Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Letting the ugliness go
A few weeks ago some of my friends went to hear Janet Mock speak in southern California. I had never heard of her but instantly became interested as my friends wrote about being changed by meeting her. Janet is a trans woman and I am reading her book "Redefining Realness".
A quote on the cover says "You will be changed by the book".
I am only in the first few pages. As she discusses seeing trans women out and about (before she came out as trans) she writes "They were dismissed and dehumanized, which made an overwhelming majority of them vulnerable to the harshest treatment, exclusion, discrimination, and violence."
She is writing about trans women but those lines hit me hard.
The man I am today is not the man I have always been. While reading this I was jolted back to the days when my life was what Janet was writing about. Not as a trans woman but as a closeted gay man struggling to come out.
Experiencing unkindness and serious hatred from those in my inner circle and even family members. Not knowing how someone would react, especially when thinking that all would be OK because this person or that person loves me so much.
At 21 being in the middle of the ocean on a US Navy ship and being called faggot, with nowhere to go. The idea that people would be violent towards me was one that took me a long time to get used to. I just could not understand it. At first.
Of course the self-imposed hate and shame are the worst. Yet as I struggled through coming out, I kept being in awe about how hateful human beings could be. And at this point of my story it wasn't the hate and unkindness from strangers, but from people who knew me.
As I kept reading the words that Janet so perfectly wrote, my eyes filled with tears remembering the unkindness. Wanting so badly for my family members to just love me, regardless of what they felt about gayness. Wanting friends in the Navy who knew me so well, knew me as a good person and a good sailor, to take back the hateful words.
It took a long time to let the ugliness go.
As a gay, vegan blogger I get to experience the ugliness of hate and unkindness a lot. These days it doesn't bother me. Those who perpetuate hate and violence and unkindness towards anyone are small people, cowards actually. They are most likely dealing with their own demons. And their pathetic use of anti-gay slurs or threatened violence are sad attempts to break out of whatever crap is going on in their own lives. Don't get me wrong, I call anyone on their bullshit bigotry, but them being a bigot has much less affect on me than it did those many years ago as I was struggling.
(Except when they try to legalize their bigotry. That's a different story!)
Still reading "Redefining Realness". And today I say thank you, with a heart filled with love, gratitude, compassion and passion, to all of those who stood by me in those darkest of days and to all of those who have stood by me and loved me and been a part of my incredible journey ever since.
Thank you for reading.