A few months ago, I applied for a scholarship to help pay for my university education. The application prompted me to write two short essays; one about something that I wanted to see changed in society, the other about what I was doing to see this change through. At around the same time, I was running a small anti-homophobia campaign at my former high school along with three other group members. I decided that I was going to write about that very campaign, and as I was doing so, I got to a point where I had written a sentence about bullying with “especially homophobia” at the end of the phrase. To me, those two words were a segue into the main idea of what I wanted to see changed with a connection to what I was doing to influence it. Once I finished writing the paragraph, I ran it up to my mom so she could do a preliminary proofread. When I give her something of mine to read over, she most often reads it aloud and explains the nature of my mistakes, grammar or otherwise. That time, however, she read the entire thing silently. Eventually, she reached the conclusion of the paragraph and I thought she was about to say something about my sentence structure or poor word choice.
Instead, she said “Jord, they’re going to think you’re gay.”
Two questions formed inside my head:
1. Why would they think that?
2. Why would it matter in the first place?
I ended up asking the first question and she responded with something like “you have to sell yourself as heterosexual.” In that one response, she evaded the answer to the first question and answered the second one instead. She was insinuating that the judges of my paper would be prejudiced enough to not only consider my writing too far to one extreme, but to also not select me as a winner because of my sexual preference, regardless of whether they knew what it was or not. I’ve disagreed with my mom’s criticism of my writing before, but that time, it was more than just a slight against a momentary lapse in my literal thoughts. It was a slight against every single homosexual seeking equality on this planet whether she meant it or not. Anyway, I took her criticism and suppressed my anger. I returned to my word processor to correct not a technicality issue, but to correct the nature of my paper so someone would accept it. That was the first time I felt true empathy for homosexuals and every other human being with a sexual preference that wasn’t “straight”.
This is not at all a slight against my mom, but a broadcast to every single human being on this planet: Are you kidding me? This is the 21st century. We are not an intelligent, let alone an advanced species, if we can’t accept and live with something as simple as one’s sexual preference. I hate to say it, but some of this is embedded in the conservatism of religion. North Carolina’s decision to continue prohibition of gay marriage is a perfect example of how religious tenants are interfering with legitimate changes that should be made. The point is – religious ideas shouldn’t interfere with concepts that are physically embedded within what is human (and yes, scientific leads are saying that homosexuality is a natural happening). Period.
The bottom line is that sexual orientation isn’t black and white and you’d be foolish to believe so. We’re supposed to be complex beings and every single day, we try to “keep it simple” by establishing whether someone is one or the other. We are alienating people in the process of doing just that.
Alienation means to make someone feel like they do not belong. That doesn’t need further explanation.
I’m not asking you to cuddle with someone that’s different from you, I’m asking you to respect them whether they’re in front of you or not. Why? Because you’re both the same. You both share the same human condition and you’re both from the exact same planet. What’s not the same is one tiny succession of genetic code that was written by probability in the first place. Neither of you “won” that draw, but you both exist.
Can you do that together?