“Due to its enormous spread over time and space, Homosexuality is therefore not, a priori, against nature, because only very rare and out of the ordinary things are called against nature. For many people, homosexuality is as natural and spontaneous as heterosexuality. Nonetheless, the Futurists must confess that, in this regard, they are shamefully normal and traditional. Although one of their posters affirms contempt for women – considered as the symbol of all weakening romance – we are forced to confess that we like women and that we infinitely prefer them to any male. Some of us (Balla, Folgore, Govoni, Papini, Cavacchioli, Severini) have wives and children and the others are, more or less, obstinate womanizers. How could such a false legend have been born about us?” – Giovanni Papini
“Futurism is gay!” they say.
I have heard at least one Futurism Forever hater say this statement every single day since starting FF. Most of our haters from day one have been neo-nazi’s, many of whom are in fact homosexuals themselves, though they aren’t always open about that. Most of them are just salty that the official religion of the dissident right, traditionalism, is being criticized, and don’t have enough knowledge or interest in the subject to look into whether that statement is even true or not. When I hear someone express this statement I 1) think this person has horrible taste 2) suspect that they are homosexuals themselves and 3) assume that they have never looked too deeply into this subject. Is there any merit to this statement? Was Futurism gay or straight? What do they mean when they say “scorn for women”? Why are there so many “degenerates” around Futurism Forever? I will answer all these questions and more in this article.
But I want to get this out of the way up front. As an art style Futurism is not concerned with sexuality in any capacity and there is seldom any nudity in futurist art (officially banned from Futurist art in the Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painters). The nude in art was seen by Futurists as cliche, and was regarded as tacky sentimental trash. To illustrate the asexuality of Futurist art I would like to compare an Umberto Boccioni sculpture with an Arno Breker one.
The choice of Breker for comparison is not arbitrary. Hitler saw Breker’s work as the antithesis of “degenerate” art. Since most FF haters usually just paraphrase shit Hitler said about “degenerate” art (which included Futurism) this is the perfect comparison. Ask yourselves which sculpture is more homoerotic? The answer should be obvious. While both works are clearly masculine, Boccioni’s sculpture is not concerned with idealization or beauty of the masculine form in the same way as the Breker sculpture. Boccioni’s sculpture is entirely concerned with the movements of the figure. It’s a sculpture about speed. Breker’s work is a sculpture about masculine beauty. Which art style is really more “gay”? This is not limited to Brekers work. There is a lot more homoeroticism to be found in traditional art in general from antiquity to the renaissance. As an art style Futurism was trying to get away from eroticism in general, be it hetero or homosexual. That’s not to say that homoeroticism necessarily is homosexual, but it really makes you wonder about homophobia as repressed homosexuality with some of these people. These people call for the banning of everything modern with trumped up accusations of “degeneracy” and then cream themselves over art as seen on the bottom…
Futurism is concerned with machines and speed and urbanism and war. Sex is not something your going to find in Futurist art, and if you’re really prudish about sexuality this should make it your ideal art style. This should answer whether Futurism as an art style is gay or not. As an art style, no. It’s indifferent to sex, regardless of it’s orientation. But Futurism wasn’t solely an art movement, it was also a political and social movement, and futurist views did vary on sexuality and gender outside of the arts. This is where the question gets more complex.
The movement as a whole was opposed to sentimentalism, romance and eroticism in general. Marinetti felt that Italian men in particular, but Latin men in general, spent entirely too much time lusting after women. And that the pursuit of sex, wasted energy that would be better spent on more masculine pursuits such as fighting in wars, working in factories or beating up art critics. Marinetti explains in Extended Man and the Kingdom of the Machine:
“Today, one encounters men who go through life more or less without love, in a beautiful, steel-toned frame of mind . We have to find ways of ensuring that these exemplary beings continue to increase in number. These dynamic beings do not have any sweet lover to see at night, but instead lovingly prefer, every morning, the perfect start up of their workshop.”
This is a recurring theme in Marinetti’s writings. He saw modernity moving away from sentimentality and love, which had it’s implications on institutions like the family. Point 6 of the Manifesto of the Futurist Political Party was “Abolition of marital permission. Easy divorce. Gradual devaluation of marriage, eventually to be replaced with free love and children reared in state institutions.” To post 1960’s people free love implies cocaine fueled gay orgies, but to anyone who has actually read free love advocacy of the early 20th century, mostly written by Anarchists, it was usually meant as love free from the authority of the church and state. Marinetti’s views on love, sex and the family clearly follow a lineage from the anarchist milieu who were his contemporaries. Take this quote from Emma Goldman’s essay Marriage and Love for example:
“Ours is a practical age. The time when Romeo and Juliet risked the wrath of their fathers for love when Gretchen exposed herself to the gossip of her neighbors for love, is no more. If, on rare occasions young people allow themselves the luxury of romance they are taken in care by the elders, drilled and pounded until they become “sensible.”
