The LGBTQ+ Community and the Hate They Face

*Trigger Warning*

Earlier today I watched an episode of Glee dedicated to the violence the LGBTQIA+ community faces. When I saw this episode when I was younger, I thought “This doesn’t happen in the real world," but now that I’m an adult, I realize it does. And it's only getting worse. As of 2019, the FBI stated that hate crimes against the LGBTQIA+ community are increasing. People are getting beaten and even killed for being part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Did you ever hear about Brian Anderson from Detroit? Probably not. Well, let me tell you about him. Brian Anderson was killed at the age of 39 for being gay. What about Giovanni Melton? He was killed at the age of 14 by his own father because his father “didn’t want a gay son.” And his father was let off with house arrest. Or how about how some churches don’t accept you if you’re in a same sex relationship. Did you know that? Even though same sex marriage is legal, some churches still don't accept it. You may never realize how much the LGBTQ+ community is going through until you open a computer and do some research.  

Here is my question. Do people not know that everyone is equal? Do people not realize we’re in 2020? Same sex marriage became legal in 2015. That was FIVE years ago. How have people not come to the realization that they are the same as everyone else? Who someone loves doesn’t make them unequal to everyone else. You can love someone who loves girls, loves guys, loves both, loves anyone. IT SHOULDN'T CHANGE HOW PEOPLE VIEW YOU! Imagine if the roles were reversed. Imagine if people got beat up for loving someone of the opposite sex. Imagine if that person was you? What would you do? 

I decided to ask some people in the LGBTQ+ community and some who are not what their thoughts are on the hate the LGBTQ+ community faces. 

Love is Love board on Pride Flag Sarah Pflug from Burst “I think that it’s so disrespectful and hurtful to have such strong hatred towards the LGBTQ community. They aren’t different than anyone else and people should be able to love who they love without being harassed or judged. And this whole “coming out” process is both empowering and sad. People don’t have to “come out” as straight, so why should someone who is gay or bi or trans have to? And just because a woman likes other woman DOES NOT MEAN she will start hitting on her straight girl friends. The LGBTQ community has standards and just because they like the same gender doesn’t mean they like EVERYONE in that gender. If it doesn’t affect you, then why should you be so hateful? And yes, people have progressed greatly because it’s 2020 and there is more acceptance, but there is still prejudice and it just needs to stop because people aren’t going to change. It’s who they are so let them be.” (Emma, 18) 

 

“Being a openly gay feminine man, it can definitely be challenging going to class or work sometimes. Whether people show their biases explicitly or keep to themselves, the fact of the matter is there are times where I don’t feel safe walking down the street. I never hide who I am, nor do I try to see the other side of people’s bias. I always stay true to who I am because I believe that is how God intended for me to live my life. It is definitely challenging being an openly gay Catholic. I know the church does not support gay marriage, but I will always try and fight for it. I believe there is a necessity for the church’s precepts to be updated and for the church to develop. However, God only knows how long that will take. There is definitely a large difference when I tell someone by sexuality versus telling them about my gender identity. When I tell people I am gay, they don’t seem to have that much of an outward response to it. However, when I tell people I identify as a feminine and masculine, I have gotten some fairly disturbing responses. I don’t share my gender identity with my family, but I have been open about my sexuality. I think the biggest concern for me moving forward in life is my career. I have done thorough research about my field and how I can avoid conforming to typical heteronormative and gender roles in the field of teaching. Usually students call their teacher Mr., Mrs., Miss., or Ms. as a sign of respect. However, I do not feel comfortable with my students calling me Mr. Weisse. So, I conducted research about gender inclusive titles for educators. I found the title Mx. This is pronounced like the word “mix.” Using gender inclusive terminology in my classroom not only makes me feel more comfortable in my career, but it will also make my students feel welcome in the space. It is definitely not an easy route growing up gay and not conforming to gender roles, but I know this is my path and I am always ready to take on the day. Being gay and being a feminine man is not the only identifiable thing about me. I wish ignorant people would listen and understand that.” (Christian B. Weisse, 20) 

 

“I think it’s genuinely disgusting how much hate people can have for someone’s personal beliefs and thoughts.” (Mike,18) 

 

“Don’t ignore it just because it’s not happening to you.” (Abie, 18) 

 

