My Little Corner of Canada

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

by JOHN AMAGOALIK

Leaving society’s closet

There was a time when I thought that gays and lesbians were sick people. I was young and not wise to the ways of the world. Older, and hopefully wiser, I now accept them as my equals.

Facing ridicule, harassment, and sometimes even violence because of their sexual preference, gays and lesbians have largely stayed in what is referred to as “the closet.” Encouraged by more liberal attitudes and constitutional protection against discrimination, the gay community is now venturing beyond the doors of society’s closet. They are, more and more, being accepted into the mainstream of society.

I do not know how gay men and women were treated in traditional Inuit society. I suspect they were accepted by some and not by others. Inuit teachings and stories are largely quiet on the subject.

The gay movement in the United States and southern Canada have been strong for some time now. It has been only about a decade since gays of the Canadian North first peeked into the living rooms of the human family.

In larger communities like Iqaluit, gays have become more open and are largely accepted by the community. Of course, there is the odd tasteless joke or hurtful remark.

Sometimes people think that all homosexuals are pedophiles. Pedophilia afflicts all sexes, not just gays. It would be wrong to paint all gays with the same brush because of the actions of a few.

Homosexuality is still a sensitive subject to discuss openly. To some, it’s still taboo. But it is a part of our reality. It has always been and always will be. We should accept this reality and accept the gay community as part of the human family. After all, they are sometimes our brothers, uncles, sisters, cousins, and children.

I remember being taught a song in school about a little child called “Little Black Sambo.” I don’t think they teach that song in school anymore. Times change. Attitudes change. We humans are becoming smarter. Years down the road, we will all shake our heads when we remember how we used to think about gays.

How did I change my attitude toward gays? It was the day I came to a simple conclusion. They are also God’s children.

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