It’s true, I used to be a bit of a homophobe. When you’re a geeky teenager who was raised in a very conservative family and struggled to even get to second base at age 16, that’s kind of par for the course.
Eventually, I grew out of it. Real world experiences led me to realize that even though I’m a raging heterosexual, my personal preference isn’t the same as everyone else’s, and that’s perfectly fine. It wasn’t an overnight conversion, though. The transition from being a brainwashed kid to an open-minded adult took a lot of time. 10 or 15 years ago if a gay man made a pass at me, I would have probably called him some slur, or worse.
It’s different for me today. As time went by, I realized that receiving attention from the same gender didn’t make me gay. I realized that being ogled by another man at the bar or a club wasn’t a threat, and in fact, it was a compliment even if the attraction wasn’t mutual.
I’ve also made some great friends who are lesbians, something that wouldn’t have happened back then. It is refreshing to have female acquaintances that you can spend time with and not have to worry about your girlfriend being jealous. Having friends who are gay is also awesome because you can skip those horrific shopping trips with the girlfriend and send them with your gay friends instead. If you’re single, your gay friends also make a great wingman/woman and often score you free drinks for being the cool hetero at the club. If you’re in a relationship, hanging out at a gay club meant you didn’t have to worry about some meathead jock hitting on your girlfriend.
These are all things I’ve learned over the years, but it wasn’t overnight. A number of things had to happen for me to unlearn all the hatred and bigotry taught over the years.
The turning point was probably when my own brother came out of the closet some years back. When that happened, it was obvious that he was born that way and it wasn’t a choice, no matter what my mother (who has yet to accept that fact) wanted to believe.
These days, I’ve done a full 180 degree turn from the path we were set upon as children, even though members of my own family have stubbornly stuck to it. My tolerance and acceptance is now something I take personal pride in, as should anyone.
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
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