One of my goals in life has been to grow into one of those wonderfully unapologetic women who is who they are with no qualifiers. It is challenging for me. I was not a popular kid. Like so many others I was teased...a lot. I never felt like I fit. I felt like I was playing at being who I was supposed to be. Some of this is family of origin business, some of it was that I was trying to fit the straight mold.
"why don't you want a boyfriend, what is wrong with you?"
"why won't you just kiss him?"
"he is such a fag, someone should kick his ass"
"her dad is gay, you KNOW he has AIDS!"
"fags everywhere, this is why I hate the city"
"she's funny that way...she's nice, but you never want to be alone with her"
Wonder why it took me until I was 20 to come out? That is just a smattering of some of the shit I listened to growing up, from so many of the people around me.
Coming out made me more confident. Once I came out to myself I couldn't not be out. It was harder to stay in the closet...it took less than a year for me to come out to everyone I knew, a little longer to live out and proud, but not much.
I was brazen about it as I went through my rainbow phase in grad school. It was all about being a lesbian! Rainbows everywhere...screw tolerance, I wanted respect! I had this false sense of safety being in center city.
I remember Matthew Shepard.
I remember Judy Shepard speaking. I cried with the entire audience.
We watched Ellen come out and loved it.
I also remember protestors at Pride...at Outfest. I remember their vitriole. I remember their posters.
..."all you need is some deep dicking...that'll turn you..."
..."dykes! You just need to be fucked by a real man!"
I remember the fear and pain in my heart seeing that bastard Fred Phelps at the Millenium March in DC. I remember the toddler in her mother's arms holding a "god hates fags" sign. A toddler.
..."You are not gay. It is unnatural."
..."You are not telling anyone!"
Don't ask don't tell. No equal protections. No marriage equality. No rights of suviorship. No gay adoptions. No right to visit the person you love in the hospital. DOMA.
Our country complacently accepting that hate crimes and violence in the LGBTQ community is just part of the fucking deal.
We started to see civil unions...talk of "gay marriage" in Hawaii...chatter about domestic partnerships...more lesbians having babies...more celebrities coming out...
I was never able to wrap my head around it. I remeber being a kid and a black family moved into the neighborhood. They lasted less than 6 months. Kids high fived when they moved out, congratulated one another on the effect of their grafitti on their garage door and car...adults making horrifying comments that guided the actions of the kids... I didn't understand. Why? Why was it a problem that they were black? They were nice. I never understood why my friend's dad, who was gay, had to move away and why people hated him and called him terrible things. I was never able to grasp the "different=bad" mindset. There is no logic to it but also, no empathy.
The people that were different than me added to my life. Opened my eyes to new things, new experiences. Why were/are people so afraid of someone/something different?
Christy and lived out and proud, eventually. We forced other people to see things differently. We were the firsts in a lot of instances. It was exhausting, but important.
..."why not have sex with a guy to make sure?"
"did you always know?"
"it has to be easier to be a lesbian, you don't have to deal with men"
"which one of you is the man in the relationship?"
"so technically you're still a virgin"
In our circle I felt safe.
We fought for marriage equality, the repeal of DOMA, of DADT...
We got married. We celebrated with our friends and family. We are supported. We are loved.
I still have moments where I am afraid when walking with Christy holding her hand. I still hear things in waiting rooms, on the bus, out in public...
"why do THEY need to get married?"
"I don't believe in homosexuality" We aren't gnomes or Santa Claus!
"it's so gross, I don't want to see it"
"why is it always about the gay thing?"
"they can get married what else do they want?"
Words matter. Words inform actions. "Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words 'll never hurt me." WRONG. Those words are indicative of thoughts and feelings that lead to action or inaction which can lead to serious hurt...can lead to violence.
The Orlando shooter used the hate-filled words...lived a hate-filled life...and that led to his killing 49 people and wounding many others who now have to find a way to recover physcially and emotionally. Survior's guilt is a heavy burden.
This is about hate. This is about guns. This is about terrorism. This is about action. This is about camplacency. This is about the bullshit excuse for gun control we have in this country. This is about a society that allows for the idea that different is bad.
I am done. I am finished. I watched the filibuster. I called and emailed Senators and Congressmen. I vote. I will financially support candidates that stand up for equality and gun control. I am not apologizing.
I don't want you or anyone else to have guns. I don't care why you want them. I don't care about the second amendment.
I won't sit by and bite my tongue when someone says something assinine. Say something hateful or stupid...I am calling you out, I don't care who you are.
I will not be silent.
I am not worried about being liked anymore. I am over it. Fuck it.
I am a direct person, but I have worked hard my whole life to be diplomatic, to see both sides. No more.