Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Homophobia, and just as we know it…

AOG, Madrid

The gays have never had it so good, so they say, but they are so wrong.




I live in Madrid’s gay village, Chueca. What used to be one of Madrid’s run-down and drug-crazed neighborhoods was, in the early to mid 1990s, turned into the city’s gay neighborhood par excellence.
Most people will tell you that it was because of its shady past that the area became a haven for gay people.

A haven in that society in Spain, as elsewhere, has always equated homosexuality with crime, sin, and all of those other goodies Christianity, and other monotheistic religions, seem to think their particular deity dislikes.

So when you are confronted with a fresh batch of just-baked homophobia on the streets of a gay neighborhood, you have to ask yourself just how far gay people haven’t come.

A week ago I was out shopping around my neighborhood, getting ready to meet some friends at my place later on in the evening. I was crossing the street when, from a distance, I saw a guy coming towards me. 

His appearance was not exactly run-of-the-mill, but then, this was Chueca, and here nothing like that really raises an eyebrow. 

His hair, which mainly consisted of jet-black braids, was up in a bun, and he had a scarf round it, keeping it all in place. He was muscular, as could be gathered from his half unbuttoned shirt, and in a hurry.

He swished past me at high speed, and I gave him not another second’s notice.

And then it happened.

I noticed a small group of people walking towards me. Two girls, maybe around 7 or 8, were giggling, making faces, and pointing at him. 
And one said to the other:

Is it a man or a woman?

And the other said:

Yeah, what?

And their mother, or the mother of one of them, in case they weren’t sisters, replied:

It is a ‘that’!

And they all laughed.

As they walked past me, I noticed the husband-father figure pushing a baby’s stroller, and noticed he was keeping quiet.

As this family walked past me, I overheard a gay couple saying out loud that the only ‘that’ on that street was the girl’s mother.

I have to say that I was aghast at having witnessed the entire scene. Disgusted.

Later on that night I was entertaining some friends at my place. We talked about many things, including homophobia, gay rights, sexuality, you know, the sort of thing that comes up when gay men and straight women (and one of their boyfriends) get together. 

One of them said something along the lines of “but surely the next generation will be less homophobic.”

Well, did I ever have a story to tell!

They were all really shocked to hear it. Surprised. In awe. Especially that this should happen in Chueca of all places.

And I just said that if it was happening in Chueca, could they imagine what must be happening in the less-trendy areas of Spain?

Last Friday, October 11, was National Coming Out Day in the US and several other countries. But not Spain. It is perhaps not necessary since the country was one of the first ones to institute full gay marriage, so a National Coming Out Day is not deemed -or at least not yet- necessary.
But coming out, for all its good intentions, is such a horrid thing to have to do. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, there isn’t.

But, when was the last time somebody informed you that they were straight?

When was the last time a straight kid was bullied for being straight?

Or somebody lost his/her job for being straight?

Never you say? That’s right. Never.

It is a horrible feature of our time that people still have to make some sort of public declaration of their sexuality when it does not fit the heteronormative bias.

Some people I know, those who think they are so trendy and with it, always say things like “but what does it matter? Why do I need to know somebody is gay? It doesn’t matter to me!

I always say to them, it matters, and you do, and it should matter. And I am always surprised that people think otherwise.

It is not my place to educate people about sexuality, but when confronted with situations such as the one I witnessed a few days ago, I have to say that a little part of me died that instant when I saw that Spain’s next generation will be homophobic too (and when I say Spain, I mean the entire planet’s next generation and generations).

That those girls will probably taunt and make fun of one, or more, of their classmates deemed by them to be gay. That their mother will be totally ok with that behavior.

And that some poor kid, who may or may not be gay, will be bullied because society still has not come to terms with the simple fact that gay people exist, and that we have a right to be respected, and more importantly, just be left alone.

Yes, gay people have come a long way. At least we are not being burned at the stake these days (though in many countries we are hanged and persecuted just for being gay), but that does not mean society is where it should be on this issue (and oh so many others!).

We have come a long way, but we still have such a long way to go…

 

 

 

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Like...very much!

Ynot said...

Thank you. For all the wrong reasons, but thank you just the same.
:)