‘You can change what you think about them. You can hate them back if you allow yourself. You can hate and refuse their violence and use the powers beyond persuasion to fight them.’

Like what?’

‘Like going to the police and reporting the hate crime you suffered.’

‘But this happens all the time, I am sure–the police won’t take it seriously.’

‘It’s up to you’

The session after this, having followed my suggestion to report the incident to the police D described his pleasant surprise at the seriousness and respect with which the police handled the incident. He found out that there was a specific hate crime unit in the police and an officer, himself a gay man, in charge of dealing with homophobic crimes both verbal and physical. He expressed his relief and commented on the strangeness of this situation in which an institution of the state, up until recently involved in persecution and sometimes harassment of gay men, has been transformed into a powerful ally. I thought there was something profoundly moving in his description, almost a sense of disbelief that the Regulating Other protects and not merely punishes him–indeed that it is able to recognise and reassure him that he had been a subject to unacceptable verbal violence–that the insults he received deserved redress. He thanked me for making the suggestion, adding that he would never have thought of it himself. I thought to myself about the extent of the alienation some gay men still have in seeking recourse for homophobic violence by means of the law despite all the publicity. I also wondered if the request for help constitutes for some, something like a second act of coming out and claiming not only tolerance and acceptance but also claiming the right to be recognised as full citizens worthy of protection.

In recent months, my work with D has been engaging, as he becomes more alive and more challenging. He demands more from life, more from his analysis. He is excited as he describes the strengthening of the friendships he has with other men, which still tend to remain Platonic, and his growing confidence that he deserves to be taken seriously, especially in his artistic work though it tends to be prefaced with caution and shyness.