Memories and Emotions
I have been filled with several different memories and emotions since experiencing the horrible news about the lives lost to the horrific act of violence in Orlando. My primary thoughts are of hate and fear.
What has been racing through my mind are the memories of the years of house/dance parties I either organized or attend that created a safe environment for me to be who I was with whom I loved in that moment.
Then came a time of traveling over fours hours to secure a table at one of the few gay bars in Michigan, then 3 hours, then 2 hours, then 10 minutes when Ron Harrington had the courage to open Side Traxx, the first gay bar in my hometown.
Even with that, there was stalking by the police, drive by harassing with verbal and physical threats that prompted you to park your car blocks away not to be ‘found out’. Never walking out of the bar alone, but only in groups.
Our Place and a Safe Place
But it wasn’t just a place — it was our place. A place where you could chat, dance, flirt, score and even fundraise for your community. A haven and respite where you could talk openly and not have to look over your shoulder. You could be your uninhibited self for that 3 – 4 hours in this space. Most of us lived for that precious Saturday night outing.
As liberating as these experiences became, what never changed were the years of knowing in your heart that people hated you and those like you for being and believing in who you knew you were.
The emotions that have come flooding back are the years of living with the fear of losing your job. Fear of losing your housing. Fear of losing your friends and family if they ever really knew who you were. But the ultimate fear that so many of us lived with was the fear of being tortured and losing your life at the hands of someone who HATED you. To this day, it remains a cellular memory for me.
Since that time, many things have changed as have the laws. Last year the highest court of law cleared the way for the recognition and legalization of same-sex marriage. We have come a long way, baby!
However, what remains at its root is the simple lesson that hate is a learned behavior. You aren’t born with it; you are bred into it. You don’t choose it; you are influenced to believe it. Yes folks, and it starts right at our own kitchen tables and in our own living rooms.
Being hated for your sexuality holds a cellular memory that never goes away. Click To Tweet and hate is a very powerful word, which we do not use no matter how angry we are.
My prayers go out to the families who have lost loved one to this cowardly act of violence.
My prayers also go out the families with children that you teach them hatred is not an option.