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August 12th, 2013

Proud, but…

Posted on 2013.08.12 at 12:40
I love going to Pride festivals!

Yes, they can be hokey, and silly, and political, and shallow, and just down-n-out ridiculous. But in all of their rainbow hot-mess glory, they are still fun. And beneath the crazy façade of dragtastic debauchery, there is an important concept that many people really don’t think about – it is a time and place and opportunity for most of the participants to just honestly be themselves. And sadly, that is something that many people take for granted.

Think about it – in this past week alone, I read about a transgendered hate-crime victim in the Carribean. 16-year old Dwayne Jones, who had been kicked out of the house by his father at age 14, was beaten, stabbed, shot, and run over by a mob. Why? For showing up at a straight party dressed as a woman. Also recently, a gay teenager in New Mexico committed suicide because the bullying had become too much. Wait… was it New Mexico, or was it in Iowa? Oh yah – BOTH!

Think about it for a moment – here we are in the 21st century. We think we are “Modern”. We think we are “Advanced”. Yet, there are people out there who are being murdered or bullied to death. And why? For committing a crime? For doing something horrible? No… for being different than the mainstream. And I for one am sick of it! If anything, I have become callous to it. My heart feels like it has turned to stone simply because I have read so many articles about gay teens committing suicide rather than face the torments and rejection of friends and family. I’m absolutely numb from hearing about gays around the world brutally attacked, beaten and murdered by intolerant societies who view our very existence as an affront to their ability to breathe. Despite things like the “It Gets Better” project and the charities out there set up to provide counseling or safe havens for those who are under threat of persecution, we should be able to expect more in today’s society. I can tolerate just about anything. But if it is one thing I will NOT tolerate, it is intolerance!

For cryin’ out loud, what is wrong with the idea of Live and Let Live? Can’t we just learn to coexist peacefully?! I don’t care what the color of your skin, your gender, your religion, your politics, your beliefs, your lifestyle. I really don’t. The only time it impacts me is if you take steps to limit my freedoms and my rights as a human being.

You can think of me as a faggot. That is your right - just as it is my right to think of you as an ignorant bigot.

You can assume that I am going to your concept of hell. That is your right – just as it is my right to know that you are a young and ignorant soul that hopefully will learn your lesson in your next life.

You can look at how I dress or how I act and scowl. That is your right – just as it is my right to blow a kiss in your general direction as my polite way of encouraging you to yank the stick out of your nether-region.

But you do NOT have the right to tell me what to do, what to think, how to act, or who to be. It has taken me a long time to get to where I am. I like who I am. I’m proud of who I am. And I wouldn’t change my life. But please, during this season of pride, let us not forget – we have a long way to go.

AJ Betts will never see his high school graduation. He is dead – bullied to death!

Carlos Vigil will never dance at his senior prom. He too is dead – bullied to death!

Dwayne Jones wondered what it would be like to finally embrace his inner-woman by simply going to a party wearing a dress. That dress is now stained with his blood.

These are just three names that happen to have made it into the papers in the past few weeks. Think about how many more haven’t. Think about just how much intolerance still exists. Think about how many young people we lose on a regular basis for no good reason.

I appeal most strongly to my many, many straight friends who are out there. My voice is very limited. And especially to haters who exist in the world, they won’t listen to me. After all, I’m “one of them”. But you can make a difference. Don’t accept hatred! Remain vigilant when you see it around you. What may seem like an innocent little joke here and there, or a harmless slam has the power to cut to the core.

How many more victims will Hatred and Intolerance claim before we all stand up and yell, “No More!”

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