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When you are a child, and your parent tell you not to take candy from strangers, or get into a stranger's car, they don't tell you the details of the reason why. It is something along the lines of, "There are bad people out there who would hurt you." That is terrifying enough for a child, that it is probably best they don't know the rest. I applaud those parents who take the time to not only tell their children these warning signs, but also tell them how to counteract it with techniques like the windmill or car escape methods. There are a lot of sick bastards out there.

To admit you have homophobia is not politically correct these days. Everything is pointing to how the gay community is a persecuted minority. The Wikipedia defines homophobia as the irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals. It can also mean hatred, hostility, or disapproval of homosexual people, sexual behavior, or cultures, and is generally used to insinuate bigotry. The term homophobic means "prejudiced against homosexual people," and a person who is homophobic is a homophobe. When the gay community gives reasons for the irrational hatred of homophobes, they never include, that as a child you might have been kidnapped or raped by a homosexual. I don't quite get how it is irrational to fear homosexuals after an incident like that as a child.

When I was around five and a half, I went up to the municipal tennis courts with my father and one of his friends. Getting to go anywhere other than the house I lived in, or the motel my grandparent's owned was always something I would plead, beg, grovel, or whatever would work to get taken along. On my Dad's tennis outings, I got to be the ball boy, like on TV. I was thrilled to do it, and my Dad didn't mind the fact he didn't have to chase the stray balls. Florida is sunny and hot, and pop made sure I drank lots of water, so I didn't get dehydrated. Little boys plus lots of water equals frequent bathroom trips.

Right in-between the tennis courts was a community center. This wasn't my first trip up to the tennis courts, so I knew right where the bathrooms were. I needed to go, and told my father I was a big boy and could go myself. I was pretty sure I had the mechanics down by know. Stand in front of the toilet, unzip the pants BEFORE going to the bathroom, not after, zip up the pants, wash my hands, and consider the mission successfully accomplished. My father made sure I felt okay doing it alone, and I assured him I was. In hindsight he shouldn't have let me, but how do you know the exact date, time and age that it is okay?

When I got to the bathroom, there was a man there washing his hands and asked if I needed any help. I told him no and went about my mission. He continued to wait, which made me kind of uneasy. As I was washing my hands he complimented me on being a big boy and remembering to wash my hands. He asked where my father was. At this point, I knew something was probably wrong. So he would be afraid, I told him my father was right next door, and was on his way over here. The stranger said he would walk me back over to my father. He could have been well meaning up to this point, but on the way out he stopped by the round penny gum machines and asked if I wanted some gum?

At this point, I knew this was the exact scenario my father had warned me about. I tried to remember everything he told me to do if this happened. Back in the 1950's there weren't as many techniques taught to the public. I just knew that I wanted to get back to my father, and fast. The stranger was a full grown man, and I knew that I couldn't outrun him all the way out of the building and the distance to the tennis court. So I just started walking as if I didn't suspect anything. The stranger offered to hold my hand, but I refused and walked just a step or two in front of him. Just as we were about to reach the door in the chain link fence that opened into the tennis court he asked if I wanted to go for a ride? I had the presence of mind to ask what kind of car he had, knowing he would probably answer that question. He pointed across the street to the Robin Hood motel and said the blank color, blank car was his. The blanks are because I don't remember the car or the color, but I tried to read the license plate so I could give my father or the police the number. Even before first grade I knew my letters and numbers.

So that I wouldn't alert him that I was onto him, I said, "I'll have to ask my father." and I started for the door in the fence. He grabbed me by the arm and started to drag me across the street. At that exact moment my father came through that door, saw what was happening, and started to yell at the man. The stranger dropped me in the middle of A1A, and a saw a car heading my way. As I was about to start scrambling to my feet, I was lifted into the air by my father and he took me back to the sidewalk. I don't remember if the police were called or not, but the tennis game stopped immediately and we went home.

This tennis court like most had the green canvas all the way around the fence, and probably on the door too. My father couldn't have seen me, or what was going on. I hadn't yelled yet, and I couldn't figure out how he knew to come save me. He said that I had just been gone too long, but I think that parents have a little ESP radar when it comes to their kids. He denies ESP, but even at age 50, I'll still subscribe to the idea of it.

What this stranger had in mind, was probably along the lines of what had happened to me around a year earlier. The neighbor boy who must have been around twelve or thirteen waned to play "naked army". I played army many a time in the vacant lot next to our house, and have never heard of such a thing, but most of the time older kids didn't play with an only child like me. He did manage to get me to pull down my pants, but when I felt both of his hands on my hips and him touching me from behind, I ran crying into the house. The neighbor boy didn't manage to seal the deal, but it was close enough that I remember every second of the experience to this day.

I will readily admit I am a homophobe. Do you blame me? For the rest of my life if a man made a pass at me, I would tell him in the strongest terms that I don't go that way. Some continued to press the matter and would try putting their hands on me. This would bring me to anger instantly. I never hit one of them, but when I pulled my arm back, they saw something in my eyes that convinced them I wasn't kidding, and they left. I've even had a few homosexual friends over the years, but they knew never to touch me.

I realize that not all homosexuals are child molesters. Neither are all heterosexual males child molesters of little girls, but as a society, we react and ask questions later in both cases. When those men touched me as a child, it didn't seem natural. It did seem like a perversion, it was disgusting and I don't feel my fear of homosexuals is irrational at all. They often give the reason for homophobia as, fear that you are a homosexual yourself. I assure you, I have no homosexual tendencies.

I cannot support gay marriage. I don't feel there should be special laws to protect homosexuals. I don't feel like homosexuality is natural. It sure didn't feel that way to me. I didn't live my life as a victim. I didn't use these two incidents to explain away any negative behavior I had growing up. Fact is that there wasn't that much negative behavior at all. I am not trying to teach hate or intolerance.

I am trying to say that homophobia in not always an IRRATIONAL fear of homosexuals.





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