As I worked on my essay answering the question “What does it mean to be gay”, I reviewed a paper on individuation I had written for a class in Jungian psychology and highlight this passage on the “shadow”(that part of one’s self of which we remain unconscious) as it is particularly relevant to an issue about which I have blogged in recent days:
In recent debates on gay marriage, we see how many gay people have projected their shadow onto Republicans and social conservatives. Promoting a benefit concert for the gay group, “Freedom to Marry,” John Cameron Mitchell, an openly gay actor and writer, not merely faulted [then-]California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for vetoing a same-sex marriage bill, but accused him of enshrining “fear and loathing in the Constitution”. Mitchell is not the only gay activist to accuse the Governor – and other opponents of gay marriage – of hatred. Even as they vilified the Governor for vetoing the gay marriage bill, that Republican signed four gay-friendly pieces of legislation. That is, the anti-gay image that many projected onto him did not correspond with the reality of his record on gay issues.
Instead of understanding why this politician has a different opinion on gay marriage than they do, they define him as evil. To be sure, gay activists are not unique in ascribing such aspects to their ideological adversaries:
It is in the nature of political bodies always to see the evil in the opposite group, just as the individual has an ineradicable tendency to get rid of everything he does not know and does not want to know about himself by foisting it off on somebody else. (C.G. Jung, The Essential Jung, 398)
Thus, in projecting something about themselves onto Governor Schwarzenegger, gay activists are only doing what activists have done frequently throughout history. As a gay conservative blogger, I have frequently found some of our critics projecting their shadow onto me. Almost since the moment my blogging partner launched the blog, it has attracted regular critics who often post nasty remarks in our comments section, misrepresenting our ideas and attacking us personally.
While I don’t know precisely what these individuals are projecting onto us, I note that their angry expressions are similar to those of other gay leaders – and activists. Like John Cameron Mitchell, they vilify Republicans and those on the political right in harsh and derogatory language. To some degree, it seems that Republicans have become a kind of collective shadow for a large number of gay people, particularly gay activists.