Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hop Against Homophobia




It's no secret that homophobia is an issue close to my heart, so I decided to participate in the Hop Against Homophobia.

I grew up queer in the South. I can remember sitting around the lunch table at my grandmother's house (my father's mother), good Christian woman that she was, and listening to her talk about "the colored" family down the street, or listening to my uncle John, my father's brother, make jokes about gay people. One of his favorites to tell was two gay guys pick up a hitch hiker. They fart a lot, and their farts don't make noise, and finally the hitch hiker farts, and it makes a noise, and the gay guys shout "we got us a virgin!!!" ::deadpan:: Yeah.

So, it should be no surprise that I spent a great deal of my life in the closet. That didn't stop people from just assuming I was gay. In junior high someone spray-painted "faggot" on my locker. After graduation, when I was living on my own, someone slashed my tires *in* my driveway after I'd brought a woman home (I was living as a woman then).

One of the guys I went to high school with was out and proud and very loud about his sexual orientation. At the time, I thought he was nuts. He got beat up weekly - something no one in the school management seemed to care about. Once he was beaten so badly he ended up in the hospital. I mean, this went on for the entire four years he was at school. NO ONE did anything about it. The boys who started it were never punished. The school took the attitude that if my friend was going to be disruptive, he deserved what he got. In any event, I asked him one day, why he didn't just conform. Just for his own personal safety. Just until he was out of high school. Just stop...acting gay. After all, no one could take away who he was on the inside. He would still be gay. Just not bruised and bloody all the time. He just shrugged and said none of it mattered, as long as he was true to himself.

He's a successful business man at an ad agency and in a committed relationship of over ten years, raising his drug-addicted, and, ironically heterosexual, sister's child. I say ironically because she was always the star of his family growing up. She was the one who was supposed to go far. You know, because she was straight.

After I finally came out, my mother used to say things like "I don't want this to hamper you," about my being queer. The rest of my family didn't have much to say - they all just quietly disowned me.

I still deal with veiled homophobia from a lot of sources. My mother in law is "glad" I don't use the "family name" for my GLBTQ writing. It's not the fact that I write romance that she cares about - she reads tons and tons of heterosexual smut - it's the fact that I write *gay* romance.  My boss claims to be  GLBTQ friendly but frequently makes hateful comments. Hell, my best friend from growing up still uses the phrase "that's so gay."

But on the flip side of that, is my husband. Thirteen years ago, if you had told my straighter than straight husband that he'd one day be married to a man,  he'd have asked you what you were smoking. He's never been a homophobe, but he's always considered himself straight. We met in 1999. We  married in 2003. I came out as transgender in 2009. It's been a long, rough road, but the one constant in my life has been him. His perceptions of life and people have changed dramatically. Little things he'd once have brushed off, like his cousin using the phrase "ass pirate," are now things that anger him. He never hated anyone, but he never realized how much hate was out there until it was in his face.

Also on the flip side of that, is a woman I used to work with. She was in her late 60s when we worked together, and I was pretty much the first queer person she'd had a chance to be around day in and day out. Her beliefs, when we first met, were right along the lines of what I'd grown up with. But the more she knew me, the more she spent time with me, the more I challenged her conceptions. I didn't do it actively. I didn't go up to her and get in her face. I just existed. I did good things. I respected people - I even respected her right to not entirely like me. And I didn't try to convert anyone to the "dark side." One day, she started paying attention to our clients, a lot of whom are gay. And she said it occurred to her to think, "Where are all these gay people coming from? they weren't around when I was growing up. What's going on?" So, she talked to some friends about it. Her friends revealed that "Well, so and so is gay. Talk to him." Someone she'd grown up with was GAY?? She got in touch with him, and after talking to him, she realized what his life had been like - strictly closeted out of fear growing up, unable to share stories about the man he loved, unable to be seen publicly together, unable to share holidays and birthdays. Unable to be at the hospital as his beloved slipped away and died after a car crash in his thirties. She came to me one day and told me all of this, and then she hugged me, and she said, "No one had the right to keep those men apart. Not at the end, not at the beginning. No one has the right to make anyone feel less than human."

Though I'll rally against them till the day I die, I'm actually kind of glad for the bigots and the homophobes in my life. They've made me appreciate the open-minded people all the more. And they've made me cherish the small victories. Because that's how change happens - one small victory at a time.

And now for my "prize" offering. :-)

Leave a comment below with your e-mail, and I'll pick a random winner at the end of the hop. That winner will have a $50 donation made to The Trevor Project in their name.

Good luck! :-)














55 comments:

  1. Beautiful post that brought tears to my eyes. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ::hugs:: Thank *you* for reading it! :-)

      Delete
  2. Thank you for sharing your story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by to read it, Andrea! :-)

      Delete
  3. First "hop" I've made. An amazing story. wow. very moving.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Wade! Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words! :-)

      Delete
  4. Love should always triumph over hate and I believe it always will.

    kimberlyFDR@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish more people understood that thought process! Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  5. What a wonderfully appropriate prize! You are so cool!

    Hugs,
    Donna

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ::hugs:: You're biased, my dear. But thank you anyhow! And thank you for stopping by!

      Delete
  6. You are amazing, DC. Like I have said before, phobia is all about fear of the unknown. If we make our presence known in an open and non-frightening way to people who don't understand, we can make a difference. Just by being the average 'guy I work with' makes a big difference.

    ~smooches~

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ::smooches back:: You're biased too, but that's okay. :-) I think that's the key - just being ourselves. Showing people that "the gay" isn't anything to be feared. We're just people. Just like them.

