I have been tempted a lot since I set foot on this campus. But don’t get me wrong, my temptations are not what you think. I don’t smoke or drink, do drugs or party. I suppose, I am pretty “boring” in that sense. My temptations, though, they bubble up inside of me and I am forced to swallow them with my practiced muteness before they get me into trouble. It’s either I risk myself, or infect myself with a guilt that twists around my heart and injects it with my shame and regret. I know I should give in. I know that if there is a Judge up there, I will be punished for this silence.
One day my classmates said that gay men have extra X-chromosomes and that’s what makes them that way. I remember the looks on their faces. I remember the way the laughed and how pleased they seemed with that conclusion. Then I remembered how another classmate of mine told me that if he had a gay son, he would beat him straight. These people before me though gay men deserved such straightening punishments.
I was tempted then. I was tempted to tell them you couldn’t beat a man straight. I was tempted to expose their faux-biology and newfound fallacy they invented from our last biology lecture. But I stayed silent and slipped away from them and pushed their words to the back of my mind and the temptation to the pit of my stomach.
On another day, before one of our classes, one of them fetched a newspaper. I thought he found some interesting news related to our subject but…he opened it and started to read a story about a male rape victim. He read it loudly so that the entire class could hear and as he read the grimy details the editor let slip through, he laughed and other laughed with him. Soon, they were roaring with laughter at this poor man’s plight. I was stunned to see their lack of humanity and disgusted by the tears of amusement I saw twinkling on the sides of their eyes.
“He probably wanted it!” one said amid fits laughter, “He was probably gay anyway.”
I was tempted to tell them that rape was not a joke. I was tempted to tell them that they were vile, evil people hiding behind a mask of righteousness. I was tempted to tell them how much gay men suffer in their dark prisons of shame while their abusers are free to walk the streets with their faces to the sun. The temptation churned in me, but I stayed silent. I was not sure how much of this I could bear.
Much later, after another class, one of them told me that he hates the gays and their disgusting ways. But, he said, he could rub off to lesbian porn on any given day. He didn’t whisper it to me so no one could hear, like a shameful secret even he could not understand. He told me in public – boasted it, rather – in the middle of a walkway for all to hear. I suppose he expected me to giggle or squirm or call him disgusting, but the temptation that churned in me was finally set free.
I called him a hypocrite. I asked him if he thought I would be impressed by his confession. I asked him how could he ostracise one group and fetishize another. I told him that he was what was wrong with the world and I walked away from him. He had smiled at me throughout, but his eyes were confused. During my tirade, he started to babble about what lesbian porn did for him, but I turned away. I didn’t want to speak to him. I didn’t want to see him. I didn’t know why he thought he could tell me this. I let myself become mute again. I could not bear him or any of them.
It saddens me when I realize they all are my country’s future. It saddens me to see people channel hate for their own entertainment and morbid pleasure. It sickened me that our most educated people dehumanize others to glorify themselves. I am always tempted to scream at them, to tell them that they are no better than the people the oppress. I am tempted to tell them that they are no better than our former slave drivers or colonial masters or the systems that remain to make us hate one another. I am tempted to pour my rage out at them like I did with that one guy…
But I stay silent. I am only one voice, but I know that if there is a Judge up there, I will be punished for my muteness.