Homophobia: What’s Left to be Done

As I write these lines, we’re learning that legendary Québec singer Michel Louvain has died. In his obituary, we read that he leaves behind his partner of 25 years, Mario Théberge. Even if it was the worst kept secret in Québec entertainment history, the singer never once revealed in public that he was gay. He waited until his death to come out.

By Judith Lussier

There is something both beautiful and sad in this story. Some would say that he never felt the need to mention his love life until it was truly necessary to honor the love of his partner in mourning. But when we stay in the closet like that, we’re only shutting out our sex or love life. We’re hiding a part of who we are.  

We can also say that Michel Louvain’s posthumous “coming out” marks the end of an era. One during which hiding one’s homosexuality was a question of survival.

We’d like to think that homophobia is behind us now. That it belongs to the past. That would allow us to think that we have evolved, and that we live in a world in which expressions of homophobia are isolated cases.

Still, there is some fine tuning left to do. Like when my doctor talks of “my friend” rather than “my wife.” It seems unimportant, but it’s a way of reducing the importance of this relationship of more than ten years. It’s what we call a microaggression: a little annoyance that we don’t bother denouncing because it would take more energy than it does just to endure it. And beside these microaggressions, which sometimes reveal clumsiness, there are all sorts of real aggressions that continue on.

We think that lesbians are no longer attacked on the street just because they’re lesbians. But it happened last January in Montréal.

We think that parents no longer throw out their teenage child because of their sexual orientation. But a few years ago in Montérégie, my sister-in-law and her fellow teachers organized a collection in aid of a youth. He’d announced to his parents that he was gay. That didn’t go over too well at all.

We think that trans people are no longer addressed with insults, but that happens all the time. Not counting all the times that we question the validity of their existence.

We’d like to say that these days diversity is so commonplace that it’s practically a fad for young people to no longer identify themselves as hetero or cisgender. And yet we forget all the suffering that sexual and gender minorities face.

Recently a non-binary teenager killed himself, becoming yet another grim statistic. According to a 2015 University of British Columbia study, 65% of young trans had had suicidal thoughts within the last year. And one out of three had attempted suicide.

We may think that young gays, lesbians and bisexuals are better off. But they attempt suicide three times more often than the general population. In all cases, the biggest prevention factor is family support. Love your child. It’s as simple as that.

We still have a ways to go, collectively. But for those of you who read these lines and can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel, I promise you that things will get better. Things always get better.

In the meantime, surround yourself with people who do good, with whom you’re not afraid to be yourself; and don’t be afraid to celebrate who you are in your uniqueness!

If things go badly, talk to someone:

1-866-APPELLE

First seen in Reflet de Société, Vol. 29, no. 5, juin (June) 2021, page 7

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