I will never forget the first day I was called a D*ke.
It was the Summerof 1999 and I had just come out.
As I emerged from the only bar in town that served me alcohol at 19, I reached back to grab my girlfriend’s hand. It was just after 2AM and we were buzzed and wired from spending the evening dancing to the latest Brit Pop tunes.
Three college-aged white guys passed us on the sidewalk and one immediately stopped and turned around. He had a disposable camera in his hand and a stoned smile spread across his face. He looked as us with excitement as he called out to his friends, “Look! D*kes!”
He then held the camera to his eye, began to slowly walk backwards as we approached him and began taking pictures as quickly as he could, laughing as he did. Click. School. Click. Scroll.
Without thinking and with more than a little alcohol on board, I quickly covered the distance between us. I snatched the camera from his hand and stared into his now shocked face.
“I am a lesbian and this is my girlfriend. I am not a f*cking spectacle. I am not here for your amusement or your scrapbook. I am a human being who has as much right to walk down these streets without being harassed as you do, so F*ck You!”
With that I threw the camera into the busy street, while the three guys, my girlfriend and the entirety of the bar looked on.
Time seemed to stop as soon as the camera left my hand. We all remained silent as a car quickly smashed the camera to pieces. I will never forget watching the pieces of the camera bounce up and down on the asphalt as we stared in disbelief.
Panic immediately replaced anger once I realized what I had done. I had just destroyed this drunk guys camera!
“You b**ch!” He spat as he stared coldly into my eyes and took a step toward me.
Alcohol once again took the reins and I began to taunt my much larger, much stronger opponent. “What are you gonna do, huh? What are you gonna do?”
He was pissed and baffled. His friends grabbed his arms and convinced him it wasn’t worth it...that i wasn’t worth it. I was just “some crazy d*ke.”
Little did I know that would be the first of many times I would experience such hatred as a lesbian. Little did I know that test was to be the first of many.
Today is National Coming Out Day and the world has changed significantly in many ways and is also eerily still the same.
I’m truly grateful that we now live a much more accepting society. As a mother of three small children, I am grateful to see the progress our nation has begun to make with regard to LGBTQ rights, however, every other day it seems we take a step backwards.
One day we are given the right to marry and the next that right is taken away. One day, we celebrate our transgender men and women in military and the next day, they are told they cannot serve. One day we read a story of another beautiful same sex couple getting married and the next we see the face of a transgender women of color who has been murdered. One day we see the gay high schooler crowned Homecoming King and the next day, we here the story of a gay child being bullied until she decided suicide was the only option.
Today there will be many children and adults in our beautiful nation that have or will choose to heroically embrace their authentic self and claim their sexuality or gender identity. Today, others will choose the battle to be too much and they will choose death.
This day tears at my heart, for I know today both tears of joy and tears of betrayal will be shed. I know people will experience freedom and acceptance, while others will experience being disowned or feel the torment to be too great.
The best way we can help our LGBTQ brothers and sisters is to speak up.
Don’t wait to be asked.
Their are children all over this country today are not just asking you. They are begging you to tell them they are OK, that they are beautiful and perfect just as they are.
Be the person who makes today the day they feel strong enough to keep going. Be the person who makes today the day they decide to hide no longer. be the person who makes them believe enough in their own happiness to begin to truly live.
Use your voice today to save a life, to provide hope, to give strength, to change the world.
Every day we each have the power to change the world and today is the day you focus your efforts on our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.