Sometimes, in the quieter moments of my mind, I think about homosexuality and I become a little child in the small North West Province mining village, where words like “moffie”, “gomgat” and “sies” raised us all with a stable and steady infusion of hate and bias. I didn’t dare tell anyone that I had gone to watch Aladdin with my family and that Prince Ali was my one true love…I’d get beaten senseless.
So, I hid that part as deep as an eccentric gay kid could and never said the words out loud. Not until midway through high school when I met a fellow homo and together we decided to face the world together and to hell with what anyone thinks. Soon we were friends with all the cliques in the school, even the rugby teams. We were the lucky ones.
We just observed the anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard, a gorgeous young man who was tied to a fence, beaten to a bloody pulp and left to die, scared and alone. Why? Because he was a gay man. Don’t you just hate when things like that happen to you? No…because they don’t.
Back in New York, before it was (more) ok to be gay, police would stop “crossdressers” in the streets and make them wash their faces in buckets of dirty mop water. In Johannesburg, people used to march with paper bags over their heads because they wanted to be heard, but not seen, because people would attack them violently for being gay. Still wondering why?
Let’s skip to a young teenage boy in Uganda, or in the Middle East, who is in love with the boy next door but will never say a thing because he will be arrested and murdered. For loving another human being? Really? That’s what our world is coming to?
And now the biggest government in the world is systematically reversing advancements made in gay rights after swearing they won’t. The most powerful man in the world is showing everyone who can see that he does not support equal rights for gay people and will do everything he can to prevent them.
So why should you be proud? I can’t tell you that. But let me tell you why I am proud.
I am proud to live in a country that protects me under its Constitution, that says I am equal, that says I am a human and deserve rights.
I am Proud that I can walk down the streets holding the hand of the man I love if only a man would ever love me, and I am proud that when the day comes I will be able to stand in front of my friends and family and say, “I Do”, and it will be legal.
I am proud that the people who came before me fought and rallied and protested and in many cases, gave their lives so that I can enjoy these small freedoms and do not have to fight to be exactly who I am.
That is why I am proud. What is your story?
Craig Stadler is a contributing writer for Anova Health Institute. These are his views, which may or may not reflect those of Anova and its affiliates.