Yesterday I made a Snapchat/Instagram story about a constant reminder I and the gay community are subjected to daily. As those stories expire within 24 hours and this ongoing struggle does not, I felt the need to create something more permanent. I ask that you read this article all the way through with an open mind.
Being gay in this decade, I have been afforded a level of acceptance that was not given to those who fought for it. I am allowed to marry, I am allowed to adopt, I am allowed to obtain and keep a job and I am allowed to openly serve in the military. (Unfortunately, I cannot add the right to be refused service due to recent events.) For the most part, I am an equal citizen with equal rights. But, I am not afforded the right to be considered normal.
In my everyday life, I am constantly reminded that I am not normal because of who I am. Society labels everything that is classified as homosexual with the prefix ‘gay’ (ie. gay marriage). Yet, this is not necessary for anything classified as heterosexual because it is considered the norm. This need to label prevents true equality. Equality in this instance is treating homosexuality the same as heterosexuality, which would be eliminating the label/need to label.
I do not believe that this fixation is intentional, I believe it is subliminal. It’s a habit that is reinforced by references made in the media, by influencers on our lives and by those who surround us. Every time it happens it becomes more a part of our speech behaviors and less of conscious thought. We do not think about the things we are saying or the message it carries. But we should, because it carries a strong message of discrimination. Society is discriminating against the gay community by not affording us the luxury of not being labeled. It’s subliminal homophobia.
Referring back to my comments about acceptance, I have felt it from society and those in my life. But this constant reminder limits the acceptance. It frustrates me that people pride themselves on not being homophobic but the comments coming out of their mouth prove otherwise. A small form of unintentional discrimination is still discrimination. I have pointed this out many times but unfortunately, my comments are not received. It’s frustrating, it’s hurtful and annoying.
Homosexuality carries a stigma. When two straight men are engaging in something that could be considered gay, there becomes a need to clarify their intentions as “no homo”. Yet, the need to clarify something that could be considered straight does not warrant a defense. This action puts down homosexuality as wrong. Again, it is frustrating to hear those same people say there are very accepting of the gay community but they don’t hear how their actions contradict that sentiment. Their actions are expressing a fear of homosexuality, a fear of being perceived homosexual, a fear of being looked at as not normal. Unconsciously, they know the frustrations I am expressing- yet they are not aware enough to know that what they are afraid of is what they subjecting me to.
I do not understand the need to label people, actions or communities. I do not understand the fear the heterosexual community, in particular, straight men, have about being perceived as gay. I do not understand why society is not aware that they are segregating the gay community and unconsciously putting us down. I certainly do not understand why I constantly need to be reminded that I am not normal and I am living in a heterosexual world, not an equal world.
If you take one thing away from this, understand that homophobia is not limited to fear of gay people or non-acceptance, but includes the innate fear of being perceived as gay yourself. I ask that you reflect on your words, your feelings and work to eliminate the insecurities of your sexuality. I hope one day we will be able to remove the stigma, eliminate the fear and live in a world of true equality.