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From Being Bullied to Being an Ally

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Explaining to a five-month-old the historic moment in the state where she was born: “Mommy is looking at these pictures because she thinks everyone deserves the freedom to marry.” May she never know bigotry!

Guest author and LGBT ally Sara posted this on her blog The Titleless Blog the Friday before Minnesota’s senate approved gay marraige (the photo appeared on her instagram).  Sara is one of those blog friends who became a real life friend.  I have “known” her through her blog since 2008 and watched her battle and beat brain cancer, move across the world and back and then out again, and, most recently, become a mother to Squeker.  She is an amazing, strong, funny woman who is a great ally to the LGBT community and anxiously trying to create a better, more equal, less misogynistic world for her daughter. ~Clare

 

Friends who follow me on different social media platforms know that I was thrilled to learn yesterday that the Minnesota House had approved gay marriage and the vote will go to the Senate on Monday. Governor Dayton has already promised to sign it into law. That means that gay couples could begin getting legally married as soon as August 1st. Wow.

It’s a big deal for me, not just because it’s the right thing to do and because I have gay friends who I think deserve the same rights as I do, but because discrimination against LGBTs has personally affected me.

I went to high school in a small town in Minnesota about an hour north of the Twin Cities. I’m not sure if the small town influenced their close-mindedness or if another factor was at play, but my high school years were torture. Sheer and utter torture. Some days, I’m surprised I made it out alive and I’ll explain why.

The rumors started innocently enough. At first, I thought they were jokes. That I had been seen making out with my friend, that I had admitted to several people that I was a lesbian, that another friend and I were long-time girlfriends. In fact, the first few days, I made fun of the rumors myself. That only served to fan the flame as you can imagine.

And what for? What the fuck for? What did it matter if I had been a lesbian? If I had nightly lesbian orgies? Was I not still as deserving of respect as everyone else? Except at the time, I did not think this way. I remember feeling a profound sense of shame that I wasn’t accepted into their circles, that they looked at me and yelled and laughed, or would even go as far as to trip me and throw things at me.

The bullying lasted my entire time in high school, but it was worst my freshman year. That year, I was hospitalized four times for suicidal thinking and self-harm. Only a handful of people in my life know that. I wanted so desperately for those monsters who harassed me to just accept me and let me live in peace that I wanted to end my life. I’m going to pause so that sinks in. I wanted to end my life. Because of that. It was one of the darkest periods of my life. I’m so glad I didn’t give in. I still have the scars–emotional and physical–to remind me.

To make matters worse, my high school did next to nothing to make me feel safe and comfortable. Once, when talking to the vice-principal saying that I was being harassed, he asked, “Well, are you a lesbian?” Like, if I was, that would somehow justify it.

Today, if someone walked up to me and said, “LESBIAN!” like it was a four-letter word, I would honestly not give a shit. I might even laugh, like, “Is that the best you can come up with?” Is it so bad to be a lesbian? Unless, you’re a right-wing, religious zealot, that is. But it took me a long time to harden up.

I pray that Squeaker never, ever, ever has to experience something as traumatizing as that. If one day she tells me she loves another woman, I’ll love her just the same.

When I hear of a child or teenager committing suicide because they were harassed for being gay, it makes my heart break. My soul literally aches, because the same thing happened to me. That’s why this bill is so important. Offering gay and lesbian couples the same rights as straight couples is the first step to accepting them into our society as normal people and normal families, because they are. And if you look into the heart of someone in a same-sex relationship, you’ll find you really aren’t that different. They want the same things: to love and be loved, and the best for their family.

It’s time to put an end to legalized discrimination. Changing small minds will follow. Then maybe we can drop the “gay” pre-fix in “gay marriage” and just call it “marriage”.

I’m leaving you with a video clip from Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project, because it does get better. This is one way.

Go Minnesota! If you haven’t written your senator for Monday’s vote, you can do so here.

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4 Comments

  1. Thanks Sara for writing this piece and letting me share it. There are too many stories like your, but I can only hope that everyday less. My favorite point was the taking the gay out of gay-marriage. As in, it is just marriage so why should everyone get their undies in a bundle? I think I could rant on for quite a while about that. But I won’t.

    • I think that is one of the ways to take the stigma out of it. After all, we are talking families, does it matter if they are gay or straight families? We’re not really that different.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this video. Watching it with tears streaming down my face, I realize that they are so right! Life has absolutely gotten better since junior high when I contemplated suicide frequently. I wasn’t teased for being gay or acting gay, but I was bullied incessantly for other stupid shit- like having short ‘boy’ hair, for having wonky looking teeth, for speaking my mind, for being a good student, for being easy to pick on. Life was so, so hard from 5th-9th grade and I grieve for my younger self that had to go through that time. Still, I’m glad I did because it made me a stronger, more compassionate human being who truly realizes and is able to appreciate how beautiful her life is now. Just like Dan & Terry, I have no idea what happened to those bullies, nor do I care. I had the courage to get through that time and the great fortune to have parents who loved me fiercely when I couldn’t love myself.
    For those who don’t even have their parents as allies, I thank God for the It Gets Better project. It is literally saving lives- what better legacy to leave on this earth than that?

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