch.

You know all this, though. You know you’re being fucked and doing the fucking, in proportions contingent on your alotted place in world-system terror pinball. We hope our output aids you in taking a sober look at the balance sheet, and in casting a delirious gaze on the bottom line. At the very least, we promise we won’t stage readings of magical-realist fables set in the Long March, or proclaim the latest manufactured cultural craze – Queer Eye? a chicken sandwich? – as prefigural of the good life, Marx’s hunting-fishing-litcrit hamfistedly updated to make you vote for Bernard Sanders. Today, we no longer live in an age where homosexuality is cause for the suspicion of communist sympathies. We’ll be here, lubricating our fists.