Jay Michaelson writes: If Mateen turns out to have been repressing his sexuality, that makes the attack more about homophobia, not less. Now what we have is not a gay-hating radical Islamist but a self-hating gay man who found in Islamist ideology a way to express his animus at everyone and everything.
Nor is this unique to Islam. When Christian fundamentalist Ted Haggard preached vitriolic sermons against homosexuality, it was because of — not despite — his furtive sex dates with a drug-dealing gay masseur. When former senator Larry Craig inveighed against the evils of equality, it was because of — not despite — his own shame around soliciting men for sex in public restrooms.
That is why study after study has shown that the more homophobic one is, the more likely one is to have repressed homosexual desires. If you’re battling your demons in private, you’re going to battle them in public too.
It is also why repressed gay people seek out fundamentalist religion in the first place. Religious fundamentalism sublimates the repressed sexual urge into religious zeal. In its Christian, Muslim, and Jewish forms, it insists that we are all struggling with evil urges that must be assiduously repressed. And its restrictions on sexual expression, coupled with often single sex male environments, work just fine for those who couldn’t express their sexuality in an “acceptable” way anyway.
Once again, that is as true for “celibate” Catholic priests as it is for ultra-Orthodox Jews as it is for born-again evangelicals as it is for newly radicalized Muslims. The logic of fundamentalist religion is the logic of repression and sublimation, of projecting one’s own inner struggles onto the screen of the theological.
I know this from personal experience. For 10 years, I lived my life as a closeted, Orthodox Jew. I wasn’t closeted because I was Orthodox; I was Orthodox because I was closeted. [Continue reading…]