Like racism, homophobia is something I’ve never been able to wrap my brain around. I don’t remember the first time I learned about homosexuality, but by the age of ten I knew that some people were gay, although I didn’t quite understand why.
My first understanding of homosexuality actually came from watching an episode of Phil Donohue at the age of fourteen, back when people actually discussed real issues on talk shows. What struck me were people, men and women, saying that they were attracted to the same sex when they were in elementary school, and that’s when it clicked for me.
I had my first crush on a boy at the age of six, although I had no idea about sex or romance at that age. I had many more crushes from elementary school through high school. The same thing happened for other people, only for them it was with someone of the same sex instead of the opposite sex. From that moment on, I knew that there was no “cause” of homosexuality, it just happened. I didn’t consciously decide one day to be heterosexual and I knew that gay people didn’t decide to be homosexual either.
So, back to the question of why is homosexuality such a threat to some people? For a lot of people it is based in religion. Many people claim that homosexuality is a sin, but there are actually few direct references to homosexuality in the bible. And if we used a few selective bible verses to determine who is a sinner and who isn’t then 99% of the population would be going to hell for something or another. And for those that don’t believe in organized religion, the biblical argument is useless. Homosexuality is also sometimes erroneously linked to pedophilia, but healthy adults aren’t sexually attracted to children, no matter what their sexual orientation is.
The fear of homosexuality coincides with our Victorian-like fear of sex in general. When many people think of homosexuals, they think of certain sexual acts—acts that many heterosexuals perform as well. Many people are turned off when they think of promiscuous gay men in clubs searching for a new piece of meat, but how is this different from straight men out scoping the ladies at the club looking for his next one night stand?
When put in context, you can see that being gay isn’t that much different from being straight, it’s just who you are attracted to. There are promiscuous people of all sexual orientations (including bisexuals) and conservative people as well. Gay people are normal people who go to work, go to church, raise their kids and pay their taxes, just like everybody else. Not all gay men are effeminate and not all lesbians are butch. You may have a gay or lesbian friend or coworker and not even know it.
There is concern from some about gay people raising kids, but I know gay parents who are great with their kids. You often hear about straight people abusing their kids, so sexual orientation is no litmus test for who will be a good parent and who won’t. And besides, gay parents who adopt kids want them, unlike straight people who often end up stuck with a kid because of an unplanned pregnancy. There are also many gay people with their own biological kids. Would anyone really advocate taking a child away from their biological mother or father just because they’re gay?
In my personal experience, I have found that men are more homophobic than women (although this doesn’t seem to apply to the straight man’s fantasy of watching two women get it on). Many women, including myself, have many gay friends and coworkers that they love dearly. I have not come across any straight men that have gay male friends, although there may be some out there.
I was never taught that homosexuality was wrong. When thinking of homosexuality, people should focus on love and not sex. I know many homosexual couples that are happier than many heterosexual couples I see and I wish that this puritanical government would give marriage rights to same-sex couples.
For many gay and lesbian people, their partners are the only family they have because their biological family doesn’t accept them for being gay. Why should a family who doesn’t love and accept their gay relative be allowed to decide their fate if they ever became sick or incapacitated? Why should a family receive money or possessions from a dead relative that they disowned? A gay person’s spouse is no different than a straight person’s spouse. They are no less dedicated to their relationship than a legally married or committed straight couple.
I hope that legal discrimination against homosexuals will go the way of legal discrimination based on race, although people’s attitudes will take a while to catch up, just like with race. I hope that future generations of gay people will not have to hide and pretend to be something they’re not in order to be accepted in our society. I hope they will have all the legal rights and privileges that straight people take for granted, like being able to hold hands with their sweetheart and showing affection in public without getting stares. I hope they will just be free to be themselves.