Men’s Homoerotic Desire For Trump
His aphrodisiac power excites a glow in some men usually reserved for one’s sweetheart.
My neighborhood Trump lover appears nothing like the Neanderthals (uncivilized and unintelligent) seen in images of January 6th’s insurrection. Rudy, I’ll call him, comes across as a regular guy. He is always cordial, well-mannered, divorced and friends with his ex-wife. Rudy, who is attractive, can be an insufferable spouter of his hero’s greatness but you can also engage him on other topics.
Still there was something unsettling I noticed about Rudy some months ago. He smiled sheepishly as he was eager to show me a photo of Trump in his thirties. I could almost feel Rudy’s heart swell as he showed me his cellphone. “Isn’t he handsome?” Rudy glowed with an aura usually reserved for one’s sweetheart. I didn’t share with him what I thought, that the face didn’t foretell the one who would go on to be a sexual predator, baldfaced liar, narcissistic sociopath, and disgrace to his country. This was even before Trump incited the assault on our Capitol. The younger, much thinner face of Trump minus orange skin and hair clearly excited a bubbly warmth in Rudy that I dared not diminish in that moment.
Some time later, I was visiting with my friend, Herb, a writer with laser-sharp perception, who nailed what seems to be a possible explanation for many of the heterosexual men who, trancelike, can see no evil in Trump. Herb told me how he had run into an acquaintance, a wealthy banker, who projected the same starry-eyed glow as Rudy whenever he uttered the name Trump. “I realized he’s in love, a deep erotic infatuation,” said Herb.
As I pondered this homoerotic tendency in Trump men, I came across a piece in the London Review of Books by Cambridge professor of politics David Runciman. He writes, “Mary Wollstoncraft understood the relationship between tyrants and their courts in primarily sexual terms. As with the relations between men and women, no one could be honest about the power dynamic at work. There was always a tendency for thwarted passion to be dressed up as though it were reasonable, and for cold reason to pass itself off as the expression of heightened emotion.” What a strange sort of sublimation. The Trump men, prey to a deep-seated desire to merge with the object of their passion dress it up as cold reason—even straight-faced justifying the president’s criminal acts.
Runciman was writing about Henry Kissinger who at 97 has outlived his own infamy. Runciman writes, “The jowly and growly Kissinger became a byword for the aphrodisiac effects of power.” Even in the absence of actual consummation, Runciman says, “Kissinger channelled his lustful instinct into in-fighting and persistent one-upmanship. His love life was an extension of politics by other means.” The repressed sexual passion can be expressed in both the master and the enslaved.
Runciman alluded to the work of Lessons of the Masters by George Steiner. Although Steiner was writing about education “with its erotic and inegalitarian overtones,” it is similarly the encounter between master and disciple that interested him. The comparison with Trump men ends there, as Steiner contemplates “the infinitely complex and subtle interplay of power, trust, and passions” of true teachers, of which Trump is not.
What else could explain Trump’s cult status, the psychological profile of Rudy and other men who idealize Trump so much they lie to themselves about Trump’s transgressions and blatant crimes? In much the same way hopelessly in-love fools betray themselves. After the January 6th insurrection, Rudy didn’t skip a beat or bat an eyelash as he calmly explained to me, “It was a false flag—it was antifa.” His delusion mimicked the same cognitive dissonance of an infatuated man who refuses to accept the agonizing fact that his lover is flawed and has been unfaithful.
Aphrodisiac power, indeed, of the most diabolical sort.