True Selves and Other Stories

Fascinating interview with Sam ‘Skelly’ McCrory in yesterday’s Observer. Johnny Adair looms in the background, somewhat suggestively.

‘Even before I joined the UDA, I used to pretend I was homophobic. I went along with the crowd who were then close to the National Front. I hated Catholics, blacks, Jews and gays – even though I was gay myself. I was hiding my true self.’

And then:

‘I was proud of what I did and I did it because we were under attack by violent republicanism.’

So now that he’s revealed his true self, he can happily take pride in killing Catholics as a gay man.

McCrory’s tale isn’t uncommon, where outward aggression and histrionic revulsion toward homosexuality masks true desire. I have encountered a couple of people like this in my own experience. Once I played on a football team in which the number 9, who was as hard as nails and could get very aggressive when drinking, would often express his hatred of ‘poofters’ and ‘faggots’ (his preferred terms) in post-match activities. One night, emboldened by about 15 drinks, I put it to him, on the back of his latest tirade, that the reason he went on about it so much was because he was secretly drawn to it. At which point he began to slam my head against a wall. Seconds later, once three or four team-mates dragged had him off me, the revisionist account of proceedings was well underway: the specific nature of my insult (that he was probably gay) had been reduced to the simple fact of me ‘winding him up’ (‘you shouldn’t have wound me up like that!’ – a summary repeated by a few other team members the following day): unwise, given his well-known short fuse.

As with most drunken fights among friends, this one faded from memory pretty quick, and things were back to normal within a day. A few years later, a few of the same team members, including him, came to stay in my flat for a weekend drinking session. We went out to a club, or a couple of clubs, and when we arrived back, I went straight to my single bed: the only bed in the flat (everyone else had brought sleeping bags), and passed out immediately. I woke the next morning with the aforementioned number 9’s arm around me and his frame pressed up against me from behind. I wriggled out, anxious not to make an embarrassing situation a catastrophic one by waking him up, and wondering -as far as I could tell, he hadn’t tried anything- how close he’d come to ED’ing his Q with me.

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