Sunday, November 14, 2010

Homophobia, from Glee to Uganda

In a recent episode of Glee (if you're not a fan of the show, plow on anyway, this reference is brief), a lumbering jock bullied Kurt, the only openly gay character in the show. When Kurt confronted him in private, the bully kissed him and ran off. Chances are that the message of this episode isn't new to you: most violent homophobes are afraid of their own gayness and lash out to keep others from suspecting them. We've all seen this happen in politicians, religious leaders, and probably the homophobes in your own life.

Individual homophobes are usually pretty easy to figure out, particularly if you're of the school of thought that most people are at least a little bisexual/pansexual. And when a small group of homophobes band together, they're still rather transparent. Terrifying and even more difficult to turn over to the fabulous side, but transparent. And at least two of the people in the group probably have a steamy history anyway.

But then there are entire populations. Episcopalian bishop Gene Robinson is retiring, the stress of all the constant death threats on his and his family's lives has become unbearable. I can't blame him. A message or two is alerting but not hard to deal with, but thousands? Maybe all those individuals alone are lashing out because of what they fear in themselves, but they, together, have made a horrifying force. How can anyone tolerate that?

Uganda is among the countries that consider homosexuality a capitol offense and a Ugandan newspaper recently released information of a hundred gay people. Violent homophobia on a national scale, gay genocide. I had the misfortune to see a video of a Ugandan “professor of homosexuality” lecture. The basic anatomy, stuff that you can check on your own body, that he taught was way off. Students, journalists and reporters still ate it up. Hatred on a national level involves poverty, miseducation, fear and propaganda.

From an individual to an entire nation, homophobia is still strong. Many people have claimed that, due to the recent increase in violence (or it's just getting reported more), homophobia is in its death throes. There is little comfort in that thought when a bishop must wear a bulletproof best beneath his consecration vestments. I wish I could come up with some kind of solution to homophobia, on any scale, but it's beyond me. We must, above all, though, accept our differences and work together.

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