I’ve come to accept that I am frequently annoyed with straight people when it comes to their, sometimes, complete lack of understanding of homosexuality. Like most of you I have been asked questions such as, “but don’t you want to know what sex with a girl is like?” or my favorite, “how do you know you don’t like having sex with girls if you’ve never tried it.” It is through these stupid questions that I’ve been able to understand, although absolutely not accept, where gay bashings start from. There is sometimes such a lack of understanding, and a fear, that some people give themselves (wrongly) the okay to hurt other people – either physically or verbally.

Last weekend, I was over at my friends place for dinner where I was one of 5 gay men sitting around the dinner table. Alcohol had only just started flowing, food was plentiful and the conversation was polite and maybe even a little bit surface – we didn’t all know each other. My friend was talking about how his ex-boyfriend used to always hold his hand, no matter where they were, when I stated, “I love that. I like that he has the confidence to push people to accept him as opposed to worry that someone might not like it.” Suddenly, from across the table there was a response, “Well – I think that some gays should get bashed.” Ummm…WHAT?! There was a moment of dead silence, and a dreaded look all around the table, before I calmly replied, “It’s people like you who give straight people permission to bash us.”

As you can imagine, the discussion got heated from there with a four on one scenario. The man who made the comment would not back down or change his view – rather he chose to further his opinion. At that point I chose to leave the table. I had listened to quite enough. I usually try to educate someone when they make hurtful statements that can very negatively affect people, but I didn’t know what to do. There was no learning to be done – this man had the facts. He was 20 years older than me – he’d watched some of his friends die of AIDS, he’d watched his friends fight for equal rights…but he still thought it was okay in certain situations to hate on other gays.

What do we do, as a community, when one of our own says it’s okay to hate (not make fun of, not dislike, or disagree with – but hate, in the truest sense of the word) another one of us? How do we educate someone who is already educated? As I pose this question, just like at the dinner I was at, I don’t know what the answer is. A part of me thinks that we should have a big ol’ gay community meeting and condemn these individuals…they’re never going to have sex again! Another part of me thinks that I should sit back and watch them get bashed and not do anything if something were to happen to them…that’d teach ‘em! But these things are not true to who I am. I’d only be adding to the problem if I too partook in the hate.

Since last Friday, I have been contemplating writing this article – wondering if I had enough material to make my point. I mean, for me, it was one guy at one dinner party. I don’t think that I’ve encountered another homosexual who hates other gays (or at least allows for hate of other gays) other than this one time. Then, out of pure coincidence, two openly gay Hollywood directors made statements this past week about how they thought that gay actors should stay in the closet. Now – I’ll admit that I didn’t look into these statements very far, mostly out of annoyance, but how does making comments like that further our cause of equal rights? Just like with the man at my dinner, it just sets us back and makes straight people think that they can make the same types of comments.

My patience may be short with these types of people, but in the end education is the best method against hate. I know that I said the man at my dinner party was educated but maybe he’s still having a hard time putting two and two together – and if that’s the case, maybe if I stayed at the table I could have helped him bridge the gap. I suppose that if something like my dinner happens again, I won’t excuse myself. I’ll try and keep cool and keep reiterating the importance of supporting each other, especially in the midst of people who aren’t likely to believe that homosexuality is “right”. Sometimes being gay is about something bigger than just parties and sex – sometimes it’s about helping people find acceptance for others.

Submitted by: Allan W.

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