Prejudice is a learned trait. You're not born prejudiced; you're taught it. ~ Charles R. Swindoll
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He was a timid boy, reticent, frail, had hopeful magnetic eyes and a disarming smile. He smiled even when his heart sank every moment from the confusion churning inside his little mind. What am I? Why I am not feeling anything to girls like all other guys of his age do? Why I am attracted to boys? Is it normal? He was a boy for sure, by appearance, but with thoughts, was he? He tried to cast off the doubts and suppressed all his feelings. The biggest problem was he knew that he was different from others. Day by day, his mind got clouded, more doubts emerged, old and suppressed ones resurfaced, somehow he managed himself and did not utter a single word about his mental tribulations to anybody else, be it friends or parents. Despite this, he was one among the academic toppers and had a flawless record on his conduct and character, not even a single blemish during his entire school and college days.
Even though his confidence hit new lows most of the times, he was happy that he had some things to brag about. He wore a mask, in order to get conformed to the societal norms. Fortunately for him, he was not effeminate or could successfully mask any such dubious traits which will prove suspicious. He was interested in sports, he was into arts as well, which again was contradictory to the traditional stereotypes of both sects; gay men shun sports and macho men shun arts. He was indeed a bag of contradictions. He read voraciously about the “little gay thing” in his mind and collected as much data as possible from periodicals and magazines. By college days, he came to know that it is not a sin but still he was worried. If it is not a sin, why society is not accepting it? Why society is not talking about it? Why so much hazing and bullying in schools? He has seen his effeminate classmates being taunted and bullied by the “self appointed macho rookies”, in order to cure them or change them. Moreover it was sheer pleasure for everyone else (even bystanders/onlookers) to taunt those “different boys” ignoring the fact completely that they were gentle/talented and never create any kind of nuisance to others. They were even mocked at in buses, the conductors and drivers all played their destined parts in the game. Society nodded for this entire misdemeanor; without the all approving acquiescence of society, such things would never happen. Why they were treated in that way? We are either suspicious or afraid of things we don't know about. Well, there were some conspicuous differences in these boys - their gestures, their talking style, all were remarkably different and of course they are “easy targets”. Many of these men prove to be closeted homosexuals (from some personal experiences retold) and only god knows how many boys these men had exploited.
Closeted men usually behave homophobic and target gay men. To take down any man, the simplest and most effective trick is to label him less masculine, a sissy; beyond culture, beyond geography, it proves the same. The macho image of a man is so ingrained in human brain that it is virtually impossible to think beyond stereotypes. Anybody who does not fit into that groove will be forced to suffer the consequences. This whole issue was beautifully dealt in Michael Kimmel's article titled "Masculinity as homophobia" published in 1994. The fear that infused into his young mind by seeing all this was enormous and he used all his strength not to cast a single shadow of doubt upon himself. The constant fear of getting “outed” lurked and lingered which was indeed painful. He reminded his mind always that he had a rich legacy of people like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michael Angelo, Oscar Wilde, Martina Navratilova, Ricky Martin, George Michael and many others who are legends in their own right. At least it served to pour in some confidence, some purpose to his life.
Human beings boast of superior intellect and the “innate humanness” which makes them better than animals. Animals never really hunt their own species unless they are dead or physically maimed but we hunt our own people. When grown up, he came out to some of his close friends. They never really understood the whole issue but were supportive. They used to ask “why you have these thoughts? Why can’t you love a girl?” Aah, he was like this since 12 years old or maybe even before that. He noticed his differences from other guys who drooled over girls, who were nervous in the presence of a girl, who vied for their every attention and would treat girls like a “material” rather than a “soul”. He never looked at girls as an object of desire despite having good company with them. Instead he had strong feelings for his boy friends; in fact, had puppy-love on many of them. He thought it was just a phase and it will change as age advances, but it only increased. He was living a life full of lies.
(Continued in Part 2 - Rite to Gaydom)