I’m feeling very hopeless at the moment. I don’t know how else to put it.
I can’t stop thinking about the mass shooting that took place at Pulse, a gay club in Orlando.
I know it might seem strange. After all, I’m South African. But I can’t get my mind away from it. I keep finding myself with tears in my eyes when I think of all the people who were murdered in a place that was supposed to be a safe place for them.
I suppose that part of it is because it this is the manifestation of some of my deepest fears. I am openly gay, and I’ve dealt with my fair share of homophobia. Ever since I was little I’ve had to deal with teasing and rejection. Some of them called me “moffie” to my face, others did it behind my back; but I always knew.
Despite the taunting, I’ve never been assaulted for being gay. But I am well aware of the possibility. We all are. Whenever I know that I’m going to a place where the potential exists for me to be harassed, I try to “tone down”. I wear less jewellery, and avoid painting my nails or wearing very bright colours. I don’t care how loud and proud you are, hearing someone call you a faggot for wearing a pink T-shirt in line at an ATM is a degrading experience.
But more than the words, there is always a fear – the fear that I too will become a victim. These things happen all the time, but usually it doesn’t cause a big enough uproar to reach the news.
The worst part is that many people have applauded this massacre. Some have called it “God’s work”. Looking at the various hate comments… I wish that I could say they shock me, but they don’t. To be gay is to be hated by many.
I never really use to feel the need to have gay friends, but I understand it now. When I said on Facebook that I didn’t feel like there was much to be positive about, a straight homophobe from my college days commented that there is always something to be positive about and blah, blah, blah…
At first I got really angry. I wanted to tell him to go to hell. But then I thought about it. He doesn’t understand. He doesn’t know what it feels like to know from a very young age that you are not welcome. He doesn’t know what it feels like to live with so much fear and self-loathing. Wishing you could change. Knowing that you can’t
This was the same guy who said that Freddie Mercury got what he was asking for when he died from AIDS.
I simply deleted the comment.
But now I understand. I understand why the gay community needs to stick together. I understand why we need to listen to I Will Survive and Born This Way and plaster rainbows all over the place. No one understands our struggles the way we do. I find myself reaching out to gay strangers on social media because they get it.
It hurts so much.
South Africa doesn’t have the same camaraderie between the LGBT community that America seems to have. And for the first time I find myself truly yearning for it. I’m alone in a way that other people don’t understand.
I read a tweet on Twitter the other day that said that we need to remember that the gay motto was always to have as much fun as possible while we still can. And it’s true. Behind all the silliness and laughter of Ru Paul and Panti Bliss is a very serious undertone. We are hated. Hunted, even.
And we don’t know how much time we have left until it’s our turn.