A dear friend I have known for years realized -relatively late in her life- that she had been going about some things wrong. For most of her adult life, she had been playing for the wrong team.
My friend finally came to terms with the fact that she is gay.
I was privileged to have been included in the conversation she had about this with a few close friends. I saw her conflict and wonder. I was around while she embarked on her first relationship with another woman. I heard about the trip to NYC when she went to gay clubs, where she was celebrated and wooed. I also heard the fears: How to tell friends, parents, family? How would they react? What about my church (friend is deeply religious)? ...school, work, kids' friends, other parents...?
Embracing your difference is hard.
I saw how several of her friends just melted away. Or called her names and stormed away. Or berated her, but stayed (why?); their friendship permanently altered.
And my heart broke for her. My friend -Let's call her LeAnn, is still the same person. Exactly the same. She is just more LeAnn now. Freer. More relaxed. More herself. Happier than I have ever seen her. I am so amazed and glad to see this change in her.
...but some of the people in her life, including some of her family and former "friends", can't be happy for her. They can't seem to accept LeAnn for who she is (and always was). They want her to go back to being the self-deluded and unhappy individual she had been for years.
But you can't un-ring that particular bell. It's just not this easy -->
I can't quite figure out if these people don't like change, don't like happy, or don't like gay?
I can certainly understand that some people -especially older family members- will fear for LeAnn and not want to see her subjected to bigotry and hate. As a parent of special-needs children, I understand that fear only too well. But I honestly don't get the rest.
To an extent, I can understand not liking change, but I totally DON'T get not liking "happy" or gay (Ohai Irony! I see you sneaking in there). Why should straight people care?
I mean really. What's it to us?
Watching LeAnn's experience as it unfolded, got me thinking a lot about friends and friendships. I wondered how many of my friends would stick around if I suddenly "switched teams"? So I posted this on my Facebook page:
OneSIckMother idly wonders how many of you guys would unfriend me if I suddenly announced that I'm a lesbian?
I got 70 comments, some questioning if I was serious? (Still a straight woman TYVM, but it's a serious question), most very positive along the lines of "you're stuck with me. Sorry". It was nice to receive all that support and positive reinforcement, and it opened some interesting dialog. But of course, the ones who would probably actually disown me, wouldn't come out publicly and say it. They would quietly slip away (fun fact: Since I posted that last week, two friends have quietly slipped away. Yes. I was counting!). Who wants to publicly admit to being a gay-hater? It's not politically correct. Not hip or cool. And yet many people are secret gay-haters.
Maybe "gay-hater" is too strong a term? Maybe "gay-fearer" or "homophobe" is more correct? The end result is much the same, though. Therefore, I don't really distinguish. "Gay-hater" is my preferred term in keeping with my grandfather's tradition of calling a spade a "fuckin shovel". And it has a certain ring to it.
I would really love to have an intelligent (<-note keyword) conversation with one or a group of these anti-gay people. I really want to know what their problem is? I understand that some (few) people may have been assaulted when young -and I kind-of get that. Except there are other people who were assaulted by members of the opposite sex, who don't grow to hate all members of that gender. And I don't think the vast majority of gay-haters can claim their bigotry is based on an experience of that kind. They seem to have more of an inexplicable ...thing, which can't be understood by those of us outsiders (or maybe even themselves). Like arachnaphobia, I guess. If gay hating is based on a clinical fear, I could probably understand and comiserate a little more, I guess.
However, I checked to see if "Homophobia" is, or ever was a clinical term or indeed a valid diagnosis?
It's not a clinically recognised "thing" and never was.
However "Homosexuality" was listed as a mental disorder as recently as the 1960s.
So the haters don't get to hide behind a diagnosis.
If gay hating isn't a diagnosis, what is the specific problem some people seem to hold so deeply? I have heard some of the arguments
"What they DO... together. That is so disgusting"
To which I say: It's also none of your fucking business what consenting adults do in private. And it might very much surprise you to learn what some very middle-class and upstanding straight citizens do in the privacy of their own bedrooms (or brothels).
"I'm just afraid they'll be interested in ME"
To which I say: "Get over yourself. You're not that fuckin special."
...Or my personal favorite:
The religion card in its various forms. Especially the "Christian" card and the "It says in the BIBLE..." argument.
No. No. NO!
That's a red herring and I'm not buying it. Do you hear me? NOT BUYING IT!
You don't get to hide your hatred behind a religious excuse. Let's stop that shit right now. I know there is Leviticus 20:13, but it concludes that gays should be put to death. You don't get to pick and choose. If you don't hold with the whole thing, you can't hold with any of it. And if you DO hold with that entire verse of Leviticus, you have to hold with the entire chapter. Like 20:9 "Any person who curseth his mother or father, must be killed." Well that's most of us wiped out before we even finish adolescence!
And Don't EVEN get me started on chapter 19! Don't wear clothing made of mixed fabric? Don't shave or cut your hair (then why are so many of the men who quote 20:13 clean shaven)? Picking and choosing one's beliefs through that one book is inconsistent at best, hippocritical at worst.
...and FYI: the term "homosexual" was never originally in the Bible. It was added in the 1800s.
So I am not buying the 'religion' card. I honestly see it as a convenient excuse for hatred. Put it aside and have the gumption to stand on your own true convictions.
So if gay hating is not a diagnosis, it's none of your business what adults do together in private, and we remove the "religion" series of excuses, what's left? Why do gay-haters feel so threatened by gay people? I really want to know, and LeAnn does too. The haters owe me nothing, but I think LeAnn deserves an explanation for the hate.
At least give her that much.