Browsing a blog that links to mine, I found a comment that took the blogger, Shahrazad, to task for giving me houseroom: ‘why u have this sick minded man (lathophobic aphasia), i think his blog shouldn`t be here… sorry 4 any bothering, but just i`d like 2 say what i feel toward such people.’ Well, get you, dear! This was a comment from a Libyan woman on a Libyan blog, deploring my open homosexuality. Libyan law punishes homosexuality with up to three years in clink, and in Libya, as in pretty much every other Muslim country, homosexuals are forced into silence and secrecy by law, society, religion and women like this. I was about to add a snarky comment, when I saw that Sharahzad had already replied, defending me as 'a true friend and gentleman in every sense, who shares all his knowledge with all. I respect his private life and honor him for being so open about it.‘ Bless her!
Gay people are used to being lumped together by the religious as sick, immature, perverted and all the rest of it, but this is the first time I have had this ad hominem, as it were. I’m actually more used to being patronised than execrated. Back in the eighties, when even intelligent straights had a bit of catching up to do on the etiquette of social intercourse with homos, a number of women with whom I had hitherto got on well would spoil things somewhat by implying that I was not really a man. I am neither cripplingly butch nor screechingly femme in manner, but because I had never shown the least sexual interest in them, they assumed I had no masculine ego to offend. They even expected me to agree with them.
A lesser source of irritation was the frequently heard ‘oh, are you gay? You’d really fancy my brother / best mate / best mate’s husband, etc.’
‘He’s tall, dark, buff…’
‘So what makes you think I’d fancy him?’
‘Cos he’s tall, dark, b… Yeah, OK.’
Then they realised they had no grounds for making assumptions about whom I might fancy just because I’m a woofter.
In the educated, liberal, Guardian reading, herbivorous milieu in which I usually move, mild insensitivity is all I have ever experienced directly, never open hostility. In these circles we can laugh at and laugh off the ignorant, the bigoted and the loony - we got plenty of practice of that in the eighties, when the tabloids were an inexhaustible source of anti-gay vitriol.
Sharahzad’s reply to her commenter elicited this response: ‘i do respect your point of view. but i really feel disgusting [sic] from such people.’ This could have been uttered in Britain in the fifties. God knows what the woman thinks we are, if she thinks at all. It took something like fifty years to communicate to the Western world the blindingly obvious message that we are not evil creatures from another dimension, but your brothers and sisters, sons and daughters and occasionally your parents. This is an idea that has not yet penetrated the Muslim world to any great extent. So, kudos to Shahrazad for her defense of me, and by implication all of us, in a country where that takes a fair degree of guts.
The jovial old gent below is one of the more moderate denouncers of homosex to be found on You Tube. If you think you have a strong enough stomach, look up 'homosexuals and Islam' there, and prepare for profound nausea inspired by mad imams and the viciousness of the appended comments. Honestly, you will 'really feel disgusting from such people.'