Today while I was shopping, I realised that a few people walking past in the opposite direction were staring and shooting odd looks in my general area. After a few moments of total confusion, I realised that the passersby weren’t looking at me but at the teenage boys just a few paces in front who were holding hands. Yes, get out your cameras and form a line; an openly gay couple in public. Please, try and contain yourselves.
This couple were in their own little world, visibly happy and laughing at their private conversation as they made their way through the shopping centre. However, despite the fact that they were merely holding hands as many other couples do, it became increasingly apparent to me that certain passersby weren’t trying particularly hard to conceal their unwarranted disgust.
Some were staring the boys up and down, as though it took more than a second to process such a whirlwind of information. Others would fail to take their eyes off the pair until they were so far past them that they couldn’t possibly see without craning back their heads. A few would look for a mere second, before quickly diverting their eyes into the nearest shop window and nonchalantly (or so they thought) nudging their friend in the side to inform them of what they had just witnessed. However, my personal favourite display of ignorance in its prime was a comment from an older lady as she passed the boys and I, momentarily putting me within earshot so I could hear her say, “a gay couple, in front of the children…”
Now, I live in Melbourne, and it’s school holidays here at the moment. There are kids everywhere you look in the local shopping centre. They’re running through the plaza, jumping on the couches, skipping through stores. Do you know what they’re not doing? Staring at two boys holding hands. I passed countless children in the short time that I was walking behind this couple, and not once did those kids notice the abnormality of the situation that so many adults seemed to find themselves in.
I’ve always felt as though this “think of the children” argument exhibited by the older lady was a complete cop out. Kids are so blissfully innocent and unaware of the deeply ingrained issues of intolerance within our society- they aren’t born with a confusion or fear of gay people, they learn it. They learn it from the way their parents treat homosexuality like a matter of public indecency, from the way they stare and nudge each other in the ribs as though someone just did something particularly funny or interesting. So when this lady commented on two strangers as though they were the root of all evil, I almost laughed at the sad irony of it all.
The insinuation that the reality, the normality, of a gay couple having the power to corrupt children would be laughable if it weren’t so damn concerning. How can you corrupt someone with a simple holding of hands? How is it possible for children to be victims of so called ‘depraved behaviour’ when this behaviour is nothing but the courage to openly show your love for someone, despite the obvious intolerance of others? It absolutely astounds me how some people believe that displays of love are more damaging than the hate that so freely flows from their own mouths. You’re raising children who will one day be a part of a generation that will rule the world, and you’re teaching them to be close-minded and ignorant? If that’s not corruption of the most pure and straightforward kind, then I don’t know what is.
So please, if you’re someone who is unwilling or unable to accept the reality of our wonderfully diverse world, don’t display your ignorance and immaturity in public. Nobody wants to hear you mutter hateful words under your breath and, quite frankly, it’s corrupting our children.