• author
    • Maya Stiles Parsons Spier

      Columnist, Editor-in-Chief
    • July 31, 2013 in Columnists

    Homophobes, what do you really fear?

    A day or so ago, an angel friend of my late brother and one of the joys of my heart, posted an article about the rather salaciously gay behavior demonstrated by a bunch of French protesters of gay marriage.

    Really?  Half naked photo shots of them all sitting ever so near and dear?  A quite juicy picture of them sitting on each other’s shoulders with their shirts off?

    I enjoy a gorgeous young man in the semi-altogether as much as any red-blooded heterosexual woman of whatever age and marital status, but to see them all snuggled up together even as they spew hatred?  The word hypocrite comes to mind even as further suspicions gather.

    Almost 38 years ago, probably within a month of now, I was visiting a friend with my baby daughter when her son and two friends came vaulting into her kitchen, boasting that they were gonna go out on the town and bash them some f**gs.  All fired up they were, bursting with testosterone, hostility and aggression; they were abristle with excitement.

    I was sitting there with my tiny, fuzzy-headed daughter nestled against my breast, feeling the vesuvial rage erupt through my very viscera.  I cradled my little one close as I remembered the drag queens who had welcomed me in off the streets of my hometown when I was 15, only five years before.  Their tender kindness in giving me food, a safe place to sleep and a listening ear was a big part of why I survived.  Well I remembered the stories they and their friends told of the brutality they’d suffered, the casual cruelties even on the best of days.

    “How dare you!” I growled, pinning the entire gang of miscreants with my stare.  “How dare you contemplate harming someone for being who they are.  How would you like it if someone came along and beat you to a bloody pulp for being straight?”  I don’t remember everything I said, it being 40 years ago, but I knew I had to weave a prison of my words, to stop them with all the power I could muster.  If I let them get through the door, someone would suffer.

    I told them that there was nothing wrong with being gay, that it did not harm any of them in the slightest.  I told them they had no right to hurt another human being who had never done anything to them.  I knew better than to give them a moment to protest, to gather wind to launch a counter-argument.  There was no argument they could have mustered that I could not have defeated anyway.  I’d made a practice of enticing people to argue points they could not win because, in my youth, I was an arrogant little twit and it amused me to play with people who saw themselves as older, smarter and wiser.

    I had no idea that I would be using this ill-gotten skill to perhaps even save an innocent life – and maybe keep these little bastards out of jail.

    I’m not sure how long I spoke – ranted, really – pouring every bit of strength and power I had into my words, but at least they had stopped trying to get out the door.  My friend just stood back and let me run with it.  What I do remember – vividly –  is that they slowly seemed to run out of steam.  The shoulders that were aquiver with the violence they felt from within lowered and the eager bouncing subsided into a quiet, even ashamed stance.  Nor do I remember if they said anything as they trailed out of the room, but I know that, at least tonight and perhaps forever from these three, there would be no harm done.

    After that, I remember only relief.

    But there was more.  Fast forward at least 20 years.  I was visiting the same friend and that night came up in the conversation.

    “I remember that night, too,” my friend said.  “It turned out that one of those boys was gay.  He was going along with it because he was terrified that if he didn’t, they would figure it out.  That was the night he got the courage to come out and to be who he was.  You gave him that courage.”

    I was floored to hear this, and a huge well of emotion rose within me, stinging my eyes.  One of those boys was gay?  And my words gave him the courage to embrace himself?  My words had done this?  I had done more than just that moment’s good?  I suddenly wished he was been right there so I could open my arms to embrace him, to praise him for learning to love himself, and to tell him how glad I was that I could help give him the courage it took to do so, especially almost 40 years ago.

    It begs the question, though – how many people out there who appear to hate are simply terrified of being found out if they don’t go along?  How many people live and die in fear because they live in a climate that makes the price of embracing themselves simply unpayable?

    In a world full of war, famine, child abuse, cruelty of all sorts – how on earth can we make it a punishable offense to love?  And how can we help  give courage to people who are still too afraid to love who they truly are?

    We have so much more work to do.

      • Dr. Hank Fradella

      • July 31, 2013 at 9:17 am
      • Reply

      Maya, thanks so much for sharing this poignant story. You remind us that our words matter. We never know when we might be saying something that helps someone else down the road. Conversely, we often don’t know when words spoken in anger or out of ignorance cause hurt or even violence. So thank you for taking a stand. You not only helped someone find who he is, you may have saved several lives.

    • This is a beautiful piece of writing. How sad that we have continued punishing people for loving each other. I hope you gave someone else the courage to speak out next time they encounter gay bashing.

    • Great story. Sometimes the loudest against something fear it the most because they recognized this within themselves.

      • Maya North

      • July 31, 2013 at 1:30 pm
      • Reply

      Dr. Hank, you are so welcome. Gay is family — both directly and in the sense of the human family. How can we hate ourselves, because when we hate our family who is gay, that’s what we are doing. I could have done no less. I hope the good rippled out as far as it could go…

      • Maya North

      • July 31, 2013 at 1:43 pm
      • Reply

      We do it all the time, Kathie, although few so virulently as gay couples. Apparently I gave that one young man the courage to come out, so I hope the other two eventually opened their hearts and started standing up for what’s right. <3

      • Maya North

      • July 31, 2013 at 2:37 pm
      • Reply

      Madge, that is perfect truth.

      • Kelvin

      • July 31, 2013 at 3:11 pm
      • Reply

      Excellent. We see this time and again. We see it in closeted politicians that take hateful, homophobic stances. This desire to attack to divert suspicion has a long history. White slave owners ranting against miscegenation while secretly fathering children with their slaves. Preachers preaching against the very things they’re doing in secret. Politicians attacking their rivals for sex scandals while they’re doing the same thing. We would all do well to look at ourselves and own who we are. We have to keep building a world where it’s safe to come out and be who you are. You’re doing your part, Maya. Beautiful column.

      • Maya North

      • July 31, 2013 at 3:45 pm
      • Reply

      Oh, Kelvin, thank you so much. I had two major behavioral flaws as a child — I lied and I stole. Naturally, when confronted, I turned the argument around and accused my parents of not trusting me. These days I have wrangled myself into honesty (it was as difficult as wrestling an outraged, muddy sow), but I know this one all too well. It really is easier just to admit it — whatever it is. I had bad things to admit. If I was gay, admitting that would not be a bad thing at all. <3

      • David Lacy

      • July 31, 2013 at 6:56 pm
      • Reply

      Narrative, moral, eloquence of writing: this is a strong column.

        • Maya North

        • July 31, 2013 at 7:22 pm
        • Reply

        David Lacy, you honor me. Thank you. <3

    • Beautiful. I’ve talked young ones out of suicide. I’ve given a few a place to live when parents couldn’t accept a gay child. there was a tome when asking if someone was family was code for “are you gay? it’s ok because so am i.”

        • Maya North

        • August 2, 2013 at 9:29 pm
        • Reply

        When we create a society where gay kids want to die because it’s too agonizing to stay, we have even more problems than we thought. The irony is that so many of the haters do so on religious grounds. Seems they are willfully ignoring the admonitions to love and not judge. It makes me tired.

    • Beautiful story. 🙂

        • Maya North

        • August 2, 2013 at 9:30 pm
        • Reply

        Thank you <3

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