There is long-standing homophobia in the Latino community. Latinos have grown up believing that Macho is the only way to be. In a country where we have often been relegated to second class status, we cling to those things that we can control, our sense of who we are, our personal space, and our religion.
But homophobia is wrong and just as discriminatory as racism and sexism.
In the fourth grade, my teacher Mrs. Flood, called me out in front of the whole class and proclaimed that I was “macho.” Then she had me stand up and tell the class what it meant, so I did. I certainly didn’t like being put on the spot like that and didn’t understand what made her select me as her case point. As a child I never walked around thinking I had to do X or Y because it was the macho or manly thing to do, for the most part. I just did what I had learned and what I was comfortable with – a lot of which was homophobic. Much of that came from using the language of hatred.
In junior high, a friend of my started picking on another student who he thought was gay and I felt sorry for the other student. I felt sorry for him because I could see it in his eyes that my friend was making it miserable for him. I didn’t feed into that stupidity. This is when I started to think about my language and attitudes.
Then I went to college in the Bay Area and I got a crash course in understanding what it meant to be gay and how homophobia was the same kind of hatred and ignorance as racism and sexism. Many of my new dorm mates and closest friends were gay. I learned through conversations at 2 in the morning, I learned from dorm meetings and workshops, and by supporting my friends and causes.
And now I’m back to living in a homophobic environment. In Santa Paula, the main measure of self-worth is how macho one is (this pretty much applies to women also, no joke). You see it everywhere. If you question someone’s manliness, you can end up dead. I hate that about my city.
Then we have religion. Latinos are largely Catholic and the Church is anti-gay. This is the main reason the Church and I have split ways. This is taught supposedly from the bible and it’s taught from the pulpit.
So we have homophobia in the streets, we have it at home, and we have it in church. But it’s wrong.
Proposition 8 in California is all about homophobia, and it is wrong. I am voting NO on Proposition 8.