In Emma Goldman’s view, Love and Marriage are two separate matters altogether. Love is anarchic, illogical and feeling based, while marriage is largely economic. An institution meant to prop up capital. “Marriage and love have nothing in common; they are as far apart as the poles; are, in fact, antagonistic to each other.” She continues:
“Marriage is primarily an economic arrangement, an insurance pact. It differs from the ordinary life insurance agreement only in that it is more binding, more exacting. Its returns are insignificantly small compared with the investments. In taking out an insurance policy one pays for it in dollars and cents, always at liberty to discontinue payments. If, how ever, woman’s premium is a husband, she pays for it with her name, her privacy, her self-respect, her very life, “until death doth part.” Moreover, the marriage insurance condemns her to life-long dependency, to parasitism, to complete uselessness, individual as well as social. Man, too, pays his toll, but as his sphere is wider, marriage does not limit him as much as woman. He feels his chains more in an economic sense.”
This sentiment is echoed by Marinetti in Destruction of Syntax:
“A reduction in the value of love (whether as sentimentalism or lust), brought about by the greater sexual freedom and accessibility of women and by a universal increase in female luxuries. Let me explain: Nowadays women care more for luxuries than for love. A visit to a great dressmaking salon in the company of an obese and gouty banker friend, who pay’s her bills, is the perfect substitute for the most passionate of love trysts with an adored younger man. The woman finds all the mysteries of love in her choice of an extravagant gown, in the latest fashion, something that her friends do not yet possess. A man cannot love a woman unless she has this luxuries. The lover has lost all status, while Love has lost its absolute value.”
Marinetti also expresses similar views on the institution of marriage in his essay Against Marriage:
“Woman does not belong to man but rather to the future and to the development of the human race. We want a woman to love a man and to give herself to him only for as long as she wishes; and then, unfettered by any contract or moralizing tribunal, give birth to a creature that society must educate physically and intellectually up to the high point of Italian freedom.
Where Marinetti differs from Anarchist Free Love advocates is in the role of the state in child rearing, but abolition of marriage and the family was a common cause of both anarchists and futurists at the time, and for largely the same reasons. They saw it as an immoral contract that was meant to keep both genders chained down, and doing away with the family would liberate modern people to realize their full potential.
Marinetti spends a lot of time promoting voluntary celibacy, free love and the abolition of marriage and the family unit, but when reading through his writings there is not much time spent on homosexuality at all. So why do so many turd positionists and tradfags think Futurism is linked to gay culture to the extent that they do? There is one quote from Marinetti’s Speech to the English in 1911 in which Marinetti speaks on the subject and that they will usually cite to “prove” that Marinetti and his movement were gay:
“So far as your young men of twenty are concerned, nearly all of them, at some time or other, are homosexual. This perfectly respectable preference of theirs stems from some sort of intensification of camraderie and friendship, in the realm of athletic sports , before they reach the age of thirty – that age of work and order in which they suddenly return from Sodom to become engaged to some impudent young hussy, quickly registering their severe disapproval of the born invert, the false man, the half woman who makes no attempt to change.”
This quote, pertaining to male bonding among young men at British boys schools, is half way pro-gay arguing that love between men is a positive thing in youth in the absence of women, but also argues that it is a negative thing when taken into adulthood. It’s a very specific case of situational homosexuality, like homosexuality among men at sea or men in prison. He is not arguing for homosexuality as a default norm among men in society at large, quite the opposite in fact, calling men like that “false men” and even “half women”. Furthermore this is the sole passage directly pertaining to homosexuality in the entirety of Marinetti’s Critical Writings. Marinetti’s sexual politics are much more concerned with free love vs celibacy, abolition of sentimentalism and romance and abolition of the family and the institution of marriage.
Now that we have offered a brief overview of Marinetti’s views, we can move onto opposing views from within the Futurist movement. It is important to state that while Marinetti was objectively the leader and central figure of the Futurist movement, his ideas and writings did not exist in a vacuum. There was much argument and debate within the Futurist movement about a good number of things, including on sexuality and gender politics.
