Sunday, April 19, 2009

Day of Pride: In praise of offensive stereotypes

Today is the day that for a few hours, in the light of the sun, I can be who I am.
I will walk around with old, hairy shirtless men, young men with toned bodies in short shorts, young women with short hair and piercings, tall men in dresses who look gorgeous... or somewhat like Bette Davis in"Whatever happened to Baby Jane?"

Thank God for those "freaks!" If they didn't draw attention to gays, no one would know we exist. For the harassment, beatings, torture and deaths that went on without comment long ago and that still happen today. When someone takes notice and becomes outraged enough to do something about it, their martyrdom was not in vain.

Think about the that, "straight" people, when you hold hands and kiss in a public place.
The two older women standing behind you on the elevator may be longing to do the same.

I can hold hands with Joey in public, but I still feel the fear that someone will follow us later, when we get into our car to go home.

Joey put a rainbow cat sticker on my back window and though I know that someone will be happy to see it, someone else may find it the perfect aiming point ... through my seat back to my head.

I don't want to die, yet. I'm not afraid to die. I just don't want to die at the hands of someone who didn't know me but hated me all the same.

I'm not being ridiculous. Gay, lesbian, transgender, transsexual and other people not hiding who they are get murdered in the US and around the world to this day. Our fight is not over. You haven't heard that last from us. We will not go away. We are your brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunt, uncles, cousins and grandparents. Sometimes, we're you.

The only difference between our struggle and the fight for black equality is that you usually can't immediately see that we are gay or otherwise-oriented. However, chances are when you are in a group of ten people, somebody is gay... whether he or she has admitted to themselves or not.

My family knows I'm gay. I don't put it in any one's face at work, but I talk about Joey all the time and tell her I love her on the phone when she calls and have a smiling picture of her and her mother floating in a pool on vacation in my cubicle. And that gay cat and the NO 2 bumper sticker on the front of my car don't leave much to the imagination.

I don't want to be beaten, burned or left for dead. I'll settle for writing about being gay and not free to be entirely true to myself.

And maybe I will put the rainbow-colored Mickey Mouse head my older sister gave me on my car antenna. At least for today.


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