Other people’s anger

I don’t really like “gay panic” killings to be part of entertainment. Two TV dramas I have seen this month included a gay panic killing- one might even have been a trans panic, as the murder victim was female in Virtual reality but male in real life. Yes, I know they exist, and there was no sympathy for the murderer in either, but someone I could identify with was bludgeoned to death. Women complain about the number of women murdered in such dramas- it always begins with the death of a ‘girl’…

Why should a gay pass be such a provocation, anyway? Both dramas showed it raising uncomfortable echoes in the murderer. The organismic self, feeling attraction, comes up against the self-concept, furiously asserting “I’m not gay”. All the rage and terror that elicits is projected outwards, onto the nearest possible victim. If that gay man is disgusting, then the murderer can ignore his disgust for himself. And he makes his disgust and anger indisputable- surely he cannot be gay, when he feels so strongly.

Such cognitive dissonance, the conflict between who I am and who I ought to be, is painful. Turning the anger outwards may reduce the pain, but cannot address the problem. Neither can my instinctive method, which is to turn the anger inwards. I beat myself up for not living up to who I ought to be. Well, I am not that person, and so the anger only hurts me; but turning it inwards has the advantage, for me, that it does not manifest in conduct which others may find objectionable, until it means I have no motivation to do anything at all.

So now, having drained away my motivation and my self-respect, the anger still turns inwards. I beat myself up pointlessly. It’s other people’s anger, which I feel because I have taken it into myself from them: so as not to suffer it from others, perhaps. So as to fit in. It may be old anger, from my parents’ generation or even before, which no-one would feel now except me.

Who I am is who I ought to be.

The problem is changing my self-concept, so that it matches my organismic self.

The gay panic comes not just from the murderer’s homophobia, but from society’s. His self-concept would not be straight but for homophobic messages from the wider society, or from his upbringing, that straight is better than gay. Concepts of how people ought to be get in the way of anyone seeing who they really are, even the people themselves.

I hope my explaining who I am, here, may help anyone who shares my characteristics. If it brings out a strong emotional reaction- even one of revulsion- it has something to tell you.

The anger is merely destructive. Not all anger is- we get angry against injustice, and that may give energy to end it- but this anger either turns on an other who has innocently drawn the angry man’s attention to a characteristic he must deny, or on the angry person themself. His anger at the other does not change his organismic self, only allows him to deny its reality. It blocks him from seeing himself clearly, and prevents self-acceptance. My anger hurts me, and changes my perception of my real attributes from gifts to weakness.

Perhaps I could consider the anger. Why was I angry? What characteristic am I angry at? How could I see it differently? Self-acceptance is my work. How can I see something in myself, which is so frightening I use anger to prevent me seeing it?

2 thoughts on “Other people’s anger

  1. The ‘gay panic comes not just from the murderer’s homophobia, but from society’s.’ But where does the murderer’s homophobia come from, if not from society? None of us exists in a vacuum – we are almost entirely products of our social environment. Biology plays very little part indeed in determining what we are, and none whatsoever in deciding phenomena like racism, sexism, ablism, homophobia, transphobia or ageism. What it can do is determine things like aggression. The so-called ‘warrior allele’ of the MAOA (monoamine oxidase-A) gene, on the X chromosome, predisposes the individual to aggressive &/or violent behaviour, but this is a risk-factor, which can be, & often is, counteracted by upbringing. Just because a person has it doesn’t mean that they will inevitably become a psychopathic killer! Biological determinism was bunk when it was promulgated by Cesare Lombroso, and it still IS!

    Unfortunately, there was a real ‘gay panic’ murder in the US recently, and – horrendously – the ‘gay panic’ aspect was used by the killer’s defence as a defence, and this was accepted by the court, and the defendant was acquitted! Only two States of the Union do NOT accept ‘gay panic’ as a defence in a murder trial, these being California and Illinois! I am no lawyer, but IMO, that is an absolute outrage! The situation is the same for ‘trans panic’. See: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/gay-panic-austin-james-miller-texas-man-cleared-murder-a8327261.html.

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    • In England, you are allowed reasonable force to defend against the actual threat. A kiss would not be seen as a threat. That the murderer’s apparent ordinary decency counted in his favour makes it worse. Lots of people are apparently ordinary and decent, until they kill someone, whereupon their appearance of ordinary decency ends.

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