For Eribon it all begins with an insult. He writes:

The insult that any gay man or lesbian can hear at any moment of his or her life is the sign of his/her social and psychological vulnerability… Insults are verbal aggressions that stay in the mind. One of the consequences of insult is to shape the relation one has to others and to the world and thereby to shape the personality, the subjectivity, the very being of the individual in question. (Eribon 2004: 15)

Gay identity, which Eribon following Foucault, (Foucault 1978) does not regard as some transhistorical truth, but instead a historical construction, is nevertheless constrained by the impact of the insult that partly constitutes it. Theorists such as Foucault and Eribon see the historical production of gay identity as offering the very possibilities for countering the force and potentially paralysing effects of insult. They propose its modification through political action, through individual and collective reinvention. And this must partly be true; we have seen in the clinical vignette some examples of such actions resulting in the recognition in law of same-sex partnerships and changes in the dominant discourse that enable the setting-up of police practices that fight homophobic hate crime. We have also seen the positive effects of these on a life of one gay man and there are doubtless many others. However, there are clear limitations to this strategy, since it does not sufficiently address the constitutive nature of insult on unconscious aspects of the victim’s subjectivity. As the clinical vignette illustrates, the insulted party is never simply a victim of the discourse of the other, but comes to be implicated in the promulgation of the insult that is directed towards both self and other. Foucault, more than most, contemporary writers on the subject repeatedly reminds his readers that the subject is implicated in the very power it also tries to oppose. (Foucault 1978: 152) For example, D’s glorification of aggressive and violent forms of masculinity, shows, I think, the paradoxical nature of wanting to forge a less damaging sense of identity. Instead of proposing any naïve quest for liberation, I have attempted instead to unpack the paradoxical aspects of his position and throw some light on its genealogy. He must wrestle with this himself but the psychoanalytic exploration enables this mode of self-enquiry and shows up the division in his subjectivity. The analysis continues to highlight the limitations of solely conscious and deliberate acts of resignification such as his attempts to produce a neologism, ‘homoguy’ and directs our attention to aspects of his traumatic past–which he is unaware or barely aware of acting out–such as the belief that the force of law is not there to protect him.