This is sort of a clusterfuck of thought. But I'm furious and need you to be furious with me. (I know this is long, please keep reading. It's important.)
A year ago, to the day, I was cornered by a muscled, furious man in a public bathroom at work in Austin, Texas. This man did not like that I was gay and had been letting me know all morning (my bosses told me to ignore it). He decided to attempt a physical demonstration of his thoughts of me while in this bathroom. So when I read this story this morning, it struck a particularly angering nerve.
I read stories like this too often and am continually furious. It's why I do my best to discuss gay rights, black rights, bogus politics, and other uncomfortable subjects so often. Remaining silent about people that don't support genuine equality for everyone leads to a country that condones violence and hate, passively and actively.
A man walked into a gay couple's apartment while they were sleeping, boiled water, and dumped it on them in bed.
Politicians, people with a national platform, brothers, friends, extended relatives and anyone else that casually, passively, or aggressively fights against or speaks negatively about LGBT equality are poisonous. It's a poison that condones a world where violence like this is acceptable.
People like these often don't understand that even their "kind" and "loving" denouncement of LGBT people "because my religion says so" has an impact on the safety and mental wellness of my community. People like Ted Cruz and many other people in power that don't support LGBT legislature and protections are saying on a national platform that they don't really care about these people being treated with common decency. That voice allows weaker-minded people to believe that taking actions like these is acceptable, or that LGBT people like me deserve this kind of human experience. Actions from both of these groups and the silent "I support it, but won't talk about it" keep LGBT people's lives in the national mind as something that should be shamed. Gay people, Trans people, Queer people, they all deserve to be treated with dignity, respect, and SAFETY. Trans people are murdered at a percentage rate far higher than any other demographic in the country. LGBT people everywhere -- and I mean everywhere -- are hassled too often about the way they are. And that is fucking wrong.
It is so incredibly important to CALL OUT HOMOPHOBIA in all of its forms. Call a joke out for being offensive. Call out the use of "faggot" as being hurtful. Call out those around you speaking negatively or perpetuating judgment as acting against the safety and happiness of a stranger and a fellow human being. It is a conversation that is vital to the lives of my community, of people like me, of me.
As oppressive as San Francisco rent is, the idea of moving anywhere else genuinely frightens me. Fear of violence, fear of words being thrown at me while I walk down the street, fear of not being able to love who I love and be the version of myself I want to be without being demonized for it. And in San Francisco's safety bubble, gay people are still being beat up by groups of men. Gay people are still called "faggot" when they walk down the street. Gay people, Trans people, Queer people are STILL being victimized in one of our country's "gayest" cities.
How can you help?
It is your responsibility to talk about gay civil rights as an issue that is important. It is your responsibility to call out homophobia in common conversation. It is your responsibility to take every opportunity you have to change the minds and hearts of people that speak negatively about LGBTs. It is your responsibility as a human being to make sure that, just because someone is different than you or follows a different moral code than you do that they are not robbed of human decency or equality. It is your responsibility to understand that your words and your silence both have an impact. And it is your responsibility to ensure that it's a good one.
Anyone that calls America a "safe" place for LGBT people, or brush off gay equality as something that "already exists" say so from a place of privilege and apathy. Not fighting actively to make sure people like me and the community I belong to are protected and feel safe in their own fucking homes is a lazy and casual form of evil.
I don't care what your religion dictates. I don't care if you believe your god doesn't think gay marriage is "okay". It's more than that. It's bigger than that. Telling gay people that it is unacceptable to be who they are is causing them to continually be the focus of hate. It allows others to continue their actions of hate. Of real hate. Of hate in your own backyard. Don't believe me? Google "gay victim" and then add a city name. Any city name. It's everywhere. A number of attacks in the Marina district of San Francisco have been targeting gay men. Just because they're gay. And these men are sent to hospitals. Just because they're gay.
And continuing to say it's "not okay that they're gay or trans or bi" (First of all, they didn't fucking ask you if it was okay, just like you didn't ask me if it was okay that you acted or dressed or believed a certain way) is perpetuating hateful actions. Hateful ideas. Hateful us vs. them mentalities.
If you are still saying LGBTs are "not okay" after hearing all of this, it says to me that you don't care that LGBT people are being harassed. That you don't care that they're being vandalized, abused, beat up, tortured or murdered. And if someone doesn't care about a group of people experiencing THAT kind of fear doesn't care – especially a group of people in your own neighborhoods – then what kind of person is that?
Fighting isn't hard. It means speaking up for those who need their voices, their needs, their experiences heard.
Talk. About. Them.
LEARN. About. Them.
Teach others that it's unacceptable to perpetuate ignorance. Teach them that it's unacceptable to judge this community. Teach them that it doesn't matter if they follow your God's laws in a country where freedom from religion is as important as freedom of religion. Teach them that whether or not this community falls in line with what you believe is morally or religiously "right" or "wrong," that they are still protected as Americans to contradict those strict delineations.
Take action. Silence is not an option. Silence says, to the rest of the world, that you condone this hateful behavior.
It's as easy as finding your voice.
If you would like to contribute to the donation fund for the Atlanta couple's hospital needs and learn more about their experience, head this way.