Here’s something worth talking about besides the never-ending nonsense in Kentucky. The “Captain Underpants” series, which is widely beloved by children and widely poo-poo’ed by fuddy-duddies, went out with a major mic drop last week.
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
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.
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?
One cause of the depression that led to my failed suicide attempt was my homosexuality. I was bullied at school for being gay and I fought an internal battle for years because my same-sex attractions and my religious values were in conflict. I used to pray that God would “fix” me and make me straight, but the more I prayed the more it seemed that my sexual orientation was an inherent part of me.
I came out after many years of internal conflict, because I finally realised that my sexuality was never going to change and that I could not live a life of honesty and integrity if I could not accept myself for who I am. Many of the most talented, caring and brave people I have ever met are gay and I am proud to call them my friends.
Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Today I no longer believe that God is going to be angry with me because I love the “wrong” person; He is far more concerned about my relationship with Him. Love remains the most important commandment and, in the eloquent words of Rob Bell, “love wins“.
It is still important for me to identify myself as both gay and Christian, because I don’t believe the two are mutually exclusive. I know that many LGBT people have been hurt and abused by the Christian community, but there are also many Christians who have been treated unjustly by gay people. Tolerance and respect goes both ways. The world would be a much better place if we all stood together to eliminate discrimination, violence and poverty.
Even though I am now open and honest about my sexuality, I am sometimes aware of how my behaviour and personal presentation are governed by the mistaken stereotypes and prejudices my bullies held. Sometimes I find myself reigning in my mannerisms and the pitch of my voice in order to not appear too “camp”, as if that is a bad thing, which it of course is not. I believe that every person should feel free to be wholly themselves and I hope that we are preparing the world for future generations to have that freedom, but I am afraid I often still care too much what other people think of me. Like the world, I am a work in progress.