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My Secret

by Kevin

I’m going to share a secret with you. It’s something I’m not very comfortable sharing. But it’s a secret that I feel may help someone. It may make someone feel like they’re not alone. It may help someone see the other side. But first, I have a few things to say.

First, I want to say I’m sad. I want to say I’m angry. But the fact of the matter is, there aren’t words to describe how I feel. What I see happening to and in this country that I was raised to love. I’m at a loss for words.  And the worst part – I don’t see enough people outside of the gay community being outraged about the Orlando mass shooting tragedy.  When the shooting happened in France, close to everyone switched their profile photos on Facebook to reflect the French flag.  This Orlando massacre happened, and it was on the news for a couple days and has now just fizzled out with a couple mentions here and there.  How many of my Facebook friends changed their profiles to “We are Orlando?” Not many.  Now maybe that’s because it wasn’t promoted well enough.  Maybe that’s because they thought “We are Orlando” was just a slogan for gay and lesbian people. But I don’t think that’s it.

Now, just DAYS after making a false show of solidarity, the HOUSE GOPs blocked a bill that would protect LGBT people working on jobs with government contracts from being fired just for being gay.

Society is the problem.  Hate is so rampant in the world today.  Preachers are coming out and saying “gays deserve to die.”   In our country we talk non-stop about ISIS hating America, when we, as Americans, hate each other.  We have hate crimes against people of different religions, sexual orientations, and beliefs.  We want to make everyone else’s business our own.  We want to stop people who aren’t like us from living their lives freely.

Our own (gay) community excludes each other and puts each other down — personals reading no fats, no fems, no Asians, no blacks, no skinny, no this, no that. As a gay, you’re put into “groups” — you’re a twink, a jock, a gaybro, an otter, a bear, etc.  The rest of “normal” society shaming people for being gay, too fat, too thin, slutty, poor, rich, or whatever else.  The lack of respect because someone is a different religion, or color, or class.  It needs to stop.  People need to start respecting and loving each other’s differences.

So what’s my secret?

I, regardless of how well I hide it, am uncomfortable every day of my life in some way, shape or form. And I’d bet a lot of gay people are the same way.

We grow up in a world where we’ve been bombarded with homophobic comments our entire life, from the time we are young.  On a daily basis we hear “that’s so gay,”  reminding us that “gay” is a bad thing.  “Faggot” is still yelled at people as they walk down the street even in progressive cities.  Even currently, in a country that just FINALLY allowed us to marry the person we love, there are people working to put discrimination into law. In a lot of states, it’s still OK to fire someone for being gay! (see comment above about the bill that was blocked yesterday)

We try and be family-oriented, but we don’t know how to be – not to the full extent we could be. As gay people, our families, when we are lucky, accept us and embrace us. And though we try to be there, deep down inside we can never be fully comfortable, we can never really be our true selves. We hesitate to bring dates back to our parents’ houses.  We go to the houses of our partners’ families for holidays and feel uncomfortable.  When we are alone, we are as good of a son, daughter, brother, sister, etc, as we can be, but hesitate to talk about certain aspects of our lives because somehow we are uncomfortable, or for fear of making people we we love uncomfortable.

As irrational as it is, we don’t want to burden our families with our lives.  We don’t want to force them into accepting something they aren’t totally comfortable with.  And it’s probably in our own heads that we believe they aren’t comfortable, but that’s how many feel.  We wonder what our families would think of us if they just met us out on the street and weren’t forced into loving us through blood. Plus we are afraid to offend/let down/embarrass our families. Should we feel this way? NO! Of course not. But we do. We want to be “normal” for them. We don’t want to “throw our lifestyle” in their faces. Now, that scenario is just for the luckiest of us.

Others have it much worse.  Kids are disowned, thrown out or even physically harmed when their parents find out they are gay.

