CN: Homophobia, Orlando Shooting, Bullying, Violence, Slurs
I’m 16 and first starting to realize I’m bisexual. There’s a boy in my class that I want to kiss. I don’t tell anyone, though, because I’m already being bullied for being a nerdy femme guy (this was before I learned being genderqueer was a thing) with a mental illness cocktail of depression, anxiety, and ADHD. Not a day goes by in school when a kid calls me a faggot. Plus, Matthew Shepherd was just murdered. How the hell can I come out when it’s only going to make things worse? I mean, my mom will accept me for who I am; homosexuality never bothered her. But there’s no other safe space for me outside of home, so I stay in the closet and convince myself I’m really a straight guy who’s just a little confused right now.
I’m 29 and finally came out as bisexual after getting out of a terrible six-year relationship with a conservative Christian woman. I no longer believe being LGBTQ is a sin, and I’m finally free to be myself. I even found an ELCA church that welcomes everyone. The best part of all is I have a boyfriend.
He is everything my ex wasn’t. Some may say our relationship is just a rebound, but what I feel with him is more real than anything I’ve ever felt in my life. As clichéd as it sounds, I feel alive when I’m with him. We tried to take things slow, but we fell in love with each other fast and hard.
On this particular evening, we’re in my car making out in the Denny’s parking lot after dinner. I look over and see a man in a truck parked a few spots down from us. He’s looking in our direction. Can he see us? Is he looking at us? Does he know? I try to play it cool and focus on my boyfriend, but I can’t stop looking over at him. Is he going to get out of his truck and beat the shit out of us?
Eventually another man gets in the truck with him and they drive off. I’ve been bullied before, but this is the first time I thought I was going get hurt.
I’m 33 and I just woke up to hear the news about Orlando. At first the body count was in the thirties, but now it’s at least fifty. As details emerge, I find out it was a man who pledged allegiance to ISIS. At first I’m angry at religion causing so much hatred and violence in the world, but the more I process it, the more that old feeling creeps up that I am the Other. I know that I’m queer, but since no one really gives me shit for it, I forget that to many people, I’m not even human. I’m an abomination. I’m sick. I’m a pervert. Not only do certain gods believe I deserve death, but there are people in the world that are more than willing to do their gods’ work.
And in that moment, I am truly scared shitless.