It wasn’t the oodles of lesbian sex that seared my brain after watching the TV series The L Word, but rather a single sentence uttered by the exquisitely androgynous Shane, played by Katherine Moennig. She said rather sagely that “Sexuality is fluid.” Those three words made a lasting impression.
I’m lucky to have been born in the late 80s, growing up in a generation that’s fairly relaxed about what many previous generations consider taboo. Homosexuality is pretty high on the list of unmentionables. Raised Catholic and attending an all girl’s Catholic school, homosexuality was hushed and swept under the carpet. (Bear in mind this was post-apartheid South Africa, still steeped in racial intolerance) It was only in high school that the topic really surfaced and even then, I have no memory of any girls in my years of high school being openly or even secretly gay. It just didn’t exist, or so the establishment would perhaps want us to believe. Of course there were rumours and gossip turning homosexuality into a salacious titbit for home-room chats and lunch time giggles.
Homosexuality did, however, exist a little closer to home and it never really fazed me. People could love whoever they wanted to. Seeing how destructive prejudice could be first hand, I readily accepted those closest to me when they came out of the closet. In university, some of my closest friends were between openly gay, confused, experimental, bi or otherwise delightfully fluid. This really opened my eyes to the world beyond gender. Sexuality and lifestyle could be a choice and it wasn’t limited to opposite-sex or same-sex. Open relationships, polygamous relationships, bi, intersex, transgender, and even asexual were all possibilities. Finally, it felt like the world was moving beyond the stereotypes of 1950’s soap operas.
Even so, South Africa, bound by religious and cultural prejudices, took a long time and still hasn’t really accepted homosexuality – never mind the various other sexuality options. And news from SA is looking bleak as the government considers doing away with a clause that would essentially make discrimination in the work place based on sexual preference no longer illegal. It’s a huge step backwards in terms of basic human rights.
In 2009, I moved to Finland. The Finnish mentality, as in most of the Nordic countries, is fairly open and willing to accept individuals for who they are whether they have a three foot purple mohawk, facial tattoos, or a partner of the same sex. Helsinki is home to one of the largest gay clubs in Scandinavia and yet the name – Don’t Tell Mother – hints at a lingering air of taboo, of gayness being unacceptable, although the name is meant tongue-in-cheek.
Personally, I’m all for gender equality and long for the day sexuality is as immaterial as the colour of your eyes or hue of your hair (although that’s still cause for prejudice in some places). When I read articles like this and this my heart does a little happy dance that despite prejudice born from religion, close-mindedness, ignorance or stupidity, there does seem to be progress towards a world where gender and sexuality are no longer an issue. Perhaps I’m an idealist, but I’d like to live in a world where all people are entitled to the same human rights regardless of race, creed or sexual preference.
So why did I just delve into this topic? Today marks the start of the Hop Against Homophobia, an attempt to create awareness via blog post. As a writer, I deliberately include gay, bi and ‘fluid’ characters in stories be they shorts or novels. I write SF and there seems to be a lack of gay leading characters in the genre. I’m hoping that will change. So, this is my contribution to the cause.
In the spirit of the blog hop, we’ve been asked to give away a prize related to the topic. To this end, I’m offering one lucky winner a PDF version of my m/m story Darkness is Itself a Canvas (not for readers under 18) originally published by Oysters&Chocolate. The PDF version will include some extra special content and my autograph, not included in the previously published edition. To win, you can enter below. Please feel free to leave comments on this post. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion but I will not tolerate hate speech!