I was stepping out of the supermarket when a homeless man, wearing a Buddhist robe, approached me, asking for food.
As I was carrying a bag full of groceries, I searched for a couple items to give him.
"I just want to warn you, he said, I only eat fruits and vegetables, I am vegan".
Being on a plant-based myself, I was quite impressed to see that he was making a point of honor to stick to his ethics and maintain his diet while being homeless, pretty much a matter of life and death.
Curious, I initiated a conversation.
After a few minutes, to "thank me" for the couple fruits I had given him, he decided to "warn me" about a religious prophecy he seemed to believe in.
He started explaining in great details that in a near future, a divine retribution would happen to all the homosexuals and that he needed to spread the word to turn them "back to heterosexuality" (NB: we were standing right by Castro in San Francisco, one of the first gay neighborhoods in the United States).
Now, I am not someone who gets worked up when I hear an opinion I disagree with.
Rather, I always try to understand where people stand, and find out where their beliefs come from. So I digged deeper.
As he justified his view on homosexuality, he ended up admitting that he "used to" be homosexual himself.
And there I understood. Some people base their fear (in this case, homophobia) on repressed urges they've been shamed for. They take out their internal frustration onto others, because they can't be who they really are, so why would anybody else?
As I always do, I, in turn, explained why I believed that each person should fully embrace who they are, do what they love, and see religion as a channel for love and acceptance, rather than hatred.
I never saw him again after that day. I like to believe that our conversation led him to want to stand up for his sexual orientation, just like he did with his diet.
That was the day I met a homeless vegan homosexual homophobic Buddhist.