Sunday, July 19, 2009

I'm sorry

Ned's recent blog post got me to thinking as he blogged about his old friend - homophobia.

True confession: I was once a homophobe. Mind you, I wasn't going around spouting anti-gay epitaphs, I was much more subtle in my disdain for homosexuals. But, I was a homophobe just the same, consider

  • I would tell the occasional gay joke that usually played upon gay stereotypes.
  • I bought into the idea that gays were destroying the institution of marriage
  • I once volunteered in California to go door to door soliciting votes for a ballot initiative against gay marriage.
  • I openly rejoiced with others when the U.S. Supreme court ruled in favor of the Boy Scouts of America and their right to dismiss gay scouts and scouters.
Although, to be fair, I wasn't a complete neanderthal with my homophobia
  • I had a "live and let live" philosophy on life. What two people did behind closed doors was their business, not mine. I just didn't want them to be in my face about it.
  • Although I was in favor of the Supreme court decision regarding the BSA, I felt a better decision would have been to leave it up to the chartering organizations if they were going to allow gay scouts/scouters. That is, let organizations, like the LDS church, forbid it in their units, but allow other chartering organizations to set their own rules. In fact, I still feel this way.
  • Although I was against gay marriage, I would have begrudgingly accepted civil unions as a compromise solution
But, in the midst of this homophobia, I was faced with some hard to swallow facts
  • My eyes were always drawn to cute guys
  • Erotic dreams were always of the homo variety
  • My occasional lapses into pornography was always of gay content
Thinking back, it boggles my mind that I was able to remain in complete denial for so long. I knew I was attracted to guys - but I wasn't gay. It was simply my cross to bear, the thorn in my side, my dirty shameful secret I was prepared to take with me to the grave.

But everything is different now. I have finally accepted that

being attracted to guys = gay

I'm working hard to overcome the shameful feelings for being gay - and I have made progress on that front.

But, there is another shame I don't know if I'll ever be able to overcome. Not for being gay, but for hating gay - the things I did, the attitude I had, the disdain I felt for the family I didn't know I had. And, I can't help but wonder who I hurt in my blind contempt, having been totally oblivious to their pain.

And for that, I am truly sorry.

Is there anything I can do to make up for a life time of homophobia?

Somehow, blogging anonymously about being gay just doesn't seem to cut it.


Bravone said...

Abe, we carry enough shame that adding another shame to the pile won't help. Most of us, at least older ones, have gone through the same phase. Society and its understanding of homosexuality has changed dramatically since we were younger. Heck, people were still naming their kids Gay when we were younger!

You are a good man. You have a big heart. Don't fret about the past.

Philip said...

Yes, there is something you can do to make up for your homophobia.

Make sure as a teacher that you do everything you can comfortably do to stop homophobia in your classroom and on the schoolgrounds.

There will be three main groups you will be helping by doing this(actually four):
a) gay kids - even those years off from acknowledging it.
b) straight children of gay parents
c) gay teachers
d) homophobic young people

Now I am not going to tell you how to stop homophobia in schools (though I have some ideas) because I am not the expert - GLSEN is.

GLSEN can show you the many things teachers can do from the very basic to the more substantial that might require more confidence in dealing with this topic then you currently.

In other words, there are easy things that every teacher can do and there are things that as a teacher you can strive for.

Also, GLSEN provides step-by-step guides on how to deal with everyday school situations.

So make up for the past by working for a better future.


Philip said...

I think it's difficult to get rid of the last remnants of internalized homophobia.

What I am trying to say is that I don't think any of us are totally off the hook.

Well maybe those that live openly gay lives so have had to face their homophobia head on.

There are some areas I am still homophobic about.

For instance, when I walk into a Church, I don't feel welcome and there is nothing making me feel unwelcome except me.

In other areas I have worked hard to get comfortable with my sexuality yet homophobia still shows up usually when least expected.

For instance, children. I no longer feel gay people are harmful to children. I use to feel anxious about gay people showing any kind of affection around children. But I can't say I am no longer homophobic when it comes to kids because I have never really put it to the test.

I think children is one area where a lot of gay adults are very homophobic.


TGD said...

I like what Philip said about children stuck a cord with me. I spent decades fretting over my personal homophobia in that I was a harm to children.

I too had become a homophobe in ways similar to you.

Nonetheless, it's in the past.

There is no sense holding on to to the shame. I forgive myself for not knowing any better, I forgive myself for the bad things I have said, I forgive myself for the horrible hatred I used to harbor toward other people and myself.

I'm no longer "that" person anymore.

I also like what Philip had to say about ways to make up for your homophobia. Turning it outward and supporting and educating. It's service. Giving service has an amazing power to heal yourself as well as those you serve.