Last night, I had the privilege of attending my first same sex wedding. Before the ceremony started, I could already feel tears starting to well up in my eyes. I’ll admit now that, that’s pretty normal for me. I’m a crier, I like to cry, and I pretty much cry at any thing. Need a stranger to cry at your wedding/social event/birthday? I’m your girl.
While the tears were there because of how big of a sap I am, they were also there because of the immense pride and happiness I felt for my two friends. The Supreme Court in the US ruled in favor of same sex marriage just under a year ago, a day that I celebrated, and you guessed it, cried during. So it was a dream come true to be in Texas, celebrating the LEGAL marriage of two handsome grooms. While at the wedding, I jokingly looked over at my girlfriend and said “I can dance with you here, and no one’s going to care!” Though I said it in jest, I meant it.
Fast forward a few hours and multiple alcoholic beverages, we find ourselves in a nightclub, known for its dancing, eclectic crowd, and themed nights. Barbarella is my favorite club in Austin. It’s been a safe haven for me for years; I used to attend the TuezGayz night in college like it was my religion. Why? Because it was comfortable. Because I was able to surround myself with friends, with people like me, who just wanted to drink and dance in a space that felt safe. Of course, I had a great time, had way too much to drink, and by the end of the night, was headed out hand-in-hand with my hiccupping girlfriend to get home.
This morning, I woke up groggy, red-eyed, hung over as hell to the news that 50 people were murdered in a club like the one I had been at just a few hours before. 50 brothers and sisters of the community, slaughtered in a space meant for them. Meant for fun. Meant to enjoy. And I haven’t stopped crying since. My heart is broken, I’m enraged, and I can’t make sense of the tragedy.
My girlfriend and I are affectionate towards each other. We love each other, and we try and show it in our actions and the way we treat one another. Often in public, she’ll reach out for my hand, I’ll squeeze hers, and then let go. Typically, she’ll look at me, ask if I just don’t want to hold her hand, and I’ll respond with a smile, another squeeze, and I’ll let go to keep walking.
What I haven’t told her is that I’m terrified to hold her hand in public. I’m afraid of someone giving us a bad look. I’m afraid of someone saying something to us. I’m afraid of someone trying to hurt us. I’m afraid of someone wanting to kill us. I’m afraid of someone seeing us and going off on a rampage to kill people like us.
I feel comfortable holding her hand in private, or in a dark movie theater, or at a nightclub. But never in public. I’m going to try my best to overcome that fear today. I want to be able to live my life as authentically and as proud as possible. I don’t want to live in fear just because of being myself. I refuse to let ignorance, intolerance, and hate dictate the way I live my life.
To wrap this all up, I hope one day we can change the narrative. I hope it comes soon, and I hope we don’t continue to let ourselves become numb to the tragedies that are occurring way too fucking often. I don’t believe there’s any reason for a human to personally own an automatic assault rifle when the only purpose of such a weapon is to rip into the flesh of 50 people without reloading twice. If that’s your hobby, find a fucking new one.
Love one another, learn from each other, and try your best to do away with any prejudices and intolerance you hold in your heart, because the world will be a better place if you do.