(Trigger warning: swearing and queer shit.)
So much hate and anger stem from ignorance. The difference between ignorance and stupidity is that with ignorance you can learn, change your mind, and not rely on confirmation bias to continue thinking a certain way.
I’ve just read a sampling of comments on a Facebook post asking whether homosexuality is wrong. The post shows a flow chart with various paths, some ending in the positive camp and others in the “ick” camp.
The comments are, as you’d expect, pitiful. Not for their vitriol and hatred, which is all but guaranteed, but for their lack of any sort of effort to even understand what it means to be homosexual.
For what it’s worth, I have no fucking idea either. I helped organise a Pride march in Johannesburg in 2001, and I have no idea what it’s like to be a black lesbian or an Indian gay man.
Gender identity and sexual orientation are not choices. Even the words homosexuality and heterosexuality are archaic. I personally prefer the reclaimed word queer, while others prefer more common LGBT words (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans).
Trouble is, there are so many words now that even the mnemonic QILTBAG (my way of remembering them all) isn’t enough. Asexuals, aromantics, agenders, pansexuals, the many stages of gender identity and expression, all lead me to the conclusion that “human” is probably the best way to describe us.
It’s not a secret that I married a man, and present as male, so therefore would be classified as gay. For the longest time I identified as gay, even though I came out to my mother (over email!) as “not straight”.
I had my reasons. I was unsure of what I wanted, and I’ve been romantically attracted to women over the years too, but in the parlance of the gay community, I’m a gold star gay.
I’m not gay, though. I’m Randolph. I am a human being, with positive and negative traits, both physical and mental. I am defined by how I see myself, not how I spend mumble minutes mumble times a week.
We probably all spend more time sitting on a toilet every week than we do having sex. If that’s the gold standard, do you go about describing yourself, let alone identifying and labelling yourself and the people around you, by the Bristol Stool Scale?
Randolph West. This is my identity, half of which I acquired at birth, and the other half I took on when I got married to the love of my life and my best friend. Everything else is simply a facet.
Some of these facets are new to me, even as I approach 40. I can act, I can sing, I can tune databases, I can write software, I can write websites, I can write books, poetry, and blog posts. I can drive a car, I can drive a bus. I can make coffee and tea and toast, and I bake well, but I’m less amazing at cooking. And I should never dance.
The Internet has opened my eyes to the world of everyday people struggling with things I struggled through in my youth, but I had no way of knowing this was perfectly normal, and at the end of the day, should not define me.
As for what I know about being homosexual, I happen to be attracted to men. Except that’s not true because gender identity and sexuality are not static.
What is a man?
There’s a famous model, originally known as Andrej Prejic, who now identifies as Andreja Prejic. When she first started her career, she passed so convincingly as a woman, that many self-identifying straight men were confused by her appearance.
If being “straight” means sexual and romantic attraction to a person of the opposite sex, that line is getting very blurry.
Aydian Dowling is a transgender man, who first caught my eye in an article about his desire to be on the cover of Men’s Health magazine. He is so extremely attractive as a man, and if I hadn’t read that he was born female, I wouldn’t have known.
I made a comment to a friend that it’s interesting how ridiculous society is, where as a woman, Aydian had to cover up his nipples. As a man, they were not even considered problematic. Same person. Same nipples. Who else thinks that’s completely ridiculous?
Which brings me to one of my favourite songs, “Lola” by The Kinks.
The protagonist sings of meeting a woman in Soho, London, who “walked like a woman and talked like a man”. In the song, the protagonist expresses his love for her, despite finding out that her biological sex is male. How many of you reading this knew what the song was about?
Although the band members can’t agree on the origin story, they do agree it’s based on a real transgender woman their manager met.
Human sexuality is clearly not binary. Gender identity is even less so. In a recent study on male and female brains, it was found that there’s no difference at all between them when it comes to gender or sex.
Homosexuality, just one aspect of being human, isn’t right or wrong. It’s just a facet or trait, like levels of melatonin in the skin, or the shape of an eye. We live less than a century on average, but over 100 billion people have already lived and died before us. If homosexuality is “wrong”, why do straight people keep having gay babies?
There are big problems in this world that need addressing, and maybe 75 good years from each of us to address them. Sexuality isn’t a problem to fix. Education, access to water, access to low-cost healthcare, that’s the important stuff. How you choose to dress, and who you sleep with, especially given how much time in your day is spent doing that, is so unimportant.
How do we address this in a meaningful way? How do we make it so that it does not matter?
Firstly, change all toilets to unisex. You know, like you have in your house. That you and your family and friends all share.
Secondly, stop caring about sex organs, especially since you seem to want them covered up anyway.
Also, breasts are not sexual organs. Stop it.
If you don’t like the idea of two (or more) consenting adults who are different to you having sex, don’t think about it. Seriously. I don’t like the idea of Justin Bieber having sex with Yovanna Ventura or Selena Gomez, so I don’t think about it.
In fact, I don’t even want to think of my own brother and his wife having sex, but they must have if they’re parents.
And if you don’t believe in gay marriage, that’s fine with me. Really. I don’t actually care what you believe in, as long as you treat people the way you expect to be treated.
Mutual respect doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. We can be friends and have opposing thoughts, feelings and beliefs on many topics. In fact, I encourage you to have friends with different ideas. You may learn something!
Just don’t be a dick. I used to be a dick, and it just made people feel bad. We are in this world together. Learn something every day you didn’t know before. That’s how we change the world.
If we harbour negative feelings toward someone because we don’t understand them, or they make us feel uncomfortable, or because someone told us to feel that way, the Internet is there to answer our questions. Read. Learn. Understand. We don’t have to like that thing, but we can at least make the effort to understand it. And the best part is, no one needs to look at our browser history.
Every person is different. We don’t have a choice about our skin colour, eye colour, number of limbs, sex, gender or orientation.
What we do have a choice about is how we treat other people, and that should be how we want to be treated.
It’s our choice to make.