Mountain out of a molehill?

2011-01-24 00:00

BEFORE I begin, let me put on record that some of my family and friends are gay, for real, not just for pretend, as my children might say.

That's why I want to add my voice to Justice Edwin Came- ron and say he's right: the off-hand homophobia displayed in Spud: The Movie is unacceptable. However, that his comments have drawn considerable hostility highlights a deeper issue underlying the incident.

For example, posted on the Internet were these two responses: "Come on Mr Cameron, find something meaningful to do. Try prosecuting some criminals instead of attempting to create a situation out of nothing" and "I think Mr Justice just missed the whole point of the film. It just goes to show that even with an education you can still be a complete idiot" (www.screen

africa.com). Since Cameron is a judge in the Constitutional Court, which doesn't prosecute criminals, I find myself wondering just who the idiot is?

But that's an aside. The point is that as a society we are ignorant of just how homophobic we are. We don't object to the casual homophobia that's just a part of daily living. Like the little fish trying to understand the concept of the ocean, we cannot see our prejudice because it's all around and inside us. We don't notice it because "that's just the way things are" and we assume that it's okay.

Spud: The Movie is a case in point. Before the movie there were three books that sold thousands of copies, but no one raised any objections to homophobia in the print versions. Why not? I read and enjoyed them immensely, but I was more distressed by the bullying incidents than the homophobia.

Our Constitution makes it absolutely clear that discrimination against citizens on the grounds of sexual orientation is unacceptable. Discrimination is

usually the product of prejudice. Why then don't we object to the casual anti-gay insults and jokes that are part of the fabric of popular culture, including advertising and the media? So ingrained is our homophobia that my young son has a horror of being called a "moffie" at school because that's an insult worse than death. He's nine years old, and already he's absorbing the prejudice that to be other than heterosexual is "a bad thing".

This brings me back to family and friends. Counterculture parenting is damn difficult, but we're determined to do it. We're determined to explain to our children that some people love people of the same gender, that's the way they are made and it's okay, including with God.

We talked about Kate and Yvonne's* wedding when we attended it. Jason worked out for himself that they would not be able to have a baby, so we talked about that too. We talked about why Uncle Gavin* got

divorced and now has a partner called Sean*. If we think being counterculture parents is tough, being their children and growing up in a gay-hostile society is a whole lot tougher. But, I imagine, still not as gruelling as living a counterculture life by being gay yourself or the children of gay people.

A gay friend once said: "Many liberals think they are gay-friendly, but I ask them a simple question: 'Would you be okay with one of your children being gay?' That changes things for them."

My answer is: I would be absolutely fine with one of my children being gay, but I would not want them to be. Why? Because of the pain and the cost I see associated with being "abnormal" in a society where aggressive heterosexuality is the norm.

So, I want to say loudly: "The casual homophobia of our

society is not okay, and it's up to us to do something about it." To Justice Cameron: "More power to your pen, sir", and to all the idiots posting their prejudiced

ignorance on the Internet — go and read the Constitution. You can find it at www.info.gov.za/documents

• Marigold Gilroy is a local writer.

* Not their real names.

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