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Jack The Ripper...Why Not Gay?

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  • Jack The Ripper...Why Not Gay?

    Over on another thread, Mr. Inspiration,a.k.a., Justin Dombrowski, brought up the issue of The Cleveland Torso Killer possibly having a hatred for homosexuals and therefore the mutilations/emasculations of two particular CTK victims may have been a sign of the killer's loathing for the practice of homosexuality among men. Many of the homosexual killers we have read or heard of have selbsthass ( self hatred ) and I'm sure most heterosexuals killers do as well, if not nearly all of them.

    The Ripper is considered a heterosexual by most of us in the field for reasons of male on female violence/murder and the possibility of him being a homosexual is usually scoffed at as a concept.

    I ain't so sure.

    Without my would be nice to see some input on this issue which has appeared before and probably will again in the future.

    I've put up a poll for those who would like to vote and please, if and when possible, provide your thoughts on this aspect when possible.

    Thank you.
    There's no way he was gay.
    Its possible, but unprovable.
    The odds are in favor of a hetero, but not completely
    No way of determining it 120 years after the fact
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  • #2
    I have wondered about it but I didn't see an option fitting my thoughts.

    He could be a homosexual who was repulsed by his orientation so pretended to like women (and could have been married) and took his frustration out on them - especially if something went wrong during one of his sexual acts. Or else he was either caught in the act with a man or seen being overly interested in one by a woman and took it out on prostitutes.

    Something like this could still come out even so many years on through a document/letter/diary that at the time seemed unrelated but it was only after a different connection was made that this bit of evidence makes sense.


    • #3
      Hi ho

      How bad was it to be gay in those days? There seems to have been enough interest in the matter to warrant male brothels, rent boys, all the rest. The navy was riddled with sodomy, public schools seemed to have a tradition of it, it seems to have been fairly common if frowned upon. Being caught was probably no laughing matter in the eyes of the law but I'm just not sure how much personal shame the act of being gay brought upon one?

      Surely a gay lunatic would just have settled himself with killing rent boys?

      At any rate........I'm still not convinced that the notion of sex with his victims has been ruled out in its entirety. Ejaculatory sex...perhaps....but not sex.

      And, indulging myself in a bit of a stereotypical whimsy, if he was gay the word "Fabulous!" would have been in the Goulston Graffito.


      • #4
        A couple of cases of gay killers ( Richard Speck and Joe Christopher) who are generally not "thought" of being homosexual ( and again...the sexual preference of these individuals is not being critiqued ) comes to mind and was more or less behind the intention of setting up this poll.

        Christopher was diagnosed by a psychiatrist in prison as having homosexual tendencies towards the type of victims he chose...while Speck went so far as to having breast beefups while in an Illinois prison to become a female, at least in the eyes of his fellow prisoners. Christopher was a serial killer from New York who targeted negro males and of course, Speck was all the rage in Chicago in 1966, killing 7 nurses ( and thank God there were ONLY 7 nurses in that dormitory !).

        It got me to thinking of how we automatically assume that serial killers kill usually within specific "targeted groups" ( men kill women...gays kill gays...Asians kill Asians...etc...) and don't allow for someone who had a greater self loathing for himself and what he felt he represented ,than a real hatred for his victims,who may have been or were only a vehicle for the manifestation of his self-hate.

        How many times have we all seen cases of suicidal individuals who take out 2 or 3 or even a restaurant full of people in the process of their suicide, basically because they loathed themselves, yet just had to take others with them? They were going to do themselves in, but just "had" to get some licks in at the end for whatever effed up reason.

        I think its entirely possible ( not that Tumbelty or any other homosexual "suspects" come to mind...) that the Whitechapel Murderer could have been homosexual or at least, impotent, and that these murders allowed him to express his self loathing and not necessarily a hatred of prostitutes or women.

        Christopher comes to mind and without trying to sound funny or insensitive...probably would not have killed blacks had he acquiesced to his "desire" to be intimate with them. Joe's dead now and there's no way of ascertaining whether this mini-theory of mine is correct, save that we could ask his prison shrink.

        People in the Far Right movement of the mid-1970's thought that Joe Christopher was a true comrade in the "racial revolution" which began to grow rapidly among the disenchanted elements of White America around the time of the abysmal Carter Administration. He was usually held in high regard as someone with the courage of his convictions and by killing negroes, this maverick and loner was considered the forerunner of things to come and the "wave of the future" ( see Joe Paul Franklin, another White supremacist serial killer, who was not gay and operated at the same time or a little after Christopher...) in the White separatist movement.

