Accidentally homophobic.

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When I was roughly around 7 years old, my brother showed me the music video of “All the Things she said” by t.A.t.U. For the people who have not watched this video yet, it’s about two school girls who are in love with each other. The society has isolated them and they stand around judging these girls until they discover that though there’s a boundary that separates them from the rest of the society on one side, they have a completely new and unexplored world of freedom on the other side. They stop trying to beg the society to accept them and they walk away into the new horizon. I found the song very liberating.

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I have come a long way since then but what my brother did was unique. He familiarized me to the concept of homosexuality so well that I never really looked at it like it was anything uncommon or unconventional. Yet, as I grew up- the society got to me. When I was around 13, everyone around me joked about homosexuality and hence I started doing it too. It was wrong. I know this is not my story but I have to clarify a few things. Society gets to each one of us. We are never allowed to think for ourselves. I have heard half of my friends say, “I was a bit weirded out by homosexuality at first… but you have to admit, it IS unconventional.” (the other half were plain homophobic before I came out.) Why were they weirded out in the first place? This statement is not uncommon but it always made me wonder why I have never felt like this. The answer is simple. I was perfectly fine with two girls kissing each other, from the age of 7.

I want to address some delicate issues today that go unnoticed. First of all, stop calling homosexuality “unnatural” or “unconventional,” it’s just rarer than heterosexuality. But then, due to the abundance of hate crimes and the criminalization of anything other than heterosexuality, thousands of people are afraid to come out. So the actual statistics cannot be compared. Heterosexuality is not the “given” condition. It is not the rule. A person is not always born straight. It’s as easy as that. As long as we keep considering ourselves to be the minority or the victims, as long as we keep asking ourselves “what is wrong with us?” they win. Their hate wins. There is something wrong with them; not with us.

Brandon Teena

Brandon Teena

Second of all, there’s the entire chore of “coming out.” Yes, I did officially have to come out though I kept telling people that I was never in the closet to begin with. If I have never told you that I am straight, why do I have to tell you that I am gay? Also, I think this makes us stand out and I don’t really like that. I am not supposed to ask you if you are okay with that because I don’t really care if you are okay with that. So why did I feel the need to come out? Because it’s liberating and empowering. There comes a point in each one of our lives when we have to accept ourselves. And that is extremely difficult. Then comes the prospect of telling your parents. That should have been the difficult part but strangely enough my family was more open-minded than half of my friends. I got lucky in that field. But I also learned something. Parents do not know most of the facts about homosexuality. Tell them the facts, tell them that you are doing nothing wrong. They love us, they are intelligent people who understand logic, there’s a chance that they will be fine with it. One has to take that leap of faith. A closet can protect us for a while, but it is no place to live a life.

Matthew Shepard

Matthew Shepard

The third point I would like to stress upon is that most people who claim to be okay with homosexuality are often homophobic unknowingly. One of the things that irritates me the most are questions like: “So you are in a relationship with a girl? Oh come on, you have to stop joking around. You are not in school anymore. Get into a real relationship.” Homosexuality is as real as heterosexuality. Then comes “You are gay? Seriously? You do not look gay.” How exactly is gay supposed to look like- an Adonis dipped in a rainbow? The fake lesbian relationships on facebook reduce the seriousness of the real relationships. Either accept the fact that you are bisexual or stop pretending.

I could go on and on but I won’t. A friend once told me “India is not a first world country. We do not have food and you are asking the government to care about sad people who are not allowed to sleep with each other.” Let me point out the irony in that statement. The government of a country which lacks food is clearly VERY interested in who sleeps with whom. Let’s make this absolutely clear- the LGBT population does not demand for privileges over the heterosexual population. We do not want to be hailed as the superior race. We demand the basic rights that are not provided to us- the right to love, the right to express our love, the right to marry, the right to have children, the right to be happy.

Harvey Milk

Harvey Milk

Nearly 4 decades have passed since Harvey Milk was shot. 16 years have passed since Matthew Shepard was beaten, tortured and left to die. It has been 21 years since Brandon Teena was forcibly stripped, raped and shot. A million others remain unnamed. We know the consequences of hate crimes pretty well. Then why don’t we simply stop discriminating? There is no use pretending that straight people are safe from hate crimes such as these. School boys are bullied and killed for being effeminate. Little boys and tortured by their parents for playing with dolls instead of cars. Do you seriously want your child to go to school and be perpetually afraid that he won’t return? Stop the discrimination. It’s dangerous for everyone, including yourself.

“First they put away the dealers,
keep our kids safe and off the street.
Then they put away the prostitutes,
keep married men cloistered at home.

Then they shooed away the bums,
then they beat and bashed the queers,
turned away asylum-seekers,
fed us suspicions and fears.
We didn’t raise our voice,
we didn’t make a fuss.
It’s funny there was no one left to notice
when they came for us”