In Holland there’s a little town called Staphorst. A little creepy beacon of religiosity in the middle of tolerance. The union of schools there, not even all that long ago, tried to get the word „homosexuality” banned from the school’s dictionaries. Because, why not?
I remember that as my moment of enlightenment. I’m a straight, white male, always been proud of my empathy, but honestly, it had never really been tested. Empathy is easy, when it’s never really challenged.
I tried to imagine myself as a 13 year old boy, struggling with my gay feelings, knowing that coming out would mean I’d possibly be mocked by my friends and judged by my parents. And now, to top that off, my sexual orientation, wouldn’t even have a place in the dictionary. And simply imagining that, not even have to live through it, broke my heart.
Now, many years later, having lived in gay accepting places like Holland, London and San Fransisco, and in less accepting places like Tokyo and Timisoara, after having dozens of the most horrifying online and offline interactions with homophobes, my feeling is still exactly the same: somewhere in Buenos Aires, Liverpool, Bacau, or Belgrade there is this 13 year old boy or girl, struggling with his or her homosexual feelings. And this 13 year old kid in Brussels, Sofia, Kinshasa or Pitesti deserves a world in which he or she can simply say „oh by the way, I was born gay”, without any judgement, and even without any questions. And I wish I knew exactly what to do, to give that kid the planet he or she deserves.
Staphorst’s union of schools lost. Thank goodness. But they didn’t lose because „acceptance”, they lost because bureaucracy: all schools should have the same dictionary. Which means, even an accepting country like Holland is still far away from getting it right.
I wish we’d have a planet where gay pride parades weren’t a thing, I wish I lived on a planet where eQuiVox wasn’t an organisation. Because they shouldn’t be needed. I’m horrified and thankful at the same time that they exist. Because sadly, they’re still desperately needed.
I’m just here to tell you, as a random straight white male that humanity is a thing that we’re in together, and you’re not alone. Never.
Fight, please. Stand up, proud, even where you feel you shouldn’t. The 13 year old kid in Lugoj, Dortmund, Chisinau or Oslo is worth it, and will forever be thankful for it.
~Erwin, San Francisco