I don't usually comment on current events because they can be such a dividing force, but the act of terrorism against Americans, and specifically the LGBT community in Orlando hit my little community hard.
From the time I knew I was gay, I understood hate. I understood that people didn't accept people like me as "normal". I understood who was accepting and who were the ones who secretly snickered behind my back. I obviously knew the ones who hated me outright. That was easy. They made themselves known. I once endured a fellow student making what would be considered to be a hate speech in today's terms in front of the whole class. Today, this person may have been expelled. It was directed at me in a Creative Writing class. This young man went on about how being gay was unnatural, evil and most of all to him, disgusting. I disgusted him. Do you ever feel like you disgust people? I distanced myself from those people. I learned quickly who my friends were. I could have tried to teach acceptance, but it's time hadn't come.
I remember when I first saw the "teach tolerance" bumper stickers and thinking how other people would feel if I simply "tolerated" their existence. How does it feel to be tolerated? I remember moving to San Francisco after college and stepping into the first gay bar I have ever been in, The Cafe. There was an overwhelming feeling of "oh my god, look at all these people that are just like me". I couldn't shake the feeling of freedom and acceptance all night. I had never had that. So happy inside. So much love. An openness. An overwhelming feeling of acceptance. Not to just gay people, but to whomever walked in that door. All were welcome.
Times have changed and people are not only accepting the LGBT community, they will defend and fight for the rights of LGBT people, at least here in parts of America. There are less "controls" in place to keep us in our place. Allowing rights that others take for granted. Michael and I got married for example. Before we got married, we went though thousands of dollars of legal work that would help ensure that our assets would pass to one another when we passed on. Now our simple marriage certificate takes care of that. Seems odd now to have had to go through that. We did it because we had to. Did you have to do that?
Portland is quite a liberal city, and when we head off into the wild with our two small dogs in our camper...we still have to ask ourselves if we "will be safe where we are heading"? The feeling has hindered a few roadside stops. Michael and I still feel like we could get heckled/beaten up when we travel. This fear may be irrational, but when you have states enacting thinly veiled anti-gay laws...you gotta ask...am I safe? Do you have to ask if you're safe where you go on a daily basis?
Every day, some person reminds me that there is still hate. There's hate of the LGBT community. Of America. Of Blacks and Latinos. There is hate. It will never go away. There will be hate until I leave this world.
As a fellow human, let's try to keep the hate down to a minimum, and learn to first tolerate and then, accept. Anyone. Everyone.
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