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August 5th, 2014

The Biggest Negative

Posted on 2014.08.05 at 12:44
Yesterday I read a meme listing the worst things about being gay. I didn’t read through the meme. I didn’t really feel the need to bring myself down based on the input of people that I don’t know. Instead, I looked inside and also asked the question of my friends out there in Facebook land. And yes, a number of people responded with things that I somewhat expected: fear of being attacked, judgment, inequality, rejection, religious persecution, etc., etc. It really is sad that in today’s day and age that we are still dealing with things like this. For cryin’ out loud, we’re all just people. And different people are just that – different.

Some people have blue eyes. Others have brown. So what? Is one better than the other?
Some people are fair-skinned. Others are dark.
Some people are tall. Others are short.
Some people are Jews. Others are Muslim.
Some people eat meat. Others don’t.
Some people are attracted to the opposite sex. Others aren’t.

For cryin’ out loud, can someone please explain to me why some people insist on hating our differences?

I’ve put a bit of thought into the question that I asked of others. Personally speaking, I really haven’t had to deal with a lot of the nightmares that others have suffered in being gay. And I’m very grateful. But yes, there are things that I have experienced. At random times, I have had some cowardly asshats scream “FAGGOT” from a distance. There are times when I haven’t felt safe as I walk out of a gay bar. Yes, I have seen some people give my husband and I, “the look” when we walk down the street hand in hand. (And what of it? It’s our city, too!) I have shed many a tear over the years as the marriage debate has gone on. I felt the sting of being told that my marriage was nullified by the courts prior to becoming legal across California. But for me, none of these things are the worst.

Then what IS the worst part about being gay? The stigma. Throughout this nation – and throughout the world, there is a stigma that there is something wrong with being gay. And even though things are getting better, the stigma is still there. And in my lifetime, it has always been there. From as far back as I remember, even tolerant people privately poked fun at gays to the point where it was VERY clear that being gay was bad. And from my youngest age, that was the lesson that I learned. And it became so very ingrained in my psyche that I didn’t just hide in the closet, I buried myself in the closet – so deep, in fact, that I didn’t even allow myself to consider it. I suppressed my sexuality. I suppressed parts of my personality. I suppressed my emotion. And I did my best to don the guise and emotion and reaction of someone else. It is so difficult to explain. But it is like being suddenly shuttled away to a distant land and being given a false identity. No matter how many details you may be given about your new persona, it is still incomplete, and cold, and uncomfortable, and not really you. Because of the stigma, I hid myself from me. And it wasn’t until my thirties that I realized who I really am.

Readers – can you imagine this? It was every bit as shocking to me as if I had suddenly learned that I had really been kidnapped as a baby and was not who I always believed myself to be. Sure, that might sound like I’m being overly dramatic, but believe me I am not! It really was just that much of a shock! And while yes indeedy I am happy now, how many years of my youth did I waste – WASTE - being unhappy trying to be somebody that I wasn’t? And for what? To try and please mainstream society and avoid the stigma.

The stigma SUCKS! And it is POWERFUL! Please readers, THINK about it. Because of the stigma, gays are treated like second class citizens. Because of the stigma, ignorant people believe that God created HIV to curse the gays. Because of the stigma, gays have to fight to have equal rights and equal protection. Because of the stigma, COUNTLESS adolescents have taken their lives rather than face one more day of bullying. Because of the stigma, gays are beaten, tortured, imprisoned, and put to death the world over.

Because of the stigma, I feel like I lost the first 30 years of my life. The stigma is real. It is very, very real. And many people carry it on without even thinking about it. So please, be aware of the words you use. Be aware of the looks you give. Be aware of what you “tolerate”. And if you see or hear something questionable, please DO something about it.

Stigma can hurt.
Stigma can create permanent damage.
Stigma… can KILL.

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