The Celluloid Closet in the Gay Global Village

Coming Out -or- The Celluloid Closet in the Gay Global Village

In therapy, I have only had one male homosexual for "brief psychotherapy" in my practice. He was dealing with some romantic emotional difficulties. What I recognized about this young man, was that from a clinical dream perspective "homosexual" are no different from "heterosexual" people's dreams. One of the arguments made against gays and lesbians, that I have often heard (less recently) is that they "recruit". Heterosexuals "recruit" as well, and anyone researching the statistics, will most likely find that heterosexual abusers far outnumber the ones in the homosexual ranks.

Here then is a dream sent to the International Institute for Dream Research, that speaks openly about the feelings and the problems they are faced with.

Amie, 19

My dream came the minute I began to fall asleep lying next to my friend.  I was actually just falling asleep in my dream as well.  Everything was the same as before I really fell asleep. I was lying in the same bed, with the same person, in the same room just I had actually done in real life.

My dream began with my friend removing her clothes in a very slow manner. By slow, I don't mean seductively but carefully. She than proceeded to embrace me. She didn't try waking me, but just held me close and hugged my body firmly to hers. The strangest element of the dream was that I began waking from this dream believing it was real. As I came back to reality, I could actually feel her arm across my chest and her legs wrapped around mine. I concluded it was dream only after I opened my eyes to see if what I felt was real. The minute I closed my eyes to resume sleeping, I fell immediately back into the same dream. It was just as vivid and real as the time before. As I dreamt of falling asleep next to my friend, and still as she stripped herself from her clothing, never once did I feel uncomfortable. In fact, I felt calm and secure. Without physically holding her as she did me, I embraced her back.  It felt "right" to be held by her.

To aid in your interpretation of my dream, I must tell you that I was once in love with this friend of mine. Not even a year ago, she confessed feelings for me she knew she never could fully explore.  She said she was in love with me and so naturally my heart melted.  I had had a childish crush on her for a long time before she confided in me. Hearing that she felt the same was a dream come true.  A few months later she decided she could never be with me. 

She loved me, but she couldn't see herself being strong enough against the discrimination we would experience. That and she was much more sexually attracted to men. My heart was broken for a long while.  Now we are the best of friends. I still love her, but in a different light.  She is my other half, but not my lover. She would describe me as her partner, more than a friend. We are each other's pillars of support, shields of security, and forces of success. Friendship, to us, is the most valuable commitment any two people can hold.     

Mr Hagen's Response: A Queer Theory of Dreams -or- The Celluloid Closet

A Queer theory of dreams in reality shows us what Freud recognized as the "polymorph pervers body". In her essay "Gay and lesbian criticism", Annecke Smelik discusses the pioneering work of Vito Russo and his Celluloid Closet (1981). The book was later turned into a film by the same name Celluloid Closet in 1996 providing a re-visionary look at the gay and lesbian movement in film and film history. Russo's goal was to make visible and transparent the political culture of homophobia, thereby showing gays and lesbians as an oppressed group which kept them in the closet and off the screen. Seinfeld's, "The Outing" episode (1993) satirizes both homophobia and political correctness. Reportedly, the episode was almost not completed, until the expression "not that there's anything wrong with that" was creatively discovered and included in the script.

Ongoing cultural changes to attitudes, perception and freedom of life style were signaled by two popular films in the North American watershed year 2005. The first "Transamerica" starring the Academy award winning performance of Fellicity Huffman as a transsexual woman, and second, the tragic love story "Brokeback Mountain" which underscores the culture of discrimination that can still be seen in some of the responses of conservative critics of the film and in the dream above. The "heteronormativity" paradigm has found to be historically lacking and been criticized for its discriminatory practices. In 2005 Canada legalized same sex marriage.  

From a popular music perspective, "Glad to be Gay" (listen to music video) is one many athems and theme songs for the gay community.

Postscript: Clinical Psychology and Homosexuality and Heterosexuality

In my personal library are three books that are relevant to this discussion, and that speak directly to the clinical psychological aspects of homosexuality and heterosexuality.

The first G.J. M. van den Aardweg, "Das Drama des ‘gewoehnlichen' Homosexuallen: Analyse und Therapie" (The Drama of the'ordinary' Homosexual: Analysis and Therapy). This book contains a chapter on the dreams of homosexuals. Aardweg has books in English, however they may have a different title than the direct translation I have made as seen above.

The second is Kenneth Lewes, "The Psychoanalytic Theory of Male Homosexuality". The interesting aspect of this work is the evolving paradigmatic concept of "homosexuality", and the "myth of sexuality" especially within the American psychoanalytic movement and their "Americanization of psychoanalytic discourse" about the "treatment" of homosexuals.  

The last book, by Swiss psychotherapist Fritz Morgenthaler, "Homosexualitaet Heterosexualitaet Perversion" (Homosexuality Heterosexuality and Perversion) is the most insightful of the three. Morgenthaler provides a "metapsychological" overview of "perversions". Morgenthaler's "ethnopsychoanalytic" ideas surrounding "autoerotic" development finds expression in many dreams sent from around the globe to the IIDR website. I believe, that Morgenthaler's differentiating thoughts on the "gender identity disorder" of homosexuality as it relates to narcissistic conflicts, is modern therapeutic "trailblazing". As well, his ideas on the "perversion der Vehrkehrsformen" (perversion of forms of sexual traffic) finds particular expression in the dream interpretation Das Auto in Zurich, which underscores the European and Swiss aspects of the "grotesque body".



All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.