One opposing figure is the French poet and ballet dancer Valentine de Saint-Point, whose Manifesto of Futurist Women and Futurist Manifesto on Lust we will contrast with Marinetti’s views.
The Manifesto of Futurist Women was written as a response to Marinetti’s “scorn for women” line in the Futurist Manifesto. She fires back “Humanity is mediocre. The majority of women are neither superior or inferior to the majority of men. They are equal. Both merit the same disdain.” Saint-Point argues that there have been both great men and women throughout history who have been heroic, visionary and innovative. The problem at present is that society as it exists is not conducive to creating such figures anymore. This is because the character of society has shifted too much to the feminine, and there are a total lack of masculine traits such as strength, bravery or honour.
To put this is context, we have to explore how Saint-Point defines masculine and feminine. “It’s absurd to divide humanity into women and men; it is composed only of masculinity and femininity.” To Saint-Point all men have a feminine side and all women have a masculine side. This helps create a complete individual, for a man who lacks a feminine side would just be a brute, and a woman who lacks a masculine side would just be a girl. But with the total lack of masculinity in early 20th century society, what we need now are brutes. In other words women should strive to be more masculine and women should strive to be less feminine.
“Periods which had wars that produced only a few representative heros, because it’s epic blast annihilated them, were periods exclusively virile in character. Periods that have denied the heroic instinct, looked back towards the past, and annihilated themselves in dreams of peace, were one’s in which femininity dominated.”
She identifies the early 20th century as an example of the latter, and in her view what we need now more than anything is virility. Both masculine and feminine. She points women towards figures such as Joan of Arc or Cleopatra as their feminine ideal, or role models who they should strive towards. While this kind of “girl power” has now been absorbed into second and third wave feminism it was rare in this period. It is important to note that Saint-Point, unlike Marinetti, rejects the feminist movement because it conserves traditional gender roles and only aims to secure equal rights with men. To Marinetti, women are still essentially mothers and caregivers, where Saint-Point want’s to transcend these distinctions.
“It isn’t necessary to give women any of the rights demanded by feminism. To accord them these rights wouldn’t produce any of the disorders sought by the Futurists, but on the contrary would bring about an excess of order.”
Few seem to remember this anymore, but there was actually a lot of support for first wave feminism from the right, as women at this time were more religious than men, and would therefore be more likely to uphold tradition. So Marinetti’s support for Feminism isn’t really as progressive as one would think. He hopes women in parliament will help discredit the parliament as an institution, and democracy at large. In Contempt for Women he writes:
“We who deeply despise politics are happy to abandon parliamentarianism to the spiteful claws of women; for it is precisely to them that the noble task of killing it for good has been reserved.”
Saint-Point views modern women playing a very different role:
“The woman who keeps a man at her feet with tears and sentimentalism is inferior to the prostitute who impels a man, by prompting him to boast, to preserve his domination over the depths of the city with a revolver in his hand. This woman, at least, cultivates energy that could eventually serve better causes.
Women, too long corrupted by morals and conventions, return to your sublime instinct; to violence and cruelty.”
Marinetti and Saint-Point share a lot in common. Both are disgusted by sentimentalism and love. Both want to abolish the institutions of marriage and family. Both glorify war as a transformative event that can wake up the sleeping Europe and inspire greatness in them once more. But clearly there views on sex and gender are different. While Marinetti supports the suffragettes, it is clear from things he said about them and their struggle that he didn’t take them at all seriously. He saw them as a means to undermine parliamentarism and democracy, not as revolutionaries who fought alongside men, but as support for the men. Also Marinetti was striving towards a post-erotic future where sex serves no real value beyond a utilitarian one: for making children. Saint-Point see’s value in sex and lust in themselves. She speaks on this briefly in the Manifesto of Futurist Women, but will elaborate on this subject much more in the Futurist Manifesto of Lust.
“LUST IS A FORCE, for it destroys the weak, excites the strong to disperse energy, and hence contributes to their renewal. Every heroic people is sensual: for them woman is the most exalting trophy.
Woman must be either mother or lover. True mothers will always be mediocre lovers, and lovers will be insufficient mothers by virtue of excess. Equal in their rapport with life, these two women complete each another. With the son of the past, the mother who receives a boy makes the son of the future. The lover dispenses desire that transports us into the future.”
On the question of lust in futurism what we start to see emerge is a split between Marinetti’s more Apollonian approach and the more sex positive Dionysian approach of Saint-Point. Personally I, and therefore Futurism Forever, leans more towards the latter view. Lust and sexual desire are healthy and natural and have been a motivator for pushing men to do great things since time immemorial. It’s what motivates the poet to write, the warrior to conquer, the business man to succeed.