Did you know? Suicide is the leading cause of death among LGBT youth nationally.  Gays and Lesbians are two to six times more likely to commit suicide than heterosexuals.  Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one quarter report having made a suicide attempt.  LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection. We live in a society that unconsciously damaged people simply for being who they are. Here’s something else to consider…Each episode of LGBT victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average. And for those that don’t harm themselves, according to FBI statistics, LBGT people are more likely to targets of hate crimes than any other group.  – *All statistics listed with sources at bottom

So we run to our friends. And it’s really not fair. It’s not fair to us or our families. But we do. And the reason is a lifetime of fear. Years of contemplating “Am I really gay?” “If I come out, what will my family think?” “What if I disappoint the people I love?” ” What if the people I love abandon me?” Some of us (myself included) are lucky enough to have families that none of those negative answers or thoughts would ever be true. But we can’t fully believe it. We can never let our guard down. We can never be who we truly are. So family gatherings are never “normal.”  While everyone else sits close to their loved one, holds hands, or gives a little peck on the cheek, we make sure that we don’t sit too close to our partner, or we may even sit on a different couch.  We don’t  show our partner affection in front of our own family.  And it’s a loss for everyone.

And this is why the gay community leans on our friends so heavily.  Our friends aren’t required to be our friends. They have found us and accept us for who we are. They have chosen us, and we have chosen them.  And through the years, the friend pool grows smaller and smaller, but tighter and tighter.

So for those who haven’t walked a mile in those shoes, how could you fully understand.  In high school, I would flirt with boys in such an outlandish way that it would look like I was making fun of gay people, just so I could have the rush of talking to another guy in the same way my guy friends would talk to girls. So where do we meet people? We go online, or to gay bars so we can feel comfortable in our surrounding. We want to meet people without being afraid that they may be straight and end up getting mad or worse because we hit on them. I was so afraid to tell my  parents that I was gay, instead of doing so, they had to find out through a note I accidentally left out when I was getting ready to shower. I was too afraid to tell my awesome brother why my parents were so upset and acting so weird (it was noticeable to him), so I asked his wife to tell him I was gay. These are the struggles “normal” people don’t have to deal with.  Now everyone has struggles…and as gay and lesbian people, we have ALL of those normal struggles, PLUS these on top.

Now all of this is just about growing up and realizing you’re gay. What if you grew up and realized through your whole life, you’ve always felt like you were born the wrong gender? I can’t put myself in those shoes, but I imagine it’s even harder. I can’t fathom the internal thoughts you must go through. Preparing to tell your parents that their little boy that they raised and loved wants to be a girl, or vice versa. Thinking about the pain you’re going to cause, because our society says their child is a freak if they feel that way. My god, the pain these people must experience in their life. And a huge chunk of our society wants to pass laws to make their lives even harder?!

If you didn’t grow up being taught that everything you are deep down inside is wrong, how can you right to judge. Maybe this youngest generation right now will feel accepted and happy with who they are, but many of us who are in our late 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s… who grew up in the most accepting families with the most loving friends will never, ever, ever feel completely comfortable.

So yes, when you tell people they can’t marry the person they love, you are doing more damage than you know. When you tell a transgendered woman (read: WOMAN, because that’s what she is…a WOMAN) that she can’t use a bathroom, you are causing more pain than you know. When you tell a teenager “Your god doesn’t love gay people” or worse “If you’re gay, you will burn in hell.” You are doing irreparable damage. To be told by your teacher (a gay priest) “it’s OK to be gay so long as you never act on it.” makes you hate the church and question if you even believe in this hateful god that never wants you to find love.

It’s everything above that make us go to gay bars.  These are the things that have us go to pride parades.  Society has made us feel unsafe, uncomfortable, and like outcasts in our every day lives.  If we “look gay” we may be assaulted walking down the street.  (you can even be the victim of this if you’re straight and someone thinks you “look gay”) If we hit on the wrong person, we could be beaten or killed.  If we hold hands in public, or exchange a kiss to say goodbye we may be harrased at or assaulted.

And now, with 100 innocent people killed and injured in a place they were pushed by society to go to – a place they went to have fun with their friends and feel safe. I have no words.

