A Rainbow in a Thunderstorm
August 30th, 2020
I’ll preface this by saying that I am a proud bisexual. I’ve always known I was attracted to women and men, but I’ve always tried to suppress the way I feel about the latter. However, I realized that suppressing the way I feel is only harmful to me. I have yet to come out officially to my family, but I encourage everyone to be proud of their sexuality, even if they don’t have the opportunity to come out yet.
My pastor steps up to his podium and lays a hard covered bible down in front of him. He awkwardly turns the pages for a few seconds before he lands on the page he’s looking for. “Good morning congregation,” he says to us.
“Good morning pastor,” we reply, desperately out of sync.
“Let’s get started.” He continues, “Leviticus 18:22 says ‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.’”
I listened intently, afraid that I could ever want to lie with a man. I feared that my desires would prevent me from ever being at peace of mind. The truth of the matter is that I’d have this mentality drilled into my head so many times throughout my childhood that I began to believe it. In all honesty, I started to live by it, even though I was well aware that all I was doing was being disingenuous to myself. I believed that, in the eyes of God and in the eyes of my peers, I was detestable.
“I never understood why they even legalized it in the first place,” says the 11 year old boy sitting next to me in 6th grade.
“Me neither bro. It’s so disgusting,” I reply reluctantly.
“Dude they don’t even deserve the same rights as us. They’re sick. They’re like animals.”
“You’re telling me.” I dismiss the subject, upset that I even brought it up to begin with. Of course I wouldn’t have allies, especially considering where I was.
Growing up at a Catholic school, I always tried to belittle the LGBTQ+ community due to the fact that I didn’t want to look bad in front of my peers. I felt that intolerance would be a good way to fit in. I didn’t want to be left out so I threw who I was under the bus and showed my classmates the person that they wanted to see, despite the fact that it wasn’t me.
“No son of mine, not in this house,” my mom says, annoyed. The idea had seemed amusing to her at first, so she had dismissed it as me making a joke. But once I started being adamant on the topic, she quickly became agitated.
“There would be nothing wrong with it even if I was,” I say.
“There would be everything wrong with it. Don’t ever think a son of your father or a son of mine would be accepted as an anti-man.” An anti-man is a Guyanese slur for gay people. One that I have no interest in reclaiming.
Both my parents, as well as my stepparents, are homophobic. They grew up in an environment where everything besides heterosexuality was regarded as improper. They lived in countries where people like me were killed and raped solely based on their sexuality. This feeling of animosity towards the LGBTQ+ community has been engraved so deep within their minds that they see it as the natural order of things –– they don’t have empathy for people like me, and they surely won’t have empathy for me when they find out. I may be their son, but their roots are important to them. Their roots are fundamental to who they are. And they’ve taught me that nothing comes before your roots, not even family. That’s just how we live.
The newspapers read headlines about the gays being burned. They read headlines about homosexuals in Guyana advocating for their rights and being beaten to death. They read of rapes and tortures that have occurred in the LGBTQ+ community. They read of politicians comparing gay people to parasites. It’s everywhere you look.
Homophobia isn’t just prevalent in my parents. It isn’t just prevalent in my relatives, or in my neighborhood. It’s my entire culture. I will never get the opportunity to be who I am to my native people. I’ll never have the opportunity to go to Guyana and get involved in a relationship with a man. I’d be ostracized by my people for being the person I know I am. They’ll always see me as an anti-man.
I try not to let the notion bother me or take too much of a toll on my life. But it is the tragic reality –– I’ll never be free to have my happy ending. I’ll one day be forced to choose between my sexuality and my culture, and I know that I’m going to choose my sexuality. I’m far past belittling my community for my insecurities. And I don’t intend on conforming to who my people want me to be any time soon.