During the winter break, I got the opportunity to visit my hometown of Pakistan. Having lived in a tolerant community for most of my life, I had never been exposed to the notion of religious intolerance, so it was vastly befuddling for me to see the rage with which religious minorities are denied their religious rights here.
In the last few weeks, the alarming rise of vitriolic anti-immigrant, xenophobic rhetoric from the right wing has alarmed a large segment of the American people, but equally disturbing is how much support these noxious views are getting from the public. After the civil rights achievements of the 1960s, it was widely assumed that tolerance and diversity would win the day. Many studies show that growing familiarity with the "other" typically yields more tolerant attitudes. But this recent spasm of hatred is shocking in its intensity and in the apparent rejection of that decades-long progress toward social peace. Many even call it fascism. Why has this reversal suddenly appeared?
As a teenager I felt like that solid, red pimple with no give, no whitehead ripe for a satisfying squeeze. The pain on the outside reflecting the tense churning and discomfort underneath. A differentness I knew would keep me permanently locked out of their circle, disconnected from everyone else who seemed so in tune with one another. They had best friends. I never did.
Gay people have to be courageous to accept ourselves, be honest about our feelings, and live our lives. I struggle with that courage every day, but when I read the bull**** that people say, I just want to stand tall with my chest puffed out and say, "I'm a homosexual and there ain't nothin' wrong with that!"