So it's something that I tend to avoid. Something that worries me just thinking about it. Then when it actually becomes the topic of conversation, my stomach starts to churn. If the conversation continues and murmurs of opinions start to peek out, I feel my cheeks get warm. Then if it becomes a full out "discussion" with the expression of various point of view, and I end up either holding back brimming tears or excusing myself to the bathroom before I explode.

It's a debate I still have no idea how to approach or deal with or digest. I have even avoided specifically writing about it here because I wasn't even sure what I wanted to say. There are a lot of cultural differences that I see everyday that affect how I lead my life here…but this one is a toughie. It's not just the idea that a homosexual lifestyle isn't accepted, it's everything that this topic addresses - gay rights, gay couples, gay marriage, gay education, gay activism. The word gay is a trigger. A bullet-proof vest two feet thick couldn't protect you from the aftermath.

To clarify, the word itself doesn't necessarily evoke negative reactions or provoke nasty responses. It's that's the subsequent issues that result just aren't handled as well as within a community that has more experience confronting it, that is more used to the concept. As they say, we're afraid of what we don't know, right? Here maybe it's not so much as fear as much as being unaware.

Even with that understood, I struggle each time I am faced with the topic to not only know how to react, but how to judge my reaction. How often do I let things slide? Things I wouldn't have dreamed of before moving here? Is that ok? Should you let cultural differences change your approach? For me it's not a question of whether or not you should let them change how you react, question, or respond, it's a fact of the situation that you are in. More and more I am seeing how the mindset and understanding I have of queer issues is completely and 100% from a U.S. point of view. Just the fact that I use the term "queer issues" in this paragraph yet the description I used in the first one was "gay" illustrates the difference that exists between how things are approached in the two environments I have lived in. Apart from that, my big problem is where to draw the line. I've always had a problem with people that are convinced that they are the almighty on queer issues, that current cosmopolitan gender issues have one way of being overcome, and that they are the messiah to bring us to the light. Get over it. It's just not true. As we all know, there are far too many contributing factors to honestly be convinced that we are the be all and end all of what's up in the gay world.

Then it becomes personal. Some of the closest people I have in my community here are people I'd be afraid to broach the topic with for fear of what their reactions would be. Or worse, what their opinion is on any of the aforementioned issues. This is mainly because I've come across various situations that have reduced me to the physical state that I mentioned above and the thought scares me. I never thought I could have someone as close as some of those that I have here that hold those opinions. What does that mean? About me, my lifestyle, my choices, my environment?

In my own circle, hostility has not been a problem. It's not a matter or being afraid or vehemently against anything or anyone. It's more just general discomfort. Jokes, questions, name-calling. The unknown. I recently had a conversation with someone that made me even more uncomfortable due to the level of our relationship in which the person expressed that they did not agree with the fact that a mutual acquaintance we have, who does not have a biological father in his life, chooses to call a family friend that has taken him under his wing dad. It just so happens that this family friend is openly gay. The conversation went on because the person gave the explanation that this young boy lives with his mother and his two sisters. His mother is somewhat absent in the emotional and caretaking department. So this boy has had no straight male figure in his life and only sisters as constant parental figures. Now what happens when he grows up and instead of actually trying to figure it out for himself, chooses the path that he has grown up seeing all along and just decides to be gay, even if he's not.

So you mean what would happen if a young boy chooses a sexual identity just based on what he has seen even if it's not what he truly wants in life? Toughie. I'd hate for that to happen.

I don't know. It's an ongoing thing that I'm still trying to work out. I think the hardest part for me is knowing how far I'm willing to let things go with people that I have in my close circle. I still argue, voice, and express myself but sometimes I just get tired of being on the defense. Am I letting things slide too much?

Creative Commons License