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I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Monday, 15 May 2017

"Dead Boys Can't Dance" by Michel Dorais

Written by the man who also wrote Rent Boys, this is a sociological inquiry to understand why the rate of suicide amongst homosexual male youths is sixteen (sixteen!) times higher than for their heterosexual counterparts.

He suggests that there are two scenarios for gay boys: they can be identified as gay early on by other people because of their behaviours. One respondent stated: "At the age of six, I was being called a fag. I was already the school fag. Others therefore knew what I was before I did." (p 33) Others come out or are outed when they are older.

Dorais identifies four "adaptive scenarios in response to rejection" (p 37):

  • "The Perfect Boy wishes to live up to expectations ... he will not reveal his homosexuality to others ... his great fear is the anticipated embarrassing event that will compromise him." (pp 37 - 38) For Jean-Francois this happened when his mum read his diary. His parents ostracised him. "They no longer celebrated his birthday." Wow! That's rejection! (p 39) The Perfect Boy scenario tends to end in one of two tragic ways: "The young man reveals his homosexuality and the responses are disbelief, followed by the general dismay of all around him. He is perceived as a traitor and also as an intruder who has been lying about his real desires. He feels, with reason, that he is not understood, and that he is being judged and rejected." (p 40) Alternatively "Instead of revealing his homosexuality, the young male attempts suicide so that he will take his secret with him and hide forever the desires perceived to be so shameful." (p 40)
  • "The Token Fag ... pegged as homosexual at an early age ... the object of ridicule, harassment, and psychological and/or physical violence. Given the inaction of adults when faced with his abuse, he feels powerless in these situations, and he will sometimes consider his fate to be sealed." (p 41) One said "I wanted to be between the paint and the wall because I wanted to be invisible." (p 41)
  • "The Chameleon's varies from being one who pretends to be and at other times is an imposter. ... This situation reaches crisis levels when he no longer wants to be a part of the masquerade that is suffocating him. ... Arriving at a balance between his secret inner life and his everyday life is difficult for him, and the older he gets, the more he fails to see how to escape the situation ... I felt that I was human garbage because I was gay. ... I was a monster, someone who should not exist: human garbage." (pp 44 - 45)
  • The Rebel rejects homophobia and develops a resistance but in one case the rebellion led to drug addiction.

There are some telling insights:

  • "Claude found himself on the street with only the clothes he was wearing ... It was therefore in silence, destitution and solitude that he began to cope with family rejection." (pp 52 - 53)
  • "My mother, I saw her as a saint. ... When I told her I was questioning the possibility of being gay, she said: 'You better leave now. I don't ever want to see you again.' It's not easy at sixteen to find yourself alone and having to somehow survive. I will always remember that." (p 55) 
  • "I slept in saunas and under balconies." (p 66)
  • "My parents were fervent believers. ... God rejected and hated gays. A god of love, so it seems." (p 69)
  • "It would seem that compatibility is impossible between religious beliefs and homosexuality for those interviewed young men who described themselves as believers, or as having been so. The journey to acceptance of being gay must pass through religious rejection, they say." (p 69)
  • "Being treated as a fag is the worst thing that could happen to a boy's status as a male." (p 79)
  • "To flourish, human beings must perceive themselves to be part of a whole greater than self." (p 87)
  • "Suicide is a final solution to a temporary problem" (p 105)

Ways in which gay men can be resilient (p 85):

  • "A healthy determination to criticize and contradict the opinions of others ... I have the right to be different"
  • "A sense of humour when facing adversity ... a creativity that permits one to dream as a way of compensating for reality"
  • "Well-established significant relationships"
  • "The awareness or even the celebration of one's potential in spite of degradation by others."

A fascinating book. May 2017; 114 pages

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