“Lust excites energies and unleashes forces. In more primitive times it was pitiless in driving man to victory, for the honor of bringing back to a woman the spoils of the defeated. Today it impels the great businessmen who direct finance, the press, and international trade, to increase wealth through centralization, harnessing energies and exalting the masses in order to increase, to multiply, to embellish with such means the object of their lust. These men, burdened with their task and yet strong, find time for lust, the force that drives their actions and the reactions of others, repercussions affecting multitudes and worlds.
Saint-Point argues that it is Christian morality that aims to suppress desire, which it see’s as sinful. The suppression of our desires dulls and tames us. We need to reclaim our desires. We need to reclaim our ferocity. She argues that it is not lust that weakens us, but rather romance, sentimentalism and love:
“It is not lust that dissevers, dissolves, and annihilates, but the mesmerizing complications of sentimentality, the artificial jealousies, the phrases that intoxicate and deceive, the pathetic staging of separation and eternal fidelity, literary nostalgia: all the histrionics of love.”
Saint-Point also takes on a more ambiguous attitude towards homosexuality. While she does not speak on the subject she hint’s at it here:
“We must stop despising desire, this attraction, at once delicate and brutal, which draws together two bodies of whatever sex, two bodies that want each other, that are straining toward unity. We must stop despising desire, camouflaging it in the pitiful clothes of old and sterile sentimentality.”
Following her views on gender, with all humans having both masculine and feminine characteristics, coupled with her sex positive outlook, homosexuality would not be seen as sinful or immoral. Her worldview certainly points in that direction. But where Saint-Point only hints at homosexuality briefly in On Lust, the Florence based Futurists centred around Lacerba journal will explore the subject in much more depth and detail. Namely journalist and critic Italo Tavolato.
It should be stated outright that I have not read Tavolato’s writings at length, because to my knowledge they have never been translated into English, and while I am uneasy writing about someone whom I have never read, I do feel he is important to this subject. My information comes from the academic article. (No) Queer Futurism: Prostitutes, Pink Poets, and Politics in Italy from 1913-1918 by Emma Van Ness, which I encourage readers to look through. I will summarize her work here.
To Tavolato, if Futurism is about rejecting all tradition and morality, then this should obviously include all sexual morality and gender roles. He agrees with Saint-Point that gender is largely an androgynous construct with all humans containing both masculine and feminine elements, but where Marinetti and Saint-Point only hint at the homosexual implications of this view, Tavolato embraces and celebrates his queerness. To Tavolato, lust, pleasure, sadism, masturbation etc are merely human instinct and this should be embraced.
Despite Marinetti’s vocal anti-clericalism, you do sense an internalized Catholic moralism in his approach to sex. He views it as merely a utilitarian act for the purpose of child birth and continuing the race. It has a clear purpose and outcome. Pleasure has no value or purpose to him, in the way that it does for Saint-Point and Tavolato.
Like Saint-Point, Tavolato praises the prostitute as the modern feminine ideal, as the prostitute is free from sentimentality and romance. She possesses and honesty that is lacking in the feminine as an object of romance and love peddled by sentimental hacks. In the works of Saint-Point and Tavolato you see Futurism heading in an almost Bataillian libertine direction, in that it wages war on all morality and embraces the taboo, in a way that is implied in Marinetti’s early writings, but that he never fully actualizes. We begin to see two different conceptions of what Futurism should be. A pleasure based queer futurism and a reproductive Futurism. Van Ness writes:
“Mussolini’s ideas of reproduction and Marinetti’s theories about homosexuality and gender roles slowly, over the next ten years, align with each other, so that Futurism becomes more about reproductive futurism than about provocation as it was initially.”
This leads to infighting between the Milan based Futurists centered around Marinetti who represents reproductive futurism and the Florentine Futurists centred around Giovanni Papini, Ardengo Soffici, Italo Tavolato etc. Who reach more libertine conclusions. This split leads to the Florentine Futurists beginning to distance themselves from Futurism in general, and Marinetti backtracking on earlier positions and the movement increasingly being absorbed into reactionary political circles. Marinetti would even write a homophobic novel entitled L’isola dei baci. The story apparently involves the forming of a “pink congress” that aims to make Capri for men only. Van Ness writes “this “queer” congress founds a state incapable of reproduction, politically disengaged (cosmopolitan rather than nationalistic) and unconcerned about the future.” Marinetti ultimately purges all queer elements from the Futurist movement and embraces reproductive Futurism.
