03 August 2007

Hazards of being homosexual by Chris Peregrin (Times of Malta, August 3, 2007)

In her letter (July 28) Elaine Bruce complains that teenagers around the globe are accepting homosexuality as being OK, and that some "healthy", "normal" teenagers are exploring their sexuality in a more open manner as if "there is nothing wrong with it".

I am shocked that in 2007 someone can still use the words "heterosexual", "healthy" and "normal" as synonyms, insinuating that if one does not fit into the heterosexual category one is unhealthy and abnormal. Any respected doctor, psychologist or lay person will tell you that there is nothing unhealthy and abnormal with being gay or bisexual. There is also nothing wrong with questioning and exploring one's own sexuality.

Contrary to what Ms Bruce is claiming, there is no proof that gay relationships are increasing in any age group, social class or country. All we know is that homosexuality is slowly becoming more accepted in most of the Western world and therefore gay people are more open than they were years ago. This should cause no alarm because throughout human history, and even within the majority of animal communities, there has always been a percentage of the population that engages in gay relationships. This has never caused extinction or any "huge mix up" as Ms Bruce so eloquently put it. This is simply a natural and normal occurrence that should be accepted. And yes, this acceptance should be encouraged.

What is worrying is not that homosexuality is starting to be more accepted, but that the closed-minded, intolerant and ignorant mentality of homophobes is still prevalent around the world. This attitude is what causes a third of teenage suicides, countless incidents of bullying, torture, beatings and murder of gay men and women, as well as an alarming rate of young people left rejected, abandoned and homeless after telling their families they are gay.

If you are gay or bisexual, coming out of the closet and being open about your sexual orientation is probably the most difficult hurdle you will ever face. No one would choose to do that if it was not something they had to do. No one would choose the segregation, bullying, fear and worry, had there been a shred of doubt in their minds that this is who they are.

Claiming that coming out of the closet is just a fashion statement or that being gay is something people choose to be cool, is highly offensive to gay people because it undermines all they had to go through to accept who they are and share that with their family and friends in a world where being gay is still a huge taboo, especially in a conservative and traditional society like Malta.

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