Commentary by James English

The great tragedy of being homosexual is not what is suffered at the hands of society, but rather, those trials and tribulations we suffer at our very own hands by buying into the prejudices our society is steeped in. It is difficult to imagine that we are so very often the authors of our own pain, that some outside party is not responsible, and that we alone are credit with our happiness or unhappiness. But ultimately, it is true that we ourselves wield the killing blade, and that our misery comes from none other than our internal machinations, thoughts, ideas, and preconceived notions of what being homosexual is all about, even if so many of those notions are borrowed from our dominant culture. We must understand that we are neither abnormal nor evil, that we do not need to be afraid of who and what we are, and that our quality of life is no different than any heterosexual's ever have been and ever will be. Love is love, after all, and all life sacred and precious.

In a society dominated by Christian dogma and doctrine, coming to terms with our sexuality can be traumatic, even in a non-traditional family. We are subjected to the ideas that homosexuality is against some stern god, that by being homosexual, we are condemned to Hell , and further still, that we are abominations of nature. The first time I slept with a man, I was convinced that I had been irrevocably ranked with the damned; I called a priest the next morning for absolution (and was denied). Further still, I decided that all I needed was to sleep with a girl, and I'd be cured of homosexuality, so during a tour at Lowry AFB in Colorado, I purchased a prostitute to affect this change. It failed. I tried again. It failed again, and this time worse, as I had to fantasize about River Phoenix to finish the deed. Afterwards, I took a vow of celibacy that lasted for two more years filled with self-torment and unanswered prayers.

I began coming out of the closet when I was twenty two, and over the past four and a half years, I've done a lot of thinking. I've also come to several realizations: there is nothing unnatural about being homosexual. It is a fact of life, a function of nature, and is present in every group of mammals on earth, including cetaceans (dolphins, whales, etc.). Therefore, we are not abominations; in fact, we are often quite the opposite. After all, where would the world be without Gallelio, DaVinci, and countless others, famous and unnamed?

Being homosexual is not evil. It is not against the will of any god, except for perhaps a cruel and spiteful god who would delight in tormenting its creations by making them the very thing that it cannot tolerate. It doesn't really matter what the bible says, or the Q'uran, or any other religious text; these things were written by human beings, not divine beings, and until whatever god there is comes down to this earth and tells me in person that all these writings are true and just, I refuse to believe in the hatred inscribed on these pages. The love I will take, however, and there is much to be found in almost all religions, lest you think I'm anti-spiritual. It is important to have faith in some superior being, but it also important to celebrate who and what you are as an act of divine creation and natural beauty.

I've found that most heterosexual people believe the same thing, and those who don't come around when confronted with a situation in which a person they know and love is homosexual. When the issues are close to home, the mentalities have a tendency to change. It is for these reasons that we shouldn't be afraid to be who we are, to love who we want to love, and to be free in our lives and sexuality. Who cares who doesn't approve? Can a white person understand the plight of a Native American, or a black person the plight of an Asian? How can a straight person understand those of us who are attracted to members of the same sex? I put forth that they can't, any more than we can understand the attraction to the opposite sex, or any more than they themselves can understand their own sexuality. The trick, then, is not to focus or obsess on it, but rather to live our lives as we would. After all, our sexuality is perhaps the least significant part of our being. We who hunger to be doctors, biologists, business men and women, or auto mechanics never count our sexuality in, do we? I don't, heterosexuals don't, so why should anyone? Be who you are and be unafraid.

Our sexuality does not affect our quality of life. Or at least, it shouldn't. How does what we do with our penises or vaginas determine how much money we'll make or what careers we will have, or where we'll live in the country or city? Body friction is body friction, love is love, and none of these things can interfere with what we do with our lives. Granted, there will almost always be moments when we suffer discrimination, but discrimination is illegal and can be fought and defeated in a court of law. And if that is not successful, that is what the media is for. We need to get out of this mentality that says we can live a normal life. We are not missing limbs, aren't suffering from mental illnesses or brain damage or neurological disorders. Who defines normal but we ourselves, and who determines how we live but we ourselves? Why then, should be portray ourselves, and allow ourselves to be portrayed as abnormal people who have a shot at living a normal life, and whose sexuality alienates us from the rest of the world or makes us dangerous?

It all boils down to this: we alone are responsible for our own happiness. If we give those who would discriminate against us the power to do so, then what have we gained? I say smile when struck, greet each insult with a heartfelt laugh, and enjoy life despite the nonsense circulating in a society dominated by homophobia. Jesus told his followers to live as a light, an example, and so should we. While there will always be those who won't accept homosexuality, there will be tenfold more that will respect us for the good and happy lives we lead. And they will understand in time that we are the same as them, despite who we love and how we love. But first, we must defeat ourselves and our feelings of inferiority, misplacement, and fear. Because if we don't come to terms with ourselves, how can we expect anyone to look at us and say, "There goes a person who knows what life is all about?"

The author, James H. English, is hardly ever this serious, but is sometimes inflicted with a terrible case of preachacidis. He hates intolerant people, however, and has stated millions of times that hyperbole should never be used. Oh, and he likes blueberries. If you want, you can find him at jheng@fn3.freenet.tlh.fl.us.
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