“What you eat doesn’t make me shit” – Unknown
This has been my mantra for most of my life and I think a lot of people would do well adapting it. There are about 8 billion people on this planet and they all vary significantly for several different reasons. Hence, the odds of me, a single person, understanding every single choice these people make is impossible; but one does not have to understand why you do what you do in order to wish for you a safe space and peace. I always wish for everyone on this planet the space and freedom to do what makes them happy as long as whatever that is doesn’t bring harm or pain to any living thing, themselves included. Life is brutal people, so if you find what makes you happy and the only thing keeping you from doing it is society and its judgement, you better damn well do it.
I went to my first LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, etc) Pride event this year and it was amazing. The event was a fundraiser that was invite only and this created a temporary bubble that allowed everyone in there to be a more authentic version of themselves. Walking into that room, I knew I was entering a space where majority of the people there are lovers of life and promoters of happiness; these are people who understand that every human being deserves joy and peace. However, being in that room with all these people in the LGBTQ+ community who are in the closet because they’re terrified for their lives was a rude awakening.
I have read stories on the internet and felt empathetic but seeing a person first hand who was attacked with a metal rod for being “feggy”, hearing about a person who was jumped and beaten down Waterside simply because of how he walks, and meeting a transgender who’s terrified of ever coming out because she knows of someone who was put in a tyre and burnt alive simply for being who they are; that broke my heart. It crushed my spirit.
Based on what I observed, and I may be wrong, but I believe most people in the room at this Pride event can “afford to be gay” in Liberia; they have enough stature which gives them a certain level of protection from the common homophobe. There’s still the dehumanizing treatment that they might receive but the odds are, their lives aren’t threatened on the daily. On the basis of numerous stories I’ve heard and read, I can tell you that the common LGBTQ+ Liberian lives in communities where walking outside everyday is like going out into a battlefield, they have no idea if that would be the day that a stray bullet from someone’s arsenal of hatred would take them out; those are the people who I feel the need to write this piece the most, they are in dire need of all humane people to actively fight on their behalf. After all, “Neutrality, in the face of such evil, is complicity”– Sense8 finale. Love is the most basic of human emotions and being hunted and treated like a criminal simply because of how you love yourself and who you love goes against the very grain of humanity.
Let me remind us that these secret LGBTQ+ people aren’t aliens, they’re our brothers and sisters, parents and children, cousins and friends. Loving someone in manners that aren’t considered “the norm” is so natural that there are LGBTQ+ animals! I could go on and try to convince you on the fact that being queer isn’t a choice by using science proves that there is a biological basis in sexual orientation, but I’ll appeal to simple logic instead. Look at the word we live in, there’s hate being spewed at every minority especially the ones in the LGBTQ+ community.
Owning who you are and letting it be known which gender(s) you identify as or find attractive might make you an outcast; your family might disown you, organizations might refuse to hire you, establishments might refuse to serve you, hospitals might refuse to treat you, and your very existence might be threatened. I wonder who would CHOOSE this life?
What person would wake up one day and decide to make their life infinitely harder and more dangerous? I believe that who you are and who you’re attracted to is not a choice! If it were a choice, I wouldn’t have “chosen” to be attracted to some of the bums I call ex-lovers, but I digress.
A worker at the venue where the Pride event was held was overheard saying “god vexed tonight” when he found out what the event was about. My friends and I laughed about his reaction and went on having an amazing night. In retrospect, what that man said is at the core of the crucifixion of the queer community. People have this idea in their head that the god they worship wants them to hate, crucify and sometimes kill a person simply for who they love. There was a Reverend also at this event who fights for healthcare for the LGBTQ+ community; her religion tells her to love her neighbors as herself and if you love someone, you want them to be happy and healthy. The God that Reverend serves is the God I believe in. The God who loves and protects Her own. The God who isn’t vindictive and spiteful; She’s the OG.
Anytime a person who is some version of a minority by gender, race, religion, sexuality, etc. is discriminatory to other minorities, my mind is boggled. I mean, you understand and have been subjected to the dehumanizing feeling of being told and treated as less than and then you turn around and project that hate onto someone else. I have one question for you: how? How do you dissociate yourself from these people and their right to humanity when you very well know how it feels? A black homophobe. A female racist. People like that really amaze me.
Love is love is love is love. I think who a person is, loves or is attracted to is not a crime and people should not be treated as if it is. I know how lucky I am to have a safe space and how vital that is to my mental health so I will wish and fight for every single being in this galaxy to have such a simple gift as this. To quote the indomitably wise Quinta Brunson, “people be gay” so get over it.
Authored by Shari Raji