        Yet, the facts are distorted and everyone was wrong. Christopher represented the most reprehensible of icons to the racialist movement in reality. Doubtless, people still lionize him within the ranks of the racialist cadre.

        Far fetched that the Ripper was gay? Perhaps. But its worth considering that someone with homosexual offenses before the Autumn of Terror might be a worthy candidate to us now.
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        • #5
          Originally posted by Mr. Poster View Post
          Hi ho

          How bad was it to be gay in those days?
          Hello MrP,

          It was considered a pretty serious offence in British law. There were 120 trials for "sodomy" (etc) heard at the Old Bailey between 1880 and 1890, and the usual sentence appears to have been between one and two years' imprisonment, often with hard labour. Quite a number of sentences extended to 5, 10 or even 15 years penal servitude. A reasonably mild punishment, when one considers that the previous maximum penalty was hanging - right up until 1861. Between 1840 and 1860, some 15 men had pronounced upon them the death penalty for buggery, sodomy and related acts.


          • #6
            Hi SamF

            I appreciate that...........yet it was common as muck in the public school tradition, the navy was fill of sodomy, left kickers like Oscar were running around not exactly stuck for partners of all ages, there was enough chaps around to service brothels like Cleveland street, and son. Harsh penalties may have abounded yet so did homosexuals. At all levels.

            So for something so abhorrent apparently as would potentially drive a man to whore gutting...........its hard to figure out how deviant it was if reams of people were at it?



            • #7
              Hi MrP,

              It's not so much a question of how widespread homosexuality was, rather one of the retribution and opprobrium it attracted from a strait-laced and puritanical society. However, it's clear that no matter how much society frowned upon homosexuality, it still found a means of expressing itself quite frequently.

              On that basis, I agree with you that there would have been other outlets by which well-adjusted (or psychotic) homosexuals could have sated themselves, without resorting to attacking the drunken, knackered women of the East End.


              • #8
                Hi ho SamF

                The point I was trying to get across (and failing methinks) was that it may have been unlikely that self loathing or shame or whatever drove him onwards.

                I have never heard of fear of being convicted of one crime driving one to commit a worse one so I assumed it was fear of being outed or disgust at himself.

                And thats where the Victorian bit comes in.....because it seems to me at least that, aside from the law, homosexuality or just plain buggery seems to have been less shameful than perhaps today?

                It was a right of passage apparently for some members of society and if people like Oscar were poncing around doesnt seem as if homosexuals were exactly pariahs (irrespective of the punishment meted out in the courts).

                I think we are in agreement however generally. If he was a self loathing gay man then the most likely target of his loathing would have been other gays, rent boys, male prostitutes, sailors, judges, public schoolboys, his own dingus, etc.

                And not broken down female prostitutes.



                • #9
                  Originally posted by Mr. Poster View Post
                  The point I was trying to get across (and failing methinks) was that it may have been unlikely that self loathing or shame or whatever drove him onwards.
                  Now there I'd disagree, MrP. Modern gay people go through a fair amount of angst, even in these allegedly enlightened times. Even in the increasingly secular and liberated society that arose from the latter half of the 20th Century, many homosexuals were driven to the brink of suicide, and sometimes over the edge, by feelings of guilt and shame. How much worse they would have felt in the significantly more "correct" and religious Late Victorian era is not hard to imagine.


                  • #10
                    Hi SamF

                    And therein is my point. However liberated our society is today.....I am arguing that people were less angsty about gayness then.

                    In any gentlemens they sat with their brandies they would all have known that any of them having come up through Eton and on through Oxford and the rest probably had enjoyed buggery with the house master and where the smack of leather on Willow probably meant more than cricket.

                    THose in the army probably had encountered a fair bit of Rogering themselves. They would have been aware of fops like Oscar, would have read the classics of Greece and would probably have been steeped in the oddly homo erotic activities of Greco wrestling (naked), roasting Tom Browns arse on the school fire, tight riding trousers, cabin boys, etc. etc.

                    While it may have been outlawed, I reckon that the average chappie in the Vitcorian period had much more chance of homosexual encounters than modern people. Unless one went to a Catholic priests boy school in 1950's west of Ireland.

                    And I reckon these guys were less angsty than their modern counterparts.

                    You dont see Laurence of Arabia getting an eating disorder or legging it to therapy after his episode of eastern delights when taken prisoner?



