On Gay Pride and Homophobia

579262_324663244265840_1772336197_nThe annual Sofia Gay Pride took place on the 18th of June this year and as usual, the event was surrounded by controversy, negativity and backlash from the public.

The same questions and tired arguments come up over and over again “Why isn’t there a Straight Pride Parade?”, “Why do gays need to parade their sexuality on the streets?”, “What will this do to the children?”

The recent tragedy in Orlando has not only served as a devastating blow against the LGBTQ community, but has highlighted just how far the divide on the subject of homosexuality is between the public in Bulgaria, and in many countries worldwide. Too many comment sections online are filled with people actually cheering for the shooter, claiming the deaths didn’t matter, because only gay people were killed or hurt. Fortunately, it appears to be a small, if very vocal minority, as most who oppose gay pride and gay people in general aren’t ready to sink as low as to be filled with glee over the deaths of innocent people.

Pic: Lukas Wank, Shabka, CC BY 4.0.
Expression of distaste against Sofia Pride. Pic: Lukas Wank, Shabka, CC BY 4.0.

That doesn’t change the fact that the majority of Bulgarians are against the idea of a Gay Pride parade in our nation’s capital and are more than willing to vocally and physically express their distaste and even outright hatred.

So let’s discuss those very questions that always get asked, not just around this time of year, but practically in any public or private discourse about homosexuality in Bulgaria. There are not new, brilliant insights and you can probably find more eloquent rebuttals to them in lots of other places – but they keep coming up, so it is worth talking about.

The reason they don’t seem to go away is that people seem to think they’re rhetorical – as if simply pointing out the idea of a Straight Pride in of itself is enough to completely debunk the notion of Gay Pride. It’s not meant as a question, it’s meant as an actual argument, one that those who use often believe is unbeatable.

Except it’s not.

Straight Pride doesn’t and should not exist because straight people are generally not persecuted for their sexuality. When was the last time you saw or heard about someone who was beat up, verbally abused, fired from his job or just generally harassed for being straight? If you are straight, have you ever been afraid to kiss, hug, or even hold hands with your partner out in the open? Probably not.

Gay people have and many still do. Gay Pride in Bulgaria is one of the very few opportunities the LGBTQ community has to be together out in the streets without fear, showing support for one another – and to do that, the parade has to be surrounded by police at all times and people need to take a number of different precautions to make sure they’re safe, which is just wrong.

It’s an event that celebrates love and unity, but also stands as an act of defiance against the years of systematic abuse that the community has faced.

I’ve heard so many people say that they’re ‘OK’ with gay people as long they don’t parade out on the streets. Well, I’m sorry, but if you can’t even look at gay people and would rather they only showed love and affection in private, then you are not OK with the idea. You can’t just say you’re not homophobic and then follow it up by showing disgust with gay people.

As for the children – they’ll be fine.

If your children are confused about gay pride, gay people or sexual identity, explain it to them. Children are going to be confused about a lot of things, because they’ve yet to learn about the world around them – it’s the responsibility of the parents to inform and guide them when they encounter something they don’t understand. If the parents themselves are unsure or uncomfortable explaining it, then they should direct their kids to the next best source of information they can find – whether that be a person, an website or whatever.

It’s like helping them with their homework – you don’t have to be good at math to find them a tutor, and if they don’t understand math, you wouldn’t just go and make the school stop teaching it altogether.

And if you’re one of those people that think being more accepting of gay people and maybe even considering honoring their right as human beings will somehow lead to pedophilia and bestiality being legalized – you’re a moron.

Apologies for being blunt, but that’s by far the most outlandish and thickheaded argument against homosexuality. When two adults love each other, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, it’s an act of consent and free will. When adults force themselves on children or animals, it’s an act of cruelty that has nothing to do with consent.

Types of sexuality that differ from being straight do not all belong in the same category. There’s a reason why pedophilia and bestiality are illegal and they should obviously stay that way.

If a homophobic person just came out and said “I don’t like gay people”, that’s one thing. Everyone has the right to an opinion – but if you try to rationalize your feelings with hypocritical and nonsensical backwards arguments, and if you insult, hurt or demean gay people just because you don’t like them, then you’re being an absolute jerk.

Pic: Lukas Wank, Shabka, CC BY 4.0.
This years annual Sofia Pride Parade. Pic: Lukas Wank, Shabka, CC BY 4.0.

The Sofia Gay Pride has been upfront about what it is as an event – the routes of the parade and timetable have been made clear well in advance. So if you don’t like the idea of Gay Pride, you don’t have to attend or even watch it – no one is asking you to.

And – for the future – if you’re seething with anger and think the event is an outrage and that gay people are disgusting, maybe consider that parading your violent behavior and hatred in public sets a much worse example for children than seeing two people in love be happy for once.

This article was originally published on June 18, 2016 on Braelstrom and is republished on Shabka with the author’s consent.
There have been minor edits to the original version.

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