Today is International Day Against Homophobia. It’s hard to believe that homophobics still exist and it was even harder for me to realise just how homophobic my own father is. I’ve always been closer to my father than my mother, simply because our characters are more compatible. I clash a lot with my mother because she tends to be overzealous in her wanting to help, resulting in my shutting down and not letting her in. I need space and need those around me to allow me to take my own decisions without intruding, something which my mother always found a hard thing to do. She means well and I don’t know where I’d be without her constant help but our relationship wasn’t always easy. My father, on the other hand, always gave us space to take our own decisions and make our own mistakes. There was a time when I lived on the larger island when I used to write him letters (this was before the advent of emails and mobile phones) asking for his opinion on some very personal matters. It’s not that I wanted to exclude my mother, but I knew that he would tell me what he thought and, even if he disagreed with my final decisions, he’d let me go ahead without trying to stop me.
He’s now in his seventies and, since retiring from work, spends most of his day cooped up in his computer room watching football matches and reading news from around the globe. It saddens me to think how much he’s changed and wish he’d get out of the house more but he says he’s happy spending his free time the way he does. We’ve always argued a lot about certain issues, with the hottest recurring topics being the death penalty and contemporary art, but an argument about homosexuality we had a few days ago left me a little shaken. He insisted that gays are not normal and that God created men to like women and vice versa. For him, anything deviating from that ‘norm’ was just that – an abnormality which was not to be accepted. He could not believe that there was a Roman Catholic bishop who had admitted to being gay. For him this was outrageous. It became very obvious after a few minutes that he associated homosexuality with pedophilia and that’s where I lost the little patience I had left. I won’t go into the argument here as I’m sure most of you know the difference between the two but I just cannot accept that my own father actually believes such a thing. Sadly, there’s nothing I can do or say to make him see how wrong his assumptions are.
So today my thoughts are with all my gay friends, male and female. You are some of the most amazing people I know and your sexual orientation just makes you more special than you already are.