I felt bad for my friend because he obviously felt he was doing the right thing by correcting his cousin from referring to their uncle as a "fairy." He asked me "Then, when did he become gay?" I told him "The same time you probably became straight." Now he's really confused. I further explained to him "Your uncle didn't chose to be gay. He just is. I didn't chose to be gay no more than I chose to have blue eyes (which I do) when I was born." I could see that he was struggling to understand. I told him that this is the problem, parents and adults pass down to kids these misconceptions about gays and lesbians. Through their actions and attitudes they pass down to kids that it is alright to discount a gay or lesbian as a human being because that is a "lifestyle that they chose." Sure, I decided when I was four years old (when I knew I was "different") to opt for a life of ridicule, hate and danger. Oh yeah, that's the kind of "lifestyle" I want to live.
This kind of misinformation that is fed to our youth is what contributed to the bullying that a caused 11 year old Carl Joseph Walker to hang himself rather than to constantly hear many of his classmates say "That's so gay" when referring to young Carl's naturally happy demeanor. His mother repeatedly told school officials that her son was being bullied but her pleas were ignored. This tactic permission by adults is what permits the term "faggot" to be used by young children and teenagers as the universal derivative term to put down anybody, gay or straight. A more appropriate piece of information to teach kids would be the definition of the term "faggot" - during the Middle Ages, homosexuals were executed by placing a bundle of sticks placed at the feet of the accused homosexuals to burn them alive at the stake.
Earlier this week I had another one of my frequent discussions with my longtime and former school classmate friend about the Christian church's condemnation of gays. I have to explain this to him because he doesn't understand why I won't admit my "sin" and be "saved." He says "Why do you always have to bring up the homosexual aspect?" I told him "Because the organized church condems me for who I am and calls me a sinner." He advises me to "stop being the martyr and confess my sins and accept Jesus Christ as my savior." Of course he is referring to ALL of my sins. The organized Christian church is very preoccupied with sin. But that's another whole new subject that I won't go into at this time. What I will say though is my response to the oft repeated "hate the sin, love the sinner" line that many of the far right Christian based church use in justifying their bigotry towards gays and lesbians - I hate the (organized) church but love the church goer. In fact, some of my best friends are Christians.
The fact remains that as far as this country (and world) has advanced in the knowledge that gays and lesbians are human beings just like their straight counterparts, there is still a lot of ingrained misinformation out there unwittingly being spread around with all the best intentions.
The look on my co-worker's face when I informed him that his uncle didn't chose the gay "lifestyle", it was priceless. It was sort of like the look on my cousin Elaine's face when I first informed her that I was gay. Momentarily she was puzzled and then she quickly recovered by saying "Oh, I love 'Will and Grace!" Uh......thanks but no thanks. And I bet some of your best friends are black too. By the way, I want to know that the "gay lifestyle" is. It sounds pretty glamorous to me but I must have been home sick from school that day when they gave that lesson at Gay High School. I have the same problem with the famous "Homosexual Agenda." I never got my copy. Of course there is no "homosexual lifestyle" anymore than there is a "homosexual agenda." Again, just more nuggets of misinformation that is spread out there in Straightville, USA every day.
Ironically, if I did have a choice, I wouldn't change a thing. I've been very happy with my life. You might even say I've had a very gay life.