“When I grew up, things were very different for the LGBTQ community. You went out to meet your friends and escape into your true world. When you grow up gay you learn to wear a mask and carry a heavy secret which eventually wears you down to the point of deep depression. I have witnessed and have had friends gay bashed/harassed, including my late husband for no reason other than being gay. This experience made me keep my secret to myself for years. When I did come out after I met my husband, I absolutely experienced very hurtful moments. Rejection from family members and close friends made me quickly find out who was important to me, and who wasn’t. I have had pure hatred moments happen to me professionally. Once, a co-worker had jumped onto my computer while I was out, read my personal email and then “outed” me at work. Of course, he immediately got fired, but my future at the company had now changed. I was in the front office, but I often went out back to manufacturing where I experienced terrible prejudice. Some good friends wouldn’t talk to me, others wouldn’t make eye contact. Most people did not care about me being gay, especially after I explained that this was not a choice, and I can’t pretend to be something I’m not. In my years there has been a wonderful acceptance in the community, but just 3 weeks ago there was a bashing right outside of a club in Boston for no reason other than guys being gay.  What I have observed is that sometimes when this happens, the attacker is gay themselves (in denial) or clearly has mental issues. A close childhood friend of mine was bullied constantly because he was very flamboyant and out there. This bully later came out as transgender. At the age of 50, I could care less what people think about me, but what I have experienced has made me a stronger person, impervious to hatred for just me myself.” (Paul, 50) 

“As a mom to a transgender son, I wish I could just wrap him up in bubble wrap and protect him from the harsh and sometimes cruel world we live in. Keep him safe and sound at home where he is loved for who he is not what he is. But that’s not realistic. Instead I choose to teach not just him but all my kids to be kind and tolerant to everyone. There undoubtably will come a time when he is discriminated against and I am confident he will handle it with grace. He is confident in who he is and that’s so awesome for me to see. I hope he will always be so confident. I think it’s sort of like when you’re teaching your kids to drive. You teach them all the rules of the road and you trust that they’re a good driver and will keep themselves safe. But what we can’t do is protect them from everyone else. We just have to trust and pray and hope that they will be safe. It’s not easy, but since he won’t let me wrap him in bubble wrap I guess that’s what we will have to do.” (Sherry, 48) 

 

“Everyday we wake up. Everyday we go to bed. Everyday we breathe. Everyday is just like every one else’s. But why does it have to be different? Why do people have to hate? Just because someone loves someone that may be the same gender as that person shouldn’t make them different. That just is love. LOVE IS LOVE. Who you love shouldn’t affect anyone else but yourself and that other person, and in some cases other people (polygamy relationship or religions where one can have multiple spouses). But at the end of the day I don’t understand why people hate the LGBTQ community SO MUCH. It’s terrible. There have been many times that I myself have been even bothered to just hold my fiancé’s hand in public walking down the street because of what others think and what could happen. I have tried to get over that fear by holding their hand. But I always find myself pulling away at times because some people we walk by I myself am afraid. With that being said, let me explain briefly that, we (the LGBTQIA community) live in such a scary and terrible time in US history. The current US presidential leader (if that’s what you can call him) I can’t. He’s a bully. He has made it so that we in the community have to fear again who we love and who we are. It’s just like before June 28, 1969. When the stonewall riots began! We have our places we think are safe. We have our good Judie’s and our sisters to always turn to for help and strength. But we never really know who really are “friends of Dorothy." It’s scary and anxiety filling, but always in the back of our minds we have to wonder, “Are we safe?” I fear every time I go out. After the attack at Pulse in Orlando, in the late hours of June 12, 2016, I always find myself looking for exits and very hyper vigilant about my surroundings because you can never really be too sure and too safe. I am so proud and so admirable of my sisters who can go out in public everyday or every night in drag and go to their gigs and face society. It makes me so happy to see them live their truth. And it helps me find strength in them. One queen I would really like to pay homage to is Yo-Yo of Providence, RI. May she rest in power now. But Yo-Yo was one of the most outspoken and brave queens the world has seen and it’s so sad she is gone. She fought for the community at every chance she had. She always spoke out on issues that she believed in and she believed were wrong. It was amazing. Drag queens and trans people have been some of the most powerful voices in the LGBTQIA community. Voices and people like RUPAUL, Laverne Cox, Peppermint. I find strength in their actions and words, wanting to always do more or donate to charities or causes that help keep their work for the community going. But it’s not just them it’s so many others that make me brave because they have paved the way for us in the coming generations to keep the road going for who is to come. Now, don’t get me wrong it’s not just drag queens and trans people it’s a fight for EVERYONE to join. The last letter A, in LGBTQIA+ I always recognize as ALLY. And sometimes they are the ones we love most or find comfort in because it’s an outside source and someone who accepts us for who we are. Sometimes a mom, a dad, an aunt or uncle, cousin, brother, sister, teacher, anyone who doesn’t identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. I love my ally friends and family. They are some of the best people that have come into my life and shown me strength in ways I hope I can repay them for. Without their love and support, I wouldn’t be able to be who I am because they have shown me comfort when I have been myself. And that feeling is amazing. In conclusion the hate we receive is terrible. But! Always love conquers hate. And we will always be here. “The lgbtqia IS HERE. WE'RE QUEER. SO GET USED TO IT!!” Because just like history has shown, no matter how much hate we have coming at us right in the face, we always fight back and rise like a phoenix shining brighter and showing we are bigger than hate. Because hate is not ok!  Lemme leave you with a great quote from a very famous song

