Updated: Jul 18, 2019
Her face lingers in front of me sometimes, although she apologized a year ago. I've spent a decade with her face dancing before my eyes. She had told me my mother and I deserved to die, deserved to go to Hell with the sincerest of convictions.
She used to be my friend and I never felt more betrayed. We lived on the same floor of a residence hall during undergrad and she had known I was gay from the start.
I remember standing in her room with a friend of ours and we we're chatting. The sun was streaming through the window and we were in high spirits. She was at her mirror getting ready, our friend sat on her bed, and all conversation ceased as her comment flowed effortlessly from her mouth. I remember shock. Confusion. Anger. Betrayal. Who wishes that on somebody? And so late in the game?
Last year, she contacted me over Facebook messenger. It was unexpected, because I stopped talking to her after that day and it has been years. She stated she no longer held those beliefs and has since become a LGBT+ advocate. However, she remembered my face as she said those painful words and she remembered my disappearance from her life. My face of shock, hurt, and horror. It took a while for the magnitude of her words to sink in.
It was healing to receive that apology because it does not happen enough, but the wound still likes there. Built and dug by our culture that promotes that kind of hatred. The kind that seeks and destroys anyone who doesn't fit the mold. It's continuously nouroshed by our ever treacherous political climate that promotes and encourages the continued scarring of disconnection through fear and misunderstanding.
The words of deserving death and He'll continue to ring in my ears as it is still preached by others to the day. Just turn on the news. Those words undermined my mother and me as human beings. Our right to live and coexist on this planet. Our right to enjoy the world and what it has to offer. To bask in the glory of connection and love. Those words reinforced a shame that seems to be almost built into the identity of LGBT+. It's taken years to build an armor that protects my confidence in who I am. I have learned that the "built-in" shame kept me, and possibly others, safe during times of uncertainty (people and places), but it was never an emotion to hold onto. Merely to let go and move forward with perserverance.
If you're reading this and are carrying the burden of shame, you deserve the right to stand tall. To lift your head in triumph of who you are. Love is love. It is one of the purest connections on this planet that makes life worth living.
If you're reading this and are currently not a supporter, I love you anyway. Judgements and hatred will only weigh you down and it is your choice to carry them. One day I hope you set them down and are able to embrace some amazing people you've been missing out on.
Happy Pride Month