Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Nightmare Despite Christmas

This time, I shall speak out. I cannot no longer hold my peace, not when I am continually assaulted like this.

Perhaps it is a product of having too much time on my hands, perhaps it is because the winter vacation has afforded me enough space for blogging, or perhaps I am completely fed up with the bullshit thrown my way but, know this, what I am about to write is not born of impulse. I have been thinking of this, for several years now, and the last thing I'll need is an idiot who thinks of my sentiments as nothing more than a rant done on the spur of the moment.

Enough charades; I will not try your patience as mine had been. This is about homophobia.

I count myself as one of those lucky enough to escape the ordeals many homosexual men in our country face. My parents have yet to beat or disown me on account of my sexuality. In private schools, gay boys are either harassed, outcasted or given a wide berth. Worse, in public schools, limp-wristed boys are known to be raped during after-school hours, or even during classes, inside filthy, ill-maintained washrooms that smell of nicotine and sex. Non-consensual sex.

I am born of a Christian family, enrolled in a Catholic school and graduated one of the more prestigious universities in our country. As such, I was not exposed to much of the terrible abuse that haunts those unfortunate to prefer those of the same sex. My classmates in high school were all kept under the watchful eyes of stern nuns, ambitious parents and overbearing teachers; oh, there were mean girls and such groups but the manifestation of hatred rarely developed into something that cannot be shrugged off. Brawls and bouts of fighting were very rare but, even then, the parties involved usually are comprised of a pretty girl and two or more boys. I digress, however.

I must admit, after the pampered spoon-feeding of that Catholic school, college was an immense eye-opener for me. I was surrounded by people who smoke, who swear profusely, who wear, of all things, dining utensils. In my years at the university, I have met chain smokers, alcoholics, drug users and video game addicts. At the risk of being overly proud of my alma mater, I could say that each and every one of those people I have met is somewhat intellectual. Oh, there were prejudices and other such matters of emotions but, in a place ruled by rational thinking, or a close approximation of it, these were toned down to an indistinct hum or buzz in the background: one you can quite easily ignore or miss, if you weren't particularly keen on looking for it.

Working after college was also an eye-opener of an equal, or possibly greater, degree. There was so much food to be had, so many places to go to and so many things to buy, yet one can only earn so much. There are so many idiots out there, waiting to be discovered the moment you step out of the sheltering embrace of school and family. Then there are also homophobes.

I came out to a few people on my second year of college. Some treat it off-handedly, knowing what I was before I even knew of it myself. Some treated it with interest, as though having a gay friend was a very unique experience. I do remember a girl or two who gave me a strange look coupled with a wistful, yet disappointed, sigh. No violent reactions, of course, but, more importantly, no hostile reactions. However, when I stepped into the corporate world, the prejudice against people like me, once a hum, grew to be a deafening and largely threatening rumble that strongly impelled me to tread very carefully.

When I first worked in a corporate environment, I had found myself surrounded by homophobes. More than once, I had mused over the irony of a homosexual having homophobes as his first circle of frie... ahem, "acquaintances" The more I knew them, however, I found myself retracting my unsavory judgments; I, too, had been rather presumptuous. Some of them were actually nice people, if you get to know them better. We enjoyed crude gay jokes at which I took minimal to no offense but, then, we also cracked sexist jokes about women (or more rarely, men) Some of these people, too, I found to be profound, introspective, admirably civil and, rather importantly, I suppose, discreet. I do suspect that a lot of them already knew what I am but, so far, nothing much has changed.

It was here that I thought the worst I could ever experience was a gay joke.

Just recently, I had finally experienced, first hand, what I thought was nothing more than wild and exaggerated claims of attention-deprived individuals. Just this month of holiday cheer, I was proven wrong. People, whom you once thought were intellectual, turned out to be... for lack of a better term, rotten eggs.

