Why do words hurt? Why do they hurt so much?
Words, I mean, like those of anti-gay rhetoric.
They hurt because they are supposed to; to demean, de-humanize, insult, and hold up to shame. They hurt, and do hurt bad.
I am a gay Ugandan. Means I have, perforce to grow a thick skin, crocodile hide. Cant be what I am without developing that. A necessity. Yet, they do still hurt.
In Uganda, we are kind of used to it. I mean, Pastor Ssempa and his 'eat da poo poo' tirades. That is not worth much comment in Uganda. Outside Uganda, well, it is a bit more of a problem.
Saw this note about the guy who had unleashed a homophobic rant on Facebook. American school district official, who believed that it was an insult for him to be urged to put on a Purple ribbon in rememberance of teenage suicides. He was offended, because the teenagers were queers. And, he thought it good that they had died. Because they were queers. And, he thought it quite good that queers give each other HIV during sex.
The posts were made, according to The Advocate, in response to a bullying awareness campaign sponsored by GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. The "Spirit Day" campaign aimed to foster recognition of bullying directed at gays and the effects it can have on young people through a series of events held on October 20.
One aspect of the campaign encouraged people to wear purple to honor those who had committed suicide after experiencing anti-gay bullying, and to show solidarity with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered youth who face the same pressures.
According to the screen grab obtained by The Advocate, McCance wrote the following about the event: "Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers committed suicide. The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. I cant believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed therselves because of their sin."
Those words, well, they are tame in contrast to what Ssempa says on an average day.
I thought of Anderson Cooper of CNN interviewing the guy. Another of the queers that he privately railed against. And, one who had lost a brother by suicide. [Wonder, what did Cooper feel, talking to this guy? Throw off the poker anchor face, what did he really feel?]
Words, they are only words.
And, I have to learn to discount them. Because, words, unlike stones, or a rope around my neck, they don't hurt much, in retrospect.
But, words do hurt. And, they hurt real bad.
Here are the words of Giles Muhame. The 'Rolling Stone' editor. I am afraid Uganda does have its share of fools, especially in the homophobe category. Just like dear Ssempa, Nsaba-Buturo, Bahati, he has embraced, very gladly, his fifteen minutes of fame. And, he is going around talking about what he has done, and what he hopes to do.
Of course, he is not hurting people. Homosexuals are not people. People like Stosh Mugisha don't matter. Of course they are lying...! Of course we are lying. I have wondered how coolly they throw off concerns about us hurting. And, Muhame does me proud.
Think of Pastor Martin Ssempa, of 'eat da poo poo' fame. Think of him pontificating on a Sunday at his Makerere Community Church. His 'mission' is to youths. His charisma turns them on.
Of course, when he is talking, most of the people who listen are heterosexual. Most don't understand a gay person's dilema of faith and sexuality.
Think of a gay youth listening with rapt attention to Pastor Ssempa.
Truly, something to make one up and suicide oneself.
And, no. I am not advocating for that.
It does get better, when we can put people like Ssempa in perspective. But, at that particular time, for those people, for those gay teens and near teens... It is something terrible.
Words do matter. Words do hurt. Lots.