      Delete
  7. Thanks for sharing your story and for donating such a great prize

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by, Danny! :-)

      Delete
  8. Wow. Thanks for sharing your story.
    Barb

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Barb! Thanks for stopping by and commenting! :-)

      Delete
  9. Thanks for sharing your story :) So glad i still had the tissue box next to me from a few blogs ago, i got a bit teary eyed. (((hugs))) Thanks for offering such a wonderful prize!

    raynman1979 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rissa! There've been a lot of tearjerkers in this hop, haven't there? LOL Thanks for stopping by to read my post! I appreciate it!

      Delete
  10. Danny...you know how much I have adored you from day one, and this post makes me love you even more. A rough life, led to love, and success. And what's better than that? You're a strong person.

    Hugs!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ::big hugs:: Hey hon! Thanks so much for stopping by! I'm honored to share in the hop with you, and so thrilled to have met you!

      Delete
  11. Wow! What a story. Thank you for sharing.

    morris.crissy@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for stopping by to read it, Crissy!

      Delete
  12. Thank you for sharing this with us today

    musings-of-a-bookworm@hotmail.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by to read my post, Kerry!

      Delete
  13. Great story and I'm glad you have your husband's support and I love how hearing the older lady came around sometimes it really can happen that way. Sorry about your family but are we surprised, sometimes family can be worse than anyone.

    melita332002@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ::hugs:: Hi hon! Thank you for stopping by! I wish it happened that way more often, for more people. And yeah, my family's reaction was definitely not surprising, in hindsight.

      Delete
  14. That was a very moving story! Thanks
    Yvette
    yratpatrol@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for stopping by Yvette!

      Delete
  15. Thanks for sharing. Great post!

    gisu29(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  16. Always a pleasure to read your words! *hugs*

    sionedkla@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ::hugs back:: Thank you so much, Kassandra!

      Delete
  17. REally enjoyed the post. Thank you so much. *hugs* Tara

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ::hugs back:: Thank you for stopping by, Tara!

      Delete
  18. Thank you for sharing your story. People just don't realize the wonderful relationships they miss out on by being such bigots.

    suz2(at)cox(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Susan! I agree - so many people have closed hearts and really miss out on personal growth and wonderful people. I feel sad for them.

      Delete
  19. Thanks for that post. It's beautiful that people can be brought around just by someone being there and being a positive example, disproving those negative stereotypes. Wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by, Ley! You know, before I met her, I never really thought about being an example, or how people would view me as a queer individual. It never occurred to me that I could change a mind, but I'm so glad I was able to.

      Delete
  20. What a great story about one woman's turnaround! Now let's get to work on the rest of the world.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thanks for sharing your story. And I love the prize you're giving in the name of the winner :)

    penumbrareads(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  22. Super, heartbreaking and heartwarming post, DC. And what a fantastic prize! You're a star.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thank you for sharing your story. Being different in the South can be hard. As a lesbian in Alabama, I understand homophobia. I'm so grateful for the supportive family and friends my partner and I have had through the last twenty-three years. My parents don't understand my life but they support me and my mother played an important role in helping me survive infertility and conceive our son. Ten years ago, my sister and her husband separated and both came out. I believe that my coming out years earlier and my family's exposure to my life made it easier for my sister. At a family celebration a year ago, my son pointed out that of the five couples present, four were gay. He has no idea how unusual our family is.
    Changing the subject, I want to apologize to you. Several weeks ago I won your goodie bag on the Cupoporn.net site. Everything was a hit and I had fun sharing with my family and friends. Thanks so much.

    ReplyDelete
  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thank you for sharing your story and for your generosity.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Thank you so much for sharing that *hugs*. It's wonderful that the woman overcame her ignorance and is now accepting. She's right, no one had should have had the right to keep them apart.

    That joke your uncle used to say, it's funny that I actually heard that joke in Iceland - in Icelandic - many years ago. I don't find the joke itself funny, just that it traveled all the way over here and got translated. It was told to me in an "effeminate" voice, to emphases the "gayness". I was too young and clueless to wonder about it then, but I'd have a thing or two to say about it today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah jeez, I always get so wrapped up in my comments that I forget to leave my email address. I'd LOVE to win that prize! It's a wonderful idea.

      eripike at gmail dot com

      Delete
  27. That was bloody beautiful, it bought tears to the eyes I think I love your hubs too. Thank you for sharing this with is and for participating.

    normanilesen@bigpond.com

    ReplyDelete
  28. Thank you for sharing your story. The donation is a great idea and I loved to have my name associated with it:)

    debi01760@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  29. You made me cry with this one. Beautiful and touching and an absolutely amazing prize. Thank you.
    diannewrites2(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thanks for sharing your story. Glad you've found someone special to share your life with! And very glad your high school friend was able to get through that hell and do well in his life!

    lina7391(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  31. Thank you for sharing your story, it was very touching.

    peggy1984@live.com

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hi Danny, There was no doubt in my mind that you would be among all the wonderful authors who are in the trenches to win the war on Homophobia. Huge hugs and love!''

    lena.grey.iam@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  33. What an amazing giveaway! How awful to not be permitted to be with your loved ones as they are dying. I want to thank all the people have brought about change and I hope for more change in the future. I hope to when day attend the wedding of 2 of my friends in my state. My state doesn't allow it yet but I'm praying they will soon.

    beckerjo at verizon dot net

    ReplyDelete
  34. Good gracious you had me crying with the story! I'm so glad you remained strong throughout your upbringing. I'm also glad you found a man who fell in love with the person, not the gender because what's inside us all is what counts, not the shell that is with us for such a short period of time.
    Live Long and Live Strong DC!
    Thanks for participating in Hop and for the wonderful gift you're giving The Trevor Project!
    Sandra Rush
    taina1959@yahoo.com
    http://enchantedrosegarden.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete