“We will not shrink away, we will not be stuck in our homes, we will not go back into closets.” – Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garrett, speaking at LA Pride regarding the arrest of a man who had an arsenal of weapons near the parade
Over the past few days, I’ve had time to process the events in Orlando, and it still makes me sick to think that if I was still living in North Florida, I could have just as easily been one of those victims. When the details started to emerge, I started to evaluate my own situation. Should I remove the “I’m so gay, I can’t even drive straight” license plate frame from my car? Was I unnecessarily putting myself in harms way?
And should I be thinking about my “hey, I’m gay in case you couldn’t tell” posts on social media?
This “concern” lasted for about 5 minutes. Then, I realized that I had been trying to “protect” myself for nearly 23 years by pretending to be someone I wasn’t. I refuse to do that again, and no amount of terrorism, intimidation of social pressure is going to change that. At this point, I am in a “take it or leave it” mode in my life.
As I processed what I was seeing on CNN, I was reminded that life in other countries can be more harsh – even deadly – for people who are “different.” Nothing proves this theory more than a television docuseries that my brother, Keith, turned me onto. Vice, the website and magazine senonymous with documentary content and unique perspectives, recently teamed with A+E Networks to launch a new television network called Viceland.
One of the first original series that Viceland premiered was one called Gaycation, featuring gay actress and LGBT activist Ellen Page and her gay best friend, Ian Daniel. The show’s premise is pretty simple: they go to different countries to experience what it’s like to be gay. Here’s a promo video to explain it better than I probably just did.
As a gay person myself, I was both surprised and shocked watching this show. I was surprised because I had heard stories about what it’s like to be gay around the world, but I had never actually seen it from a gay person’s perspective. And I was shocked because things are much worse in other places than here, where we continue to be the most free place on earth when it comes to our ability – and willingness – to be ourselves.
So far, the show has gone to Japan, Brazil and Jamaica. They’ve also gone to Iowa and New York City.
I was most horrified watching the episode set in Brazil. There, Ellen and Ian agree to an interview with a Brazilian cop who openly hates gay people and has admitted to killing them (in the full episode below, it starts around 35:24).
To know this type of hate exists in the world is one thing, but it’s something completely different to hear, see and feel the hatred from someone standing right in front of you.
If you get an opportunity, watch this show. If you’re an LGBT ally, it will remind you what we fight for every day. If you’re a hater – or someone on the fence about gay people – hopefully it will make you realize that the hatred you hold in your heart can (and does) literally kill people.
Bottom line: I’m human. If you shoot me in a gay bar, I will bleed. If you beat me with with a bat, I will bruise. If you tie me to a fence post, I will starve. But I will never stop being me.
If you take one thing from this post, let it be this.