Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Contrary to popular belief, homophobia is not an outright fear of individuals. Rather, homophobia is birthed through fear-mongering tactics and shaming individuals who do not align with another’s sense of normality. I would like others to understand that homophobia is not only demonstrated by the actions of the Orlando shooter, the boys who punched me in the park, or those who call me a "faggot.” Homophobia, at its core, is something that distorts the way LGBTQ people understand their value. Homophobia working through individuals when we clap for the messages of churches driving sermons; through similar messages delivered by parents, leaders, and well-intentioned friends that negatively shift the way we feel about our version of love. When our interpersonal offering and our position in this world is distorted or determined by others as shameful, then homophobia is at work. I know - or choose to believe - that this is not the intention. The painful set of circumstances becomes “Love the sinner, hate the sin’” as a moral cornerstone that insulates heteronormative individuals from the body of people who have been emotionally and spiritually burned by your iron. God states there is nothing in comparison to loving one another, but I'm convinced this is the only thing we will not do. Conservative Christian sentiment sounds like love but looks like hatred shrouded in conditional acceptance.

I am aware that Tyler Clementi, the college student who jumped from the George Washington Bridge, died convinced he was entirely alone. With homophobia at the core of the circumstance, a bully in friend clothing revealed his sexuality to the community by way of hidden cameras placed throughout Tyler’s room. How sick is our society; the Christian community, its church, our friends and neighbors, that we allow such events to happen? My mouth is my fire escape: These words escaping do not care that they are naked. There is something burning in here: I don't love her, but I love him.

I recognize the weight of homophobia and shame quite well - that same weight that Tyler carried until he could not carry it anymore. It has taught me I am not clean emotionally, romantically or spiritually. My internalized homophobia told me I am a perverted boy, and my body is my enemy. So, I did the right Christian thing: I hated my sin. However, when your “sin” becomes loving, you are then left with no other option but to hate the entire self. Can you imagine what this feels like for LGBTQ people, especially those who grew up in a Christian home?

This is not something I ever chose or decided to be, nor is it a temporary phase. I know that being gay is the way I was biologically formed. I await to see the day that science proves this without any shadow of a doubt - and they will. There is scientific evidence that an unrelated genetic disease I was born with today includes a higher rate of LGBTQ+ identifying individuals. Maybe that is it; I don't know. My natural orientation and attraction is towards other men, and my only choice has been whether to be open and honest about my feelings, or to continue to deny and hide them due to shame. So, I once chose to hide them. While the shame does not weigh me down as it does so many, that does not mean I do not know what the weight of homophobia feels like.

It was because of this exhaustion with my shame that I chose love. I no longer hate who I am, and I no longer fight against suicide. I have let myself go, and that has made me free. Poet Andrea Gibson said it best, “It is no measure of good health to be well-adjusted to a sick society.”

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  1. I love this post. I grew up in a Christian home and am still learning to accept who I am. It’s hard for me to hear that loving someone of the same sex can be so wrong. I am trying to accept that I should love myself and who I am, even if my parents call me disgusting and perverted. Love that you are being you and sharing it with others. You are not alone!