*Note: This post contains mature themes such as homosexuality, child molestation and homophobia. Ask yourself whether its okay for you to proceed reading this article. Its a short history of how I, a heterosexual, had to learn to deal with my own fears regarding gays, theoretically and experientially. There is only good reason which justifies my posting this and that is the possibility that someone else is also trying to figure out his/her feelings on the same and that a little help might be useful to get them in the right direction.
"It got Lawrence to thinking. From an evolutionary standpoint, what was the point of having people around who were not inclined to have offspring? There must be some good, and fairly subtle, reason for it.
The only thing he could work out was that it was groups of people - societies - rather than individual creatures, who were now trying to out-produce and/or kill each other, and that, in a society, there was plenty of room for someone who didn't have kids as long as he was up to something useful."
Since things like these usually have a story behind them, here's mine:
Scene 1: I must have been around my middle-teens when I had my first encounter with a homosexual. This was while I was living in Sharjah and I was walking back home from the bus-stop. A man stopped me and asked for directions. Since it was nearby, I walked him to my building and told him to go further on and he would reach his destination. As I entered my apartment complex, he started following me. While I walked up the stair-case, he runs up to me and starts to touch me near the area below the waist while at the same time making indecent gestures at his own pelvis. I am scared shitless so I run to the elevator, get it to open and jump abroad leaving the pervert on the ground floor. Thankfully, that's the last I see of him.
Scene 2: While I was working in Accenture for its BPO section in Bangalore, a colleague started sending weird messages to my cellphone. It did sound strange and I told him frankly that his sms' were sounding gay. He denied it was anything like that and so I told him that I didn't have any problems with people being what they were but please leave me out of it since I was happily hetero. At this point he confides to me that he's actually not gay but that a male friend of his did get him drunk once and took advantage of him. After I left Accenture, I never heard of him either.
Scene 3: This happened a few days back while I was traveling in a public bus (in Bangalore again). I am standing inside and holding one of the bars located on the roof with my right hand. After a while I feel that the person in front of me is staring at me so I look back. He has this strange look on his face and continues looking me in the eyes. I don't know what to make of it and I gaze away. Then he positions his hand near my right hand and tries to put his fingers in my hand so I just pull my hand back. The message is still not clear for him and he tries to get my attention by hitting my elbow once in a while with his own. I feel my anger rising but I act as if I don't understand what's happening and get out as quickly as possible when my stop comes over.
It was unfortunate that my first experience with a homosexual should also be with a child-molester. Of course, scene 1 is not a clear representation of most gays but that doesn't register in my mind then. Thus begins my aversion to men who prefer men the way I prefer women. My Catholic upbringing also reinforces the idea that they would all go to hell some day and I didn't have to bother myself by thinking about them anymore.
After I start college and get myself a more "liberal" education, I start opening my mind to the fact that gays and lesbians are people like us and that they were just wired that way through no fault of their own. Since I was not still fully convinced with the scientific reasons of such cases (is it nature or nurture?), I resolved the case by telling myself that since everyone could do what they wanted with their life, so I wouldn't have to mind what they did so long as they didn't want me in the picture. That's how I could handle scene 2.
Scene 3 was not pretty. It triggered my initial fears and homophobic reaction. And I suddenly realized that one of the reasons why some heterosexuals beat up homosexuals is that they, on some level, harbor the fear that they might get raped by gays and that the best defense would be to attack. I tried thinking it through but it was real difficult for me to get myself to think logically for two days. After a while, I got a different track and started thinking about some of the crushes I have had on some of the beautiful babes I had met in Bangalore. I also recounted to myself of some cases where some girls had taken a special liking to me too. This led me to remember a particular lady who I liked at my work. I had sent her an sms expressing my feelings when I left the place but she didn't reply to it. Emails were unanswered and when I tried to call her, she didn't pick up the phone. While I am going down this memory lane I suddenly realize that my previous feelings of homophobia were gone. Poof!
Here's what happened. In the bus, it was gay-boy and me. While I was thinking about the girl who didn't return my calls, I actually stepped into the shoes of the homosexual for a moment. The scenario was the same. I was not showing any signs of reciprocating the gay's feelings which was similar to the girl's psychological rejection of my own feelings for her.
This made me regain my original state of mind and I could finally see things clearly. Rather than be angry at him, I realized that the other person was just different and that I could not do anything about it. And that was okay since that's how it should be.