The fear of the unknown is always there—the unknown naturally makes us uncomfortable—but we do not know how to deal with this discomfort. So, our survival instinct kicks in and we go into ‘fight or flight’ mode. This is how dealing with discomfort manifests into fear.
Fear of being judged is perhaps the most common fear, and is still very hard to overcome. How we are perceived by others is of great concern to most of us. We all crave recognition, acceptance, and love. We want others to relate to us. Many a times, relating to one’s own or someone else’s sexual or gender orientation leads us to fear how we shall be ‘seen’ by others, or in our own eyes.
We all want to live a safe, sheltered life. Conflict with others who might consider homosexuality or transgender people to be taboo is not always easy.
The fear of unknown always accompanies the uncertainty of how it could impact each of us. Being associated to a homosexual or transgender individual might put one at risk of change of feelings—whether these feelings are internal or external. Because we have no way to predict whether the change of feelings is going to be good or bad (but we are certain it is going to cause discomfort) we usually avoid the discomfort, perceiving this discomfort as harmful. In actuality, the fear of the unknown is unfounded and trivial. We learn so much by letting ourselves take a step into the unknown, to meet another human as human.
I must confess that I have had to bear the brunt of homophobia and AIDS-phobia. I have lost some friends in the process of them finding out about my HIV status. Many years ago, I had received a hate mail from an unknown person for my sexual identity—he threatened to expose my homosexuality to the world.
I have lost a job because of my sexual identity. My sexuality was called “too sensitive an issue to be discussed with my team mates”, and so, the employer felt better if I was simply not hired. Even though he was very impressed by me, he still chose the ‘safer side’ over employing me.
I have lost certain financial and social opportunities because of my HIV status. I can’t go out late nights thanks to my medication. I have to always worry about hygiene, opportunistic decisions, blemishes, cuts, and make sure I don’t get germs into my system. There are times when my body needs more care. So, a stable life is the only choice I have.
I have also gained a greater perspective on life, beyond what I might have if I weren’t a sexual ‘miniscule minority’ and HIV-positive. I have a better understanding of my body and how it functions. I am keenly interested in how I could ensure I have a healthy body and mind.
I have few but much stronger relationships. I have learnt to be selective about who I allow into my circle of friends. I realize people have their own flaws, and that it is the flaws that makes us who we are. So, I am more accepting of people and their flaws.
Lastly, I understand the fragility of perpetuity of life, and that helps me make the most of ‘every today’. I am thankful that I am alive. I crave to do justice to it. I try to make sure my presence adds value to the world around me.
Fear is never of what is, but of how one feels about what one is fearful of. If you want to resolve your homo/trans/AIDS-phobia, look within for what causes the fear of something over the other. Going within, and acknowledging one’s own biases and judgements is the first step towards fighting any form of social and emotional evil.