In high school a male in my peer group chose to “come out” as a homosexual. I felt negative toward this person as my (Christian) upbringing taught me this is wrong. I also didn’t like the way it changed his personality – it appeared to me he was trying to live up to some “gay” stereotypes.
I was taught growing up that homosexuality was a sin. Also, being from a rural area, people around me had very negative views towards homosexuality and people are not very tolerant. I would like to add though, that they are not very tolerant of any minority groups!!
It stopped around the time a close mate of mine came out to me. I will tell you the story – I hadn’t seen this bloke for quite some time but we got on like a house on fire and always did – since grade one, and we lived around the corner from each other. We were on a normal camping/hiking trip and we were sharing a tent together and one night during the laughter and chit chat he felt comfortable enough to tell me he is bi. My initial reaction was “gross”, but then I had a quick think about all the really great times we’ve shared and how I really liked his personality and how this hadn’t changed since he’d come out. I also thought about the struggle he had obviously been through, “hiding” this and waiting for the right moment to tell people. This really made me consider other homosexual people and changed my views as a whole.
Moving away from home to the city and living at university also changed my views. I was exposed to people who were not intolerant and would not tolerate my intolerance. I met some really great people (who just so happened to be homosexual) which made me realise they are not so different to myself.
When I was in high school I engaged in homosexual bullying. It was easy to call someone a “fag” or “poofter” or whatever without thinking of the consequences. There was another example where a homosexual bloke (whom I didn’t particularly get on with) was hitting on me – saying he liked my arse, thought I had nice lips… it went on. I asked him politely to stop, which he didnt seem to take notice of. As it continued I threatened him and even approached a teacher and told her about it, however she didn’t take much notice, or at least he didn’t listen to her. He said it to me once when I was in a foul mood so I turned around and punched him in the face, guts and kicked him to the ground. Looking back, I probably took out a bit of my frustration of the day as well. He got the message and backed off and eventually we made up and are Facebook friends to this day.
I still reflect on this (with shame) and my actions and how much high school must have been a struggle for him, as well as growing up with intolerant parents and peers. I tell this story to other homophobic people I meet, but I will admit I still tell homophobic jokes from time to time.
What would I say to someone who is homophobic? Be tolerant. Think of others. You might miss out on making some really great friends.
What would I say to a homosexual wanting to come out to a straight person? Pick your moment, make sure it is someone you trust, don’t let being a homosexual change the way you are.