It was the movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner !” that surprised audiences by introducing us to the reality of racial prejudice in . . . black people. Not “towards” but “in”. Somehow we all thought it normal enough – and for too long perfectly acceptable – for white people to consider themselves superior to the “colored”. But to find reputable, successful, educated people like the black star’s (Sidney Poitier) parents displaying a racism similar to that of their white future in-laws, came as a surprise. A “similar” but, of course, not identical racism. After all, the people who for generations suffered inhuman cruelty, injustice and exploitation, were all blacks (whether they came from New Zealand or not). Their dislike, distrust if not detestation of their white “masters” and their descendants are understandable, and, yes, justifiable. The slavery practised by white people (and, admittedly, by some black people as well) was not.
Nothing terribly original there. But in an increasingly “liberated” society where “coming out” and same-sex marriage have become part of our current mores, I wonder whether the traditional heterosexual prejudice against homosexuals was – or is – exclusively one-sided. Do homosexuals think that heteros like me are abnormal, pitiful, inferior ? I suspect they don’t. If that is the case, their tolerance of us calls for our tolerance of them. We whites scandalously persecuted people whose skin pigment differed from ours. We heterosexuals scandalously persecuted people whose sexual preferences and, far more importantly, congenital sexual orientation, differed from ours. The only thing wrong with those last two sentences is that they are expressed in the past tense. Sapienti sat.