Since today is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and it's an issue that sits very close to my heart, I thought I'd take the opportunity to write a little about it here. I know it's not really travel related but once again, it's my blog so tough cookies.
Homophobia is something, I have to say, I've never really understood. This is probably due to being brought up in one of the most complicated patchwork families I've ever known; mum and step-dad, dad and step-dad and then my two step-sister's mum and step-mum. Although I'd like to think I would be just as 'liberal' or 'accepting' whether or not I'd lived in the 'normal' family set up, I suppose I'm extra lucky in that I've never had to learn that everyone deserves equal rights and treatment, it's a concept that's simply ingrained in my being. It's common sense, an unarguable fact that just simply is. Why is any human worth any less than another because of who they love? The ability to love is a beautiful gift whether you believe it from God or simply a product of human evolution.
I was surprised when talking to a bi-sexual friend the other day when he said that it still wasn't the norm for everyone to know at least one homosexual person. I mean, I know loads, so I suppose I just figured everyone else did too. In a way, that explains a little about why it's still an issue for so many; humans tend to fear what they don't understand. For example I stayed with a rather conservative Peruvian family on my travels, the father of which worked for the government's conservative party. In Peru homosexuality is an EXTREMELY taboo subject - or at least that's the impression that I got - especially amongst the more conservative members of the population. Despite this, the homosexual uncle was treated like any other family member. His brother's wife took care of him, made him dinner each day (since he didn't have his own wife to care for him) and although the family didn't advocate his 'condition', they didn't shun him as would be expected in that society. Just goes to show how even strong cultural attitudes can be changed when the issue is made personal, even if it is not fully understood.
'Cuando el amor no es locura, no es amor.' (When love is not madness, it is not love.) - Pedro de la Barca
But what if really there isn't anything to understand? Love is love. It's crazy and wild and inexplicable. No one can help who they love, regardless of religion, colour, language, height, weight, age, eye colour, hair colour, bone structure, favourite food, music taste, shoe size... The list goes on. And all of these things affect the way a person behaves and their image. So why exactly is gender any different? That's not even a rhetorical question, if you think you can explain it to me, go ahead. Though I refuse to believe it's 'unnatural' in any sense of the word, how can love possibly be unnatural?
Furthermore, having a problem with another persons bedroom antics is just ridiculous. If you don't agree with someone else's sexual preferences or think it's disgusting, don't make it your business by talking about it. If it's a religious belief, I understand that gets a little more difficult. Biblical interpretation is tricky and causes all sorts of problems. However I am unsure how 'Love your neighbour as yourself' can be interpreted in any way other than to love everyone. Oh and if you're struggling on the definition of love, check out Corinthians 13:4-7:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Sums it up pretty well don't you think?
Growing up I attended Catholic schools and although I'd identify as agnostic now, this upbringing taught me a lot about loving others so I get that some people believe homosexuality, or that act of it, is a sin. Maybe I just missed this lesson but where in the Bible does it then state that this gives people the right to wear 'God Hates Fags' t-shirts and claim they know that homosexuality condemns a person to hell? At what stage in life is any mortal granted the right to judge a person as if they were God? Quite simply, there isn't one. Unfortunately the negative stigma has been attached to Christianity through the actions of some of its more extreme factions and it is easy to forget that there are some incredible churches and Christians out there doing amazing work in the name of promoting equality and attempting to restore the name of Christianity to the religion of love and peace. Christianity should be about compassion and caring for those who are downtrodden or oppressed, as Jesus did, rather than causing the mistreatment. I think it's an outrage that people are having to become ashamed of their own religion because some of its members cannot see the injustice they are causing. Blind and unfounded hatred not only hurts the victims of prejudice but also those whose religion is associated with such atrocities.
What I'm trying to say is that above all else, should come love. I would hope that no matter what your beliefs or sexual orientation, that should not be forgotten. Homophobia and transphobia do not advocate any positive qualities for society. With so many other issues across the globe at the moment, there are more important things to concentrate ones time on other than fighting against another persons gender preferences which, I'm sorry, you're just never going to change. People are starving, sick and lonely, who cares if two men/women aren't going to procreate? The purpose of relationship isn't procreation but companionship. The two become a unit, a 'team' to fight through life together. Because who doesn't need a little support every now and then?
Unfortunately I've experienced first hand the negative influence a church can have on an individual struggling with the acceptance of their own sexuality. It's not pleasant, but four years on bisexual Em is exactly the same as closeted Em and not one person that matters has even given it a second thought. I'm glad that as a society we are slowly, but surely, moving towards the acceptance of the equality that everyone deserves, so that eventually even being a gay Christian might not be a completely bizarre concept.
Love is love is love. End of.