Now back to the central question of the article. Is Futurism gay? It wasn’t, but it probably should have been. Insofar as it was Marinetti’s movement, and he decided who was part of it and who was not. The first wave of Futurism (from 1909-1917) points in that direction, but never fully goes there. Then Marinetti purges the elements who are pushing it in that direction and Futurism gets absorbed into Mussolini’s Fascist movement. In my view Saint-Point and the Florentine Futurists followed Marinetti’s ideas through to their logical conclusions. Rejection of all traditions should includes rejection of traditional gender roles and sexual morality, but Marinetti becomes uncomfortable with the direction he see’s his movement heading in and tightens the reigns.
When Futurism initially started it was meant to be a provocative art movement and there was an element of confrontational shock value to the Futurist Manifesto. It seems reasonable to assume that the outbreak of World War 1 and the real political influence that presented itself as a result, caused Marinetti to readjust some of his earlier views. It is also worth noting that Marinetti himself was married in 1923 to Futurist painter Benedetta Cappa and had three daughters. In his own life, he was a wholesome family man and he never really practised what he preached. He called for the abolition of the family and the institution of marriage and promoted free love, but lived a fairly normal life himself. As he get’s older he also warms up to the Catholic church and drops his anticlericalism. It gains real world influence, but it loses a certain amount of its edge and rebelliousness. Great art was made in that second wave for sure, but it becomes just an art movement that is largely subordinate to Mussolini and Fascism.
Now where does Futurism Forever fit into all of this? What does the Gio think? I would identify myself most closely with the young Marinetti. Some of my contributors on FF are gay, but I myself am straight, and am fairly conservative here in my own life. I take a non-judgemental approach with FF and I really don’t care about the sexuality of my contributors if they are easy to get along with and are smart/creative and put in work for FF, I’m happy to have them. With that being said they are expected to follow chat rules which includes “no gay posting.” By that I mean no gay horny posting. While FF is ostensibly pro-LGBT, contributors are expected to follow a code of conduct that will not alienate straight people from what we do. Those who are unwilling to comply with the rules get kicked. The truth is that the FF chat isn’t nearly as debauched as it is sometimes rumoured to be. Our old chat did evolve in that direction, and I hated it so I nuked it, and I have only run a private/invite only chat since. Initially I didn’t want to impose too many rules. This was naive on my part, and I underestimated how bad things could really get. It’s been a lot better ever since switching to private.
With that being said, though we are pro-LGBT and I have gay friends, we are not going to be a part of the LGBT movement in an official capacity and we are not going to take up the cause of queer identity politics. First of all, writing this through pride month makes it abundantly clear that LGBT does not require FF’s support. They have the full support of the entire establishment from media, education, corporations and so on. Second of all I hate identity politics in general and think it gets in the way of creating viable revolutionary movements. IdPol keeps white people fighting with black people, men fighting with women, gay’s fighting with straights etc. IdPol is inherently divisive. I believe thats what it’s supposed to do, and thats why the establishment promotes it. I hated IdPol as an Anarchist, as a Fascist and I hate them now as a Futurist and I refuse to engage in it. What we need is an anti-capitalist/anti-liberal solidarity among genuine radicals, and I expect all my contributors to check their IdPol at the door. I won’t tolerate sexism, racism or homophobia in my group, and people who aren’t willing to comply with this aren’t usually around for long. That being said I’m not politically correct either. I call people I don’t like faggots. I body shame fat people. I call stupid people retarded. The left usually doesn’t appreciate this. So we butt heads with both sides constantly.
In closing, with this article I am not trying to win over conservatives or trads to Futurism. I expect them to continue to smoke their copium out of their penis shaped bongs and project their sexual identity issues on my little art channel, because they’re faggots lol. Frankly, I don’t want you guys around. But I do want to offer a brief overview of what the sexual politics of Futurism were, since it is so often misrepresented. Now do any of the FF haters want to address the gay roots of National Socialism? Or why there are so many photos circulating online of femboys and trannies posing in front of black sun flags? Or why so many people in your movement end up being gay? Who would have thought that the mannerbund model, that utilizes homoerotic aesthetics to promote itself and talks about hating and raping women all day would attract so many homo’s lol. Futurism Forever is a diverse group. Some of us are gay, some of us are straight. Some of us like drinking and doing drugs, some of us are straight edge. Some of us are left wing, others are right wing. But all of us are open about who we are and what we are about. We aren’t liars or hypocrites. We are who we are. Take it or leave it.