Thursday, August 2, 2012

Words From Justin :)

So yesterday was interesting. I got to see a multitude of news articles about people who hate me and my queer family so much that they were willing to sit in mile-long lines just to show it. I really can’t put into words how disheartening and infuriating that is. To know that so many people think that I’m somehow less, that I’m undeserving of the rights they take for granted.

This isn’t just about gay marriage. Right now there are so many kids out there–struggling with their sexualities, gender identities, or any number of other things–going through the same things I did when I was younger. Worrying about which of their friends will turn on them, or having to seriously consider whether they’ll even have a place to live once they come out. Perhaps living in denial or hating themselves, even to the point of being suicidal. Learning for themselves that it’s *okay* to be who you are, because no one else will teach them. Try telling those kids how supposedly non-hateful our society is.

I speak from experience; I’ve felt all of those things at some point in my life. Growing up gay in a conservative household is, to put it lightly, difficult. I was lucky enough to meet my friend Adam online when we were in our early teens. We ended up coming out to each other at some point. I don’t recall exactly how that came about, but just having one person that I could be completely open with was so helpful. I can honestly say I probably wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t had that friendship to lean on. But even so, I had my share of denial and self-hatred. I told myself I was really straight for years, that my attraction to guys was just a phase. When I couldn’t make myself believe that anymore, I told myself I must be bisexual instead, to hang on to the idea that I could still at least have some heterosexual attractions like I was “supposed” to. It was such a self-destructive way to live, and I wasn’t able to fully come to terms with myself until more recently than I care to admit. While I’m absolutely proud of myself as I am today, not everyone is that lucky.

Every time I heard someone I respected condemn queers when I was younger, it killed me a little inside. When I think of how a closeted queer kid might have felt yesterday, seeing those thousands upon thousands of people proudly displaying their ignorance and bigotry, it tears me apart. I’m tired of the Chick-fil-A controversy, of institutionalized queerphobia and of this insane religious hegemony that consistently puts doctrine ahead of basic human compassion. As tired as I am, though, this is why I’m so vocal about queer rights. The simple truth is that the queer community needs to take care of itself, because if we don’t there are so few others who will. That’s why I advocate, even if some weeks it’s just a link here or putting in my two cents there in the hopes that someone might see it and be encouraged. As long as the queer community is treated like second-class citizens, as long as there are kids out there going through the same things I had to go through, closeted and unable to stand up for themselves, I’m going to do what I can on their behalf. I urge all of you, especially the many queer allies I know, to do the same.

-Justin Lara (I.Q. Co-Chair)

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