Character analysis of Territory by David Leavitt

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“Territory” by David Leavitt is a short, yet complexly intimate tail of a mother’s futile attempts to accept her son’s homosexual identity and his on-going struggle with internalized homophobia. The story opens with twenty-three year old Neil visiting his mother, Mrs. Campbell, at his childhood home. As they prepare for the first arrival of Neil’s lover, Wayne, the anticipation triggers anxieties both Neil, causing him to have painful flashbacks of the past. As these images reveal, Neil has lived with feelings of shame, embarrassment and guilt over his sexual identity, as well as an exposure to the impactful role that his mother has played in his life. We are also made privy to the numerous effects of her emotional detachment, which she…show more content…
Neil's initial move to New York City was based on the city's liberal and tolerant nature of diversity. However, even living in what was considered one of the most progressive areas of the city, they publicly found themselves ashamed of their identity and uncomfortable to freely express themselves, falling victims once again to these feelings of internalized homophobia that did not allow them to walk down the street holding hands. According to Sullivan (2008), same-sex attraction has not always been considered a deviation. However, post-war societal reaction to prohibition, gay bathhouses and other establishments were adverse and a new war on immorality arose, which was supported by American individuals, religious and governmental institutions. This outlook prevailed throughout the 1950's and led to blatant anti-gay attitudes. The persecution of the gay life style brought on renewed shame and guilt for the homosexual community as gay men were forced to cope with the stigmatization by "passing" as heterosexuals and thus become invisible. This resulted in the development of their own discriminatory social construct, with a hierarchy where males who were able to prove their masculinity through assimilation were held in the highest regards, while those that did not were looked down upon by their own gay communities

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