The Healthy Bear on Self Care in a Homophobic World

Not all homophobia is this obvious

Morning Guys.

Today I came across this recent post by the Catholic blogger Tracy Trasancos: “Can’t even go to the park

In her post she is clearly distressed at a variety of perceived sexual acts committed in front of not only herself but also her children.

At the pool this summer there were homosexual couples with children and, while I was polite as my own young daughters doted on the baby with two “mommies”, I also held my breath in anticipation of awkward questions – questions I’m not ready to answer.

When there were two men relaxing at the side of the pool unnaturally close to each other, effeminately rubbing elbows and exchanging doe-eyes, I was again anxiously watching my children hoping they wouldn’t ask questions. They don’t see Daddy do that with anyone but Mommy. We haven’t been back to the pool for a couple of weeks, except once but it rained. The truth is, now I don’t really want to go back.

In both of these statements it would appear easier to not take her children for a day at the pool rather then have to deal with the possibility of having to explain to her children that, yes indeed, sometimes people of the same gender have love for each other.

More concerning was her extrapolation of what seems to be pretty normal behaviour for humans, hugs and affection, into some sort of sexual festival her children require urgent shielding from.

I was “unnaturally close” to a man this morning on the train but I don’t remember it being overly sexual. Rather we were both annoyed at my locals governments inability to provide a train service that ran on time. Thankfully we were able to keep our clothing on, not rub elbows, exchange doe-eyes or even bodily fluids.

No, just a boring train ride really despite Ms Trasancos’ beliefs of what should happen in “normal places”:

I can’t even go to normal places without having to sit silently and tolerate immorality. We all know what would happen if I asked two men or two women to stop displaying, right in front of me and my children, that they live in sodomy.

Unless sodomy is a particular suburb of Massachusetts I am very confused as to what was going on. Were the men or women she describes actually having anal sex in front of her clearly seething self?

Does beliefs automatically mean rights?

While it’s amusing to examine the beliefs of this lady it would appear that the only people being impacted by her beliefs are herself and her children. Sadly her self-admitted rant moves forward into areas I personally find objectionable.

Our taxes are being used to fund contraception, abortion and IVF already. That offends me in ways that are inexpressible. I read last December in the Wall Street Journal how two men near us are raising two assembled daughters after announcing to the world how they killed two other siblings in surrogate mothers in India. Let me guess? I shouldn’t offend them though, right? And what’s next at the park? A needle exchange drop-box for heroin users? No joke. These things are not isolated, it is all the same issue at a fundamental level. We’re being pushed to accept immorality and it’s not just on TV and in Washington D.C. It’s right in front of us too.

A person’s beliefs are just that – personal beliefs.

I personally believe that there are many highly sexually attractive men out there who should spend as much time as possible in as little clothing as legal, but sadly it’s never going to happen.

You see beliefs do not automatically infer rights. It’s just when you happen to be in a majority of society, ie. white and Christian, it appears this way.

As a gay man I am not in a majority.

I am not able to express my love for my partner in public without the potential of being singled out for physical abuse, verbal abuse or the seething eye of some delusional lady from Massachusetts.

I do not have equal representation under the law as my straight counterparts. If my partner was unwell and in hospital, his parents would be able to have me removed from involvement in his care if they wished, despite being “defacto” for more than a decade.

It doesn’t mean I am wrong, I am just not in the majority.

Does homophobia impact on health?

When people are forced to live life as second class citizens there has to be some sort of impact on their health, both mental and physical.

Sadly the impact of homophobia on overall health has limited studies. An interesting paper by Christopher Banks, a researcher in Canada does do a good job of collating the current research, showing that gay men and women are more likley to do poorly on a variety of measures including depression and suicide, substance misuse, risky behaviours and even the likelyhood of murder.

In his summary:

Even given these real and potential limitations [to the quality and quantity of good studies], there are several beneficial outcomes to this review. First, even if skeptics do not accept that homophobia is the principal
determinant in increased rates of GLB health and social problems, these increased health and social problems’ strong presence in the literature is itself an important finding.
Second, this review may be an impetus to conducting further research in the area. Third, efforts aimed at eliminating homophobia, including better access to health care and more appropriate and sensitive health care services for the GLB population, may be taken as a greater priority given its human impact on Canada.

A better studied parallel would be the impact of racism on overall health. To quote an interesting paper by Kwame McKenzie in the British Medical Journal:

Cross sectional studies in the United States report associations between perceived racial discrimination and hypertension, birth weight, self related health, and days off sick. In a recent study from the United Kingdom victims of discrimination were more likely to have respiratory illness, hypertension, a long term limiting illness, anxiety, depression, and psychosis. People who believed that most companies were discriminatory were also at increased risk of mental illness.

It would appear that if a particular group of people is forced to live under chronic stress there is bound to be impact on people’s mental health and physical health.

So what  can we do as a community do to reverse these dreadful predictions?

My belief is that change will always start from within. By this I mean that each and every one of us must be accepting and loving of ourselves before we are going to be able to do the same for others. Sadly for many of us we have been subjected to years of negative messages, fear and for some, physical and mental abuse. It’s tough and it hurts like hell, however we need to get to a space where we are able to love, accept and respect ourselves exactly as we are.

Despite what bigoted, narrow minded, narcissistic people like Tracy Trasancos may feel, I find it hard to believe that a supposedly loving God would ever create so many wonderful, creative and caring people found in our community by mistake. I beg to say that she is the one that is wrong, not me.

As feelings of self care and respect increase, remarkable things happen. People start to care for themselves better, and health starts to naturally follow. People who feel great about themselves are more likely to stand up for what they feel is right. People who are able to care for themselves are in a much better position to be able to offer help to others who are struggling.

So may I dare to ask… How do you feel about you? Do you wake up every morning feeling great and ready to take on the world? Do you feel like your contribution, no matter what form it takes, helps make a difference?

When was the last time you did something nice for yourself? When was the last time you beat yourself up for something that went wrong?

If someone was to ask you the question, do you love who you are? What sort of words would come to your mind?

It’s honest answers to these sorts of questions that are the key to our strength as people. It’s questions like these that make for a strong community. They are simple questions but the answers are not easy.

As we go through these questions and the feelings and thoughts they evoke there is a good chance that some people are going to get feelings that are not nice. Anger, shame, depression, fear…these are very common responses. Thankfully there are good people available to help you if you are struggling. If you are unsure, a good place to start could be your family doctor, a trusted friend or perhaps a close loved one.

As you go through the journey there are people there, ready to help, ready to support, ready to cheer your each and every success. You just have to be prepared to stand up and join in. What do you have to lose?

Yours in love.

Dr George

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Naturally there can sometimes be questions, thoughts and reactions. I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a message below or drop me an email. Hugs.

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