by Katharina Korczok
When Laura and her girlfriend are walking down the streets of Maastricht they don’t kiss. And if they are holding hands they can feel the glances and know they might be in the spotlight of gossip. Demonstrations fighting for the equality of same-sex couples may seem to have dwindled, but today, discussions of same sex marriage or adoption rights for homosexual couples are still a hot topic. However, societal views in popular culture still create a world where only a handful of popular footballers or rappers feel comfortable to come out.
Apparently, there is still a long road to go until we reach full tolerance and respect. France and Germany are both struggling with discussions about the legalization of gay and lesbian marriage. The topic of adoption rights for homosexual couples is even more controversial. Despite this, Stern magazine reveals that 74 percent of the German population support marriage between homosexuals. In 2001, the Netherlands has been the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.
However, marriage or adoption is not an issue for Laura. When I meet her at her apartment, she hurries to tell me that it was never a big problem for her to be lesbian. What bothers her most is that some people don’t accept her and her girlfriend as a serious couple. They rather see them as being in an experimental phase that they will eventually get over. Laura finds men in particular to have a problem dealing with the situation. “Every guy thinks that it is very sexy and wants to convert you or have a threesome”, explains Laura. The jokes and stories might have been funny when Laura heard them for the first time, but after awhile the ever-same reaction become annoying.
Laura is an attractive woman, long brown hair and a self-confident smile on the face. She came out when she was sixteen and her friends accepted her completely, as it is just a part of who she is. Laura never had problems telling people about her sexuality. “There was only one fear before coming out. I was afraid that every girl might think that I’m into her.” And indeed, while men often downplay their insecurity with some macho jokes, there are still some women who feel threatened by the presence of a lesbian girl.
Other girls are more curious about lesbians, seeing a one night stand with a woman as a sexual adventure and an experience you have to have once in your life. “But I don’t want to be an experiment”, stresses Laura. Her girlfriend Sarah had been curious, too. Before Laura, she never had any experience with a lesbian relationship. This was one year ago, and after being friends with benefits, Sarah had to acknowledge that she had developed feelings for Laura. Today the two are happily in love. Nevertheless, Laura is sometimes reluctant to make the relationship too public. “I don’t want to have my second name ‘lesbian’, so that if anybody talks about me they would label me that way”. And this is the problem. It is the insecurity about the unknown and the resulting reduction of people to their sexuality.
Lots of people are curious about how it feels to be a lesbian, women are sometimes afraid a lesbian might fall in love with her, or men accept her as a challenge to prove their ultimate masculinity. But when this happens, the person behind these struggles gets lost. And even if people are not homophobic and try to have an open-minded spirit, they miss the obvious. Whether gay, lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual, people are not an experiment or a challenge, nor are they into every person belonging to the gender they are attracted to. We are all just people living in a society with a diversity of sexual orientations and we should not make a bigger deal out of it than accepting a different taste of music or style. Laws can give equality in theory but attitudes show that some people do not give the same value or respect to same-sex couples than they do of heterosexual couples. Attitudes change slowly and while they finally reached politics, they still need to get to daily life. Walking down the street, hand in hand, and kissing your partner whenever you feel like it, might be the most valuable freedom.
photo courtesy of ‘Mummyish’.com