Harsh Anti-Gay Laws And Attitudes In Middle East
Not long after I moved to Madison I met a UW-Madison student from the United Arab Emirates. We both were looking at some circus wagons and the magnificent Clydesdales that were standing nearby as a circus type event was being staged outside at the Dane County Coliseum. We started talking and pretty soon it was clear that there was a connection. For the rest of his final semester we dated and had some great conversations as I have always been fascinated with the Middle East. He was my tour guide of the mind as we discussed places he had seen. His family had the means to make his life filled with wonderful experiences–hence his studies at our great school.
But as it came to the end of his semester and return home there was never a chance that our friendship could continue as he was adamant that no letters could ever be exchanged. The fact was the strict and harsh anti-gay repression from not only his family but also from his country was not something that he could toy with. So this young, smart, well traveled, and supremely fine person who was free and gay in America returned to conditions that I still find hard to comprehend.
Following the slaughter of gay people at a bar in Orlando Sunday the repressive nature of how religion can still govern the actions of people in a most deadly way is being talked about a great deal. While I have a sincere appreciation for the Islamic faith and those who subscribe to it there has never been one day when I do not fully understand the need for the totality of the faith to take a step towards modernity. I have seem the Christian faith grow and change in my lifetime and while there are still deep wells of intolerance there is no doubt that progress has been made with women and gay people in most denominations.
So it makes the depravity of those who bastardize the Koran even more painful to watch play out on the international stage. Today a graphic in the newspaper made it most clear where the greatest threats to gay people come from. It is a problem that has no quick way to resolve. But it is an issue that will need to be bridged and dealt with in a world that is moving forward and further away from the hate-filled ones who try to stop progress.
As I read the story that accompanied the graphic I thought back to that day when a dark haired man with a dashing smile made an impression on me. I wonder what happened to him, and if he was able to again feel free to live his life on his terms.
I can only hope with his resources he was able to break free and be the gay man he was born to be.