Gay people and aboriginal people don’t have to be in conflict
I grew up in an aboriginal community where I felt like the only gay 15-year-old.
(This letter is in response to “LGBT people get zero support in Nunavut,” published this past June 15 on Nunatsiaq Online.)
My adolescence was one of confusion, because not only did I get the impression that being gay was bad, but saw everything that my peers were doing: having babies at 14, physically abusing our elders, swearing at teachers, stealing, lying, sexual assaulting each other, and the physical and sexual abuse of children.
I asked myself many times, “how is it that I, as someone who will never have kids who will damage the environment, or end up on welfare, am treated as some awful person, while others in this community are doing terrible, life-changing harm to others for no apparent reason?”
It was after I left that I finally let go of that confusion, which quickly turned to anger.
How dare these people in my community judge me for being gay when their own daughters are having babies at 14, and end up grandmothers at 28. How dare they say I’m a bad person when their kids drop out of school, have kids, have no intention of ever working, and end up in housing that I end up paying for?
And that’s when I finally realized something huge: this ignorance and hatred of gay men and women has nothing to do with the physical stereotypes of our relationships — it has to do with envy, and it drives ignorant people crazy.
Only after I went home a couple of summers ago did I finally realize what this was about — me, a gay man, doesn’t have to worry about having kids, racing to finish university education and get married.
Being gay — and this isn’t necessarily a blessing because it’s very hard to meet anyone anymore since most gay people hide online rather than go out and socialize — allows us to survive pretty well on a simple income.
I realized this envy has to do with people who had four kids, who chose a path of guaranteed single parenthood, and resent people like me because that will never be my reality.
I hate to sound harsh, but our society created this: I have no sympathy for people who choose to have babies at a young age and are going nowhere in life because they’re stuck while judging me. It’s not my fault that they chose this path for themselves and are stuck in a town where nothing’s ever going to happen.
What I wish we all could look at are similarities as far as what has been done to us historically: both aboriginal and gay people have been horribly abused by the church. Residential schools have literally beaten aboriginal culture and language out of us, and they’ve done the same to gay people to try to ‘fix them’ into being straight.
These experiences have turned both aboriginal and gay communities into places with very high concentrations of alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide and this hatred of each other.
We can’t stand to see each other succeed when individually we are drowning. We can’t help each other because it’s so common that we have our own depression, our own addictions; there is little we can do to help each other.
Then (both gays and aboriginals) we resent each other for not being there or helping one another. We don’t know how. When you’ve been taught for so long that the core of your being, your spirit is some sort of deviant or embarrassment, you begin to view each other the same way.
So we treat each other with malice because we see ourselves in each other.
All of us are so short-sighted and missing the point here. Both of our communities, aboriginal and gay-lesbian have so many similarities that together we’d be a very strong voice in society.
But since nobody knows how to make that happen, I don’t know if it ever will.
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