If there is anything that I can say with absolutely certainly about my early childhood, it is that homosexuality was no big deal. It was a concept that I quickly became familiar with, and I knew all that I needed to know about it: it was just something that some people were.
Though I became familiar with homosexuality at a very young age and knew and understood what it meant to be homosexual, it was just a part of my life that required no further explanation. I cannot stress that enough. I never had to ask my parents awkward questions, I never needed further help on the topic. As I saw it, some boys kissed boys. Some girls kissed girls. It seemed really simple. I just innately knew from a very early age that the gender of who I loved or was sexually active with didn’t matter, and honestly, it just seemed like a really stupid thing to get your panties in a bunch about.
I got to live in this beautiful bubble for awhile – where gay was gay and gay was totally okay – but by the time I reached middle school, the jig was up. I started to understand that being gay wasn’t so black and white – rather, it wasn’t a thing that you just could be with any semblance of ease. I felt like a fish out of water when I started to look around and see the behavior towards homosexuality – it was “disgusting, unnatural, perverse”. Even more confusing was when people were accused of being gay that weren’t – like the term “gay” was a bad thing? Something actually insulting to be called? In middle school, if you didn’t throw a football well enough, you were a “faggot” – even if you WEREN’T. It was sort of like how I learned that “fat” was an insult that could be hurled at anyone, and it was the worst thing – it would bring a twiggy, long legged girl to her knees with self doubt. I had always been fat and knew it was “bad”, so I accepted what was dealt to me – but I never could quite understand how being gay had similar connotations. This was the first time that I began to make gay friends, and I bonded with them in solidarity, and fought for them like a lioness defending her cubs. But the wool had been pulled back from my eyes – the naiveté of early childhood was gone.
Then I got a little older. High school. You can only imagine all I learned about “being gay” in those hallowed halls. Still, I was confused. Why was this a bad thing? Why were my friends hurt and abused because they were gay? The bullying dialed up to 11. The Southern Baptists told my friends matter of factly that there wasn’t a space in heaven for them if they didn’t change. I watched them cry as they turned from their churches out of fear and shame, watched them live in fear of their parents finding out who they truly were and what the cost of the truth would be. “Faggots” were targeted, chairs kicked out from under them, their lives a constant living hell. To this day, I thank God that we were the last generation before social media really became rampant – because I don’t think some of those jackals would have let some of my friends out of high school alive.
As I left high school, I left with one truth: in the eyes of the great majority, it was somehow not okay to be gay. And if you were gay, you either un-gayed yourself and un-gayed yourself quick, according to the Southern Baptists – or you hide your “shame” for the rest of your life.
Well … I sure as hell wasn’t going to stand for that.
As it always does, and as none of us truly believe it will, life goes on after high school, and what we were afraid of then becomes the catalyst to who we will inevitably become – whether we choose to stay afraid, or if we use what we suffered as a launching pad to our personal evolution. At this time in my life, I was pretty clear on hatred towards gays. My gay friends, previously proud and bold and jubilant, ran back into the closet and slammed the door with the force of a thousand suns.
And throughout all this time, I was just there – I was there when they hid their true selves in public, and I was there when, as we grew up and away from high school a little bit, they tiptoed, absolutely terrified, back out of the closet. I was there for them, because they were there for me. After all, I had always been different: fat, mental problems, a little dramatic, weird as hell, way too damn much eyeliner – and the gay community embraced me with open arms. I quickly and happily blended in to the gay clubs where we all sought refuge from the real world with a relieved glee. Many, many happy nights spent drinking and dancing, covered in glitter, light up the memories of my early twenties like so many stars now.
(Funny thing, though – you always wanted to get out of the parking lot and into the club as quickly as you could – you could just never be sure who was watching, and how safe you’d be. This is around the time that I learned about hate crimes.)
There’s a secondary part of this story, too. While I’ve always designated myself to ally – defender and militant supporter of the LGBTQA community – the truth is that I’ve always grown up knowing that I liked both boys and girls. And not just that. I liked trans girls and boys, too. I have never have labeled my sexuality for the same reasons that, as a child, I just couldn’t understand the big deal about all of this – and also because I just didn’t really know where the hell I fit in. And though I tended to crush mostly on boys and slept mostly with boys – but simultaneously liked girls, trans people, and basically anyone who interested me – I just thought that, at most, I was straight with a dash of extracurricular interest. Maybe bisexual – but even then, I didn’t feel like that fit. I couldn’t claim that, because there was more to it, a wider berth.
As I grew older, really, only in the last year or so, and my knowledge of queer culture deepened, and I realized what I am: pansexual. “One who can love sexuality in many forms. Like bisexuality, but even more fluid, a pansexual person can love not only the traditional male and female genders, but also transgendered, androgynous, and gender fluid people.”
FINALLY. Something that makes sense.
So when I think about what happened in Orlando over the weekend, I can’t help but feel sickened. Sickened because I know what it’s like to want to be with your friends in a safe place. Sickened because I’ve watched my gay friends be broken and abused for who they are. Sickened that some assholes right now are coming out to say that these people that were senselessly slaughtered deserved this because they aren’t right with Jesus. Sickened because this has been my community all along and I was too ignorant to realized it.
I thought earnestly about what I could do to help – the answer is not much. There is just no way to plug the gaping hole left in the LGBTQA community, or our nation. But what I can do is claim this as MY community now, and fight LOUDER & HARDER – fight tooth & nail for our rights to safety and freedom. I am a part of the LGBTQA community, formally and proudly. MY community was attacked. I am not okay with that. And while kind, no amount of thoughts & prayers will fix what has been broken. We have got to take a look around, every single one of us, and find the common denominator in these issues.
And then we have to fight like hell to stop it.
So here’s what you can do. If you are a straight ally, start talking about why what happens hurts and disgusts you. Start talking to anyone who will listen. Hell, even a retweet will do – don’t ignore this because you think you aren’t involved, or because this isn’t your community. This is not just about gay people, but your brothers and sisters in humanity. Fight for them.
If you are a girl who likes girls but also likes boys and also likes trans people but don’t know where you fit in – you fit in right here with the rest of us. You are a part of this, and don’t you dare feel any differently. Fight for them.
And finally, to those who oppose homosexuality for religious reasons, I won’t and could never change your minds, and I respect that: but I do beg you to be civil, gracious, and generous. Stop telling people they are going to hell. Stop making Christians look like terrorists themselves. Stop being cruel. Stop turning away from people that are different than you. And most of all, get down on your knees and thank God that it wasn’t your church that was attacked – because it could easily have swung that way (and has been before in the past) – and rise above your egos. FIGHT FOR THEM.
If a kid like me could figure out the truth about homosexuality at the age of six – IT’S NO BIG DEAL – then I think we should all be able to grasp it. Support it or not, whatever, do your thing – but remember this: who other people sleep with is really no damn big deal. And one should not have to DIE or even ever feel one second of fear in order to assauge the insecurities of a sick and twisted man who let his ignorance and fear breed hate.
To those that were lost in Orlando last weekend, eternal love flows as your community weeps for you, and you will never be forgotten.