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Homosexuality – what is there to fear?

Antonio Banderas - not afraid to play "gay"

I knew I liked Antonio Banderas for a reason – and it’s not just because he’s an exotically good-looking movie star (although that’s a pretty good reason)! I was reading an article about Banderas today and was struck by a section about his 1987 film Law of Desire in which he plays a gay character.

“I was very worried about the gayness on the screen, because it was not my sexual condition,” he’s quoted as saying (no doubt in a charming Spanish accent), “until I had this thought: Scene 21 of the script, I kill a man. In scene 77, I kiss a man. And the fear was [about] that. Why? It came like a lightning bolt to my head. Why do people accept so easily the fact that you can take the life of somebody on a screen and nobody is going to complain about it, and they cannot take that you will kiss somebody on the mouth of your own sex?”

Why indeed? I’ve often wondered, why does the manifestation of love in this particular form – homosexuality – create so much fear in some people? How is it that love can spark so much hate?

Just last weekend I finally had the chance to watch the movie Milk. In this film, Sean Penn brilliantly portrays San Francisco politician Harvey Milk and his struggles as an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California’s first openly gay elected official.

Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by Dan White, an unbalanced city supervisor colleague of Milk’s who had recently resigned but wanted his job back. It’s not clear that the murders were related to homophobia but that issue is certainly what spurred Milk to run for office.

We’ve come a long way in accepting homosexuality – as indicated by the production of films such as Milk that highlight this important topic. In fact, the same edition of the paper that carried the story about Antonio Banderas also had a real estate report that said actor and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres is selling her property for an asking price of $49 million. Evidently being openly gay has not been a barrier to her success.

We have a long way to go, though. I don’t know any gay people who haven’t experienced undue hardship and suffering due to the need to cope with the stigma that still surrounds homosexuality. One man my age still keeps his orientation – and his partner – a secret from his mother and his colleagues.

That’s no way to live – and no way to love.

It’s a particularly tragic situation when you hear about the abuse of children around the world. For example, my Twitter feed today contained a link to a story about a young woman who had been abducted as a child by The Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group that operates mainly in northern Uganda. It is led by Joseph Kony, who proclaims himself the “spokesperson” of God.

Isn’t it interesting how many people who preach and practice hate do so in the name of God? The God I learned about as a child was the manifestation of love and it seems to me we need as much love as possible in this world.

So let’s not worry about consenting adults loving each other. Instead, let’s channel our energy into stopping hatred and protecting the world’s children from abuse and exploitation so they can know love in their lives.

No particular type of love should be considered a threat to our marriages, our families and the values we hold dear. I do wonder about the risk to our society, however, when we let the Joseph Konys and the other hate merchants of the world operate with impunity.

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