Today is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and as much as I’ve made myself believe over the years that I’ve always been lucky enough to never have been on the receiving end of homophobia, that is exactly how much I’ve fooled myself. Because, quite simply, every single person not identifying as straight has been on the receiving end of it.
And yes, we all know I have a dramatic personality, and I don’t want to trivialise or diminish the effects of gay-bashing and the pure hatred displayed in Russia and too many other countries, but this blog post is not about comparing, it’s about showing how utterly engrained homophobia is in our every day life.
I’m not just talking about that time when I entered my own bedroom at the tender age of seventeen, not long after having come out to my family, and found a piece of paper with the word ‘DYKE’ scribbled on it on my desk (courtesy of my sister’s boyfriend, a certified asshole who—thankfully—disappeared from her life not long after.)
I’m referring to every time someone asks my wife and I if we are sisters (if, like us, you live in Asia, this happens a lot.) (Funny, related story: A local friend introduced us to his mother once and she immediately asked if we were married. We confirmed enthusiastically, a little perplexed by her forward way of thinking, upon which she asked the following question: “Then where are your husbands?”) Not homophobia, just ignorance, I hear you say. But what is homophobia if not ignorance?
I’m talking about all the local people I know in Hong Kong, all grown men and women, for whom it’s simply not an option to come out of the closet. Or about a friend of my mother’s who, when my mother told her I’d come out, dryly said: “I always thought so.”
I’m talking about the small stuff, those daily life occurrences that often don’t even deter me anymore—because I’ve gotten used to them. I’ve grown a thick skin. I’ve come to expect it, really. And, most of the time, I can’t even hold it against the person saying something silly, like my straight friend who keeps asking me when I’ll write something for ‘her people’.
And I’m sure that, if I were straight, I’d be the same, because in most cases it’s not malice, just the aforementioned ignorance. But it doesn’t take away from the fact that growing up queer is growing up different—and growing up is already so hard to do.
Even in our own community, where, I’m ashamed to say, bi-phobia still reigns supreme, being different from the norm is frowned upon. Apparently, you need to be either this or that, and there’s no room for anything in-between, because, for some reason, certain grey areas are so difficult to grasp. And, in the end, isn’t that what it boils down to: understanding—or the lack thereof.
So, to say it in writerly terms (and in the immortal words of Alex Vause in Orange Is The New Black when she’s pleasuring a very loud, vocal Piper): “Show, don’t tell.”
Don’t tell your LGBTQ friend, co-worker, acquaintance or family member that ‘you don’t have a problem with them being gay’. (Even though, I’m sure, in some situations it means a lot.) So many people say it every day, but what does it really mean? Don’t tell us but, instead, show us. Show us by simply treating us exactly the same way as you would treat anyone else.
No blog hop without a giveaway! One lucky commenter will win a copy (e-book) of French Kissing: Season One (yes, the boxed set.) Simply leave a comment (no requirements regarding content, but saying something nice is always appreciated ;-)) before the hop ends on May 24th for a chance to win.
You can find all participants to the hop here: https://hopagainsthomophobia.blogspot.ca/2014/03/hop-against-homophobia-and-transphobia.html