PLEASE NOTE:

MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24.com. The stories here come from users.

 
LEON
 
Comments: 9
Article views: 466
 
 
Latest Badges:


 
View all LEON's badges.
 

Being homophobic hurts straight people too

05 February 2014, 12:25

Articular take of the standard-UK

A few years ago, on a trip to Vancouver, I found myself sat at the back of a sightseeing trolley tour. The driver was an amiable older man, who reeled off the history of the city with knowledge and affection: dropping in the occasional insight and story from his own life as he pointed out the famous sights and local landmarks. It turned out that he had the little finger missing from one of his hands. He explained that he had been involved in an accident, and the finger had been violently bent backwards. When healed, the finger was still bent at an awkward angle backwards. Not only was this an inconvenience, but – he chuckled – “people thought I was... ahem, you know?”

The occupants of the trolley laughed. Even I smiled. We all knew what people must have thought. If a man's pinky finger sticks out backwards, he might be gay. Eventually, the driver decided it would be easier to have the near-useless finger cut off: hence the missing digit.

The trolley tour came to an end. Its occupants disembarked, entertained and educated by our history tour and the amusing anecdotes. The driver had meant no harm. It was only later, when I reflected upon the his story that the significance of what he had said sunk in. Apparently he had had a part of his body amputated because he didn't like people thinking he might be gay. Yes, that was only part of the reason, but still, it seems to have been a factor in his decision.

I was reminded of this when I read a recent article by Graeme La Saux. In The Times at the beginning of the month, the former Chelsea football player – who, like the driver on my trolley tour, is heterosexual – reflected on how, in the early 1990s, he found fellow players and fans questioning his sexuality. The taunting began after it was discovered that he read The Guardian and had been on a touring holiday around Europe with a fellow footballer friend.

"The homophobic taunting and bullying left me close to walking away from football. I went through times that were like depression. I did not know where I was going. I would get up in the morning and would not feel good and by the time I got into training I would be so nervous that I felt sick."

Le Saux stuck things out, but the memories of his experiences – in particular, the vicious taunting he received from some other players on the pitch, have not dimmed.

"The abuse I had to suffer would be multiplied a hundredfold for a player who was openly gay. The burden would be too much."

This weekend, London's Southbank will be hosting a three-day cultural festival entitled 'Being a Man'. I have been invited to participate in a panel discussion on 'Being a Gay Man', in which one of the subjects for discussion will be ‘the level of oppression felt by gay men.’ That gay men – and women – continue to be oppressed is without doubt. Were this event to take place in Russia, I could be arrested for publicly discussing my sexuality. Was it Uganda or Nigeria, I could face a lynching or several years’ imprisonment. I consider myself fortunate to live in the UK, where laws exist to protect me from such persecution. However, although homophobic oppression may be less visible in the United Kingdom, like environmental pollution, it remains in the atmosphere. And, as the examples I offered at the beginning of this piece, I don't believe homophobia just oppresses gay men: it affects straight men too.

You think those examples were extreme? Have ever modified your behaviour – perhaps opted to wear something different, or chosen not to reveal you like a certain song or film – purely because you didn't want people to think... 'Well, you know'. If so, then you have reacted to – and become a victim of – homophobic oppression. To be revealed as gay, or thought of as gay, still elicits a fearful response in far too many people. It's a fear that we pass on to the next generation when we tell our children what toys they can or can't play with, or what colour possessions they can own. When little boys are told to ‘be a man’… there is only one type of man that the rebutter has in mind.

When so many gay people are the victims of truly vicious homophobic oppression, why should I be bothered to highlight that suffered by straight people? It’s because the 'them' and 'us' mentality around homophobia is part of the problem. Homophobia affects everyone – not just gay people.

Those who introduce homophobic laws believe such laws affect only ‘them’ – the LGBT community. If you are heterosexual, it can be so easy to think that such laws are nothing to do with you – that they’re something happening to other people in another country. But the suffering faced by a section of society will inevitably affect society as a whole.

Three years ago, I interviewed Roger Crouch, who had just won a ‘Hero of the Year’ award from Stonewall, at the LGBT charity’s annual Equality Awards ceremony. Roger’s son, Dominic, aged 15, killed himself after experiencing bullying at schools – some of it homophobic in nature. In the months after his son’s death, Roger talked at schools about the dangers of homophobic bullying, but he remained devastated by his loss. A few days after our interview, he took his own life – a double tragedy for his surviving wife and daughter.

If you think homophobia and homophobic oppression have no effect on you, think again.  

The ‘Being a Man’ festival at the Southbank runs from Friday 31 January-Sunday 2 February. http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk

If you've been affected by bullying, you can contact The Samaritans for support       

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.
 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
9 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Thulane Che Trosky
The problem with Parliament

The relevant debate today involves the quality of our democratic project. There is no doubt the Constitution provides a strong base for democracy.  Read more...

0 comments 26 views
Submitted by
Godless Heathen
Granite mining and stupidity.

I run a cabinetry workshop, I use wood to make furniture and I actually know where the majority of the wood I use comes from. Read more...

1 comments 60 views
Submitted by
Neil Van Der Linde
Flying through the City of Angels...

We arrived in “Tinseltown” feeling like sinners on a sabbatical, after the relentless decadence of Vegas. Read more...

0 comments 15 views
Submitted by
Thabile Wonci
The Living Wage and Class Struggl...

It is no exaggeration to put it to you without hesitation that black people are still severely marginalised in our country, sadly 20 years post-democracy. Read more...

0 comments 35 views
Submitted by
Bolsheviks Partysa
Irregular, unauthorised and waste...

It seems to have become the norm rather than the exception for any government department to have spent taxpayer’s money in a manner in which it can’t account for the what and who was paid. Read more...

3 comments 169 views
Submitted by
Nagasaki Modisane
Generations saga: the real exploi...

The fired Generations cast members have been demanding fair compensation and job security for some time. Read more...

8 comments 273 views

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

 

services

E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on your iPhone Get News24 headlines on your iPhone.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

Blogs Your opinion on you, me and everyone.

Calais Website keywords automated by OpenCalais.

 
Interactive Advertising Bureau
 
© 2014 24.com. All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.