"What do you think your life would be like, without homophobia, racism, or sexism? A study featured in the journal of Sexuality Research and Social Policy asked the very question to 400 LGBT New Yorkers (wow it really is a gay mecca:). Well I'm not a Yankee, but I'll give it a shot. Perhaps the best the way to go about it is to simply make a list.
In a world without homophobia:
- I'd be able to hold my boyfriend's hand in public or give him a quick peck on the cheek without worrying about who is watching and what may happen.
- I wouldn't have to think about whether or not to be 'out' at work.
- I wouldn't have had to feel (and sometimes still feel) estranged from my immediate and extended family.
- I wouldn't have drifted into heavy drug use (I'm not gonna lie and say I never would've experimented), or struggled with depression throughout my teenage years.
- I wouldn't have to think about who would actually attend my wedding.
- I wouldn't have to had to sit through a church service on pins and needles, hoping that a preacher wouldn't spew out some anti-gay diatribe.
- I wouldn't have to had to hide who I was in order to work in the church.
- It wouldn't have to taken me as long to feel comfortable in my skin.
- I would've been able to date and fully enjoy my adolescence like my straight relatives/friend.
- I would have never been physically assaulted because of my sexuality.
When it comes to sexism, I guess I've been affected by it in the sense that some take my sexual orientation as a sign of weakness, or wanting to be woman. Or, like a lot of guys, I've at times been afraid to be too outwardly emotional or too supportive of anything that could be construed as feminine out of fear being scorned. Think about it: whenever guys (especially straight/wannbe homothug type guys) want to compliment another guy, what do they always say? "Man that's cool/badass/tight/fly." Anything else leaves room for 'pauses,' 'no homos,' 'that's gays' or whatever other idiotic phrases are currently in vogue to question one's manhood.
As far as racism, it's hard to say. Of course, there's the obvious: black people as a whole would be on better socioeconomic footing with white people, as there would've been no imperialism, slavery, or Jim Crow. We wouldn't have as many hang-ups about our African features (i.e hair, noses, lips, skin etc.). The entire course of America's (and much of the world's) history would be altered. There would be no more fear of racial profiling by police, or feeling that you have to bite your tongue in certain environments, particularly a work/mixed social setting, out of fear being labeled an "angry black man/woman."
But aside from those last two instances, it's hard to think how my life would be different in a truly post-racial society on a day-to-day level. Firstly, like many in our generation, attack dogs, lynchings, separate bathrooms and fire hoses seem like the archaic, barbaric images of a long ago era. Secondly, I can barely think of any examples where I'd heard a white person intentionally say something racist to my face or within ear shot. For the most part, we've been insulated from the more overt displays racism that our parents/grandparents had to witness or endure.
Unlike homophobia, your church, family and the larger black community more often than not nurture, inform you about and show you how to deal with racism, give examples (or serve as examples themselves) of those who've succeed in spite of it, and support you when you encounter it. That same safety net is not there when it comes to being gay and dealing with homophobia. Or at least it wasn't for me.
So how do you think your life would be different in an -ism free world? Discuss.