Did the nightclub massacre in Orlando punch you in the heart? It did mine. How do you make sense of such a senseless tragedy? It’s a sick, sick world we live in. But I am a hopeful person, Mr. Rogers taught me to look for the helpers. They show us hope.
I’ve never shied away from talking about my life. I believe that honest communication about our own life experiences can help others along their journey. Those of you who have listened to me for years have heard about my teenage pregnancy (my oldest is 20 this year, wth?!), marriage, my second child, my divorce, single life after marriage and then……..what? Well, for the last year, I have been in a committed relationship but for some reason, I’ve never talked about it. Why? Because I worried about how you would react. I had family members who didn’t react well and still haven’t come around. If family can’t accept it, how could the general public? Maybe it’s easier to not talk about? But I can’t do that because it’s not me. It’s not honest. For the last year, I have been in a committed relationship with a woman and I have never been happier. It’s honest, loving and caring. We live together. It’s no different from any other relationship I’ve been in, with one exception. She’s a woman and I’m a woman.
When we first got together, I was ignorantly unaware of the amount of hate that is out there towards the LGBTQ community. I figured, “It’s 2016. No one cares anymore, right?!” Wrong. I’ve been called a ‘faggot’ for holding her hand in public. I feel like if I want to kiss her, people will assume we are two flirtatious girls looking for male attention. At first I told my girlfriend that I didn’t care what it looked like to others. I was going to act as though this is normal because IT IS. Two people who love each other should be able to walk down the street holding hands without anyone thinking anything other than ‘those two people love each other’.
Sometimes my girlfriend will let go of my hand and it’s then, I notice some kind of judgement happening around us. Maybe it’s an old woman glaring at us or two young guys getting a kick out of it. Or maybe she holds my hand tighter because an elderly couple smiled at us or two young guys are also walking by, holding hands. However, I’ve never worried about someone pulling out an AR-15 and firing at us. For many in the LGBTQ community, that was their reality early Sunday morning. Innocent people, out having a good time with friends and loved ones, in a place where they felt loved and accepted for being exactly who they are. Can you see why my girlfriend might let go of my hand now? But for all the hate I see around us on a daily basis, I see an equal amount of love and I try to focus on that. I hold tighter.
For the most part, I think everyone wishes they could do something to help, regardless of their sexuality. You can. Here’s a great article on being better allies with the LGBTQ community. Click here to read.
Here in Kingston, you can attend a vigil in Springer Market Square tonight (Monday, June 13th) at 8pm. Lets stand together and show our support for the victims, their families, the Orlando and LGBTQ community. I’ll be there. Will you?