Embracing sexuality

By Abigail Keefe
March 25, 2004

Over this last year, in the battle for marriage among gays, I have been privy to some of the most disparaging, prejudice and racist comments about same-sex relationships in all my life. From demonizing the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender community to referring to the people in this community as less than human, I have heard it all. I now see that it is imperative that I try to educate those ignorant of the whole person involved.

Homosexuals are not merely ‘sexual deviants.’ They are living, breathing, thinking and feeling beings who dream just like everyone else dreams. Their sexuality is only 25 percent of what I call the ‘human equation.’

In most cases, heterosexuals focus more on the individual’s sexuality than the actual person. This leads to a biased and misunderstood perception of what being gay really means. It goes a lot deeper than sexual relations.

Unfortunately, for most people that is where the understanding stops.

One person asked me: “Isn’t this whole argument about sex? They don’t talk about anything else.” Homosexuals don’t want to emphasize sex because that’s not what the argument is about. It’s about growing up in a society that is steeped in a marital culture and wanting to share in that culture. It’s about dreaming of your wedding day. It’s about finding out you’re gay and having that dream shattered by prejudice and bigotry. It’s about fighting to still live that dream in a society that promises you that you are equal and have a right to happiness, but whose closed-minded hatred of an innate, yet small part of yourself,your sexuality,is telling you otherwise. It’s about not being scared that you might get killed because you love differently. It’s about being different and being able to celebrate that difference, without self-hatred, fear or pity. It’s about peace of mind, all your life you’ve been told you’re crazy, mentally ill, damned from birth, that God hates you that the devil lives in you that you’re not even human. It goes so much deeper than lust. You want a soul mate, but you know your soul mate isn’t someone society will truly accept. You know there are other people out there, who have experienced the same prejudices, fear and self-loathing and have an unshakable conviction of who they are, and you want to connect with that. On the same level that your parents may connect or your straight friend and her husband. You want that deep, satisfying love of a significant other that friendship just can’t provide. Sexual, emotional, mental, physical and yes, spiritual connections. That’s what this is about.

My community, the African American community, is probably the most homophobic of all. Black political leaders often become our spiritual leaders as well, therefore intertwining moral and civil concerns. It is usually the old traditions of ultra-literal Bible study that fuels this prejudice. However, discrimination and hate crimes are not moral concerns.

This is about civil rights. Civil rights, unbeknownst to some of my people, does not just extend to African Americans. Moral ‘justifications’ aside, discrimination of any kind is wrong, regardless if one disagrees with how one will practice such liberties when awarded. Being at the forefront of one of the most prolific civil rights movements in history, how can we not see that this is indeed a civil matter, an act of denying rights that a vast majority already possesses? That’s right; these aren’t special rights, like some opponents claim. They’re common rights, afforded to everyone BUT gays.

And before anyone delves into the world of allowing other ‘unacceptable’ behaviors, I’ll say that you all need to take into account how these acts affect other people. If it tramples on your civil liberties, you have every right to want to protect yourself, but I fail to see and opponents are always vague and biblical about the answers to this how gay marriage affects your rights as an American, and as a human. The human aspect is the most important, because to deny a person’s humanity is the ultimate form of discrimination. It’s not about approval of how a ‘lifestyle’ is lived. It’s not about moral implications, though I understand some feel it’s a sin not to care who’s going to hell and who isn’t. However when you entice a population into believing they have freedom and equality all their lives, don’t be startled when the ostracized start asking for their due.

It’s not only about marriage. It’s about educating young adults, the future of these United States, in the ways of respecting one’s fellow man. Those that I truly fear for are the gay adolescents who are confused, lost and full of self-hatred. It is not something that they choose; why would anyone choose to be hated, ostracized and terrified?

So, how do we end this? Marriage doesn’t solve everything. There needs to be education and understanding between gays and straights that bridge wide gaps into uncomfortable, secret territory. Most discrimination of gays comes from a lack of knowledge and a lack of connection to the issues that homosexuals face everyday. If you’re a minority and gay, you’re practically a minority within a minority. Imagine that. Talk about alienation.

Older minorities who lived in the troubled times of upheaval caused by the ‘radical’ surge for civil rights have the closest insight to how this alienation, this struggle feels. The connections must also be made with the current and future generations if discrimination is to be overcome. We need more communication, less assumption and a willingness to try to understand one another. We all have to live together. Gays aren’t going to suddenly vanish into thin air. Apparently, we can’t ignore the existence and utter discrimination of other humans any more.

Posted to the Web by Shawn Rice

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Abigail Keefe

Abigail Keefe is a Cabrini College student studying communications, enjoying her time in Radnor, Pennsylvania. Abbie loves working for the school newspaper, the Loquitur, and is also passionate about everything that the communication field has to offer.

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