If One Closet is on Route to Another Closet, Where do we go from Here?
by Helen A Companion
Friday, January 10, 2003
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I'm going to start off with a confession: I am not gay; I am not a lesbian; I am not bi. Most would probably call me straight. I guess one of the few categories I consider myself is Pagan.
So, why am I writing this? Why am I writing about homosexual Pagans if I'm not one? Well, I thought maybe someone who was straight might be able to offer a new perspective...
See, two of my best friends have been gay or bi and in a sense this is sort of my homage to them as well as my opinion on the subject. And really, I'm not one of those social butterfly types who have a million surface friends; Instead, I have a total of five friends on a good day, so two of them being admittedly gay or bi says a good deal.
I remember when I first met the first of these two friends, Jeromy*. It was the first day of school my ninth grade year and I was ready for another year of being teased while I sat back and just ignored it. It wasn't a big deal really, even if at a school full of artists (and thus very strange people) I was teased for being one of the strangest; I didn't play high school politics and that was that. I just sat off on my own and let everyone else do what they wanted. Then I met Jeromy. I of course, was shy, and he was bubbly and everything I wasn't. Later, I would learn that that personality was a protective facade.
I ended up having a crush on him from about the second week of school all the way to the end of the year--even after he came out. It wasn't that I harbored false hopes, but that I really wanted to be friends with him, but that stupid crush that I just couldn't shake was getting in the way. I had always been able to shake crushes before. I remember standing up for him after he came out, something I had never been able to do for myself, much less anyone else.
By the end of the year, I had gotten up the nerve to talk to him and a friendship was forming. That summer, he came out to his parents. They immediately chastised him for it, sending him to "gay therapists" and Catholic camps to try to scare him out of it. They teased him ruthlessly. He lost all his other friends after coming out and I was the only one who didn't care that he was gay.
The school year came around and Jeromy got a boyfriend. I was happy for him until he told me that they had been making out in the boys' locker room, at which point I told him that I had a bad feeling about that. A couple of weeks later, an anonymous note was slid under the principal's door explaining that Jeromy was "involved in homosexual activities." He was expelled, and despite the school's apparent policies on tolerance, his parents didn't fight the decision--they wanted him to go to a Catholic school. Moreover, his parents banned me and everyone from the school from talking to him ever again.
Since then, I've managed to talk to him a couple of times. What little time I get to talk to him is spent listening to how miserable he is--how he's teased at school; how his parents have started calling him "fag" instead of his name; how he's not allowed to express anything about his religion (he's a staunch Wiccan); how he's not allowed to see any of his old friends and how he doesn't have any new ones; how he cries himself to sleep every night.
Two years later, and yet more ironic, a large portion of those that teased Jeromy have “come out of the closet” themselves, so to speak. Isn’t it strange how things change?
My other friend is a different story. I met Morgaine* in a teen writing group while I was still recovering from the whole deal with Jeromy. Morgaine was a fellow Wiccan, and soon we started talking and realized we had a lot in common. It wasn't until I had known her almost three months that she realized she was bi, and I was the first one she told.
Over the last few months, Morgaine has faced some dilemmas--she wants to start a Gay-Straight Alliance, and she wants to write for the local Gay/Lesbian chapter, but her parents don't know. Plus, her parents make random demeaning jokes about her being a lesbian because she never has a boyfriend--they don't realize how close they are to the truth. Starting the GSA and being generally active would mean divulging information to her friends and family that she doesn't think they would understand. She's ready to do that, and I'm behind her one-hundred percent.
So, sure I'm not gay or lesbian or bi. I mean, I've had a few little thoughts along those lines, but I think everyone has. But I think you can see why I'm writing now.
Personally, I don't care what a person's sexual orientation is--that's their business. What bugs me is the culture that excludes it and hurts those I care about because they are different, although not more different than I am. After all, energy is energy. I don't understand why, if a male and a female can balance the energies between them, a male and a male (or a female and a female) can't. As long as a relationship is healthy and makes the two people happy, then what is wrong with it?
Although many of the ancient worlds did accept homosexuality, almost no one (except for the Netherlands) today accepts it. In ancient Greece, it was common for adult men to have sex with young boys as well as with their wives. In Rome and in the entire Roman Empire, it was considered acceptable. In the Kama Sutra, the proper way to have sex with one of the same gender is even discussed. Why is this culture different? Why are homosexuals stigmatized, and even more curious, why is it even worse for bis? There is a general consensus, false as it is, that bisexuals are greedy and unable to hold a monogamous relationship--a consensus that is no true r than "all heterosexuals cheat on their spouses."
My thoughts on the reasons why have to do with parenting. Not that I'm blatantly blaming the parents, I'm not, but it is the parents who perpetuate this cycle of discrimination. Jeromy's parents even told him that "Gay men are dangerous perverts that you should stay away from." Even at that time, Jeromy knew he was gay. A friend of Morgaine's was kicked out by her Wiccan parents for being a lesbian. I'm not saying that teenagers don't have their prejudices--trust me, they do. But those opinions are passed down from parents and create a cycle equally as detrimental as one of abuse or alcoholism. If we promote tolerance within this generation, then that example, rather than the dangerous ones of the past, will get passed down, and hopefully, eventually, homosexual relationships will be as accepted as heterosexual ones.
*names have been changed
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|Reviewed by S. Thompson
|The culture developed in America comes from the pilgrims on the Mayflower. This country was founded on religious principles brought over from England. The English (and others) came to our shores in order to practice their religion freely. The founding fathers formed our government basically on these religious principles, and thus through the years shaped the American culture. The tolerance that has been preached in the last 20 years goes against so many of these religious principles. I don't believe America's culture can be changed so drastically, especially in respect to sexual practices. It is unfortunate what people go through who live in an alternative lifestyle in America. But I do not see them being accepted freely in American culture ever.
By the way, you wrote a very interesting and articulate article on this subject.