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Oppression takes a number of forms, ranging from direct physical attacks on those who are-or are perceived to be-homosexual, through much more subtle means whereby homosexuality is presented as less acceptable than homosexuality. There is a clear difference between vigilante attack on “fags” and the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, yet both result from a set of social beliefs that maintain the ideology of heterosexuality as the norm against which homosexuality is seen as deviant, less acceptable, and undesirable. Oppression has a somewhat different meaning from repression, more accurately used in its psychoanalytic meaning, and suppression, which in psychological language implies a conscious rather than unconscious action, although the three terms overlap in common usage. Gay liberation theorists such as Guy Hocquenghem, Dennis Altman, and Mario Mieli drew on psychoanalytic concepts and theorists such as Marcuse to link individual repression and social oppression. As Mieli wrote:

The monosexual Norm…is based on the mutilation of Eros, and in particular on the condemnation of homosexuality. It is clear from this that only when we understand why the homoerotic impulse is repressed in the majority, by the whole mechanism of society, will we be able to grasp how the exclusive or at least highly predominant assertion of heterosexual desire in the majority comes about.