I Hate Gay People
article by Meredith McKinnie
It’s not a sentiment. It’s a statement. Thankfully it’s one I haven’t heard in person in quite some time. Sure, randomly we encounter an ignorant post or condemnation, but verbally, in my face, not for years. So that day, when he made that statement, I was stunned. The place or the person is irrelevant, but it was made publicly, with a sizable audience, and within an instant everyone was looking to me to respond. And I froze. I felt an instant weight of responsibility. I knew that how I handled this moment could determine the likelihood of it happening again; it could determine the state of mind of the homosexual in the corner who was pretending not to be hurt. It felt heavy and uncomfortable and a moment I hadn’t prepared for. But I should have.
After a few moments, I shut it down. The Meredith in me that is so angered by ignorance and hate speech and cruelty for the sake of sport or humor at the expense of others, she exploded on the inside. But I simply asked him, “Why?” I let the anger subside and challenged this spokesman to defend his assertion. And I was curious why. “Why do you care so much, enough to hate? What is it about this lifestyle that angers you if it doesn’t involve you? Whether you like or agree with the behavior, you’re not involved, or so you say, so what raises these people to a caliber deserving of hatred? Why do homosexuals scare you so much?”
He switched from asserting his opinion to now defending it, though weakly, because the truth is, he didn’t know why. Perhaps it was the environment in which he was raised, perhaps it was what he was taught, perhaps it was his default based on some previous interaction. Perhaps it was a common sentiment he assumed was shared among the group, but it wasn’t. I could see fear on some faces. I could see anger on others. No one likes those uncomfortable situations; we freeze instead of speak. But it should never be tolerated or ignored or allowed to continue. Hate speech against any group is still hate, and whether or not you identify with the group or disagree, if you stay silent, you’re allowing hatred to perpetuate. You might as well have said it yourself.
And while I said my peace, and the conversation quickly shifted, he didn’t hear me. He knew what he said was controversial; that’s why he said it. It wasn’t about him anymore. It was about not tolerating bigotry in any form. It’s about shutting down hate, especially for something one doesn’t understand. As a straight person, I don’t know the feelings of a homosexual, or what that implies, or how they’re treated, or the scrutiny that comes along with it, at least not firsthand. How can we hate that? Is it easier to say we hate it than to try and understand? When did it become easier to hate than to empathize? When did it become easier to attack than to listen? When did we stop seeing others as diverse human beings and solely as labels or representatives of a certain culture? It’s ignorance, and it should no longer be rewarded, or praised, or given silent nods of approval. And the act of hate deserves more than silence.
Humanity is the one universal similarity we all share. We are all humans trying to make our way in a flawed world of other flawed humans. The word humanity has two definitions. The first is “the condition of being human; human nature.” And our nature is flawed. The second is “the quality of being humane; kindness; benevolence.” I say we choose the second; to be kind, to be understanding, to be accepting of those different from ourselves. And while he has a right to say whatever he wants, I also have a right to respond. And when I hear hate, I refuse to stay silent.