A while ago a relative of mine contacted me in distress, about a lady spitting on the ground in front of her. She was naturally disgusted with the act and made a comment, as most of us would do. You could argue that her words may not have been carefully chosen, but most of us may have made the same choice of words. After all she was naturally angry due to the spitting in front of young children. Her words where most probably taken from childhood, an adult would say to them as a young girl, “that’s not very lady like” and lets face it most probably a better phrase to use would have been animal like. Out of anger my relation made a comment that the act was more masculine than some men she knows and most men would have been equally disgusted, especially bring in front of small children at knee level.
It wasn’t homophobic in the slightest and I do believe if the lady had taken time out she would have re-thought what had just happened, or maybe questioned the situation. Instead of venting her anger the way she did. She went on face book and told mutual acquaintances that my relative was homophobic, even though this incident could quite easily have been stopped by simply behaving in a more social way and not trying to use her sexuality to hide behind her behavior.
Perhaps a better attitude to have was to speak with my relative discreetly about what she felt was a poor choice of words, after accepting that spitting in a public space is not the done thing, and here in the UK as had calls for it to be deemed as an offence in the past.
It has to be said that we are all human and some of us make mistakes or simply do things that others don’t like or understand. However we have to wonder how many true homophobes saw the comments on facebook and took advantage of the misunderstanding! Homophobia is built on not understanding the others point of view.
Regarding to homophobia in general you often hear abuse that starts “Why do you gays hate straights so much?”, the truth is that we don’t hate anyone but sometimes it could actually appear that way with an incident like the one my relation experienced.
Its not just thinking about incidences like my relations and preventing a reaction but also finding words and phrases that suit our own temperament in order to prevent or combat homophobia.
You also have to remember that we are a minority and to a certain degree at times some of us can appear to be an invisible minority, so when things do go wrong and we are more visible at that point then they are most probably seen more and unfortunately by the wrong persons.
I don’t believe no LGBT person actually hates anyone for being straight, but simply hate the actions and words some do think is acceptable. Sometimes it’s more of a case of being ‘homo-unaware’ and others its clearly an attack of homophobia, however both cases needs to be dealt with in some form or another to prevent escalation at the very least.
Look at ourselves to a degree as a brand.
Maybe we have rainbow colored t-shirts, just like a shop would have for all their staff. While we wear this t shirt we have to represent the rest of the community, just like the staff in the shop would do.
Whatever we do sadly and I know it shouldn’t reflect on all of us but it does, to a certain extent.
How many times have you heard the phrase “Why do gays think its right to mock our god?” The best answer to that I ever heard was “I don’t know, you need to ask the people who are mocking your god because I certainly am not!” Statements like that are almost like believing that it’s more than a small number of Christians that are homophobic, when in truth its only a small proportion.
The more of us that wear the t-shirt with pride and dignity the more it will deter homophobia from spreading like the disease it is.
I often hear people say why bother at all, just allow them to do it and get on with it. Firstly you have to ask yourself isn’t that allowing them to let their homophobic opinion influence others opinion?
Secondly isn’t it allowing their words to touch the ears of someone who fall into that most vuanable and isolated ‘questioning’ group of our LGBTQI brand, after all no one knows what is going through the head of others. Maybe a kind thoughtful word could actually save someone’s life, without the knowledge of whom exactly.
Many of us will know of someone who are no longer with us today because they where unable to speak out for help.
Having simple polite phrases ready with very little comeback often speaks volumes to people who are willing to hear, giving them ammunition in order to fight their own demons or the demons of others. Its true that some of us are better at fighting the battle against homophobia than others, but we all have the right to join others on the battle field if they wish. The greater the numbers the easier is the battle.
Also think of homophobia like the layers of a brown onion, the skin being the homo-unaware, they are simple to deal with by constantly educating them and talking to them.
The next layer are most probably less homophobic but by peeling away at each layer you do eventually get to the rotten core of the onion till the tears are no longer and the phobia has gone.
A layer at a time!
Sure you can’t be naive about it, for the world to be cured of prejudice of any type will take decades if not centuries to eradicate, but just like the shop and the brand, we can make it, by finding ways to confront certain situations, even if we make mistakes on the way. Could we at least make it sustainable enough to be able to pass our t shirts onto the next generation?