Who’s still afraid of the big, bad Other?

It may come as a surprise to a lot of us, but 17 May is International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

Homophobia is defined as irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals (Merriam-Webster). Substitute “transsexual” or “bisexual” for “homosexual”, and we have a spectrum of sexuality regarded as other by the heterosexual majority.

So why do we need to observe a day against such phobias?

A 2010 USA study found that close to one in five hate crimes are motivated by a sexual orientation bias. This is a significant number, so the matter clearly needs to be addressed.

The key word in the definition is irrational.

There is no reasonable basis to fear (or hate) someone with different sexual preferences from our own. What does it matter to me, or change about me or my preferences if the person next to me is attracted to somebody of the same sex, or both sexes? Or is transsexual, for that matter? It is simply none of my business, just as my relationships are none of anybody else’s.

What needs to happen, is for us to break free from medieval conformist attitudes and dogma, and see human sexuality in its true light: a whole spectrum, on which any individual’s position may quite possibly be as unique as his or her DNA. Sexual orientation is not a choice, it is inborn.

So let us accept and celebrate our differences, and show our rainbow colours. Variety is, after all, the spice of life!