Stephen Measure

I Am the Absence of Homophobia
March 28, 2016

Things were different in our youth, were they not? Do you remember playing "smear the queer"? Can you imagine playing that game today? And the words we used to describe men who had sex with other men—pervert, faggot, and worse. We built a wall, didn't we? A wall of separation between "us" and "them". We created an other because we needed an other because we couldn't bear the thought of there not being an "us" and a "them". We built a wall. And the wall kept us safe. The wall kept us comfortable. The wall kept us separate.

Now, the old insults are gone, lost in the history of forbidden words and phrases, replaced by safer words such as "gay" and "homosexual". We're so careful today, so cautious. We're so desperate to avoid offense. Yet, although the insults might be gone, the wall still remains. Oh, we won't insult "them". We would never dream of it! But they are "them" and we are "us". They are different! They are other! They must be other because we are not the same, no, definitely not the same. We would never insult "them", but we are "us" and they are "them", and the wall remains, as high and wide as ever. We depend on it. We hallow it. We bend our moral standards to accommodate it, to accommodate a wall we ourselves created, a wall we so fear to lose. And the wall keeps us safe. The wall keeps us comfortable. The wall keeps us separate.

And the wall keeps us fools—so scared of reality, so scared of possibility. But I refuse to live that way, so I have torn down the wall. I have embraced the other, and I have declared we are all the same—the same possibility, the same expectations. Sexual identity, I have rejected. "Gay" and "straight", those man-made labels, I have discarded. I need no wall to keep me safe. I need no wall to keep me comfortable. I need no wall to keep me separate. And here in the open, here with no wall blocking my sight, I understand that all desires are possible to all, that all actions are choosable by all, and—clear as life itself—I understand that wrong will remain forever wrong.

Which brings me to my point: It's curious to be accused of homophobia by those who cower behind a wall of separation. Curious and, frankly, completely backwards. Don't you see? I am the absence of homophobia. I am what you could be if you would tear down the wall. If you would … if you would … are you frightened?


Related essays:
The War Between Identity and Behavior
Identity Shells and How They Are Used Against You

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