Thursday, May 17, 2012

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

Today is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.  In honour of that, a group of authors of M/M erotic romance have gotten together to conduct a blog hop to stress the importance of this message.

A blog hop occurs when a group of bloggers agrees to post about the same topic over a day or several days, in order to encourage more people to visit a wider variety of blogs.  Because we write about men who have intimate relationships with other men and often fall in love, homophobia is something that we, the writers of gay erotic romance, feel very strongly about eliminating.  For myself, this is one reason that I decided to write gay romance.  I want to put gay sexual intimacy and romance into the mainstream. 

Gay people of either/any gender should not be marginalized or ridiculed or abused.  Homophobia needs to be eliminated so that young people who identify as gay, transgendered or bisexual can grow up feeling proud of who they are, and proud of the society that not only accepts them, but celebrates them as members of a diverse and complex humanity.

The most vivid memory I have with regard to this sort of thing, is the way that my mother reacted when I called my older brother a 'fag' one time when I was really angry with him.  To me, that word was synonymous with 'idiot' or 'bastard'.  I had no idea that fag was a dirogatory term for a gay man.  

I thought the best thing to do for this event would be to contact some of my gay friends to find out about their experiences with homophobia.  Here are the anonymous responses I received:


Kevin* (living with long-term partner):

Yes it is a very important topic to discuss.  I do not feel there is much homophobia around me here in (my hometown).  I live in a city in the mountains where everyone seems to be accepting of everyone else.  I think most of the homophobia I have faced has been internalized within my own community.  Sometimes not understanding or accepting ourselves, we tend to project these feelings on others around us who are more baffled or confused trying to sort or figure it out.  I think this confusion is often mistaken for dislike or misunderstood as an open acceptance.  

The most internalized homophobia I see in my current community surrounds issues with people exposed to or living with HIV.  There is downright rejection, fear runs rampant as people become isolated and closed off from normal social networks.  Labels and suspicion are tossed about carelessly without remorse for an already heavy status.  This fear begins to mask the true face of the epidemic as those infected become hidden and now resort to anonymous sex - meeting people on a host of possible pick-up type websites where no discussion or disclosure is required.  It separates our community and in many ways has become our worst enemy.  When we loath others whom we should embrace in our communities it is harmful for everyone.  Something like HIV that should be in check after too many years of rearing its head and threatening us, divides us.  We are experiencing extremely high numbers of infection in our part of the country, far too high for such a small community.


Stephan (single):

The most recent incident was on the bus, coming home from the bar one night.  I got on the 95, always an adventure when the bars let out and the animals from the Market climb on.  The bus was packed, overflowing, and loud.  

Three guys were verbally harassing a guy who was not crowded in with them.  Those 3 were standing, packed in with the overflowing beer-drenched vomitus of the str8 world, and their target was seated with a very pretty girl, several seats away.  The main abuser was angry about something the guy did or said, or was perceived to have done or said, earlier in the evening.  The pretty girl was not involved in this at all, just an innocent stuck on a bus full of ignorant bar rejects.  (Gee, can you tell I hate taking the bus when the bars let out?)  

The guy eventually was yelling all kinds of abuse, insinuating all kinds of things only a ... bigoted bully can come up with, and it escalated to where the bus driver was not driving anymore.  Nobody said anything, feeling the anticipation climbing in everyone that something was about to get even more out of control.  Everyone else on the bus who was relatively sober and polite, was having enough, and the place was about to erupt.  The poor guy in the seat never said a word.  He only looked more and more scared, white in the face, and safe only by virtue of the people crammed in like sardines, between him and the abuser.  Then the insanely angry guy started screaming out how the guy was a fag, a faggot, a cocksucker, not a man.  

In less than half a heartbeat, I bellowed out, "Hey!  I'm the only fucking cocksucking faggot here.  Leave him alone!"  Me, 6', bald, a little under 200 lbs of angry white guy who knows what it is like to be subjected to that kind of abuse.  The look in my eyes said murder, because a) I hate this shit, b) I wanted to go home, and c) I hate taking a bus full of drunk assholes that smash windows out, smoke, drink and fight from downtown to Kanata.  

The silence that shook the bus was awesome.  Of course, the driver was not driving, and we could hear him talking out his window to security.  The doors opened, people scrambled off the bus and security pushed on, dragged out the abusive asshole, everyone milling around, and the driver drove off with nobody on the bus, leaving everyone there at Lebreton Flats for the next bus, that pulled in empty from who-knows-where.  The driver must have threatened to quit.  Half the people got on, the other half piled onto the next regular bus that pulled up behind.

It was, in all, a typical ride on OC Transpo after the bars let out.  I wish I had had the balls to challenge the abuse before that point, but I was close enough to risk being attacked, and you never know what someone like that is carrying.  I kind of still need my liver.  Nobody is going to get away with calling someone a fag in my presence.


Zachary (single):

Well to be quite honest, I think the closest thing to homophobia I have ever encountered was in school during my Grade ten year back in 1996.  This is when I met my best friend, more like my unbiological brother who is still with me today.  Back in the fall of 96 I met my best friend for the first time in a coffee shop on the corner of baseline and clyde called Coffee Time with my other friends.  We introduced each other and I bought him a coffee.  From there we grew close, as friends, to the point where my other friends would ask "Where is your boyfriend?".  

