The roots of homophobia are fear. Fear and more fear.

Quote from George Weinberg.

In the long past, that has left us behind of coldly and abruptly – look, there it goes again! – one of my closer friends pointed out that he had noticed that I seemed to be uncomfortable with anything gay-related.

The eventual recognition that he was right (was in the past tense!) made a big difference in how I approach people in general – and how I am able to develop relationships with anyone at all, regardless of some small little factoid like their sexual orientation.

Now, I know that my mom will probably end up reading this and freak out – and to answer that unspoken question: No, Mom, I’m not gay.

But I am getting over the cultural background and societal hangups that have been driven into my brain, as here in the USA I have friends and acquaintances from all places, shapes, colors, types, beliefs and they are all my friends.

I think it really drove home when a friend of mine invited me over to a dinner at her place, and told me that a couple of her friends would be there too. It took me all about 4 second from being introduced to figure out that they were a couple, and the  next thought that flitted through my head was, “Aww… they are so cute together.” That reaction was so new to me, and it allowed me to step outside myself for a moment and recognize the shift in what used to be and what just was.

There’s no denying that people are different – and sometimes we are taught that those differences are: bad, threatening, wrong, impure, and many other tags. The difference is that today, when meeting someone where any of those possible tags apply, I try to see beyond that, and get to know them for who they are, not for their tags.

Now, I totally understand that religions and belief systems be what they be – and that some are more restrictive than others. Some have more rules and don’t recognize the authority of others – similar as they may be in the baseline requirements, but nowhere near the same ideas and ideals. I can only really speak from the Judaism perspective, as I have only begun to meet Christians, Catholics and they have about as much inter-categorization as Judaism does. So we’re all in a messy place where we have all these lines drawn, and terminology doesn’t really work across these boundaries. For instance, if I told my folks and their community that a friend of mine is studying to be a rabbi – what’s the initial reaction? I don’t know – maybe a question about what yeshiva or rav they are studying with, etc. But bring in the fact that my friend is a woman… Regardless of how learned, pious or God-fearing she might be, the status of “rabbi” would never be recognized in that circle.

This planet is too small and crowded for us to continue to find out new and improved ways to dislike each other. If you don’t like the way I dress, look, act, smell, speak, tell me so. Tell ME so. Don’t hold it in and take it home with you and figure out which tag or label to assign that fault to – and then associate that fault with someone else. Treat me as me – an individual. Not just a sum of labels and tags.

Thanks for listening.