Heterosexual Involvement is Crucial in the Discourse of Sexual Diversity

By: @Boemo Phirinyane

Over the past few decades, homosexuality has moved from the margins of society to the mainstream. Even though some homosexuals have not come out of the closet, the issue of homosexuality has. The right to existence and self-determination is crucial for any group. Throughout the course of human civilization, oppressed groups have been in a constant fight to gain independence and recognition, from the fall of slavery to the end of colonialism. Human rights groups have been lobbying for legislative reform by governments across the world to legally accept homosexuals. Perhaps in this struggle, we have come across as being antagonistic to the already existing and dominant narrative of heterosexuality, which by far is the universally accepted form of sexual orientation. In the direction the world is taking, it is now time for the heterosexual group to recognize that their involvement is the discourse of sexual liberation is crucial.

Where exactly should the focal point be?

The lack of a focal point has downplayed the essence of homosexuality and reduced it to bigoted opinions and myths that have allowed the oppression of the LGBTI group to persist. Obviously homosexuality involves sex, but sex is really just a small part of homosexuality. Certainly there is sexual attraction but the larger issue is the emotional need of the person seeking sexual experience from someone of the same gender. A person seeking a homosexual experience is often looking for love, affirmation and acceptance. These are legitimate desires any human being is entitled to but somehow we seem to have only reserved this to heterosexuals.

Just like any other struggle of acceptance there must be a focal point, for slavery to fall, the discourse had to move to ‘‘black people exist and deserve to be granted access to full human rights that their white counterparts were already enjoying’’. The focal point must always lie not on denying the existence of a group but on how well to integrate them into the greater society. At this point it’s no longer a valuable argument to try and deny the LGBTI their basic human rights because we are still trying to solve the equation of what triggers one to be gay. The question is and must be how well we defend individual rights and liberties in a modern society. From there on we can be able to integrate any minority group that seeks liberation and recognition because the old and corrosive narratives that oppress individuals for benefit of society no longer apply.

Beyond Legal Recognition, Social Acceptance Is Crucial

Though it is now becoming a moral and public policy issue, beyond the existence of a legal framework, the real driving force behind stimulation of acceptance solely lies in the society itself (in most cases those in the majority) as they hold the necessary political capital to ensure that people are receptive to change. They control be it institutions that shape public opinion and have massive influence, they are crucial in that regard.

 

LGBTI must be integrated into social structures if we are to form a more inclusive and progressive society, and the only way to do so must not and cannot be through a court order but social buy in. Social narratives that are shaped only through imposition of legislation often at times have catastrophic ramifications as they are met with resistance.

Societies across the world are now starting to see the need for inclusion as they realize that the opportunity cost of that is being cruel and inhumane. The pictures of gross abuse and violation coming out of Chechnya are not easy to ignore  as they question the heterosexuals to join the course not only in condemning but seeing the need to grant all the right to align with any sexuality of their choice.

That can be consolidated in the thoughts of Owen Jones ‘‘Being Gay is regarded as the most sinful corruption of manliness. The Chechen prosecutors may not flinch as they break bones because they see them as a mortal threat to their own sense of masculinity’’

Role of Religious Institutions in the Course

This is one thought that never crosses the mind of most people that a church has a crucial role to play in the course of sexual liberation and diversity. This is because as Owen Jones argues being gay is regarded as the most sinful corruption of manliness. The onslaught of coverage makes homosexuality seem merely like another lifestyle. The purpose of engaging the church and religious institutions is to wear down those who have moral and religious objections.

Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen argue that ‘‘while public opinion is one primary source of mainstream values, religious authority is another’’. In progressive and inclusive societies, many liberal churches and denominations have been more than willing to publicly support gay and homosexual rights. The Episcopal Church of USA, United Methodist and Evangelical Lutheran Church have been at the forefront of this worthy course. This has been able to advance the rights and social acceptance of homosexuals. It has successfully managed to muddy the moral waters of gender and sexual orientation.

In ending, the successful defense of basic human rights for everyone regardless of their religion, race, and gender might seem like a foregone conclusion, but it is one of the long standing struggles that those who are  privileged  to not be going through overlook especially in the context of sexual orientation. But the truth of the matter is, we are all not free until the LGBTI is because when it comes to human dignity, we can’t make any compromises.

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NOTE: This article was first published in the Botswana Guardian
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