With Michael Sam becoming the first openly-gay football player to compete in the Canadian Football League and the Bruce Jenner transformation both making front page news, there have been a lot of recent discussions about homosexuality as well as transgendered individuals. I’ve read two excellent pieces about homosexuality recently by a fellow blogger. I’d invite you to read her story about coming out as well as her thoughts about every day ordinary people coming out. I shared a story with her that I’d like to share with all my readers.
When I was just starting my career out of college, I met a really great guy in a neighboring lab named Shawn. Shawn was a very attractive guy, probably about 15 years older than I was and was always surrounded by very attractive women. I envied Shawn because I wished women paid attention to me like that. He had a charming personality and a smile for everyone.
One day, shortly after Christmas break, I asked Shawn how his holiday was.
“Not good,” he informed me. “My boyfriend kicked me out of the house.”
My face obviously showed surprise.
“Oh, you didn’t know?” he asked.
I was startled by both the revelation and the question.
“Well I never thought about it, to be honest,” I told Shawn.
“That’s okay,” he said with a laugh. “It is part of who I am but it doesn’t define me. It is not like I walk around with a card that says, “I’m here and I am queer” or anything like that.”
I laughed too realizing he was obviously trying to put me at ease.
That was over ten years ago and I still remember that conversation to this day. I never thought about Shawn, or anyone for that matter, being homosexual cause it never mattered to me. It isn’t something I judge a person on so I shouldn’t care.
Prejudice against homosexuals is taught, just like racism. I didn’t grow up in a household with parents that taught me to hate homosexuals or condemn then. “You judge people on their character and how they treat others,” I can still hear my father say.
Because of that, I never cared whether someone was homosexual or attempted to determine it. There is still a large struggle by that community for acceptance but my hope is that one day we will no longer need to announce to society that people are gay because no one will honestly care. It will just be part of that person but won’t define them.
You don’t have to understand homosexuality or even like it. People naturally fear what they don’t understand and attempt to condemn it. But, don’t be naive and uneducated either. I can recall growing up in the deep south of the United States and individuals of Christian faith decrying homosexuality over the fear that “everyone would soon become homosexual and the human race would no longer be able to reproduce.” This is beyond absurd.
I can also recall some people turning the tables that Christians were being persecuted locally for their beliefs and made to be the bad guys. If you have been to the deep south, you know that Christians aren’t being persecuted for anything. I recall my college professor telling us that if people really believe that, “they should walk down any city in the Bible Belt with a shirt on that says “I am gay” and then switch to a shirt that says “I am Christian” and see who is persecuted.”
Moral of the story. Believe what you want to believe but don’t be dumb. Judge people on their character, integrity, and actions. We aren’t defined by any single characteristic but the sum of all the attributes that make us who we are.