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THREAD. Hate crimes are meant to instill fear. They always have. And they still do. And I kind of have to talk about this.
I grew up around Boston in the 80's / 90's. I knew I was attracted to men. I always knew. I just didn't know what that meant. I didn't understand what being bi was. The only thing I knew it meant is that I was terrified I was gay.
Why would I be terrified? Because homophobia wasn't just a part of culture, it was culture. The words fag and faggot were omnipresent. Doing anything "faggy" was tantamount to asking for torture.
Anything I did wrong or effeminate? It would come down hard. I remember getting punched in the head and called a fag for having still having star wars sheets. ANYTHING felt like a potential invite.
This fear was true of lots of kids, but for me it also just tied to that deep reality that I KNEW something was different and all that fear was completely attached to that. It wasn't appearances. It was my core self.
People said (and still say) that kids saying fag just means "they're bad." No. They knew exactly what it meant. It was blatant homophobia and directly equating "gay things" with "being bad." Of course it was.
I remember in elementary school we went to see The Nutcracker and a kid was saying how disgusting it was that "all the guys had boners" and another kid named Dave said, whether through mishearing or not knowing what the word meant, "oh, that was awesome!"
He was mercilessly made fun of, bullied, punched, called a fag FOR YEARS. But it was all "harmless" hazing cause he was also good at sports so they weren't going to push it too far. He also had a tough older brother, who when he heard the story made equal fun of him.
Unsurprisingly, Dave grew into one of the most homophobic, agro dudes ever. You could say it all goes back to that Nutcracker trip, but it's more than that. It was in the damn air. It's toxic masculinity to a T
And it manifested in a constant fear. A fear that's just trapped in your bones and it feeds a whole series of feedback loops and denial and realizations and the constant wrestling with THE THING YOU KNOW IS TRUE.
Still, there's a LOT of privilege that comes with being Bi. You can ignore it. You can date women. You can "pass." In high school, I did all that. But the whole time I was confused and didn't understand a damn moment of it. Which just made more fear.
But my way of engaging that identity and reality became about making it "outside myself" I talked passionately about gay rights. By high school I was an arty kid so I made jokes about how I was going to move to NYC and smoke cigarettes and be gay. And people would laugh and laugh
But any real attempts to talk about it seriously were met with fear and confusion. Girlfriends, even the most progressive, were understandably just worried I was gay. But it was just another level of fear.
Then Matthew Shepard happened. I was in high school. It I remember it being the first time there was this real, palpable sense of empathy from the media for a crime and how it seemingly reflected a changing time.
But that change was not reflected in groups of boys. that made up my life The more bullying sporty group I knew, the sentiment amounted to "if he was gay, why do people care?" and then the "smart" group of kids I knew just made edgelord "funny" jokes about it.
I wasn't laughing. But I wasn't really talking either. I went to a big high school and if you want to understand what it was like, there was no one who was publicly out. No one.
Yes, there were kids who knew they were and in small circles, but such was the raging state of homophobia. It's just this oppressive, constant silence about the deeper things. And some of it was the catholicism, but really it was the agro homophobia.
Seinfeld might have been making jokes about "not that there's anything wrong with that," but it sure always felt like there was a lot wrong that. Especially when everyone was walking around trying to be ANYTHING but gay, including the people in that episode.
I don't think people realize how much has changed in the last 20 years. And I don't think people realize how little has changed too. The palpable malice is still RIGHT THERE. In everything.
I talk about all of this because of Jussie. There's so many intersections of identity to this and fears and hardships I've never had to know. I want to honor those differences and my privileges more than anything.
But I just want to say I know that one specific fear so deep in my bones. And when I read about this, the palpable fear seizes up my entire body. Suddenly, I'm in elementary school again. And I've had been all day.
I don't know if anyone else identifies with this or knows that feeling. There's a lot I'm still trying to grapple with, understand, and understand how this has effected me in so many different ways.
I'm always worried I'm saying or doing the wrong thing, or not understanding something important, or not valid. But that's all a part of the same fear, maybe. And I guess showing the pervasive reality of that fear is all I want to convey.
To everyone who is afraid in their bones, you are loved.

To those who show courage out in the everyday world, you are freakin' heroes.

And to those who don't see the big deal of all this, you can, quite simply, fuck off forever.

OH! The other homophobic component you have to understand is the AIDS crisis. Not just because out it was identified as a "gay disease," but in how much anger there was at gay people for bringing it into the "normal" population and them "needing" to have safe sex now... yeah.
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