I hope you are all doing well and enjoying this un-spring like weather… at least here in New York.
The other night, I was sitting on my couch watching television, when a commercial came on, announcing that May 17 was The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Did you know that this was even a thing? I for sure didn’t, and I’m a Gay man… just in case the guy I’m in a relationship with didn’t tip you off. But I can tell you from first hand experience, I understand the need for it.
Picture it… Thanksgiving 2015. My boyfriend and I (again I’m Gay) went to my Mother’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. It was the first family function my boyfriend was attending, and the first time he was meeting most of my family. He had briefly met my Mother once before, but I digress.
A heated discussion began between myself and another guest after she had said that she was thankful to be in a country where everyone was free to be who they were, and everyone was equal, to which I responded that although I appreciated the sentiment, I had to disagree. We touched on several topics, including women making less money then men, the Syrian Refugees not being allowed in the country and how it was similar to the Jews being turned away during World War II, and even some of the comments being made by several political candidates at the time, including a woman running for Governor who had said that all Jews should convert to Christianity. But for me, the biggest debate arose in regard to the rights of Gays in America.
I made it a point to mention that up until this past June, I did not have the right to get married in all fifty states, yet the government had no problem taking my money for taxes. And even now that it is legal to marry in every state, some states were still trying to overturn the law. The response I got was that I don’t know how lucky I had it because in other countries, I would be killed for being me. I agreed that in other countries it was worse, but I didn’t think it was SO much better here in America, and used the examples of Matthew Shepard being left for dead on a fence and Kevin Aviance being beaten up outside a club to make my point. I also said that even here, in New York, with a HUGE gay population, I still live in fear every day of being attacked if I walked down the street holding my boyfriend’s hand. I didn’t even mention that I was gay bashed and sexually assaulted going home from a club years ago. But again, I didn’t know what I was talking about.
Being that there were little kids present, the conversation was dropped based on the fact that it really wasn’t the appropriate venue and audience for such a discussion. My boyfriend and I soon left to attend another Thanksgiving event, leaving everyone else still at my Mother’s. I own my part in the conversation, and although I completely agree that the conversation was not appropriate at that time, I stand by every word I said, and there was much more left unsaid.
I want to take this one step further by saying that along with being a Gay man, I am also a Syrian Jew, and I grew up in a community where people are excommunicated for being Gay. I, myself, have even been told, by my own Mother, and in front of other people, that I need to understand that this is the way it is, and I should accept it. In my opinion, it seems to be more forgivable within the community to be a drug addict, abuser, adulterer, or even a child molester than being a Gay man. Because being Gay is a sin.
Make no mistake, I would like nothing more than to believe that my family loves and supports me unconditionally, but I also am fully aware of the fact that when push comes to shove, the community will always come first. Telling me to just accept it would be asking me to accept injustice and bigotry, and me trying to change their beliefs would be no different than them trying to change mine. Unfortunately, we will never see eye to eye on this, and I’m pretty sure that because of this, there have been plenty of family occasions that my invitation has gotten lost in the mail. Oh, and did I mention, we have barely spoken since Thanksgiving?
So what is the point of me bringing this all up? I guess my point is that although I wish it wasn’t necessary, I get the need for a day against Homophobia and Transphobia, even here in the good old USA. We live in a time where Sexism, Ageism, Racism and Homophobia exist in full force. We live in a world where religious freedom is used as an excuse to hate others. We live in a country that believes that Gays will ruin the sanctity of marriage, where the big debate going on right now is which bathroom a Trans-person should use, and we are completely on board with having a buffoon like Donald Trump run for President. REALLY AMERICA?????
PEOPLE… where are the priorities and values? Let's speak up and begin to bring awareness, education and compassion to the forefront, no matter what the subject is. I want to believe that America is this great melting pot of freedom, but it’s not going to happen unless we get our act together and change our way of thinking.
It's time to Wake Up!