Repression succeeds not by merely evoking the feeling of being repressed, but through the effective internalization of that hateful sensibility.
Tony is a sensitive guy. His parents divorced when he was very young, and he found himself caring for his two sisters. Playing the dual role of father and older brother, Tony learned, early on, the value of family responsibility and the necessity of placing the needs of others before his own.
Maturing in this environment, Tony's retained a self-image determined more by the feelings of others than that generated by his own desires and capacities. He wants everyone not only to love him, but to accept him: Tony wants, more than anything else, to do the right thing.
Unfortunately for Tony, the societally prescribed right thing just might not be his thing.
See, Tony is of that rare breed you might call a male fruit fly. He's a fag hag with a cock, a handsome lad who surrounds himself with faggots, to the point his hetero buddies tease him to the brink of Tony boyfits: "I'm not gay!" he retorts. Could be true, everyone figures, as after all, Tony's a sensitive guy . . .
The principle paradox of Tony's lifestyle is, not surprisingly, the very indication of his internal conflict: Tony, although surrounded by fags, looks at the whole community with disgust. He'll be the first at a party to crack a tasteless homo joke, he'll sit on his porch and point: "Look," observing some spandex, "that man is a ho-mo-sex-ual." When the topic of gay and lesbian political emancipation spontaneously erupts, Tony will make the topic anathema: he'll get noticeably defensive, and say shit your typical intolerant straight person would, such as "I don't see a hetero parade each year," or "why should homos demand guaranteed equality when we don't have such laws for Asians, Puerto Ricans, or people who like to watch Beavis & Butthead?"
A visit to Tony's apartment will reveal Tony, two fags who work for IBM, and countless issues of GQ -- visits by eligible single women are few and far between. In fact, Tony's roommates have more women-as-friends, and the sympathetic roomies try to fix Tony up, but interestingly enough, shit doesn't work out. Insult to injury, Tony's getting older, and his friends are slowly, inexorably, falling into two categories: those who are gay or turning gay, and those who are getting married. Tony, in moments of weakness, wonders about himself, wonders why he can't sustained a monogamous heterosexual relationship, why, continuously doing the right thing, things turn out all wrong.
Tony, forced to grow up as a child, somewhere along the way missed something: Unable now to reclaim that child as an adult, he is neither a man nor a boy, neither a realized human being nor an eager kid. His tragedy is society's tragedy, for we exist in a culture that purports to favor individualism amid a crass conventionality, a culture of avarice and selfishness that has forgotten the soul, and substituted the false altruism of "family values" and blind assimilation.
Fundamentally, Tony's decision is his own. Ignorance, they say, is bliss; the life of a slave is easy knowing no option. Tony, however, experiences no happiness or ease: Paradoxically, perhaps that's the painful reality that can finally save him.
Michael "Mook" Spitz, 31, works as a columnist for Nightlines entertainment weekly and is a bartender at The Manhole in Chicago, Illinois. He also writes screenplays and short stories, and plays the electric guitar.