It is not often that I stray from discussing academia. Whilst I am a human that endeavours to spend time contemplating and exercising personal values, I am typically not tempted to disclose my opinions surrounding public affairs, or other individuals. This is primarily by dint of the fact that things occurring in the outside world typically do not anger me.
Today, however, I will venture into the fray, because I am furious. I am entirely, inexpressibly appalled when I realize that anything as enormously devoid of all ethical ground as the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill could ever be brought forth. That searching for one’s true self could be made a crime, that seeking the perfect complement to that real self in another’s form could be forbidden, but that hiding from yourself could be shamelessly propagated by a governing body within the world.
I am further stunned that I encounter people in my daily life within whom this instills little fear. I have met those that tell me that the criminalization mentioned, if not the death-dealing, is rightful.
There do not exist words sufficiently potent to describe the depth of grief within which I drown when I hear that said, when I am told that individuals still think certain sexual orientations to be wrong; partially because of this, I will avoid speaking.
I will, however, let the words of two individuals that I know speak for how I feel. Dento Nathaniel Lam, a friend of mine, graciously conceded to answering a few questions for me. Refined in his tastes, outrageously funny, and continually supportive, Dento also loves to bake – he is currently studying Baking and Pastry Arts at George Brown College.
In his early youth, Dento went by “Denice” – he was born a biological female and, until recently, identified as one.
“My life beforehand felt like something was missing…” he reminisces.
Understandably, of course. When I asked my other previously-mentioned friend* (who, incidentally, identifies as straight) how he would feel if he had to repress his sexuality, I received the following response:
“Honestly, I wouldn’t be able to answer the question as it has never happened to me. But I’m sure it would be terrible.”
Fortunately, the vast majority of straight individuals would be able to output the same response. Very few have been discriminated against for expressing their sexuality, but many acknowledge that it must be horrid. I wondered aloud just how difficult it would be to continually face the wrath of ignorant individuals. I mentioned that I don’t think that I would be able to handle it.
But Dento is stronger.
“I’ve encountered a lot of homophobic people and I have nothing really to say to them, but I simply continue living my life as me and let them see that their hatred and ignorance is not important,” he says easily.
This strength intrigued me; when I asked Dento how he managed to be so vigilant in the face of intolerance, he told me that it was the very thing for which he was discrimated against that kept him going – being true to his sexuality.
“So as I started exploring my sexuality and gender identity, I felt happier and more confident, and now since I finally found myself… I’m stronger than ever.”
“lol and well.. I look better now too and have a better sense of fashion,” he adds lightly.
This, I think, perfectly emphasizes the fact that gender identity is so much more than a choice – it is, quite simply, being oneself.
“Gender Identity to me is who you are in the male female binary or both. You can also just not identify with a gender. It’s what the person feels like they are, and they express their gender via physical appearance and other things,” Dento elaborates.
I understood, then, that pursuing one’s sexuality was about more than one’s interactions with a partner of one’s choice. It was about comprehending oneself and one’s sincere feelings towards oneself on a profound level.
I mused, however, that being thusly self-aware must be beneficial in shaping one’s understanding of others. To expand, knowing oneself should also aid a person in knowing what one wants in a responsible partnership.
Working on this whim, I asked Dento how the meaning of falling in love has changed for him now that he has transitioned.
“Well falling in love to me now means finding that someone that is on the same page with you for everything. I used to think it was just to get someone… but never had standards. I’m more stable of a partner now since my prior insecurities disappeared as I got more comfortable with myself,” he analyzes.
Finding someone with whom you become a better person certainly does seem to be on everyone’s mind.
I asked my other friend* what he seeks in a partner. He brings forth the universals: “Personality, someone you can talk to forever, humour.”
“Hmmmm, well they have to be Landyn,” Dento contributes jokingly when asked the same question, referring to his current boyfriend. “No, I’m kidding,” he says more seriously, “but I do want someone who is on the same track as me and has common sense it’s all I ask for.”
“I think it’s when you’re attracted to someone unconditionally,” states my other friend*, speaking of love. “I find it good when your partner likes you for you,” echoes Dento. It was easy to see the parallels in their thinking.
I asked Dento how his relationship is going.
“Lol, we’re good as always.”
I felt as though I’d effectively found out all that I wished to, so I asked my two friends one final question: what their hopes were for the futures of those who identify as L.G.B.T., and what they thought was important for everyone to realize.
“I hope that everyone can be more tolerant, not just of L.G.B.T. but of all differences,” reflects my friend*, drawing inspiration from the many social issues that he regularly investigates. “If you can respect someone’s religion, you should be able to respect their sexuality.”
“Well, I hope the L.G.B.T. people get a chance to be able to be themselves without so much negativity forced upon them. and I think straight people should realize that other than the fact we like the same sex, we’re pretty much just normal people that have goals and hopes and dreams,” Dento adds.
That, effectively, was all.
In noting down the above fragments of thought to the best of my ability, I sincerely hope that I have conveyed what I wished to convey when I first began. I wished to indicate that, despite our being individuals, we are alike in the most fundamental of our wishes. Does it not stand to reason, then, that we should be alike in the way that we are treated?
*The other friend with whom I spoke will not be mentioned by name – I’d forgotten, quite honestly, to ask him whether he would be comfortable with having his name attributed to his remarks online. The reader need only know that he has been involved in the preservation of human rights and varied leadership endeavours for an abundance of time, and that he is a person of the highest calibre where every aspect of his being is concerned.