Have you ever been beaten up for leaving a specific bar? Have you ever been beaten up for holding another person’s hand in public? If not, then maybe that’s why you don’t understand how deeply this has affected me. I – and lots of my friends from all corners of the world – am still coming to terms with the Orlando shootings.
I’ve taken my beatings. I’ve goddamn earned the right to be deeply impacted by such a hate crime as this. I’ve held my arms in front of my face so they could only hit my body. I’ve taken my bruises and I have grown to accept this as normal. Yes, accepted it as “normal” that if I hold someone’s hand or go as far as kissing them, the consequences might be very concrete and unpleasant.
And so I continue to feel the impact of the Orlando shootings. I continue to mourn, grieve, rage… And yes, I will continue to be wary of holding someone’s hand unless I have scanned the area and feel sure there are no threatening people around. And yes, I will still check myself when out in public to make sure I don’t come off as “too gay”. And no, I will probably never grow out of that fear.