“You may say I'm a dreamer  But I'm not the only one  I hope some day you'll join us  And the world will be as one” ” (@SG, 25) “I have struggled with my sexuality for the majority of my adolescent and adult life. When I was a teenager I knew I was different. I was attracted to both boys and girls. I didn't have anyone in my personal orbit to confide in or talk about this with. Eventually, after a year in college I finally labeled myself as bisexual. It was the best term I knew to identify what I was feeling. My first “coming out” was less than ideal. My parents cried, my mom denied it totally, and worst of all we never discussed it again; apart from my mom stating she knows deep down I’m not gay. This caused me to suppress this part of who I was, try to conform, and live life as a straight man. It worked, for a while. I found a woman who I genuinely fell in love with and thought I would be happy spending the rest of my life with. I was open, as I always have been, about my sexuality. She accepted me for who I was, What could be better. We ended up getting married 3 years later. It became very clear that neither of us were happy with our relationship and everything that went into making it work. We decided to separate 2.5 years after getting married. I fell in love with Mike immediately after we met. We had a chemistry that was palpable. We clicked instantly and just got each other. On our first date I experienced my first overt hatred. We were on a bench at Natant beach eating lobster rolls. I had my arm over his shoulder and we were just talking. An elderly man walked by with his dog, looked at us and said “That's disgusting” while walking away. I was in shock, I did reply with “I’m just sorry you cannot be this happy with someone.” He did not reply. Luckily for us this is the only overt example of hate we have experienced as a couple. Hate and the fear of hate, however is a daily struggle for both me and Mike. Mike and I both work with the public and in a professional environment. I consciously use gender neutral words when describing my spouse so I don't have to deal with any negativity that may come my way when “outing” myself to people at my work. The vast majority automatically assume my significant other is female. I don't correct them most of the time unless its a colleague. It's not worth the debate, argument, and fallout that MAY come from outing myself at work. Traveling has been just as challenging. Mike and I travel frequently and have to be conscious of where we are traveling to in and outside the USA. There are many countries we would like to visit, however cannot because we are gay. Traveling throughout the US has its challenges as well. There are many places in the US that, while its not illegal to be gay, you are definitely treated differently. We recently moved from the North shore of Massachusetts. When trying to decide where to move we looked at states and their LGBTQ+ legislation as one of our factors. The vast majority of states have some type of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation actively on the books. Even employers being able to fire for their sexual orientation. It severely limited our options for relocation. Our sexual orientation is always something we have to factor in when making any travel decisions. When I finally came out as gay (more like queer, it's a constant struggle) in 2016, I was accepted by my family and the majority of my friends; I lost a few. Losing friends just means they weren't true friends to begin with. I am lucky enough to have found a significant other who loves me for me. We have come very far in our acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, we still have a long way to go though. There is a lot of hate in the community itself. Most is due to ignorance and lack of education of all the different factions. We need leaders that promote acceptance (not just tolerance) of all members of our community and allies from every group so we can educate non LGBTQ+ individuals. We as a society will eventually make progress so “coming out” won't be necessary and being queer with be as normal and accepted as being straight. One can hope anyway.” (Craig L. 34 Las Vegas, NV) 

One man with Pride flag, other man hugging him Samantha Hurley from Burst These quotes are coming from people who have experienced the hate the LGBTQIA+ community receives. It doesn’t just happen on TV shows and in movies. This is a real-life issue and we need to make a change.