Guilty of perpetuating homophobia

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H for homophobia This is one of the first blogs I wrote and today it came to my mind for no particular reason. I don’t think it got the attention it should and I decided to reblog it here. The initial post had a question mark in the title, I decided to drop it. 

It has been few weeks since Jamie Hubely, a gay teen in Ottawa, committed suicide. He was suffering from depression related to being bullied for trying to start a rainbow club at his high school. This story, albeit being very sad, made me really upset and angry and it took me a little while to find the reasons it did.

It made me angry mainly because it took me back nine years. It is a story that I am familiar with, but I never really spoke about. Even though, I tend to discuss homophobia often among my less open minded family and friends, I never really referred to my first experience dealing with a homosexual person.

It was back in 2003, on my first day in high school. I remember clearly the few people I knew cautioning me about “the lesbian girl”. They identified her; pointed out the girl she liked, described her as crazy, and made fun of the fact that she wrote her prospective lover poems.

Her name was Lara. I was new to that school, struggling to fit in and could not afford to make enemies. I was “lucky”, the few people I knew were among the popular kids so attempting to blend in, I only listened to what was being said.

I never really agreed with it, but I never spoke up against it either.

Fortunately, it did not take me a long to realize that I was very different and I won’t fit in with the popular kids. I spent most of my breaks reading books, and on occasions, I got to know Lara. She was an interesting, balanced individual; her sexuality was a taboo, I never talked to her about it. I just pretended I did not know and treated her like I treated all my other class mates.

Lara was not bullied in the standard definition of bullying, but she was made to feel different every day. Some people understood that it wasn’t “her fault”, but it’s because  her parents were separated, but that never prevented them from making fun of and pointing out the fact that she was a lesbian. And she knew it.

After 3 years, I left high school, not intending to keep in touch with many people. I knew Lara’s plan was to go to law school; she wanted to become a judge.

Shortly after, in January 2006, my sister told me over msn that Lara died. She did not kill herself; she died in a car crash.

I remember being very sad and also outraged. Her death was destiny and not choice. However, she did not need to kill herself for me to feel that I was unfair towards her.

At that moment, I regretted not telling her exactly what I thought, not telling her that I thought she was no different, and that her and I have the same chances of succeeding in life.

In reality we did not, her chance was cut short way too soon. This still bothers me even now, six years later.

It is always in the back of my head, especially as I learn more about systematic oppression and the ways in which homophobia is perpetuated.

I did not need to be directly oppressing someone to be an oppressor. I was part of a system and I accepted my role as a spectator, a charge of which I am guilty. Somehow, writing this out and making it public gives me some closure. It does not correct my mistakes, but at least admitting that I once took part of perpetuating homophobia gives me a shot at attempting to make it better.

Re-blogged from Mediacoop.ca

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