Like the christening of a ship, I want this article to be poignant but most important I want it to be honest. The biggest truth I can bring to this table is that for most of my life I have been prejudiced. Not someone who spends their day spewing venom at other people. A much more dangerous kind, I believed I accepted everyone and everyone should be accepting of themselves. Unbeknownst to me, there were tiny but powerful poisons working their way through me. This I hope will not only give you insight into me but also educate you because there is still much more to be done. So here it goes, my name is Matthew Powell and I am a bisexual bigot.
Bisexual bigot seems like an oxymoron and maybe harsh. But as Dr. Phil says, “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.” And I know some of you are asking, “How can I advocate for equality when I say that I’m prejudice against other people?” To clarify, these are not beliefs. These are brief feelings when I see someone or hear someone talk about a certain subject. Most of these I have already recognized them for what they are and have overcome them.
How did I come to feel this negativity about so many people and also religions? Let’s start with childhood. No child is born with hate. Hate is taught. And I grew up in the South. In mostly the middle part of Georgia. Some might say that those are just stereotypes and not everyone in the South are racist. Not everyone is but there were definitely some in my family that fit that description. Brazil nuts are a common type of nut but I never knew their name. Some members of my family tree had a colorful name for them; they called them “nigger toes.” If that isn’t racist, I’m a shaved bonobo with a massive intellect.
When I began to get older, I recognized that all of those remarks about these people of a different race or nationality were the thoughts of uneducated people. As I became more educated, I had the firm notion I had overcome all of their negativity. I was wrong and it was being compounding. Now I had begun to hate anyone who identified as Christian. Most of these people were the ones who spoke with a “forked tongue.” They would claim to not be racist. They had nothing again African American people but I better not date or marry “one.” As if that person would be of a different species.
Then the one that now strikes closest to home, they would disown me if I turned out to be gay. So now I was hating people of faith but was also developing my own homophobia.
Denial is a powerful thing. It is easy to say that you are not racist when you are not spitting out racial slurs. That you are not homophobic if you are wanting equality. If you get an uneasy feeling when you see someone of another race or nationality, even if you logically do not believe there is anything wrong with that person, you are a bigot. If seeing people of the same sex kiss and tell each other they love one another makes you uneasy, you are a bigot. Both made me uneasy. That is why I have called myself a bigot. Without coming to accept and appreciate my bisexuality, I would probably still be uncomfortable if I saw a black man. The two might seem unrelated but I felt that if I was attracted to another man that I was less of a man. Realizing this is not true gave me the realization that for so many years I was homophobic. This in turn allowed me to notice how I felt about other people. People are amazing, wonderful beings.
All of this gave me another surprise. Just because someone is religious, this does not mean they are the hypocritical “bible beaters” I was used to meeting. So many people of faith are on the front lines fighting for equality of people in the LBGT community. One such group is Catholics for Equality. Now I do not cringe when I hear the word Christian. Hating someone because they believe differently is still a form of prejudice and I had to overcome that as well.
There have been many advances for the equality of the LGBT community in the recent years. But and this is a very big “But”, we cannot truly have equality for everyone until we acknowledge own prejudice and discrimination. Then and only then can we have that conversation with our friends, neighbors, and colleagues. I hope that everyone will begin to look at their own views to see if maybe they are truly free of hate or are you a bigot like me.