A gay homophobe

I am gay and I used to be a homophobe. I never voiced it and I never targeted it outwardly at anyone, but I used to resent flamboyant gay men, because they made it look so easy to be themselves and not care what anyone thought of them. Although I identified with them very strongly, I did not allow myself to express that part of myself. My greatest desire was to fit in and be accepted by the mainstream, so I tried to stifle any mannerisms and preferences that might give me away as gay.

That’s so gay

Cards Against Humanity | Calculating every mannerism so as not to suggest homosexuality

This card from the game Cards Against Humanity sums up 15 years of my life

My internalised homophobia was taken to ridiculous lengths. I refused to admit listening to (and enjoying) music by artists like Adam Lambert, Village People, Scissor Sisters and the Pet Shop Boys, who were all obviously associated with LGBT themes. I was careful not to dress too well and faked an ineptitude for fashion.

Even spending time with other gay people was a risk, because my natural proclivities seemed to be magnified in their company and I always feared I would set their gaydar buzzing. Most of the time it seemed my efforts were unsuccessful, as I still got picked out as gay.

Not alone

Now that I am out of the closet, my obsessions with Katy Perry, Glee and Kylie Minogue are common knowledge, but I am still struggling to undo the legacy of prejudices I developed out of fear of myself. I am sure that I am not the only one.

I am strongly opposed to homophobia and I believe that everyone should be free to embrace who they are without fear of judgment or harassment. Rejecting a personal trait within yourself can only lead to you rejecting it in others. Isn’t life difficult enough as it is, without us persecuting ourselves and those like us?

Out holding hands

There are many countries all over the world where LGBT people are still persecuted for being themselves. Even in many first world countries, where freedom and equality are expected, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people do not feel safe showing their affection in public. Here in South Africa, the first country in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, I would not feel safe walking down every street in Cape Town (also known as “The Pink City”, one of the gay capitals of the world) holding hands with another man.

This unspoken danger, like a crack in the democracy beneath our feet, fills many LGBT people with hypervigilance in unfamiliar neighbourhoods. All we want is to feel safe on our own streets. It is this danger and need for safety that American company Allstate Insurance tapped into when creating their latest advertising campaign to coincide with the legalisation of gay marriage. I love the photos and payoff lines they used in the posters below. It was a very shrewd marketing move that will improve their chances of the ads being spread all over social media, as well as emphasise their value proposition as an insurance company that keeps you and your assets safe.

Allstate LGBT ads out holding hands Allstate LGBT advertising campaign2Allstate LGBT advertising campaign3 Allstate LGBT advertising campaign5 Allstate LGBT advertising campaign6 Allstate LGBT advertising campaign4

This post was not sponsored by Allstate Insurance. I seriously just like the ads.