“Once you get to know someone, you’ll love them.” That’s what my friend Sammi says, and she’s right.
Homophobia is a real thing, and it’s not okay. Last weekend, 49 people were killed in a gay bar in Orlando, Florida. And it was really upsetting. So I asked myself, what can I do to make a difference?
Last semester for a journalism research course I did, I interviewed 16 people about various topics related to the LGBT community. What really got to me was the stories of people who had experiences that I’d never had. It’s easy to categorize someone or assume that they are a certain way when we don’t know them, and we don’t know their stories. So I want to share the words of some LGBT individuals with you. Once you get to know them, you’ll love them.
- I teach at a community college. I always end up coming out to my classes because a boy committed suicide because his family didn’t accept him. It’s hard for me almost every time. I always fear that someone will judge me or dislike me. It brings up lots of fear of rejection.
- I didn’t ever say anything or act on it [attraction to women] because it didn’t fit into the [context in which I was raised].
- I wanted my mom to accept me and my other relatives.
- When gay marriage was legalized nationally, it had a positive emotional effect on me. It gave me affirmation as a human being. We were so excited to be validated…You feel like you’re validated as a human.
- I grew up feeling like the way I was wasn’t okay… I felt like I needed to hide. I lived pretending for so long.
- [In reference to the legalization of gay marriage] It helped with partner benefits. 9/11, for instance, partners getting zero recognition for anything…Now, if I were to be sick, I’m confident they would consult with Laurie. In other states they wouldn’t have.
- I just started an LGBT group…I work in a fairly open company. They’re still in the closet. But they do not want to come out publicly…We have to BCC them on emails…There’s still trauma about that.
- We just wanted to make a point [referring to getting married in 2013], and we did. When it happened federally, I was surprised. I didn’t think that would ever happen in my lifetime…It was a lot of joy when it came.
- I didn’t know anything about the LGBT community because I didn’t want to be connected to the stigma.
- I felt like I owed it to people to dress femininely.
- I separated myself on purpose because I didn’t want to be an outsider.
- I think generally that when people talk about LGBTQ people in general their minds tend to go straight to sex, which is frustrating, obviously. I feel like it’s a form of objectification. I really think that if my attraction to women was just about sex, it wouldn’t be an issue in my life at all. I could happily marry a man if that were the case. I really feel that for me, and for most people, it’s really more about love. More about romantic love and the type of person you relate to in that way and form attachments to.
- [Referring to having to resign from his position in the navy in order to keep his credentials that he received from the first Gulf War) I was forced out because of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
- When I was a kid, I was not out because it was such a hard environment—very homophobic. I couldn’t be out.
- I had small periods of homelessness because I was underage, and it was hard to find a safe environment because I was gay.
- [Speaking of a therapy class in which one spouse had same-gender attraction] I saw many gays and lesbians there. They were so hurt and put themselves there in the name of religion…[In reference to the spouses feeling hurt] I wanted to say to them, “Just because your spouse has this same-sex tendency, it doesn’t mean their love for you is any less.”
- Homosexual is not something that special. We come in different terms, but there are construction workers, bus drivers, the fashionista.
- We ran into all these judges that were so supportive of it [legalization of gay marriage]. The justice came to our wedding last night. The justice was so nice. She wrote against gay marriage ten years ago. Then she got to know my husband, and she changed.
- We are all the same. When we die we become bones. You cannot tell—white, black, gay, straight.
I hope that you’ve learned something, and you’ll reach out in love more often than not.
Here’s a video of those who were killed in the Orlando shooting. They are more important than the story of the shooter. Don’t let the shooter have the publicity that he wanted.