In my circle I am surrounded by people that are inherently homophobic, though I use the word “inherently” loosely because I don’t believe people are born with these prejudices. The hate runs deep. A bunch of macho males feel very uncomfortable around gays and i think its something they learn as they get older to push away anyone who shows signs of being different in that regard. Usually I have to rationalize why I associate with homosexuals. Most of the time my arguments start with “he’s gay but…” I feel bad using a “but” because in essence I am vilifying homosexuality and the statement negates any argument I make thereafter. When we describe someone, their sexuality isn’t the first thing you notice. It is not like their sexual preference is their one selling point or calling card and that is my reasoning.
We all have encounters with gay people when we are young. In my primary school class there was a boy who loved being around girls and was visibly more feminine and we embraced him knowing full well that that was his natural state. Things changed when a senior individual, a teacher, put it in our impressionable minds that his behavior was not right so from then on we became more hostile towards him. As we got older, these feelings were reinforced and the reaction to homosexuals got more brash, hateful and hostile. I think that is the same for most of us. We are taught to hate was is different.
I have had instances where a half embarrassed smile has been my only response to a homophobic comment or slur. At a business meeting once, a lucrative deal was turned away because the person who headed the client’s affairs was a homosexual. Another example: When I got the idea for the proposed title of this article, I was in a kombi (minibus used in public transport). I typed it out with the male next to me peering at my screen and barely two minutes passed before he stopped the kombi and got off. It might have been his designated stop but maybe just maybe he was uncomfortable sitting next to me because he thought I was gay. It’s not that farfetched that the former would be true, a great deal of hate-speech and acts of violence have been served for less. Instances like these not only show me how deep society’s hate for homosexuals is but how weak I was in not speaking out.
I realize now that I am as much a part of the problem as everyone. Every single time I remain mute and canvass these outbursts with silence, it just perpetuates the cycle. That disapproving look could’ve saved a life and a sit-down with a youth explaining why this sort of discrimination is totally unacceptable might have turned the tide for a would-be-victim. At the same time there has been some form of backlash in coming to the gleeful people’s defense. In being vocal about my views on homosexuals I have also been victimized because I sympathize with “those people.” I asked someone what could be done with these vile creatures and I heard one of the most ridiculous statements ever. His genius plan was to ship homosexuals off to a distant land so they could flourish on their own, far from us the pure heterosexual “race” … What a revolutionary!
I have a fair share of homosexual friends and even though I might not condone their sexual practices I have to live with them regardless. This is because of two basic things:
- Every person is responsible for his or her life so who am I to dictate what one does in their own personal capacity. We are all aware of the concept of free will. I could sit and pass judgement on whoever.
- No amount of harassment, embarrassment, heckling or at worse, beating can change someone’s sexual orientation. That in itself is a backward way of thought.
While I could try I’d very much like to enjoy my Frank Ocean CD without being told I shouldn’t because he is gay, it’s a tough thing to make someone unlearn something that’s been burned into them for years so I do my part and let God deal with it but I will not be ashamed for showing compassion, love for other people. I refuse to dismiss someone because they’re gay, rather that they have terrible vices; selfishness, cruelty, pettiness, greed etc. He who is without sin cast the first stone.