About fifteen years or so ago, I became good friends with a gay couple who lived next door to me. They were great guys, and fantastic neighbors. It never dawned on me that someone in my family would have an issue...but someone did.
Now, it wasn't some big hate filled drama like a lot of folks have experienced, but it really hurt me that someone I love would reject someone who had become a good friend. And the worst bit? It was caused by ignorance--the lack of knowledge kind.
So I had my family member come over and I introduced him to my neighbors. He was afraid he would catch gay cooties or something. Or that he'd get somehow groped and have to fight his way out.
Then something crazy happened. Brace yourself, it's wild. He realized my neighbors were--wait for it--regular guys. *gasp* I know, right?
There was absolutely nothing to be afraid of. They weren't going to do bad things to his ass, they weren't going to do anything to his ass. (Okay, they may have sneaked a peak when he wasn't looking!)
Thing is, I saw something that day that changed me as well. I saw someone overcome an irrational fear and learn to accept someone for their differences. It was a really beautiful thing to see.
Irony? A few years later, that family member became a "boss man" at his job. And he hired an assistant who could flame on. Whoa did that fella have more than his share of flamboyance. And it didn't bother my family member at all. He'd shrug and say, "That's just him. He's funny, huh?"
I know I can't really take the credit for that change taking place in him, but I'd like to think that I played a small part.
Homophobia is so very real, and it hurts. I'd like to think I do my part to change people's lives. I don't allow gay jokes to be told in my presence. It's a little thing, but I stand up and say "no, it's not okay." I don't try to force anyone to believe the way I do, but I make sure they know what I believe and why.
It's the little things that make a difference. I truly believe that. Each person who makes a change starts a ripple in the water. Those ripples turn into waves. And one of these days--one day very soon--there will be more people who aren't afraid and uneducated than the other.
That's my hope. I see the changes happening, one person and one family member at a time. I'd like for it to be faster, of course. I'd love for my new friends to not have to worry about hate and fear. For them to live their lives filled with love and support.
It'll happen. One day soon. Until then, I'll keep doing what I'm doing. I'll keep finding little ways to make a big difference.
Homophobia may hurt, but we have the power to heal. I hope the blog posts today for the Hop Against Homophobia will do that in some way.
The organizers have asked us to donate a prize. I'm happy to do so. If you'd like to read my book, feel free to leave a comment and I'll draw a winner. Please take a look at some of the posts by other authors in this event. Each of us can support the other and this community of change.
We're ready to end the hate.
You can find more information here: http://hopagainsthomophobia.blogspot.com/