Among the freedoms that many of us take for granted these days, is the freedom to choose one’s partner and to express one’s sexuality and love towards them. Indeed, global society has come a very long way from the days where affection and sexuality were so taboo that the very thought was considered sinful. And yet, the progress made is mitigated by its own exclusive nature; while certain people began expressing their sexuality and affection more openly, the vast majority of the world’s LGBT population remained oppressed.
To some extent, it is understandable that society would have a difficult transition period from prudish to sexually open, and it does make sense that the most common and familiar forms of sexuality would be recognized first. However, progress in the field has stagnated significantly since this social upheaval began, and in some places society has regressed to primitive notions of superiority based on sexual orientation.
Russia and Uganda are prime examples of what can happen when homophobia spills over into legal policy, situations where homophobia is either condoned or encouraged, and the homosexual community is left without the means to defend themselves either physically or politically. The laws against pro-gay protests and demonstrations prevent people from raising awareness, leaving the majority of the population in ignorance, leading to persecution and abuse. To give the most extreme of recent examples: Russia has proposed a law that makes the act of coming out (i.e. publicly declaring one’s hitherto secret sexual orientation) a criminal offense!
While homosexuality is abused and discriminated against openly across the world, the fetish and kink community goes to great length to keep discrete and hidden, to the point where one could be crossing 4 or 5 potential partners with similar fetish interests every day and never know about it. The reason for this is that we live in a world where, in many countries, people can be fired and discriminated against on the job market based on their sexual habits.
Does that not seem absurd?! How does a person’s behavior in their own private bedroom, behind closed doors, have any impact whatsoever on their ability to manage funds, or run a company, or govern? This all stems from character assassination, a common political practice where individuals attempt to smear opponents with accusations to make their opponents seem less trustworthy, less morally upstanding, and therefore less desirable. In reality however, none of it is actually relevant; so long as a person’s sex life and practices have done no harm to anyone or breached a person’s rights, this remains nobody’s business.
So why do we buy in to it? Why do we accept that the people who should be setting the example (and the emphasis lies on the word “should”) openly resort to such underhanded methods to influence our votes? And more importantly, why do we allow what we know is no more than petty mud slinging to color the way we perceive others. Furthermore, we should all ask ourselves: why do we marginalize people who have done nothing wrong solely because we are told they are despicable?
Homophobia is an ironic concept. If the word is broken down into its components, they mean a fear of similarity (i.e. fear of same-sex intimacy); and yet, it has become a tool for enforcing homogeny (sameness) based on a misguided and antiquated notion that sexuality must only be associated with reproduction. The laws set down in scriptures over the past 4,000 years had very specific and sensible purposes at the times they were written, purposes which are no longer relevant. Sodomy laws came about for hygiene reasons, laws insisting that a couple be married before having intercourse were written the sake of population control, monogamy rules were established for health reasons to ensure that STI outbreaks could be contained and prevented from spreading.
Our society adheres to an ideal of sexuality that was established arbitrarily over 4,000 years ago by sheer chance and subsequently adopted as a norm, it has strictly nothing to do with nature or morality. Homosexuality has been encountered and documented among animals, as has polygamy. The norm could just as easily have been any other sexual practice under the sun and little to nothing would be different about the world. The fact that this standard for sexual conduct has been allowed to dominate people’s freedom, opportunities, and even lives is quite frankly shameful.