Since the premiere of L Word Mississippi: Hate the Sin, Susan and I have been flooded with positive messages and encouragement. The film was beautifully executed and we are so proud to have been a part of it. We actually sat in bed all weekend and personally answered each email, tweet, and Facebook message. We have been overwhelmed with emotion as we read their stories; some were inspirational stories of triumph while others were tragic tales of hate crimes and death. Even in the midst of the darkness, however, each person comforted us with love and support. We have been swaddled in what seemed to be a warm comforting safety blanket... until seven days later.
One week after the show's premiere, Susan and I were having dinner, in the safety of our home, with co-stars Jana Haynes and Dannika Dewhurst and their young son, Kasen, when our business line rang. Susan, as always, answered, "In Motion Fitness how can I help you?"
Expecting a typical question about gym membership or business hours but instead she was violated with obscenities and threats of violence. She quickly put it on speaker while Jana began filming video (WARNING: contains graphic and violent language) with her cell phone. Understanding that any signs of weakness or fear may have detrimental results, Susan began to retaliate verbally. This did not deter him. He continued to threaten sexual violence against all of us, and a jelly donut.
I, along with Dannika, began to be flooded with tears as his threats became personal. It seemed as if he had ripped away the safety blanket that we had become accustomed to over the days prior. We immediately posted the video of the call to social media in hopes to somehow expose him and protect us. We then called our local police dept. They sent an officer over but to no avail. We were told that there was nothing that they could do. The four of us, along with the rest of the cast, knew what kind of risk we were taking when we agreed to film this documentary, but this was horrifying. I was gripped with fear... a fear that has been foreign to me since coming out, unlike my partner who has always tried to keep me aware of the underlying danger of being gay in the South.
Although this phone call was terrifying, it was one among thousands of responses and it stands alone amongst a mountain of love and we will not allow it to pollute the positive outpouring of support that we have received. It does, however, stand as a reminder that we do have more work to do and the threat against the LGBT community is very real. It is also a very clear example of how ignorant hate really is.
Susan and I are so grateful to Ilene Chaiken and Lauren Lazin, first for reaching out to us personally to make sure that we were ok following this horrific incident and secondly for giving us the opportunity to tell our stories. We hope that this film will open up minds and bring about the change for which we have all been fighting. Also, our heartfelt thank you goes out everyone for their messages of love and encouragement that continue to pour in; they are the light that has out-shined this darkness. With the love and support of y'all we will continue to combat this hate-filled mindset with The Real L Word: Love.
Brandiilyne Dear is the founder of The Dandelion Project.