Apparently I don’t look ‘gay’. So what does gay look like? Nothing specific as far as I’m concerned. Anyway, after I confirmed that I was indeed gay the young man I was speaking to expressed his concerns. Here is a portion of our recent conversation:
“So you’re gay.”
“Yes, I am.”
“You’re a lesbian then.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
At this point I was wondering if there was a whole list of terms he was prepared to go through to ‘define’ me. But it stopped there.
“Does your child know about your sexuality?”
“Of course he does.” I laughed a bit when saying this – maybe not the best move with a potential homophobe.
“Aren’t you afraid that you will influence him to become gay as well?”
Deep breathing automatically took over at this point. I was disappointed in him and his line of thinking, nevertheless I decided to answer him.
Now I was no longer laughing. I was actually frowning – not the best look I have in my repertoire.
“I wasn’t influenced by my parents – who were both heterosexuals, nor by my siblings or ... the majority of society. This is who I am.”
“Oh.” He sat quietly for a second. Then realisation spread across his face. “I didn’t think about it like that.”
“No,” I said softly, “not many people do. They only think that gay people exert all the influence to ‘change’ people. I was born this way. I didn’t choose who I’d be attracted to, it just happened – the same way it does for you I suspect. I mean, who in their right mind would choose to be a minority in several groups each day when discrimination is the loaded gun against them? Not me, that’s for sure. I’ve already got enough negative biases against me, do you think I would wake up one day and say to myself, ‘ In addition to be Black and female in this society I’m going to choose to be gay as well?’ This is not a card game, this is real life. This is who I am ... naturally.”
“Oh yeah,” he conceded, “I didn’t look at it like that.”
“Most people don’t because they are not facing the power imbalance of the particular type of discrimination.”
Now I wonder will that conversation have any influence on his thinking?