Does it really matter who you like?

By on May 16, 2014 in Columns

Matis article

May 17th is the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. The attitude towards same-sex relationships and the acceptance of LGBT individuals in the Swedish society has dramatically changed over the past century, and it is still changing. There have been laws introduced prohibiting hate crimes, schools are taking actions to prevent bullying based on one’s sexuality, and same sex marriages have been legalized. Though it might seem as if we are living in the brightest time ever, there are still people who show prejudice towards those who do not fit into the heterosexual norms. This happens especially outside of Sweden (not every-single-where of course though), where the reality can look completely different than the one we, Kungsholmare, live in.

On 12th December 2013, the Indian government reintroduced a more than 100 years old colonial era law prohibiting same sex actions from taking place. The law states that being involved in a relationship or engaging in sexual activities with people of the same sex (as well as animals for that matter) is seen as an ‘‘unnatural offence’’. On another continent, in the country of Uganda, a controversial anti-gay bill had been introduced, making any form of same sex actions, relationships or LGBT-rights organization activities illegal. On top of it all, Russia has started promoting anti-gay propaganda in the recently annexed region of Crimea. A local pride parade which was going to take place at the end of April was cancelled, and mass presentations have taken place, wide spreading the knowledge of the law banning promotion of “non-traditional” relationships to minors. At this point you might ask yourself, what is meant by these non-traditional relationships? Well, I am confused about it as well, and in order to clarify that expression I have picked out a few examples of traditional relationships throughout the history, around the world.

In pre-colonial Africa, there have been many forms of same-sex unions at various geographical locations and in differing ethnic tribes. For example, in present day Lesotho, certain women of high social status were involved in a symbolic union with another woman. In areas within present day Congo, it was a sign of high social standards for an older man to take upon a younger male lover who took care of the household work. A similar trend occurred within other locations on the continent at that time. Yet once mainland Africa became colonized and the European, Christian influence was forced upon the locals, the first laws prohibiting same-sex actions appeared. Now, many present day African countries blame the Western world for influencing them with ideals of LGBT rights and acceptance of homosexual individuals. I say, are they fully aware of what the original Western influence was?

A similar trend occurred around in Europe once Christianity became widespread and same sex relationships/actions became a punishable crime. (Now don’t get me wrong here. I am not criticizing the religion or beliefs of Christianity, but just pointing out what social impacts it has had throughout history.) In ancient Greece it was normal for men to have younger male lovers, or the soldiers to engage in sexual activities with one another in order to strengthen their bonds, because when does one fight better than when protecting a loved one? A similar tactic had been adapted later on in times of the Roman Empire. There too, forms of weddings/celebrations of same sex unions among two men existed. Some of which took place between Caesars and their male lovers.

The examples are many, and they can be found by doing research at a library or online (especially the latter). Certain records of same-sex relationships throughout history must have been destroyed and some are probably still hiding deep within an archive that does not allow public eyes. A conclusion which can be drawn though, is that defining a ‘traditional relationship’ is very hard, and it is not only restricted to a connotation of heterosexuality.

Various forms of sexualities have existed throughout human history, and some people might have experienced feelings of fluid sexuality during their lifetimes. I for example, have felt attracted to girls, I have been charmed by the warm and open-minded personalities of boys, and I have found myself being on the train, checking out people with androgynous features whom I could not really tell if they were male or female. Do I find it important to classify myself as pertaining to a certain sexuality? No, not really, but unfortunately not everyone thinks so. This becomes especially problematic for those who feel same sex attraction, but feel discomfort  being open about themselves due to the pressure from their social circles.

I myself know a thing or two about that. When I first realized I was into guys, I felt really confused because I didn’t fit into the regular norm. At the same time I didn’t feel like as if I belonged to a particular sexuality. I was only 12 years old back then, and I decided to let my life go with the flow and see what happens. And some things did happen. At one point in 6th grade, I came out as gay to certain people in my class I trusted back then. I trusted them and was convinced they would only keep it to themselves. Time moved on, summer holidays came, my feelings were changing and I wasn’t sure if I really was attracted to boys anymore. The new school year started, and the same-sex feelings I felt before seemed to be drifting away. But then, I was struck by a wave of questions directed towards my sexuality. Sometimes even, by people I didn’t quite know.

It had turned out that the people I trusted coming out to, had spread the news to others, so eventually most of my class and people outside of my class were questioning me about whether I was gay or not (At least I was asked in a nice, out-of- curiosity way, without having been bullied – something I feel grateful for today). I must say, I felt really annoyed back then. I couldn’t ‘classify’ myself as being gay, so in most cases I just left the people with a vague answer, and let the question hang in the air. One thing I had learnt out of this experience though, was not to give a shit about what others think about my sexuality and not let anyone influence my ideals of whom I like. As time moved on, my mind was changing constantly – am I straight? am I gay? or wait, I think I’m bisexual?! and it was like that until about 1.5 years ago when my mind settled and it felt reasonable to say that I am bisexual. A lesson I have learnt from my life so far is that one’s feelings alternate over time and that it is sometimes hard to know yourself. Therefore I say – If you are having hard time defining yourself, then especially don’t let others define you!

To all of you that have felt attracted towards the same sex/non-straight Kungsholmare (or whoever reads this) – don’t care what others say, and if you find it struggling to be open about your sexuality, then just begin with accepting yourself for who you are, and know that there is nothing wrong with liking whoever you want to like.

For those who still have a negative view on same-sex relationships, intercourse – I hope the brief chunks of information I have provided in this article will somehow question your stance on this matter, and open up your mind a tiny little bit (and possibly make you do some research into ‘‘non-traditional’’ relationships, and/or consider the reasons for your viewpoint).

As for anyone else, and everyone in general – it’s about the time we make the atmosphere comfortable, for others and ourselves, to bring up one’s sexuality/feelings of attraction, without making a mountain of a molehill.

Your fellow bisexual/sexually open-minded Kungsholmare