If you would like to stop seeing the people you love in pain, you need to help and stop staying silent!  I have decided I’m not being silent about this any more.  This is not a taboo issue.  This is my life.  This is the life of the people you love and care about.  We NEED our straight friends, & our straight family members to not just be accepting, but STEP UP!  When you hear another friend making homophobic remarks, don’t ignore it or worse, laugh.  Let them know you don’t appreciate it or think it’s funny.  When you co-worker is ranting about “trannies” being able to use the bathroom, engage with them and in a peaceful, thoughtful way, try and help them realize the problem they are creating.  IF A GAY BAR IS THE VICTIM OF OUR NATIONS LARGEST MASS SHOOTING, GO TO A VIGIL AND SHOW THE MEDIA AND YOUR FELLOW AMERICANS THAT YOU CARE.  Why weren’t there two or three or 10 times more people at these vigils for these poor young people that were killed and injured?  The answer is simple.  They were gay. And in our society, as far as we’ve come, gays are still SECOND CLASS CITIZENS.

So, if you think transgendered women (read: women) should use the men’s room or a bush outside, if you think Donald Trump with all the hate that he encourages is our next best president; if you think gays shouldn’t be allowed to get married; if you think gays are going to hell (and you feel the need to tell them so); if you think gays shouldn’t be allowed to be Boy Scouts or serve in the military; if you think Obama is trying to take your guns; if you don’t understand why you shouldn’t be allowed, as a civilian, to buy semi-automatic rifles and assault rifles that hold 30+ rounds; if you think all Muslims are extremist and should be banned from our country or worse, THIS ATTITUDE IS THE PROBLEM.  And if you sit around and listen to people rant about these things without engaging with them and at least say “have you ever considered this?”  Well that’s not helping progress or change either.

So I beg you – my friends, family and anyone else reading this.  Share my article. Talk to your friends and family. Help us change.  Help make the world a better place.  The more hate we eliminate, the better this world will be.  And it’s not just homophobia.  Let’s start speaking up about racism, sexism, ageism, sectarianism, nationalism, etc.  A world with hate will never be a better place. The level of angst and ager this shooter had does not come from a loving society. And VOTE. Turn up and VOTE AGAINST LAWS THAT TARGET MINORITIES that are based out of fear.  VOTE FOR LAWS that protect people’s rights as humans.  GET RID OF THESE SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES THAT PASS DISCRIMINATORY BILLS AND BLOCK BILLS PROTECTING PEOPLE AND EXTENDING THEM BASIC RIGHTS.  It’s time for change.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

Author Unknown

– Author unknown

May the victims of this terrible tragedy rest in piece, and the survivors recover from both their physical and mental wounds.

Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24.

• Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24. [1]

• LGB youth are 4 times more likely, and questioning youth are 3 times more likely, to attempt suicide as their straight peers. [2]

• Suicide attempts by LGB youth and questioning youth are 4 to 6 times more likely to result in injury, poisoning, or overdose that requires treatment from a doctor or nurse, compared to their straight peers. [3]

• Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one quarter report having made a suicide attempt. [4]

• LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection. [5]

• 1 out of 6 students nationwide (grades 9-12) seriously considered suicide in the past year. [6]

• Each episode of LGBT victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average. [7]

SOURCES:
[1] CDC, NCIPC. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. (2010) {2013 Aug. 1}.  Available from:www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars. 

[2] CDC. (2011). Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Risk Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12: Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

[3] CDC. (2011). Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Risk Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12: Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

[4] Grossman, A.H. & D’Augelli, A.R. (2007). Transgender Youth and Life-Threatening Behaviors. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behaviors.37(5), 527-37.

[5] Family Acceptance Project™. (2009). Family rejection as a predictor of negative health outcomes in white and Latino lesbian, gay, and bisexual young adults. Pediatrics. 123(1), 346-52.

[6] CDC. (2011). Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance – United States, 2011. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

[7] IMPACT. (2010). Mental health disorders, psychological distress, and suicidality in a diverse sample of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youths. American Journal of Public Health. 100(12), 2426-32.

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