"It is difficult to understand homosexuality..", Zambia's President Rupiah Banda is reported to have said, during a meeting with Champions of an HIV-free Generation in Africa in Lusaka last week. Read the full story as reported by the Lusaka Times here.
I joined a discussion sparked by the remarks of the Zambian president on an online forum for LGBTI Nigerians. This was the first comment on the president's words:
C: "Yes, it is difficult for me to understand homosexuality. I have accepted it. Truth be told, it is difficult to understand heterosexuality. Its acceptance, on the other hand, has been taken for granted (by the majority). There, lies the difference!"
Responding to this comment someone else stated:
N: "Well, in all honesty, I think it is more difficult to understand homosexuality than it is to understand heterosexuality. Even many of us who have feelings of same-sex attraction, have some difficulty in understanding our own sexual feelings.
Our confusion and perturbation are compounded by the unfavourable impression of homosexuality that most people around us have, most of those people being heterosexual and therefore having no need to make the effort to seek to understand why some other individuals might be sexually attracted to members of their own gender. Being in the minority and surrounded by all this negativity, it is unsurprising that many gay men think of their sexuality as an unwelcome burden. When one considers the arguments often advanced by homophobes, such as "homosexuality is against the order of nature", "God made Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve" and about procreation, etc., one sees that heterosexuality can easily be thought to be normal, whereas homosexuality is [thought to be] abnormal and difficult to understand.
I think it is rather arrogant for we humans to think that it is we who should dictate to Mother Nature what is normal and what is not. But herein lies the crux of the matter. Most people are not affected by homosexuality and therefore have no need (or desire) to learn of it, read about it and expand their knowledge concerning it. Hence we find that homosexuality is not understood, and even so to a greater degree in the less well-informed societies of the world as in Zambia where this president was speaking."
Then this comment followed:
EB: "The difference is not at all difficult to understand when one has grown in his thinking and manhood to be a lover of his kind. It is not as though, this man chose his destiny. Much easier life would be, if he could unknowingly follow the dreadful path of hate and intolerance that informs most of his society, from the highest courts of corrupt America to the simplest civilizations of our remaining primitive origins. But some men, after awful agony, accept themselves as different beings altogether from the rest and open themselves to love of all life."
I agree with the second comment. Homosexuality is not readily explainable. He who has no real cause to seek an explanation for it (and thus a better understanding of it) eg., the heterosexual person, will have little or no understanding. And even more so when his mind has been corrupted by homophobic doctrine that propounds the false notions that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender identities are sick and sinful. It should not surprise us when President Banda tells us that he cannot understand homosexuality.
When you think about it, even the gay men and women in society are born and raised in the same circumstances as the heterosexual majority. They too have been exposed to the same influences that have caused many among the heterosexual majority to hold strong anti-gay views. Hence we find that among gay people, self-loathing is common. The recent spate of gay-teen suicides in the US is a case in point.
What then is the way forward for the gay person? Well, EB in the third comment above puts it neatly. Agony is unavoidable; pain caused to self and to others is inescapable. But in the end one must truly accept oneself as being different. I cannot imagine living a life of denial and pretence, a life of lies and constantly looking over the shoulder. There are even those who dislike themselves so intensely that they vent their frustration and anger on other gay people, the ones who have attained the maturity of mind to boldly accept themselves for who they are. It is trite that many of the loudest anti-gay voices are the voices of unfulfilled, unhappy gay men. EB in his comment stated it aptly: "..But some men, after awful agony, accept themselves as different beings altogether from the rest, and open themselves to love of all life."