today is national day against homophobia.
homophobia is about us over here versus them over there. look, these other people! they do X and say Y, and we don’t do and say that, so they’re outside of the fence and we’re inside.
only there is no them. there is only we. and the fence is a figlet of our imagination.
i say “our” because this habit of artificially carving up our environment into what’s “us” and “not us” is deeply engrained, and certainly doesn’t just happen in homophobia. it happens in xenophobia, racism, zealotry of all stripes … it’s a long list.
what’s so strange about this fence building is that on the face of it, it has something to do with identity. by identifying another group as “those people”, we can have a group that’s called “our people”. “our people”, who aren’t hispanics, or transgender, or immigrants, or addicts, or poor, or conservatives – whatever flavour it is one wants to exclude from one’s life.
the strange part is that most people who identify themselves that way do not reflect on their identity in any other way. the only identity work that happens is this fence-building to exclude the “others”.
if i want to truly know who i am, i need to look inside. i cannot be too distracted by building fences against them, or finding flaws with them.
the deeper i look inside, the more i realize the paradox that my true identity lies both in my uniqueness – and in my being part of the great sister and brotherhood of humanity. i am both this person with this nose, this passion for equality, this dislike for loud music, and this woman who is part of the great womanhood of all creatures, this person who feels pain like anyone else, this girl born in munich, a city that belongs to the world.
i am thinking of some of the historic germans who were not able to express (and explore) their sexual identity because of homophobia: king ludwig II, kaiser frederick II, thomas mann. they, too, are my brothers, across time, each with their own great uniqueness, each with their similarities to me, and to you, my dear reader. what would the world look like today if they didn’t have to live outside of fences created by homophobia?
(and i guess i could have included homophobia in yesterday’s post about turning things off)