I’m going to be honest here.
I’m tired of fighting.
I’m tired of struggling to ensure rights are respected, tired of the battle against a tsunami of hatred and loathing and ignorance. I’m worn out.
You see, I’ve been fighting this battle since I was about twelve, almost thirteen. I can tell you the exact moment when it struck me that it was wrong to deny someone the right to love another human being because they are the same gender.
It was the day my father said something about one of my friends… a fourteen year old boy. A scrawny, happy, smiling fourteen year old boy named Stewart.
He said, “I hope that fucking faggot dies. I hope someone kicks his ass and he fucking dies.”
A fourteen year old boy.
My father was a police officer at the time, untouchable, arrogant, and armed. He is a violent man. I’m not going to say was because I believe in the depths of my soul, that violence is still there, regardless of the years that have gone by. I won’t go into the violence he perpetuated on my mother and me. We are not the story here but suffice it to say, I had no trouble believing this man would kill someone. Not could. Anyone could kill someone. But rather, would.
I was made to be afraid for my friend.
Because I was scared my father would do to him what he did to me. And maybe go even further.
My second epiphany came a few months later when my father found a Playboy magazine one of my guy friends stashed in our garage. I have no idea why Harley didn’t stash it in his own bedroom but I recognized it because he’d been showing it off to the other kids. No idea how it even ended up in our garage but there it was.
And apparently, it was a problem.
My father called me a lesbian and a few other choice terms—not for the last time in my life—but this time, he fractured my jaw and broke my left orbital. I couldn’t stay at that house anymore. He would kill me before too long. Ironically, I’m not gay but in that moment—or really any moment—it didn’t matter. Actually, it shouldn’t have mattered. Because in that moment, I truly believed my father was going to kill me for something as stupid as a Playboy magazine.
So I got the fuck out.
And I found my voice. And my anger. Because the hatred was wrong. Even if it didn’t “affect” me, it was wrong. I knew that before I could even vote someone into office.
Over the years, the battle was bloody and we lost a hell of a lot of people to violence, disease and fear. There were men who wasted away before our eyes, friends who were left alone on deserted wards and handled with gloves because everyone was scared and we had no idea what was going on. We’ve been called to pick up friends from the ER because of a boyfriend slamming them into a wall or getting jumped by a bunch of guys who might have seen a hip wiggle when someone walked by. There have been women who’ve been beaten to death because they are too masculine or someone found out they still had a penis, even though they were living their lives as the woman they were meant to be.
We’ve just had so much damned death, hatred and violence since…forever and I’m so fricking tired.
I’m sure many of you are too.
So why do we push on? And how do we find the strength to go forward and fight still?
Because there are people out there who forget how hard we fought to just get to where we are and no idea how damned far we have left to go.
I know we have to keep pushing because I read a someone write, “Gays can’t be monogamous. It’s just not our nature.”
You’re wrong, love. We fight so men who want to be monogamous have the right to do so alongside any other adult couple. We fight for their…and your… relationship choice. Not just who anyone loves but how they love. We fight for choice. We fight for others’ hearts and souls.
I know we have to keep pushing when someone tells me, “You should write mainstream. You’re good enough to write mainstream.”
To that I say, I do write mainstream. My characters just happen to be gay. And I’m fighting for the day when my books… or really anyone else’s LGBTQ books are placed on the shelves alongside others in our genre, regardless of the characters’ gender, sexual preference or ethnicity. Because this gay man, this lesbian, this bisexual, this transgender character exists in the same world, same genres as heterosexual characters. They shouldn’t be sitting in the back of the bookcase because of their sexuality.
I know we have to keep pushing when I hear a teenager say, “Who cares if I get AIDS? They can just fix it.”
Oh sweetie, there’s no shame in being HIV+ and many people who have HIV live fantastic, full lives but we have to find a cure, just like we need one for cancer, heart disease and everything else. We’ve lost too many people…too many brilliant, talented and loving people to a disease that ran unchecked through our friends and family because it was okay if those people died. We owe it to those people we lost. We do. .
I know we can’t rest. I know we all have more battles to wage. God, look at the see-saw we’re in now as we fight off the last few heads of a legal hydra in various states. Every time we think ah, it will be okay, something else comes to savage us apart.
That’s right…I said us. Because, none of us are alone here. We are all in this together. Whether or not you are gay, lesbian, het, bi, asexual or anything in between, if we don’t stand for one another than our humanity—our very existence—is damned.
There are victories. We cannot forget our victories. Marriage, a big damned victory which came on the heels of striking down anti-sodomy laws. We use a rainbow now to show inclusion but let us not forget the pink triangle we took up in solidarity for those who died a horrible death for simply falling in love… or wanting to fall in love. We cannot forget the dead but neither can we forget those who will follow us because we need to make this a better world for them to inherit.
I don’t have a rousing speech to end this. I don’t have a this day will live in infamy moment. But you know what I’d love? I’d love for one day…hopefully soon… some kid will look at a history book and say; “None of this makes sense. Why would they do these things just because of someone’s skin colour or sexuality? That’s just wrong.” I’m fighting for that day when no kid gets beaten and / or kicked out of their house because they brought home the wrong person to love. I’m fighting for the day when I’m not explaining to someone I write mysteries with a gay character, just in case they might not want to read it. I’m fighting for the day when the only reason someone should fear the person next to them while wearing a rainbow jacket and carrying cupcakes is because that person really just wants those cupcakes.
So as damned tired as I get, that’s the day I’m fighting for. The day we’re all fighting for. Not just for tomorrow but for then.
I hope you all stick with it…and me…and us. It’s not over…not yet… but it will be.