For the majority of my adolescence and young adult life, I’ve spent a significant amount of time immersed in all things gay culture. Since coming out as bisexual during my freshman year of high school I’ve felt more of a kindred spirit with the LGBT community. I suppose I just felt more accepted by gay people than straight people.
During my high school years, I practically lived at my local gay and lesbian center, and upon moving to the Bay Area for college, I moved into a 36 person queer co-op in Berkeley. Additionally, I volunteered with a local gay and lesbian community center to go around to local schools and organizations rallying against homophobia. Most of my closest friends are gay men, I’ve spent more Friday nights at gay clubs than I can count, and I never miss a gay pride parade.
While my love for the queer community has never waned, I think my love for the ladies has.
Besides a few misguided crushes on straight women, I haven’t had any type of relationship, hook-up or otherwise, with a woman in over five years. I mostly date men nowadays, and lately I’ve been thinking that I’ll probably end up with a man for the long haul. I won’t necessarily say that I don’t like women anymore, I just think it’s easier to date men and not many dating opportunities with women seem to present themselves.
The idea that gay people have to fight for basic freedoms and liberties -- like marriage -- is not only mind boggling, but disgusting. I generally feel anyone who has a problem with gay people is more than likely hiding behind their bigotry in an attempt to deflect any shading wrongdoing they are engaging in, and is also probably extremely brainwashed from whatever religion they happened to be birthed into. If I’m being totally honest, a lot of straight people rub me the wrong way. The intense hatred and fright some of them feel about gay people just seems so irrational to me and it’s something that I haven’t been able to get used to.
So regardless of if I am smooshing women or not, I’ve pretty much made it a rule to not date anyone who exhibits anything other than love and acceptance for people who love and sex differently than they do. I’ve dismissed otherwise decent prospects after hearing them make some off the cuff joke about trans people while gchatting.
The thing is, the more experience I get with life, the more I see just how homophobic a lot of people are. Not just in America mind you, but like, around the whole world. I live in South Korea at the moment. While transgender people are allowed to change genders, gay people are not allowed in the military, and gay and lesbian couples have no recognition and protection under South Korean law. Sure, gay marriage might be legal in a few states and even some countries, but there are still quite a number of places that refuse to entertain the idea of domestic partnerships or same sex marriage. Transgender people are still being killed for not adhering to society’s expectations of gender identity.
So why is it that while knowing all of this, I’ve recently considered dropping my ban on dating men who are homophobic? I honestly wonder if I might be missing out on someone great. There are those out there who might think, “Well, if he is homophobic, then he must not be so great.” The thing is, everything isn’t so black and white. Not everyone who doesn’t support gay rights is necessarily out to hang a bunch of gay folks. There are a lot of on the hush-hush, semi-homophobic people out there. Being a queer woman that appears straight, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard women and men with gay friends and family members say, “I just hope I never have a gay son,” or, “The bible says…”
A few weeks ago I met a guy who made me rethink all of the ideals that I had in place. Honestly, I can't say what it was about him that prompted me to second guess myself. For what it's worth, he seemed very into me and we seemed to get along well, which is nice after the dating drought I've been experiencing.
Within the first few conversations I learned about his distaste for gay people. We began talking politics. I listened as he told me that the new anti gay agenda in his home country of Nigeria was actually a good thing for the people. "We don't need those types of people and influences in our country," he assured me.
Usually when faced with men who has discriminatory tendencies, I drop them like a hot potato. I guess this time I let desperation and envy get the best of me. As someone who is not only in my mid-twenties but also from the Midwest, it seems like I can't log onto a social networking site and not get bombarded with a cute caption photos of all of my peers boo-ed up. "He proposed," "She said yes," "Plus baby makes three!" I love my life and all the traveling I get to do, but being solo dolo all the time can get lonely, and I suppose I started to wonder if a different approach was necessary.
Against my better judgement I choose to entertain the foolery and pretend that maybe our differences didn't matter so much. "So what, he doesn't like gay people," I thought to myself. "It's not like he's out beating people up. What's the big deal?"
The big deal is that his intolerance started to rear it's ugly head in different ways. He would show up super late for previously arranged meetings, and we often had disputes over how often we would see each other, and if he wasn't interested in talking about a subject, he would threaten to hang up the phone on me. There was no compromising with him, it was his way or the highway.
It became very apparent that not only was this dude intolerant, he was also immature and selfish. I tried to be accommodating and open minded to his way of thinking, but the more we got to know each other, the more apparent it became that we just didn't mesh well together.
How could I have been so delusional to think that I could make something work for the long haul with someone whose beliefs were at such odds with my own? In the end our relationship was over before it even started, and I'm okay with that. While I've lived enough life to know that I don't have to be at war with people whose beliefs are different than my own, I'm certainly not required to bend myself to their will either. Some things just can't be reconciled or brushed under the rug. For me, homophobia is one of them.