The horrific and unfathomable events that occurred recently in Orlando have shaken not only the LGBQT community but people from different cultures and religions around the world. Regardless of gender, sexual preference, skin color, culture or faith, human beings have a few things in common, one of them being fear. Fear incites the same reactions globally as it triggers the innate instinct of flight or fight. We either retreat in doubt of our safety or wellbeing or we stand up, band together and raise our voices, determined not to be oppressed by hatred or ignorance. What incites another human being to be so afraid of something that their fear turns into hatred so deep, a vile act like the Orlando tragedy can happen? That is a question we may never know the true answer for, all we can do is speculate based on the media and our personal biases. For me personally, I choose not to give the perpetrator another thought, as he simply is not worth the mind space that could be projecting love to the survivors and families of the deceased.
I was asked a question recently which was the prompt for this blog; “Am I scared for my life to be openly gay now” which then prompted me to think about not only that, but fear itself. First off, to answer the question… absolutely not! If anything this tragedy has infuriated me to raise my voice louder and speak for the souls that can no longer do so. I was initially hesitant about attending Toronto Pride due to the sheer numbers in attendance however, I will not change who I am, nor be silenced by anyone, strangers or family alike. I am who I am, regardless of what label you want to place on me and if you can’t accept that, you probably are already out of my life. As for being fearful for my life because of my openness, well that would involve being afraid to die, which I am not. When you spend the majority of your life with suicidal thoughts, the comfort of death outweighs the sense of fear the average person may have. For me, death is just a part of the life cycle and although there are ways of dying that scare me, the end result does not.
I have never had any fear of living an openly gay lifestyle as I am blessed to live in a multicultural country that is accepting of all people. We can legally marry, receive spousal insurance benefits and have the same rights as any other Canadian. That is not to say that everyone approves, there will always be haters but the greater percentage of the population believes in equal rights. The LGBQT communities here face less outward discrimination than is seen in many other countries, enabling a sense of freedom and creating a true sense of kinship.
The only true discrimination I have faced since “coming out” (funny I don’t recall I time I lived in a closet) was not from strangers, or even haters but from my family instead. After 25 years, my father has finally decided it is no longer a phase; my deceased mothers sister left me and my partner at the time standing on the front lawn rather than inviting us in the house, (They might get “the gay”, as if it is contagious) and my cousins on that side have not spoken to me in 23 years for the simple reason of being narrow minded. So basically, aside from two people, my entire family has cast me as the “lesbian black sheep”, which at first was extremely hurtful. Was I not the same person as I was five minutes before the words left my mouth? I certainly did not judge them for whatever goes on in their marriage and bedroom, which quite frankly is none of my business, as my sexual preference should not be theirs, and after a year or so trying to educate them and de-stigmatize the word “gay”, I gave up.
You cannot teach people who are not willing to learn. To learn, one needs an open mind, and to have an open mind, one needs to choose not to be ignorant, and that is just not teachable.