Are There No Gay Psychopaths?

14 Jun

Rev. Steve Newlin

Last night I finally caught the season première of True Blood. True Blood is something of guilty pleasure to me so I didn’t really feel any urgency to watch it live but I’ll definitely watch if I’m up at 2 in the morning and it’s on. After watching the show I wanted to get the reactions of others who follow the show more closely and may have caught something I missed or has a unique insight into the show. My first stop was Racialicious where they hold a round table who live blogs the show and has great commentary, this however stuck in my craw a bit.

Tami: So…they’re going for the murderous closeted gay man/gay sexual predator combo? For all the kudos this show gets for diversity, it sure treats marginalized people like shit.

Some background, Steve Newlin was a murderous psychopath who preached hate of vampires before he was killed and turned into a vampire after which he came out of the closet. The scene that Tami is reacting to is the now Gay Vampire Rev. Steve Newlin trying to force himself upon Jason Stackhouse and here’s my problem with the quote. Everyone who’s attracted to men on the show tries to get with Jason Stackhouse later in the episode he walks into a party and women literally just start taking their clothes off. So of course Steve Newlin is going to try to force himself upon the guy. Steve Newlin has been well established as a psychopath. Since he’s been on the show you knew that he had no qualms about murdering people so why would he have any about raping a guy who had sex with his wife?

Why this innocuous quote bothers me is because it betrays a certain predilection progressive intellectuals have toward making oppressed groups into saints to insure their acceptance into mainstream society. Here’s another example

“Gay people don’t actually try to convert people. That’s Jehovah’s Witnesses you’re thinking of.”

Tina Fey, Bossypants

I understand why people think this is a good quote, homophobes regularly worry about someone “turning” them gay so naturally the reaction is to assert that doesn’t ever happen. Because gay people just aren’t interested in straight people but that’s not quite true is it. Gay people, like all people, are attracted to who they’re attracted to. If they like someone who is heterosexual they may still try to pursue that relationship. This is normal human behavior it doesn’t mean that gay people are out to get straight people it means they’re attracted to who they’re attracted to. Some people may respect that someone isn’t interested, others will be more reckless but either response isn’t a judgement upon the LGBTQ community but when Tina Fey asserts that it doesn’t happen then it makes it easier to keep that train of thought going. In our rush to assuage the fears of others we are dehumanizing LGBTQ people too. We do it in a different way prescribing attributes and qualities to promote an ideal that no especially large and diverse group can possible live up to which not only makes progressives look either naïve or disingenuous but forces gay folk into being a representative for their whole community all the time and while some are up to the task I’m sure a good many will fall far from the ideal.

I understand it, heck, I do it myself. I shook my head at the Crispy Chicken Mary J. Blige commercial. Having a balanced and fair representation in the media is important and I understand why we’d like oppressed groups to be “perfect victims” but all we do when we do that is betray a certain insecurity in our arguments. Trayvon Martin is a victim regardless of his past, LGBTQ people deserve full rights regardless of potential rapists, murderers or jerks among them.


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5 responses to “Are There No Gay Psychopaths?

  1. dbd

    June 15, 2012 at 10:18 PM

    I realize that you have no ill intention but this reads very much as an apologia of a trope. Television suggests that most homosexuals pursue relationships with heterosexuals, often in a predatory manner, when in fact most do not once they’ve come of age and integrated into gay communities. The mythical predatory homosexual is deemed a danger to the dominant group while actually being vulnerable to their violence, much like the mythical dangerous black man.
    The predatory gay/psycho lesbian/psycho transgendered character is as common, overdone and dull as the angry black woman or the Arab terrorist.

    -Al Pacino’s Cruising
    -gay serial killers in Picket Fences, Criminal Minds
    -Karofsky on Glee, violent towards a gay kid because he’s gay
    -also from Glee
    Sandy: I have a question: Are you single?
    Dustin: I-I’m not gay.
    Sandy: I don’t care. You’re hunky, and I am what they call “predatory gay”..
    -The Talented Mr Ripley
    -Zed from Pulp Fiction
    -Desperate Housewives
    -Big Love
    -Micky on Shameless
    -Basic Instinct
    -Single White Female
    -the alternate title for the 2002 film ‘Make a Wish’ is ‘Lesbian Psycho’
    -Notes on a scandal
    -Kate’s Addiction (1999)
    -Rebecca’s Mrs Danvers
    -Tom Clancy’s The Cardinal of the Kremlin
    – Un SEA Led involved a man who was falsely convicting of murdering his wife. The real killer who turned out to be her lesbian lover, who was married to another SEAL.
    – Lt. Jane Doe, where a lesbian petty officer killed and raped her lover and then implanted semen from a old cold case into her so they would think the rapist had struck again.
    -Criminal Minds
    -Hollyoaks’ Lydia Hart
    -The Hunger
    -Pretty Little Liars
    -a host of sexploitation novels in which deviant gay characters prey upon innocents

    I could go on. Gay characters aren’t common enough that their overrepresentation among psychotic, violent stalkers is balanced out. Usually the character’s failure to resolve their sexual identity has nothing to do with homophobic/transphobic society at large: it’s their own pathological personality to blame.
    People aren’t demanding that queers be portrayed as saints, just that their depiction as pathetic stalkers of heterosexuals be toned down. Judging by what we see on TV you’d think every gay adult invests significant amounts of time and energy chasing straight people. That’s a homophobic fantasy.

