It’s amazing to me the number of people who say that young kids can’t know if they are gay. That it’s the media’s fault when a child as young as seven comes out. In part that statement might be true. Back when I was younger there were no positive gay role models. People my age and older only saw the negatives of being gay. There were no openly gay cool people on TV. There were no shows that dealt with homophobia and the damaging effects. There weren’t books that showed gay characters could make it in life, finding happiness. Now the media has changed. I’m proud to be an author of gay fiction. I want my gay readers to know that it’s okay to be gay. I want their families to know there is nothing wrong with being gay. That loving another person of the same sex is fine. The way I show that it’s okay to be gay is to write about people in fictional situations making a difference in this world, and in the case that I put out a scifi book, making that difference in the universe somewhere out there.
You see, when I was growing up gay was not okay. Gay, homo, Nancy boy, butch girl, and lesbian were all words used to mark others in a hateful way. I heard those words used to describe many people, some of those people I loved.
My aunt and uncle moved to my hometown when I was about nine. I loved my uncle and aunt. When I was very young, a baby, we lived with my uncle and aunt for about nine months. Then each summer and every winter I went to spend a few weeks to a few months with them. I remember my uncle was the first man to take me into the ocean even though I was terrified. My uncle would lift me up on his shoulders and carry me into the water because I was the youngest in the family. His children were teens or near teens and I was treated special when I went to visit their family. I loved my cousins; especially my cousin D. Yes, even though D is out now, I’m hiding his name.
Because of all the time I spent with my cousins, I almost felt like they were brothers and sisters to me. I felt closest to the youngest two and D was the youngest therefore the one cousin I was very close too. When my cousins moved to our town there were a lot of family get-togethers. We lived about four miles apart and my aunt and uncle were common fixtures around the kitchen table at my house and we were frequent guests at their house. I guess the adults didn’t realize how much of a listener or that I understood what they were talking about when they would have a big powwow at our house. There were whispers and hushed discussions. Words said and crying. You see, D was gay and my aunt and uncle wouldn’t stand for it. They’d already had to deal with one child who married outside of the Caucasian color wheel and they couldn’t stand for D to be gay.
A date was arranged because 30 years ago people thought you could just put a gay guy together with a girl and he’d be cured. My next-door neighbor had a daughter. I’m not sure how my cousin worked it all out, or what was said, or how they got around the complexities, but my favorite cousin and my next-door neighbor dated through high school. They both had a dangerous secret and they found a way to keep their parents off their backs and survive through the difficult high school years. She was a lesbian and he was gay. I love her for protecting my cousin. I haven’t spoken to her since she graduated high school. Her family moved and she was so much older than I, however, I’m grateful that she provided a safety net for my cousin who was trapped in a time when it was NOT okay to be gay. Now days it would be different. He may still have to remain in the closet if he was a teen now, but it wouldn’t be as bad. It’s sad that he had to go to such extreme measures to hide who he really was, but through out history people have found ways to keep their secret.
I know gay men and women still feel that pressure to hide. Words like “At least I’m not gay,” or “You know, he’s gay,” whispered in tones that suggest it’s a bad thing to be gay hurt others. Those words not only hurt those who are gay, but they also hurt everyone who hears them. There is nothing wrong with being gay. It’s not a disease, a problem to be fixed, and dare I say it, being gay in not a sin. I know the bible thumpers will scream and shout about that one, but I’ve read enough to know that homosexuality isn’t a sin. Do some investigating and figure it out, don’t rely on what your pastors tell you.
I don’t know what would have happened to D if he came out back when he was in high school. I shudder to think of him being the target of hatred. He’s out now and I couldn’t be prouder of him. It’s taken him a while even though he has lived with his partner for a very long time. I’m happy he’s happy, that he has someone who loves him. I’m also thrilled that he never fell victim to an attack that left him maimed, or worse, dead. But all too often people think hurting a gay person is excusable. It is not. Purposely hurting others is never excusable.
I’ve said it before, gay men and women are the bravest people I know. It takes guts to live out loud, not denying who you are and embracing the real you. Damaging another soul is wrong. Be uplifting to others, because as the old saying goes, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
Yes, I’m doing a giveaway associated with this hop. Just comment and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Selling It.
Visit the Hop page for more links. http://hopagainsthomophobia.blogspot.com/
And remember homophobia damages, so say no to hate.