by Mr Wainscotting
I received a message from a friend I worked with years ago at Burger King (more on BK later >_> ). I was quite surprised and I must say heartwarmed (that’s a verb, right?). Here’s what he said:
Hey man, just sending you a message to say sorry for being ignorant while i worked at bk with ya. It took heaps of guts coming out, man…and honestly I was a bit homophobic (ok, maybe more than a bit). Thanks for showing me that it wasn’t the right attitude to have and that I should love and respect everyone equally. I shoulda said this alot earlier!
The process of coming out is a difficult one for many people. There’s your own internal struggle, you worry about how everyone’s going to react, and you start seeing homophobia everywhere. Well, I certainly did, at least.
There is a lot of homophobia in New Zealand, but most of it, in my experience, comes from ignorance. The same goes for transphobia, queerphobia, ablism, xenophobia and racism, sexism, classism, and most other forms of discrimination. Yes, there are those who actively discriminate, but the majority of people, I find, are merely ignorant – not that that absolves them, and when challenged, they tend to retreat into their privilege and deny they are doing wrong, or make excuses for it.
That ignorance seems to dissolve rather quickly when they know they know one of us. My friend who sent me the message was already my friend when I came out. Maybe if I was already out, he wouldn’t have gotten to know me so well, and perhaps wouldn’t have been forced to realise that being gay made me no different to everyone else, other than who I love and am attracted to. Suddenly, gay people weren’t this depraved caricature lurking in the shadows beside public toilets recruiting children; here was one, in the flesh, and he is (as much as I abhor this word) normal.
I can only speculate what was going through his mind, as that’s his domain and not mine. All I have to go on is the things he said to me and the message he sent on Facebook. He tells me it “took heaps of guts” to come out, and it did, but it also took heaps of guts to send me that message, man. It takes heaps of guts to analyse your opinions, beliefs and worldview. It takes heaps of guts to admit you were wrong about something. It takes heaps of guts to apologise to the people you might have wronged in the past. And it takes heaps of guts to openly and publicly support those who are traditionally repressed and downtrodden, and whom many people still see as second class citizens.
It took heaps of guts, man, and I thank you for it. You are a beacon of integrity to the world.