Many people always told me how different my brother was from “regular” boys. Yes, he loved playing with my hair and enjoyed playing with my Barbie dolls much more than I did, but I never found it outrageously peculiar — to me, it was just my brother being himself.
In his junior year of high school, my brother finally came out through an Instagram post. As I read his rainbow shirt plastered with the words “I’M SO GAY,” I wasn’t speechless or stunned. I just already knew. Because for my brother, being gay was such a normal part of life. It never occurred to me that this wasn’t the case for most people, including my parents.
Entering high school was quite a culture shock for me. I was walking down campus to go to a Gender Sexuality Alliance club meeting when I bumped into one of my closest friends at the time. As we walked together, she asked me where I was heading. I told her about the club and invited her to come with me only to have her to say that she doesn’t support gay rights. At this moment I was speechless. It was the first time I had ever realized that there were people in the world fighting against a concept that was almost innate to me. I pondered why. Shouldn’t everyone have the right to lead their lives however they wish to as long as they don’t bother other people? What did my brother — the nicest, most patient guy ever — ever do to them?
What puts me at a loss for words is that most people do not have a definitive reason as to why. Unlike me, many people are raised with idea that being gay is unnatural and abnormal with no justification behind it. This even applies to my parents. As immigrants from Hong Kong, my parents grew up on traditional Chinese beliefs.
Unfortunately, the belief that homosexuality is absurd came along with that. When my brother came out as gay, it was undoubtedly difficult for my parents to accept it, and though they eventually came to embrace it, it was not an easy journey for them. When I asked my mother why this was, she simply said “that’s just how I was raised.” It wasn’t something she could explain or pinpoint a specific reason for. It was just a feeling of aversion that she was taught since she was a child.
I see now that there are many different spectrums of hatred around society stemming many different groups of people. Along with their hostility towards gays, groups like Neo-Nazis, the Alt-Right, and the KKK rally against things as fundamental as racial and gender equality. Sure, male and female athletes do not complete on the same athletic levels. Sure, scientifically speaking, males and females may possess different emotional responses to certain scenarios.
Sure, one can even argue that males are better than females at math when looking at SAT and other standardized testing scores. But that doesn’t mean any gender or orientation deserves any less respect than the other. After all, is your father better than your mother or vice versa?
To me, the plight of LGBTQ groups is akin to that of female suffragettes of the 20th century or that of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. As our founding fathers put it, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” No matter what everyone else’s beliefs are, I know that my brother deserves a chance to be himself.