Yesterday I watched the seventh episode of American Crime Story’s second season (Versace) and it got me thinking about the struggle that gay men are facing so often. Inner conflicts tied to the situation of being gay in a straight society can be dramatic, and can escalate badly, if an individual feels threatened and paralyzed by society. In the above mentioned episode, a closeted gay man murders his flirt (an elderly man who is openly gay) in an extremely brutal way.
The elderly man didn’t do anything wrong, on the contrary, he is being very kind and inviting, but in a way he represents the forbidden world and points directly to the internal conflict of the closeted man. Not only does he point to the conflict, he activates an intense impulse, so upon a single little touch the closeted man goes from a fight-or-flight state into savage mode in no time and slays his victim with a piece of heavy table decoration.
The way he carries out the murder, it seems like tons of stored pressure is being released. The conflict has been growing over time, reaching unbearable dimensions.
To point out the obvious: There would be no internal conflict associated with homosexuality, if it wasn’t for rigid expectations of the general society. Society has a problem with anything that’s different, unless it can profit from the difference in any way. The world seems cruel sometimes.
Homosexuals are not the only ones facing this kind of problem, but they’re among the first and most clearly outlined groups that come to mind. Some people might feel like they’re not allowed to be different, for all kinds of reasons, so they get tense and unhappy. They try to kill themselves, or they kill other people. In smoother cases, they remain closeted for life, which, in turn, can wake disrespect or disgust among their fellow gay men (who are openly gay). So you can either be a) openly gay and have a problem with the society or b) closeted gay and have a problem with the gay community — and, more importantly, with your own self.
Now, the Versace story took place in USA in the 90s. These days in Europe the overall situation should be more relaxed, though it might be a lukewarm compromise rather than a true embrace of deviations from the average.
I rarely find myself in a conflict with what society expects from me, except for my deep aversion of bureaucracy and its consequences. If I were a homosexual man, I’d probably find a way to live my identity in a way that wouldn’t get me into trouble. It all starts with the right people, and with turning away from wrong people.