                    • #11
                      Well, I've voted for possible but unproveable which is technically only half correct, because I believe it's possible, but could be proveable, if the suspect was a known homosexual.

                      I hasten to add, I'm not pointing the finger anywhere. I just don't see why Jack couldn't have been Gay.

                      edit Or rather, I see no reason to dismiss a suspect simply on sexual orientation alone. Or to accuse a suspect simply on sexual orientation.
                      Last edited by Ravenstone; May 24, 2008, 12:12 PM. Reason: clarification


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Mr. Poster View Post
                        And therein is my point. However liberated our society is today.....I am arguing that people were less angsty about gayness then.
                        On the contrary, MrP, and with respect - I think you're incorrect to argue thus. If gay people can be so wracked with self-doubt and loathing in an era of liberation, "free love" and increasing secularism, then how much more wretched was the inner life of a gay person in Victorian England, at a time when religious belief was more strongly held and more widespread than it is now. A time when, I might add, some opinions of "propriety" were so extreme that a son could be airbrushed out of his family history for becoming a snooker referee (I'm not making it up). How much more "vile", "degrading" and "despicable", therefore, to have suspected that you had "nancy-boy" tendencies back then.


                        • #13
                          Hi SamF

                          How much more "vile", "degrading" and "despicable", therefore, to have suspected that you had "nancy-boy" tendencies back then.
                          I see your point SamF and do not want to start a debate on the plight of gays either then nor now.

                          But if you acknowledge the prevalence of homosexuality in many facets of Victorian and later British society, all the way from school through young adulthood (and one must acknowledge it after all....Three Men in a Boat, Brideshead Revisited, Jeevs and Wooster and so on....) and indeed into secret societies with naked chests and pulled up trouser legs and everything.....surely all the people who had engaged in such activities were not wracked with guilt and loathing at their vile and degrading acts?

                          Saying that however.....and doing my argument no good at all.....I can accept that lets say a Jewish homosexual, or Polish/Irish Catholic homosexual or less than toff class could have felt much anguish indeed.

                          Whether of not that could impel such a character to kill lowly female prostitutes............who's to say.

                          Although Ive never heard of that type of thing before.



                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Mr. Poster View Post
                            I can accept that lets say a Jewish homosexual, or Polish/Irish Catholic homosexual or less than toff class could have felt much anguish indeed.
                            Toffs weren't immune either, if Wilde's "love that dare not speak its name" (my emphasis) is anything to go by, MrP. Your point about homosexuality in 20th Century literature is a good one, but even there it's usually an undercurrent - hinted at as an almost guilty pleasure.

                            Reading accounts of the lives of prominent English public-school homosexuals such as Auden, Britten, Forster, Turing and, latterly, Stephen Fry one can't help but conclude that from the 1920s right through to the late 60s/early 70s it was still possible to be of the "privileged class" and to be wracked by existential angst over one's proclivities. Auden, indeed, left England on two occasions (first to Germany, and later to the USA) precisely to escape from the oppressive attitude of the English towards homosexuality.

                            Britten, who doesn't seem to have quite made peace with himself despite his enduring relationship with Peter Pears, only seems to have found himself ready to commit to the "queer life" (as he'd have put it) whilst in exile in the States during the Second World War. He was, I sense, partly evangelised by Auden, who was then living in the States with Chester Kalman.

                            It was Auden, also, who penned one of the most yearning poems I've read from a poet of any orientation, which I believe he dedicated to (or wrote for) Britten. With this, I'll end this rather pleasant and interesting exchange of ours:
                            Night covers up the rigid land and ocean's quaking moor
                            And shadows, with a gentle hand, the ugly and the poor;
                            The wounded pride for which I weep you cannot staunch, nor I
                            Control the movements of your sleep, nor hear whose name you cry.

                            Whose life is precious in your eyes, and precious is the bed
                            Where to its utter fancy lies the fair, caressive head;
                            For each love to its aim is true, and each must seek its own -
                            You love your life, and I love you, yet I must lie alone.

                            O hurry back, then, to the spot of your deliberate fall
                            For now my dream of you cannot refer to you at all.

                            ...or something like that. Nice, ain't it? In a bitter-sweet sense, that is.


                            • #15
                              HI ho SamF

                              Well I can only do the decent thing and admit, given your astounding knowledge of historical British gays (kidding, kidding!), that being homosexual would probably not have been something to bring up down the pub.

                              I still dont think Jack was gay though....