Am I a 'Homophobe'?
Can a person with close friends who are homosexuals be called a "homophobe" if she thinks homosexual behavior is wrong?
I'd like to tell you about three of my longtime friends -- David, Marcia, and Sean -- as well as my "double"-cousin, Michael, and one of my college professors, Prof. Hathaway.
David entered my life in 1974, shortly after he befriended my older brother, Jon. I was 10; David was 13. Even if David hadn't become my foster brother, he still would have been a "brother" to me. I'll never forget the mornings we walked to the bus stop together, amidst the sub-zero chill of Michigan's December or the sun-bathed breezes of May. Neither will I forget our unabashed moments of silliness, nor the seriousness with which we debated the issues of the day. Though we've lived nearly 3,000 miles apart for many, many years, due to my having moved to California in 1982, we are as close as ever in our hearts.
Marcia entered my life, and became my dear friend, in 1978. She may have been nearly as old my mother, but that never mattered to me -- or to her. Much to my delight, she quickly developed an interest in my poetry and even to this day asks me to send her copies of my latest work. Despite the miles that have separated us for more than three decades, we think of each other often and continue to keep in touch.
Sean entered my life in 1983, when I attended West Valley College in Saratoga. He was my assigned creative writing tutor. Sean is one of the most compassionate, considerate men I've ever known. My relationship with him is very special, for it is based on trust, respect, and steadfast encouragement: we trust each other to keep one another's "confidences"; we respect each other's opinions -- even when we staunchly disagree; and we encourage each other, honestly, to spend the rest of our (earthly) lives realizing our God-given potential.
My "double"-cousin, Michael, was born six years before I was, but I can remember his side-splitting antics all the way back to first grade. I could hardly wait to see him whenever I learned that he and his brothers were coming for a visit. Indeed, he never ceased to make me laugh from the moment he arrived to the moment he said "goodbye." If only he had lived closer and could have come more often, I could have spent that much more of my childhood "rolling" joyously on the proverbial "floor."
Professor Hathaway entered my life in 1990 -- while I was working toward my Bachelor's at Cal. State, Stanislaus. She was unusually engaging in front of the class and expected each of her students to work as hard as he or she could to obtain the highest grades possible. As such, she taught me a great deal about writing -- in only one semester.
Why have I told you about David, Marcia, Sean, Michael, and Prof. Hathaway? I've told you about them because they have something in common: they are homosexuals.
Of course, the fact that they are homosexuals would mean nothing to you -- if not for the following fact: I am utterly, 100% opposed to homosexuality. I not only think it's unnatural, but I think it's morally wrong, and the thought of it repulses me.
Now, if you're thinking that because I disavow homosexuality, I can't possibly be friends with homosexuals, can't love them deeply, can't enjoy their company, can't admire their intellect -- i.e., if you think my "disavowal" renders me a "homophobe" -- think again.
I may be at odds with homosexuality, but I am not afraid of it. Rather, I'm afraid of losing someone close to me; of walking into a grocery store or restaurant and having my head blown off; of getting into a wreck on the freeway and ending up a paraplegic. I'm afraid of being told I have some fatal disease that's going to cause me a slow and painful death, and, yes, I confess, I'm afraid of bumblebees.
Granted, when I was young and going through all the physical/emotional changes an adolescent/teenager inevitably goes through, I did fear homosexuality. I did wonder, with deep and silent horror, if someday I'd find I was attracted to women instead of men. Why did I "wonder with horror"? Why did I fear? Because, as I just said: the thought of two people of the same sex doing with each other what two people of the opposite sex (innately) do flat-out repulsed me.
The thing is, however, my sense of fear quickly dissipated -- unlike my sense of repulsion -- amid my growing desire to forge an intimate relationship with someone outside my gender. (Please note: this fear I speak of never caused me to withdraw or shy away from David, Marcia, Sean, Michael, or Ms. Hathaway.)
Today I am extremely happy, totally satisfied with the man I married nearly 20 years ago. I mention I'm happy and satisfied because it's apparent that those of you who make liberal use of the terms "homophobia," "homophobic," and "homophobe" are trying to imply not only that we who oppose homosexuality are mean, hateful, unenlightened, narrow-minded clods -- but also that we're denying ourselves infinite pleasure and fulfillment -- all because we choose to have sex solely with members of the opposite sex.
By frequently employing such terms, you merely sabotage your efforts to make certain that homosexuality is ultimately sanctioned by those of us who would strike it from existence if we could.
Hence, I kindly, yet candidly, say: if you truly want to draw us closer to you, instead of pushing us farther and farther away -- relinquish your cocky, condescending attitudes; dismount your "gay-pride" pedestals, and pluck from your verbal "repertoire" every "homophobic" cliché. Love us whether or not we condone your lifestyle choices, whether or not we share your sexual point of view.
Homosexuality has never stood between me, David, Marcia, Sean, Michael, or Prof. Hathaway. Why should it stand between me and you?