Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Meeting diverse minds.

In commemoration of today, the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, I'll write a little bit about a meeting we had with the Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece (OLKE) during our study trip to Athens.
Two representatives from OLKE came to our little informal meeting on the rooftop of our hotel. Their work focuses on lobbying for legal reform in favour of homosexuals in Greece. Most of their members are Greek citizens, because when we broached our favourite topic of immigration to them, one of the representatives believed that for homosexual immigrants, their immigrant status is their primary identity, and therefore do not want to risk deportation by being publicly involved in lobbying activities. All this just convinces me of the importance of intersectionality and contexts. I must never use broad categories like homosexuals without thinking of their race, age, migrant status and religion.

Did you know that in Greece, civil partnership is only available for heterosexual couples, while it is usually for either only same-sex couples or for both same-sex and heterosexual couples in other countries? Weird, because the heterosexual couples can just, you know, marry? Ha.

Whatever your opinion or moral stand is on homosexuality, what can we learn from same-sex couples? For one thing, that the gender roles of men and women are actually related to income. Women tend to do reproductive work (childcare, housework) because they earn less - whether it's due to glass ceilings, privileging family life, tendency to work in lower-paid/part-time/informal sector.

In a lesbian couple for example, one cannot use the argument that reproductive work should be done by women because both are women (haha). Instead, this reveals a negotiation process based on other factors, like who earns less or who is better at doing what kind of tasks. Likewise, the fact that one gay partner in a household may become the main breadwinner is because of his greater income, and not because he's a man.

OLKE also aims to fight against hate crimes based on sexual orientation. The problem though is that most of the hate crimes is discovered only through hearsay, since there is no definitive way to prove that someone was attacked because of his sexual orientation.

We are not only afraid of people with sexualities and sexual practices not our own. Even within heterosexuality, some of us are afraid of those who have premarital sex. Some of us may also find it hard to believe that young men can choose abstinence until marriage. We all have a story in our heads since we were children; a narrative that we use to interpret the world and to which we go running back to when something new shakes up our worldview.

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