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Saturday, May 1, 2010 at 03:00AM
I am just barely a teen, and until recently, I have known no religion.
When I first heard the word “Bahà’i”, I assumed it to be merely another fancy of my mother’s. I groaned just a little when she asked me to come with her to a dinner to learn about it.
I discovered that it coincided completely with my beliefs, that every word sung to me. I am young, yes, but I can still know myself. The teachings they spoke of there were teachings I wanted to learn.
Eventually, I went to get to know the other younger ones there. They ranged from four to eleven; none quite as old as me.
Homophobia is a sore topic for me, and within half an hour of my enthusiastic discussion with the two girls closest to my age, it came up.
It was a mention of a celebrity, I believe, the same chatter that all adolescents engage in. The difference is, that celebrity is openly gay.
One of the younger ones, only seven, replied with a wrinkled nose.
I looked at her in shock, and my automatic response came clumsily to my tongue.
“Gay people are just the same as straight people, they just prefer men. Or women, if they’re lesbian.”
A few nodded in agreement, but some frowned as if they didn’t understand.
I continued with my speech, giving my usual quotes, pulling out all my logic and my support of equal rights, using everything I had. I had never met this kind of homophobia before, the genuine belief that homosexuality was wrong; in my school, it is accepted but derogatory remarks and casual insults such as “That’s gay” are everywhere.
I would like to think that I saw some agreement in the children’s eyes, but perhaps it is merely wishful thinking. One girl, the one closest to me in age, then made a comment that I will always be grateful for.
“My uncle is G-A-Y.”
Although she spelled it, obviously uncomfortable with the word, there was still just a hint of defiance in her tone.
“He’s really nice. I love him. He’s… gay.”
There was silence, a contemplative one. Unlike me, the outsider, her parents were the hosts of the dinner. She was considered an authority among the children. Her words were not merely a curiosity, a point of view; they were an authority.
The mood shifted, and I smiled almost imperceptibly. Children come to believe as their parents do, but they can come to think for themselves if encouraged. I’d like to hope that maybe that did it, that maybe some of them will go home with questions on their mind.
Our small chapter of the Bahà’i Faith is more open than others, although the homophobia is still there. I hope that I and the other more accepting girls made an impact, hope that maybe it can be killed altogether. I hope that someday, when I am old enough, I will be able to join and embrace the Faith completely, as a bisexual. I hope that I will be able to say the word “girlfriend” without having anyone blink, and hope that the girl’s uncle will always find acceptance. I hope that this generation’s more tolerant attitude continues, and that the next will be even more so. Sometimes, this hope fails me. Every day, I enter school and hear gay used as dumb, hear a word that should only ever be used for cigarettes. My attempts to speak up are laughed at by all but my friends. On these days, my chin starts to droop and my eyes, bright with purpose, start to dull. But the next day, the sun still rises and the day still starts; so must I continue on, never letting my vision die.
May our world and our faith find unity.Anonymous