Friday night after having drinks with friends my partner and I walked back home. Our tummies were rumbling and decided to grab something to eat. A Seven-Eleven taquito was our not so glamorous choice, but good enough to ease our hunger. Since we were just a few steps from home we decided to share our greasy choice instead getting our own. Just when we were about to cross the street my partner fed me a bite of this phallic gourmet without noticing two straight boys standing on the opposite side of the street.

These guys, stumbling with drunkenness, asked us for directions. Like good citizens and people we are, we stopped and tried to help them out. We took the time to try to understand what they were saying and where were they going, as they were making no sense. After providing them with directions, just before turning around to keep going we were stopped by a condescending question: “Hey, are you guys gay?” Proud of being who I am and not wanting to hide my sexual preference and being aware that there would be a confrontation I responded: “Yes, we are gay.” The “dude”, as he was called by his friend, started to laugh sarcastically and asked us if we were going to go home to suck each others dicks. His friend, being aware that my partner and I were cold sober and them not even able to keep their sight “straight”, pushed his friend away from us and told him to carry on.

We didn’t want to engage on a fight or pursue an argument. One of them was aware that his buddy was inappropriate to us and things could’ve ended up ugly. However, for the rest of our walk, we couldn’t stop thinking why people are so homophobic. What is it that triggers them to attack people and not respect others?

With that thought in mind we went to sleep. Of course I couldn’t stop thinking, what did we do to deserve this “dude” talking to us that way? Was it his lack of respect towards others? Ignorance? Was it the fact that our society is not used to seeing affection between two men? And come on, when I say affection my partner was feeding me a taquito not kissing me or even having any type of body contact. Could it be that he is probably a closet-case and he was angry to see that there are people out there who decide to live their lives with honesty and dignity? Did he feel threatened by us? Maybe our phallic looking taquito reminded him of something that he always wanted to have in his mouth and he has never had the chance to eat one? But no, the only answer I was able to find, was that there are still a lot of homophobic people out there. But, what is homophobia? Why do people develop it?

Next morning the first thing I did was search for the meaning of homophobia. According to Webster’s dictionary, homophobia means irrational fear of, aversion to or discrimination against homosexuals. According to the Oxford dictionary it means hatred or fear of homosexuals and other dictionaries define it as a term referring variably to antipathy, contempt, prejudice, aversion and fear.

Fear, fear and fear!!! That was the one word I found in all these dictionaries!!! Wow, gay bashers fear homosexuals and that is why they attack them? I just can’t stop thinking how stupid and ignorant a way this is in dealing with fear. Where does this fear comes from? This is a really broad topic. I am not an expert and I am sure a professional would be able to elaborate scientifically on the main source or on what really triggers this fear in homophobic people. It would be irresponsible to say that all homophobic people are closeted gays. One thing I know about fear is that the best way to deal with it is by facing it, not by hiding it, by instigating violence or by taking it off on others. In this case the best way to battle this fear is by educating others. That’s exactly why I stopped to answer this man’s question when he asked us if we were gay. Why do you want to know if we are gay? Is there something I can help you to understand about me being gay? I would’ve been more than happy to answer any other questions without his defensive and aggressive approach.

When I was writing this article I came across a quote in a book that fit this scenario. David Moats, who wrote the foreword for Michelle Bates Deakin’s book Gay Marriage, Real Life says: “Fear follows the advance of gay rights like a shadow”. This reinforces what I already mentioned, our biggest challenge as gay culture is fear and for most of the time fear comes out of ignorance.

People who are homophobic or fight against gay marriage are acting most of the time out of ignorance. Instead of being aggressive and confronting others in a violent way, it would be much wiser to learn about homosexuality. This would provide our society with a better understanding of what homosexuality is all about. Part of me thinks that most people still believe that homosexuals are promiscuous, can’t have stable relationships, and end up with AIDS. This is a distorted image that media gave to our society back in time. Gays and lesbians are people like everyone else but with a different sexual preference – one that doesn’t affect anyone else in society.

As a gay man, I think of me as someone who has a big responsibility to help my family and heterosexual friends to understand why I am gay and what it means to be gay. Since I came out, I have always been open to any type of question from my friends and family. I have always made them aware that there is no stupid question for them to ask and that I would like for them to be better informed rather than wonder and form unnecessary assumptions. To my great surprise, this had helped a lot for my friends and family to understand me and my community better. Even all of my friends whom I thought were closed minded have been extremely supportive and responsive to what I have to say. Now they are more aware and sensitive to other people’s preferences. To me, this is a big step for our society.

So, for all of those gay bashers that are still out there I would highly recommend for them to take a few moments to reflect and learn more about homosexuality. If you have a relative, a colleague or acquaintance who is gay, take the opportunity to ask them what you need to know. And if you are gay, open up the conversation and help people to fight their fears. People don’t have to agree to the answers, but it will help them to respect other people’s feelings.