It was not a sudden revelation; I had an inkling of a few of my coworkers' thoughts on homosexuality several months before. It begins, I suppose, with the eyes; they tend to be shifty and cannot meet a homosexual's gaze for more than a second. Then the affliction travels down the spine as they unconsciously lean away from you when you are talking to them. It moves to the feet, causing them to seek the maximum possible distance they can put between themselves and any nearby homosexuals. After a while, it also begins to infect the mind, causing one to be forgetful at opportune moments. One has to conveniently return to get a forgotten, if not imaginary, item from one's desk if only to avoid sharing an elevator with a gay guy. As the disease progresses, it also begins to affect the mouth where words tend to slip at inopportune moments, offering a glimpse of the dreaded rotten mass festering within.

These are, I suppose, symptoms exhibited by people with intense homophobia who, pressured by the society, in its gradual enlightenment, have attempted to hide their, for lack of a better word, hatred under a cloak of rational thinking and intellectual reasoning.

Allow me to present to you some observations. Suppose you were alone in the elevator when, at some floor, a black man steps in. If you make a small step to the side and keep watching him warily from the corner of your eye, shame on you, that is racism. If however, instead of a black guy, a gay guy walks in and you also made the same actions, would it be wrong? Why, no, not at all, you reason. There's no being too cautious around gay men, they tend to jump cute guys like you, no? Come to think of it, you should be panicking and trying to get out of there as fast as possible. Already you can feel him staring at you hungrily, drooling inwardly at the hunky piece of meat you are. Yeah, that's good, assume the worst; better safe than sorry, right? Bullshit!

Another one, there's a party and there are several balloons. What wonder of wonders, there happens to be rather long and, allow me to describe, phallic balloons around. If you take one of these lengths and turkey-slap a girl with it, well, shame on you again! That is terribly sexist and is a very good ground for sexual harassment! You don't do that to a girl (except, perhaps, in straight porn films) at least, not in a civil setting, not in public! Now, take the same balloon and slap it on a gay guy's cheeks, why, now it's quite amusing, isn't it? A soft, lengthy, conveniently phallic implement assaulting a homosexual in an act of symbolic domination, now that's quite a comic scene, ain't it? After all, he probably enjoys it, don't they all? After all, they're gay, they're addicted to sex and they're addicted to cock, penises, phalluses, anything long, so it's alright, hm? It's not sexual harassment if they like it, isn't it? And you can always, ALWAYS, assume they like it. Why? 'cause they're gay, that's why! Another bullshit!

Now suppose you were in a mall and an autistic kid accidentally brushes your arm. Now, suppose you, for all that you have learned about tolerance and understanding, reeled back in fright, making that hissing sound a snake makes when threatened. What you did is very, very wrong too. There is probably no -ism word for that yet, but you are being terribly prejudiced. Autism is not a freaky contagion and there usually is no harm meant when an autistic person passes you by. You cannot acquire autism by such a small and fleeting contact. However, of course, if it was a gay guy, it would be very, very different now, wouldn't it? I mean, they're flaming sexual creatures; they're always on the prowl, hunting for eligible men, men like you. There's no harm in jerking your arm way back and instinctively leaping away from them now, is there? After all, you were just trying to protect yourself from them. More and more bullshit, where will it ever end?

I should be enjoying my winter vacation. Even non-believers do enjoy Christmas festivities and Yuletide buffets. Yet, what am I doing? Simmering hatred, feeling injustice, attempting to forgive the unforgivable. All of you, I gave you the benefit of the doubt. Some of you turned out to be nice people. I am very grateful for the warmth shared by a mere handful. I smilingly welcome the openness offered by very few. I admired the unexpected discretion of some of you. For some of those that cannot really accept me as a homosexual guy, I appreciate your silence and, for that, I you have my respect.

However, for those who cannot accept or even tolerate, for those who whisper ill words within earshot and for those who regale companions with pure bullshit on being gay, I sincerely wish you a very Happy and Merry Christmas. For a non-believer like me, that's pretty much the same as a "Fuck you."