Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The beauty of difference

I often wonder why, in the 21st Century, homosexuality is still such a controversial topic. Why there is still so much hatred towards homosexual people and why many believe they do not deserve the same rights as heterosexual people.

In the UK, same-sex marriages are currently not recognised as legitimate and are not yet legalised, however gay couples can take part in a civil partnership. Similar to and including the same rights as marriage but not technically a marriage. This has been a possibility for same-sex couples only since 2005. Also in 2005, it was deemed acceptable, after 3 years of deliberation, for gay and lesbian couples to adopt in the UK. Only 6 years ago, were same-sex couples given any kind of real rights. And still, those rights are not equal to those of heterosexual couples. So why is there such a stigma attatched to being homosexual? Why do some people find it unacceptable and wrong? Is it down to fear?

My daughter has a gay father. He left me for another man and although I was angry, I knew that people can't choose who they are. And that it was no real reflection on me as to why he left, I just didn't have the right "equipment." People do make jokes about it to me and I laugh it off. The classic is always "Make sure you don't turn another one." Of course, I don't tend to take life too seriously and I do just take it on the chin. It doesn't bother me, mainly because I know you cannot "turn" somebody gay. The only thing I do worry about is my daughter. She is only 3, so at the minute, it's not too bad. But once she starts primary school, I do fear that she will be bullied for having a dad who is gay. Children can be cruel and we all know of those parents who love a bit of gossip and wouldn't think twice about mentioning something like that with their kids in earshot. But the point is, I shouldn't have to worry about that. I should be able to send her off to school, knowing that she will be accepted for who she is and not who her parents are and that even then, a homosexual parent should just be something that people overlook and don't think is unusual.

I fail to comprehend those who refuse to accept gay people. I believe that it is only a hatred for a handful of people but for most, it is a fear. I know that the Bible teaches that homosexuality is wrong. "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; it is a detestable sin." Or something along those lines. There you go, in black and white, God says homosexuality is a sin. End of story. Of course not all followers of the Bible are quite as closed minded as that. But there are many who are. I watched a documentary not so long ago about America's "most hated family." It was about a family that are at the heart of a religious movement in America with the Westboro Baptist Church. They preach that "God hates fags" and have extremely strong negative opinion on LGBT people and they also state that the terrible things that occur in the world is God's way of punishing us for our "relaxed approach" to homosexuality. They picket funerals of dead US soldiers, blaming the country's tolerance for gay people for the deaths of their servicemen. Even young children attend these pickets, holding up signs saying such atrocities as "Thank God for cancer." I found it a disgrace to watch, seeing them tell homosexual people about how they were going to burn in hell for their sins, knowing that this wasn't some sick game. They actually truly believe this, believe that they are God's "messengers" chosen to spread His words of hate to the world.

There are others who are not religious that still promote negativity towards homosexuals. This is when I think it is based on fear. It wasn't all that long ago that gay people were thrown into cells, deemed unacceptable to live in a heterosexual society. We cage animals when they are vicious and we are afraid they will attack. We cage criminals not only to punish them, but to keep them out of society because we are afraid they will pose a threat or a danger. Why then, would we cage homosexuals? They are not vicious or dangerous. Perhaps it is because they are feared as an "unknown." Especially years ago, when they were few and far between (or at least they appeared to be as it was a topic never spoken about) As a heterosexual person, you do not experience life in the same way as a homosexual person. You are attracted to the opposite sex which has always been the "norm" in society, and to a point, still is. Then along comes a gay couple and you are suddenly thrown into a world you don't understand and that can sometimes cause fear. Not in the strong sense that you might feel fear of flying or heights. But of the unknown, a world you have no experience of.

Generally speaking, I do think that the LGBT community is widely accepted these days, by non LGBT people, at least in the UK. It is not uncommon to know a gay couple from within a friend group, for example and many celebrities are "out" as gay. The stigma attatched to it has changed dramatically over the years from being completely unacceptable to being moderately acceptable. There are discrimination acts in place to protect them and, as I said earlier, they are now able to adopt children and enter into a civil partnership (although I believe there is a movement to try and get religious marriage ceremonies legalised and recognised in the UK) It wasn't until the late 60's that homosexual activity was de-criminalised and before that, it was a criminal offence to partake in such activity. In the 19th Century, it was even punishable by death. Now, however, a "hate crime" as it is referred to, against a homosexual person, whether it be attacking them, abusing them, even killing them based on the fact that they are gay is a criminal offence and people can be served a heavy sentence for it. A far cry from the days when homosexual people were killed for being gay.

Despite the obvious advances that have been made to try and give gay people as many rights as heterosexual people get, including being allowed to recieve state and health benefits, they are still not fully accepted in the community. There will, in my opinion, always be those who cannot understand that anyone would dare to behave differently to society's rigid normality that they have grown so accustomed to. But the truth of the matter is, we don't have control over who we are as people. You do not decide to be homosexual. I believe it is built into your genes, just as your hair colour and personality are. We would not reject a person from society based on what kind of music they prefer or what food they like. Why? Because it's a preference, a relation to your personality and the uniqueness that makes you, you. Being gay is nothing more than that. An in-built preference for the same sex. It isn't wrong and it isn't a sin. God may like to tell those who listen to Him that homosexuality is an "abomination" but then how do those people, who believe that God created man, be so hateful towards a person for being gay when after all, God was the one who made them. "In the image of Himself" might I add. At the end of the day, we are all different. We like different things and act differently from one another. The world would be a dull place if we were all the same. And it is the beauty of that, that makes us incredible as a species.

1 comment:

  1. Phewf, and one last one! I'm on the fence when it comes to the gays. I know more lesbians than gay men, oddly.

    Look deeper in this. On one side, the evidence on both sides of the argument is hopelessly flawed. The biological basis for homosexuality is circumstantial at best, and the freq statistics are discredited.

    On the religious side, the word in Leviticus for "abomination" is actually "toeyvah", and means "ritually unclean" (e.g. like pork, shellfish etc). It was mistranslated in the KJV (from Hebrew, to the Latin Vulgate, then English). It's a command for the Jewish people to act differently to their neighbouring Canaanite male priests, who would dress up as women and use sodomy in their worship rituals.

    The God argument is difficult. A lot of people claim it's a consequence of original sin entering creation, but that doesn't explain the 1600+ animal species that exhibit homosexual behaviours, that were all here before man 200k years ago, and according to scripture, lack the consciousness to be sinful (hence being used for substitutional atonement sacrifice).

    The best theory i've heard is that homosexuality is nature's evolutionary response to overpopulation. That doesn't detract from God loving every single child he's created, equally and passionately. How a gay man or woman chooses to respond to that must be a torturous struggle. And it's my hope that one day my church will be the one place that all LGBT people will run towards with open arms, knowing they're loved, accepted, welcomed and missed.