Imagine This. Christian and I were walking down the main street carrying a big red sign with Spanish words, in the middle of a protest against the Mexican Government. We were in a small town near the famous ruins of Palenque, in the Southern state of Chiapas, in Mexico. We had inadvertently ended up in this street protest when Christian had made friends with some locals and expressed his sympathy for their cause.
When asked if we would support them in their protest, we agreed naively. We did not realize that we would be given the biggest sign and as we turned the corner to start the protest on the main street, they would all pull Balaclavas over their faces, and we would be the only ones whose faces were recognizable.
I turned around to look behind us and noticed a big army tank slowly making it’s way toward us and said to Christian nervously,
“If they start shooting at us, we drop the sign and run for cover ok?”
“Ok!” Christian replied in a strained voice, looking at me with wide eyes.
Thankfully we made it to the end of the street without incident or bullet wounds, gave our newfound so-called ‘friends’ back their sign and bid a hasty retreat.
Travelling with Christian was an adventure, to say the least, and landed me in some very compromising situations. But I couldn’t fault him for his genuine interest in people of different cultures and sympathy for the downtrodden, no matter how misguided.
I, like him, believe that we should not judge by appearances, status or sexual orientation. In fact, we had met in the UK, when we were both volunteering for a charity that helped people who were HIV positive or suffering from AIDS.
Over time we became good friends and used to spend a lot of time together. As I was leaving the UK, Christian said that he was planning a trip to Central America. Never having been there, I was immediately interested and promised to meet him there. So I saved up when I got home and eventually flew from Singapore to Mexico City to meet him.
He arrived a few days before me so he said that he would pick me up from the airport. When I arrived at the gate, I saw him making his way toward me with two dozen red roses. Delighted, I threw my arms around him to greet him, at which point he whispered in my ears,
“By the way, we are married.”
“What?” I replied, not really believing what I was hearing
“We are married.” He said again, this time looking sheepish.
He went on to explain that back at the hotel, he had asked to be put through to the UK at the phone at reception so that he could call his boyfriend, Brett- these were the days before Facebook, text messaging, not even emails were common. The hotel staff had eavesdropped on his conversation with Brett, and when he put the phone down, they asked him if that was his wife that he was speaking to. (They had both said “I love you” at the end of the call and Brett, had a very high voice that could have been mistaken for a woman’s). Christian, remembering that he was in a Catholic country, immediately said,
Then realizing that I was about to turn up in a few days, he continued on to say,
“She’s coming here!”
At which point they told him that surely he would want to move from his twin room to a double room. They also suggested that the hotel driver, Diego, drive him to pick me up from the airport and on the way, stop at the flower market to buy me some roses. He went along with it all, not knowing how to refuse.
When we got back to the hotel, we managed to find a way to co-exist and preserve our appearance as a married couple until we left Mexico City to travel south. All because he was afraid that he would be judged for being gay.
It was sad to me that he felt that he was unable to be himself in Mexico City. After all, there is increasing evidence that sexuality is inborn. I personally think that the world needs more gay men. We are so over-populated that it could help to address some of our population issues. With more gay men, we would all be better dressed and come on and who doesn’t love rainbows?
But seriously, I don’t understand why people judge others by appearances. I would rather find out more about the people I meet, like where they come from, what their lives are about, where they want to go to and what their dreams or visions of their future are?
After all, if we do not have a dream or vision of a future how can we achieve it? I have a dream of a world of tolerance and acceptance of each other, regardless of race, culture or religious beliefs, sexual orientation. Christian shares that dream with me. You may say that we are dreamers, but I have a feeling that we are not the only ones. I hope someday you will join us and the world will live as one. Imagine That.