Originally published on Hummus For Thought on May 17th 2012.
I’ve already written about this issue in a previous article so I hope you would bear with me with this one. I’ll make it short.
Today we celebrate IDAHO, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. It is a day to remember both the past and on-going sufferings of many members of the LGBTQ community and, at the same time, a day of hope. We know now that homophobia has no reason to exist. We know it very well. The arguments that it put forward were all debunked, one after the other, countless times. We can perhaps admit that there might have been a time when homophobia would be understandable. We can say the same of racism and sexism. We can understand, as one would understand society by studying its structures, its functions. But we can never say that there ever was a time when racism, sexism and homophobia were justified. Because there never was a single day when that was a reality. Never. All there ever was was ignorance in the face of the unknown.
But the unknown is now known. We know gay parents lead the same normal or dysfunctional lives as straight parents. We also know that single parents, both straight and gay, also face challenges themselves. It might have taken some time for us to understand, but now we do. Just because it is a relatively new thing – that we understand – does not justify the presence of the so-called on-going controversy. It can explain it, yes, but not justify it.
It would be quite naive of anyone to believe that homophobia can resist the winds of change. Time is not kind to those who wish to shut down to reality. They can live in their delusions. Noone is stopping them. The problem remains when delusion is forced upon reality. That, is something that is unacceptable.
Happy IDAHO everyone,
– Joey Ayoub
Today is the International Day Against Homophobia and Trans-phobia, or IDAHO. Not a lot of Lebanese know this because, unfortunately, homophobia is still not taken seriously in Lebanon. It is probably still more common to find homophobic people than non-homophobic people in this country. It is a shame, really, that in a country that is pretending to advance towards modernism, people still cling unto regressive ideas.
Homosexuality was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders a long time ago. It was long overdue but it was done. That being said, I still encounter people who think of homosexuality as being some form of disease or mental disorder. One would assume they’re experts on the subject. I also meet people who believe that homosexuality is not natural, despite its well-documented presence in nature. Yes, all one has to do is look it up. Dolphins, dogs, monkeys, apes, kangaroos, birds, lions, penguins, hyenas, giraffes, elephants, lizards, and ever certain species of insects, and much more have all been documented to engage in homosexual acts.
But no matter, no matter. Even if didn’t, I would still address homophobia with the seriousness it deserves.
I find homophobia stupid simply because I see no reason behind it. There has never been anything that would remotely justify homophobia. Why are people homophobic? If you are not gay yourself, then Homosexuality should not be an issue to you. It does not affect your life in any way. When I usually say this to people, I almost always, get the response: “But what if someone in my family turns out to be gay?” To which I reply: “So be it! If they are gay how will that affect you? And why is it even a bad thing?” But then I remember that we live in a homophobic society. Having someone gay in your household will presumably bring shame upon your family, so most people don’t want to have gay people as family members or friends. And god forbid that some of these parents have a gay son or daughter! They end up throwing them out of the house. But aren’t parents supposed to love their child unconditionally? What does that say about those who disown their children because of their sexual orientation? Having a gay child doesn’t mean you’ve failed as a parent. Disowning your child, on the other hand, does.
I’ve also heard other reasons behind people’s homophobia and, in the next couple of paragraphs, I will try to debunk some of the common misconceptions that I hear from people that try to justify their bigotry. A word of caution before I begin, the facts you will read might come as complete shock to some of you. So pull up a chair and make sure you’re sitting down before you proceed reading this article.
The first and most common misconception is: “If someone is gay then that automatically makes them want to molest or rape you.” This could not be farther from the truth. Just because a person is gay doesn’t make them attracted to you. Gay people have standards too and chances are you don’t meet them.
Now I’m not saying there aren’t any gay child molesters and rapists in the world. Sure there are. You can find cases of any kind of person doing any kinds of things. It’s a big world. But there are probably just as many straight child molesters and rapists as there are gay ones out there. It is not the person’s sexual orientation that causes them to commit these horrible acts. I wonder if pedophiles would be excused if they molest a child of the opposite sex.
The second misconception about gay people that might cause homophobia is: “If you hang out with homosexual people, you will become homosexual yourself.” That is about as correct as saying “If you hang out with Chinese people, you will become Chinese yourself.” Homosexuality is not something you can catch from someone else. You can’t call in a sick day from work because you woke up with a bad case of “gayness”.
Another misconception is: “If I come into contact with a gay person I will get AIDS.” Now to be fair, that is not a hundred percent wrong. You can get AIDS from coming into contact with a gay person, IF they happen to be HIV positive. Your contact would involve exchange of blood or other bodily fluids through which HIV is transmittable. In other words, you’d have to sleep with an HIV positive person, straight, gay or bisexual; or coming into direct blood contact with them. I’m guessing that if you are not gay yourself, then the odds of this happening and you catching AIDS from a gay person are almost negligible. You can’t catch AIDS by shaking a gay person’s hand; you can’t catch AIDS by hugging a gay person; and you can’t catch AIDS by drinking from the same cup as a gay person. This should be common knowledge. A sub-variation of this misconception is: “You can only catch AIDS from gay people.” That is also not true as AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease, so you will catch it by engaging in unprotected sex with someone who has the virus, whether they are of the same or of the opposite sex as you, but I’m sure you already knew that.
The final misconception (not directly pertaining to homophobia but is relevant to a later point in my article) I will address is: “All gay guys are effeminate and all lesbians are masculine.” That is just obviously false. Gay men can be masculine just as gay women can be feminine. Also, not all effeminate guys are gay and not all masculine women are lesbians. If you didn’t know that, you should get out more.
And for those that use religion as an excuse for their bigotry, get off your high horse. Just because you believe in a specific deity doesn’t give you the right to discriminate against others. I supported LGBT rights when I was Christian and I still support them now that I’m an atheist. Jesus never told anyone to be homophobic. If you’ve read the bible, I would think that you must have noticed that he endorsed the idea of loving one another, instead of hating people. And even if he did; even if he blatantly said “You should hate homosexuals.” It wouldn’t give you the right to deprive gay people of their civil and human rights. Last time I checked, Lebanon was not a theocratic country.
Having said all this, there are no more possible excuses for someone to be homophobic (and if you still think you have one, feel free to contact me and I’ll more than gladly disprove it).
Labels create prejudice. When you stop separating people based on their sexuality and stop labeling them as gay or straight, and instead start seeing everyone as human, you’ll find that you’ll no longer hold prejudiced ideas towards others.
We live in a society that makes it hard for someone to come out as being gay or bisexual. Just because someone hasn’t come out, doesn’t mean that they are not gay. They’re just afraid to admit it. And that’s frustrating, to have to hide behind a lie because the truth will get them shunned by their friends and family, and they will be looked down upon by society. It is frustrating to the point where they start suffering from depression and may eventually commit suicide. There are a lot of in-the-closet homosexuals in Lebanon; they might be your best friends or siblings. And if you’re homophobic, do you think these people would come out to you? I doubt it. And do you want to contribute to them living in frustration? What would you do if your brother or sister killed themselves because you hate gay people? Homosexuality is not a choice, but homophobia is. It’s high time we get rid of our prejudice against the LGBT community in Lebanon, and show them that it’s okay to come out without the fear of being hated or discriminated against. None should live their lives in fear of bullying, no matter who or what they are.
Isn’t it ironic, that in Lebanon, gay people are unhappy?
– Joseph Zailaa
Joseph is a Lebanese man who has lived most of his life in Lebanon but is currently living in the U.S.A. He is currently pursuing higher education in the USA. He is currently working on his BS in Biology and hopes to specialize in Marine Biology in the future.