Traditional and homophobic don't have to be one and the same.
Anyone that has grown up in a small rural town, like myself, knows that there are many pros but maybe even more cons. Of course, knowing everyone is fun, and being a member of a tight-knit community can really give you the feeling that you have a lot of people on your side. The more isolated communities often emphasize tradition, and “the way things have always been” which in turn, unfortunately, reinforces the tendency to have less progressive views. The tight-knit community feeling can actually then backfire for people that do not fit perfectly into this traditional view.
Once, while home over the holidays, I was at a bar with many of my friends – or at the very least, people I went to high school with – when another guy friend of mine walked in wearing a cardigan. Of course, none of the guys in my booth said anything to my friend directly, but as he sat down across the room from us they started making comments about his outfit being “super gay.” Do you know what he was wearing? A cardigan. That’s it, the thing that made him “gay” apparently was wearing a cardigan. It was that easy to be excluded from the tight-knittedness.
Thankfully, the household that I grew up in was leaps and bounds before the majority of my community in terms of liberal values. I was raised in a bubble of tolerance surrounded by vast willful ignorance. Yet coming to a liberal university, I learned very quickly that even my own relative concept of tolerance may have been outdated. Thanks to the people I’ve met and the courses I’ve taken over these last four years, I now am able to think differently about many issues and am better able to be a good ally to those who need to fight just to feel they belong.
On that note, there are a few things that I would like to direct to my beloved and yet unfortunately fairly close-minded hometown.
For one, two gay or lesbian parents can easily bring up a straight child. “A child shouldn’t grow up without a father/motherly figure; they should have both.” Okay, so a single mom is going to only raise gay sons? Or should we marry off all the single moms out there to prevent that from happening? This crazy belief is not only unfounded, but incredibly problematic. There are would-be-parents out there that may be considering adoption, and would provide an incredibly loving and nurturing home, but are facing hurdles such as this kind of thinking. No statistics back up this theory, not that you’ve done your research.
Secondly, for the love of God (literally) stop pretending you give a rat’s ass about the Bible and what it says. You know what else the Old Testament condemns? Divorce. Yeah, I’m looking at you Susan, or should I Say Mrs. Husband-Number-Three. Also condemned by Leviticus? Shellfish. That’s a hard hit for a literal lobster town. Idiots. Good luck getting into your notion of heaven with that lobster poutine!
Third, stop assuming a guy is gay just because of the way he talks, what he wears or the fact that he does not really date girls. So what if he has a high voice and gets along well with girls? And so what if he actually cares about the way he dresses and presents himself? Honestly, that is an incredibly refreshing trait to have when as a single straight woman you’re facing a sea of camo. Sometimes I’ve sincerely wondered where all the eligible men are at (ha ha get it? Because they’re wearing camo? … Yeah it wasn’t great, I’ll keep working on it). Stop assuming shit and asking straight guys if they’re gay because they don’t act like the average hometown Neanderthal.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, I’ve got one mainly for my hetero hometown boys. Just because he’s gay does NOT mean he wants to hook up with you. That’s like saying just because a particular girl is straight means she automatically wants to hook up with you. I promise, you could not – I repeat, COULD NOT – be more wrong if that is your assumption. If I don’t want to sleep with you (which I can 100% confirm I do not), odds are good that Billy does not want to have sex with you either. So you can stop freaking out about these guys “coming onto you” every time you accidentally have a conversation with them. No, he wasn’t flirting. No, he doesn’t want you.
I could say much more, but sadly – or luckily for you, readers – this is an article and not a chapter in my autobiography. At the end of the day, I recognize my status as privileged. I am a cis-gendered, straight white woman with a platform on which to express myself. Many are not so lucky. While much of the media covers LGBTQ+ issues that are still being faced today, I think it gets largely forgotten that some pockets of the Western world (besides the Southern states) are still stuck in pre-Kinsey ideology.
Not everyone has the privilege of growing up as themselves. Many of my personal friends are only now able to fully live the way they would like to since that they have moved away from home; a fact that saddens me deeply and reminds me how lucky I am to be able to blend in with the majority. To all who have carried that burden, I salute you. To all who face it now, I hope someday that you can shed the pressures placed on you by people that do not deserve you. Love is love, and you deserve it too.