Reading your stories on how you suffer and go through stress as a result from homophobia got me thinking about this topic. I will talk about myself. I’m a straight female. I come from a conservative community (religious and social) that does not accept whatsoever homosexuals. I was not raised in Lebanon. I was raised on peace, respect and acceptance ofothers despite their religion, race, and ethnicity due to the country’s multi-national makeup.
As for homosexuality that’s another story, it was cool at school to make fun of it. Everyone was pressured to act straight. My best friend in 8th grade was always hugging me and other girls. I heard the girls in class talking about her. I remember so well taking her to the side and telling her to stop thisphysical thing with girls cause they think you are a lesbian. In short, we are raised to be homophobias …of fear of society.
When I went to uni, you meet more diverse people. In my first year, there was one gay guy in myclass. It was quite obvious and everyone knew that he was gay. It was cool to make fun of him. He used to sit at the corner of the class. Honestly, I never talked to him or defended him. I just acted as if he wasn’t there. After a few years, we were introduced through a common friend. I remember thinking he’s actually fun to be around. However, this was as far my relationship has gone with him. This year I found his photo in an organization brochure, he volunteers as an outreach worker for homosexuals giving them advise on harmreduction. I smiled when I saw his photo.
There were a group of girls that were open about their sexuality. They were lesbians always hanging out together. They were cool. Guys liked them. Girls liked them too but they always were self-conscious around them. That’s when I noticed that homosexuals that look and act straight are easier to be accepted. And guys accepted lesbians but despised gays. As for girls, they accepted gays and were self-conscious around lesbians.
What really changed my view about homosexuals was one incident in a gulf country. I will never forget it. Honestly from then on, I changed my views about homosexuals. I was at a mall going down the escalator. I waited for a guy dressed in white ‘dashdasha’ to go first. When he did, I remember thinking can you be any more obvious (that hes gay)?? At the same time, there was a café overlooking the escalator with a group of 35 year old gulf men. Very tall with beards…simply very ‘man’ looking. They started calling out names which I didn’t understand but I just looked up at them and then at the guy infront of me. Our eyes met and he directly looked away. The look in his eyes and face shocked me. So many feelings in one look…was it hurt, pain and embarrassment I really do not know.
I wanted to write something to make you all understand that we are raised as homophobias. We,Lebanese and the Arab region, are always concerned with what ‘others think about us’, so our parents raised us in such a way to go with the flow. All of you today are warriors for your cause. I believe that later generations would have an easier life than you do. Fight for your cause but in peace. Speak out but with respect. You are changing the attitudes that are imbedded in us for hundreds of years. That’s for sure a no easy task. Understand our fears and work on them. Don’t fight us to change our fears, we will just cling to them. Talk to us to overcome it. Integrate your selves in the society, for us to get to know you and understand that our fear has no basis or logic to it. Let us know and hear your feelings, to make us know that we feel the same. We are all humans….insecure humans that look and strive to find life, love and security.
Peace my brothers and sisters