I came out over a decade ago.
I cut off all my mid-back length hair myself, came home from my vocational school at vacation, and exclaimed to my family that I was gay. Their response was: we know, and can we please take you somewhere to fix that haircut?
At 17, I had no idea the hate I was going to encounter over the coming years. I had no idea that people literally despised me due to the sexual orientation I was born with.
I skip over calling it a choice, because if I’m being completely honest—I would choose to be straight.
I would choose to be part of a community that doesn’t get beaten up and slandered due to who they love. But, alas, I can’t change the way my brain is wired and I can’t stop the hate hurled at me at lightning speed because of it.
My point here is that now, at 30, when someone calls me a foul name or gives me a side-eyed glance as I speak in a feminine tone while in masculine attire, I tend to not notice nor pay any mind.
I could fight, or argue, or address how hurtful a comment is or how hateful a person sounds, but I pick my battles wisely after a decade-long war.
But sometimes, as in my most recent altercation, people throw sticks and stones:
“You dyke bitch.”
For the first time, my girlfriend watched her partner be called a dyke by a neighbor who was unhappy about my choice to stand up and not take their hatred sitting down.
Do you realize how hurtful it is to be called a dyke?
Do you realize I cower away from confrontation because I know this word could be tossed at me?
Do you know how tears stained my partner’s pillow last night as she cried, wondering how someone could hate the person she loves simply based on her sexual orientation?
“You look like a lesbian bitch.”
This is an insult I am not even sure how to process yet.
Is this an insult?
It may not sound like one, but tone means everything honey, and you launched those words like bombs exploding right over my resolve and wearing me down inside.
“My husband is a cop.”
Does this make you entitled to act however you would like?
This statement is the most offensive and most fear-inducing of our entire altercation.
People are dying in our country daily at the hands of those sent to protect and serve them. Individuals are robbed of justice because reports disappear, and allegations fall on deaf ears. We are creating a niche in society full of untouchable, or seemingly so, individuals.
Did I mention this individual lives in the same apartment complex? I watched them park after this incident ended.
I have to call them a neighbor.
I have to see them regularly, watch them drive by me, and wonder if today is the day they decide to retaliate against me; I wonder when I will awake one morning to mine or my partner’s vehicle ruined…sound familiar?
These types of ingrained fears are similar to those experienced by someone who is surviving PTSD.
I am tired today. Not sleepy or groggy—my soul is tired.
My heart aches for the “Karen culture” and what it is turning our country into.
My heart aches for my partner: who is experiencing the hatred that is harbored for individuals belonging to the LGBTQ community, for the first time.
My heart aches for justice—does that exist in situations like these? Sure, I called the police and filed a report. I am told if this happens again I might be able to file harassment charges.
This is not justice.
The most atrocious part to my story?
This person said all of this from the seat of their vehicle: a vehicle that also held their granddaughter in the passenger seat. After a few minutes of her grandparent yelling obscenities, I heard these words from their granddaughter:
“F*ck you bitch.”
My face feels the familiar moisture of tears as I remember this detail in my mind.
Children mimic our behavior.
The way you treat people in your life begins with the way you saw your elders treat individuals as you grew up.
When you attack a minority using these types of slang terms, you have just taught this young impressionable mind that words of hatred are okay if spoken in a moment of confrontation.
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” ~ Nelson Mandela
If you take anything away from reading my experience, please let it be that hatred is taught.
Hatred is picked up in the many microaggressions you present your child with, such as, “Are you sure you don’t want to consider dating a man? Life would be so much easier you know.”
Hatred is taught by fighting with others in front of your child and using terms meant specifically as a derogatory term for a minority: calling a lesbian a dyke, a Hispanic individual a spic, or Black person the N-word.
Hatred is taught by skirting around justice and using those you know in high places to help you stay out of trouble: having a cop relative or family member who intercepts a report or allegation; having a lawyer relative or family member who may not be telling you all your options for a trial, or all the ways you are able to file charges against someone harassing you.
Do not allow this to be the norm, only the exception.
Love is the way—the only way—to unite us.
Spread love, not slander.
Spread curiosity, not ignorance.
Spread understanding, not hatred.