Back then I didn't think much of it because to be honest he was straight and me being single we answered we don't have one :-).  My Best friend knew I was gay but didn't tell anyone because we thought it wasn't the time.  So for years, in my view, my best friend was a boyfriend - we had fights, talked about everything, stood by each other, protected each other.  So during my graduating year in 99, that is when I decided to tell my friends that I was gay and to my surprise they said "So you're gay? Why did you wait three years to tell us?  We suspected you may have been because one, you were more of gentleman with the ladies then we were with our girlfriends, two, friends with everyone, and three, stood up against bullies who called other kids gay...... So you're gay - are you the girl or the boy in your relationship?  Lol, Kidding - Let's grab a few pints."

Since then, I personally haven't really experienced any homophobia except the odd occasion when a guy thinks gays are intrinsically weak.  And I just reply: "Have you ever had your ass kick by a fag?  No?  You want this to be your first time?"


And then there was the response of my friend, Malcolm, who expressed his regret that he couldn't assist me with this post because he had never experienced any homophobia.  And that response gives me hope that perhaps things are changing, and maybe in thirty or forty years people will wonder what homophobia even was?

If you would like to win copies of both Exposure and The Crush, please leave a comment here about your own thoughts on this important issue.  Two random names will be drawn on May 21st and the winners will be announced on that day, here at the blog.

*Names have been changed.

~ Liz


Frances M said...

Loved the stories! So impressed with Stephen for speaking out, I hate bullies. I'll do stuff like that but as a girl it puts my husband in a bad position sometimes because they'll end up wanting to fight him which he would do for me but that's a bit unfair to him.

KimberlyFDR said...

Love should always triumph over hate and I believe it always will.

Dannyfiredragon said...

I really hate bullies, been there victim as a kid and I do my best now as a teacher to teach my pupils to respect each other.

kerry said...

Thank you for sharing this with us today

Tam said...

Wow, thanks to your friends for sharing their stories. Given that I live in your city, the second one is scary for me. Your friend is very brave, I'm kind of ashamed that happened, but drunk idiots abound. Super post.

Andrea said...

I liked the personal stories and I'm very impressed with Stephen.

andreagrendahl AT gmail DOT com

Cole said...

Good for Stephen! It sounds like he's got some muscle on him, but even if I was a bodybuilder I still don't know if I'd be able to stand up like that, and yeah, that's scary. I think it's great that you have several different POV here, lots of diversity in opinion!


Lisa said...

Thanks to all the guys for sharing their stories. Glad Malcolm didn't have one to share. :)

Thanks for being a part of the hop!


gigi said...

Thanks for sharing. Great posts!


Lilly Jones said...

I am lucky to live in an accepting community, in a not so accepting state, so while I have heard the stories of people bullied to death I have never seen it directly. I was adopted by two women and couldn't have had a happier childhood. I think people should look around themselves and see people are people! Lillywriting(at)gmail(dot)com

Anonymous said...

I think the more stories we hear, the better. It's not just putting personal faces on statistics and incidents, but showing proof that gay people are just like everyone else.


Angelatron said...

When I first saw the header I thought it said hobo-phobia. Not quite the same thing. :)

I do want to commend Stephen for standing up to the bully. That takes some serious balls!

Also, love your stories and your blog!

Foretta said...

I showed a bunch of these post to the teens in my family to show them how hurt some "innocent" remarks are to many others. I get so annoyed when my nephew says "you're so gay". ERRRR drove me crazy. I know he didn't mean anything by it but it is so wrong to use that as a saying. I think that these post have helped. Thank you all for sharing with us!

N.J. Nielsen said...

I just wanted to say that was an awesome fricken post - thank you so much for participating.

Barbara Elsborg said...

Wow, what amazing stories from your friends. How brave to shout out like that on the bus. I wonder what I have done? I'd like to think I'd have done something. My son (straight guy) was attacked a few years ago in Durham - UK. It was completely random. He and a smaller Korean guy were walking together back from a bar and 6 guys hit my son, calling him names. They broke a bone in his back among other injuries. People passed and did nothing. If we all do nothing, the world will be the worse off for it.

Anonymous said...

Stirring stories from your friends. You would hope that on a bus more people would have stood up with your friend against the aggressor - maybe not quite as he did but with him.

Elizabeth Lister said...

Thank you so much everyone for the lovely comments. And a HUGE thank you to my friends who were kind enough to share their stories. Barbara, I'm so sorry to hear about your son. That is truly awful. You're absolutely right that more people need to speak up and put a stop to this nonsense.

Crissy said...

Great post! Thanks to your friends for contributing. And I agree we have reason to be hopeful.

L.M. Brown said...

Thank you for taking part in the hop and for your friends for sharing their stories, or in Malcolm's case, sharing the hope that things are getting better in some parts of the world.

lmbrownauthor at gmail dot com

Yvette said...

Thanks for participating for this wonderful cause of awareness…I teach high schoolers and this is a topic that we discuss at length. I just want them to be aware and know that they have the power to change the world!

Juliana said...

Thanks for participating in the hop, I already have the Chrush but would love to win Exposure!

Erica Pike said...

Thanks so much for sharing that, all of you. It's very interesting to read. Way to go on the bus!

eripike at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Thank you and your friends for sharing their experiences! Stephen really is a brave man, if only there were more like him!

Sorry if this comment appears twice, I seem to have some trouble posting :-(

stormymonday at gmx dot net

~Ley said...

It's hopeful to hear these stories, because clearly something is changing and things are getting better... little by little. Obviously there's still jerks out there, but I look forward to the day when jerks are the only ones we have to deal with.


Peggy said...

Great post! I have loved this blog hop.

wulf said...

Loved reading about your friend's experiences. The bus experience sure took guts.

Thanks for participating in this hop. I'm enjoying all the great blog posts.