    • Chad Stanton

      June 16, 2012 at 10:15 AM

      I’m not denying that the gay predator stereotype isn’t homophobic and I haven’t thought of some of your examples as a representation of that trope but that in the context of a show that has multiple well-rounded fully fleshed out gay characters, such as Lafayette, Jesus (r.i.p.), and the majority of vampires are bisexual it’s reflexive to say the show treats the LGBTQ community “like shit” because one of the vampires who just came to accept the fact that he’s gay attempting to force himself upon a character, Jason Stackhouse, who has had multiple storylines where he’s been raped or desired after by heterosexual women. Perhaps my estimation of the gay representation on the show is off-kilter but i’d think that they’d shown enough consideration to gain the benefit of the doubt in regards to portrayal of the community. Which led to my second point that absolutism about whether or not LGBTQ folks ever try to pursue heterosexuals is homophobic because it is working to fight framing that is inherently unfair and thus shouldn’t be done.

      • dbd

        June 16, 2012 at 5:52 PM

        Your analysis makes me wonder how much you actually know about queer communities or representations of queer people. Would the fact that Lafayette is a well fleshed out black character justify the fact that Tara was introduced to us as the stereotypical ‘angry black woman’?
        Does the fact that a show has some decent portrayals of 1 or 2 gay characters earn it the benefit of the doubt? No, no it doesn’t. Glee is a classic example of a show that has pegged itself as a queer friendly show, yet offers problematic material nonetheless (a straight boy outing a lesbian student and being praised for having done her a favor, for example). Keep in mind that TB is a show that has been relatively chaste when it comes to queer sex. Compare the screen time given to Jesus and Lafayette in bed to that minor straight couplings like Bill and Lorena or Eric and Yvetta.
        The fact that Jason was raped by women doesn’t justify this depiction of Newlin as the gay creep. That the showrunners talked about that rape like it was funny is alarming and points to the fact that they don’t consider the implications of their writing. Alan Ball is not above criticism.

        It is not unheard of to find gay people pursuing straight people. Most of the time it occurs among young people who haven’t yet learned the lesson that it will only end in pain. One of the reasons that gay adults don’t waste time chasing heterosexuals is also that this results in violence or being ostracized. In reality we go out of our damn way to assure to heterosexuals that we respect their sexuality. We don’t discuss our own relationships in the workplace for fear of being accused of ‘rubbing it in their faces’. We often avoid same-sex locker rooms and even bathrooms. We make efforts not to show straight people platonic affection like hugs. And we are rewarded by pretty frequent accusations of trying to perve on them, being deemed unfit to babysit children or work in schools, being accused of flaunting our relationships when we simply don’t hide them. I might see someone cute on the subway and admire them from afar but I haven’t hit on a straight-identified person in 15 years, neither have most queer people I know. It happens a lot with teenagers but it isn’t so common as to warrant this many storylines about it. Queer characters don’t need to be ‘perfect’, they just need to not constantly fit stereotypes. Let their imperfections lie in other areas instead of coming back to the idea that they’re sexually deluded and predatory. The same goes for every other character who is Othered in some way.

        Did Tami suggest that TB treats the queer community ‘like shit’? Who are you quoting?

        • Chad Stanton

          June 17, 2012 at 9:53 AM

          I don’t claim to be an expert on queer communities or their representation in the media. I don’t watch Glee so I can’t claim to have any special knowledge of the show, True Blood is not without it’s problems, it’s frequent use of rape or the implication of rape as a plot device, Sookie’s constant helplessness, Tara’s angry black woman-ness etc. so no no one is claiming Alan Ball is above reproach.

          I also don’t claim to have special knowledge of the interaction between heterosexual and homosexual men. I have heterosexual privilege so I don’t understand on a fundamental level what’s that like but the fact remains that some gay men are attracted to straight men and that shouldn’t lead to a panic.

          and yes that’s a direct quote from Tami in the article.

  2. SDL

    June 16, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    Psychopaths have no real sexual orientation to speak of because they have no ability for love. Sex for them is about power, dominance or creating a bond with someone they wish to exploit. While they have a natural impulse to destroy the lives of both normal men and women, they do have a particular hatred for women, and a number of them have a sexual preference for males. Just to be clear though. psychopathic homosexuality isn\’t at all the same as homosexuality. It really doesn\’t matter to a psychopath if they have sex with a man, women or child. They are a whole different animal, and I stress the animal part.


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