I have to say that I’ve been pretty lucky in my life in not being discriminating much because I’m gay. I’ve dealt with a few situations such as a nasty manager at work or being called a fag time to time, but in terms of blatant discrimination and hateful behavior directed towards me? This has very rarely happened, until now.
This past Friday I was speaking with some new people in my life. These people are basically colleagues and I was discussing a case with them. It’s important to note that I do not hide who I am or that I’m gay. I have mentioned to them before stories about myself and my partner.
While discussing this case, it became relevant to actually mention that I was gay. I had a different perspective on this case and wanted to state my point of view (the details of the case are not relevant). I didn’t actually say the words “I’m gay” but I did say that I could identify with the individual in discussion and one of the ladies I was speaking to says to me –
“I’m sorry Tim, I need to ask, are you gay?”
Of course I answered yes. Once I answered yes, it began a situation that took me by surprise. They began asking me questions. Some questions I am used to being asked and I always see conversations like this as an opportunity for educating people.
The first question asked was very innocent. She asked me about my partner Darren. Another lady there asked me if I am married and I responded that we had to postpone the wedding and they not only seemed interested, they seemed excited that I have a wedding in the progress.
Little did I know, that would be the only innocent part of the conversation. The lady then asked if she could ask me a “personal” question. I of course said yes. She then asked me the world-famous question –
“So when did you realize you were gay?”
By the wording of her question, I didn’t feel too threatened by it. I answered the question who I always answer the question when I’m asked. I said –
“Well, when did you realize you were straight?”
She had such a puzzled look on her face. I began to elaborate to say that I realized I was gay around the same age as any person realizes and begins to feel an attraction to another person. She nodded her head, but I could tell she was still not understanding.
Then came the barrage of incredibly insensitive and almost horrifying questions. I want to set the scene so to speak. I was in a room having this discussion with two woman and a guy. I quickly began to feel attacked.
In a matter of 10 minutes I was asked if I’ve ever slept with a woman and how do I know I’m gay if I never had. I was quoted scripture. My faith in God was questioned and I was told that it is impossible for me to believe in God if I choose to be gay. I told them that I believe that God creates homosexuals as well as heterosexuals. Why wouldn’t God create loving people who can adopt all the unwanted children instead of overpopulation of the world? This offended them. They responded with how scripture states that God creates people to have children and carry on his image. How could I be a Christian if I think this way?
I was then asked if I was molested. They told me that the only logical way they could see for someone to become gay is if they were molested. They even asked “so, did your dad touch you?”
The conversation finished with them telling me –
“Well, we can agree to disagree. We are Christians so we love the sinner but hate the sin”
I literally sat there dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe I just had his conversation. I was hurt and I was offended. Not only did I learn that they are the two-faced type of people who would be polite to my face but hate who I am, they questioned my faith.
The entire rest of the day I tried processing this. Trying to remind myself that they were the ones with the issues. They were the ones who are wrong and that there is nothing wrong with my life. I couldn’t shake the feeling that conversation gave. It continued to bother me and I couldn’t figure out why.
I know there is obviously is nothing wrong with being gay. I also know that everything I said to them was true and I also handled myself in an appropriate way (even though they did not reciprocate this).
Three days went by with this on my mind and I found myself almost consumed with this on Sunday evening. I suppose that knowing I would have to see them the next morning brought it up again.
I suppose the reason I am still so consumed with this is because I am shocked. I guess I was almost naive to the prejudice right around me. I sat with these woman 3 weeks ago and listened to stories about how they were discriminated because they were black and now I was sitting in front of them being discriminated against by them. I suppose in their minds their behavior is different since they have a book to back them up, well in their thinking.
I have always been open about being gay. This is not to say that I walk around carrying a rainbow flag, but I don’t lie or hide who I am. I firmly believe that one of the stepping-stones towards equality is to not hide who we are and to be proud of who we are. This is how I live. I suppose that since i have received very little resistance to this, I took that for granted.
This conversation really opened my eyes to the ignorance that really consumes people. I used to look at polls that showed stats of how many American are opposed to marriage equality and I would almost take it in half-heartedly. I suppose since I never fully experienced these negative, “anti-gay” sentiments myself, it was always a distant idea. Something I knew existed, but I guess never fully understood.
I will say this. Listening to those woman tell me all the different reasons as to why I am a horrible person because I’m gay hurt. It hurt really bad. Then for them to actually say that they will love me but hate the fact that I’m gay seemed like the most hypocritical thing for them to say. Then it hit me. The longer I feel hurt and the longer I am consumed with what they said, the longer they win. I’m not going to let people like that win anymore. I am proud of who I am, all of who I am. They can continue to think that I am such a horrible sinner because I’m gay. They can think what ever they like. It’s ok because I know the truth. I know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being gay and there is certainly nothing wrong with any of us being exactly who we are. Perhaps that’s what they are most frightened of. Perhaps they are too scared to be who they are and feel threatened by those who embrace who they are. Either way, it’s their problem, not mine!