A lot of rage in me today, atop a well of tears for my tribe, for a younger generation that gets to know the fear we had, the airport security doors on the clubs, the bullets, the pipebombs, and always watching your back. I was 18 when I was shot at. I’ll never know if it was because I was gay or not. Just like I’ll never know if my father beat me for calling him daddy once instead of dad because it was too effeminate or because he was drunkenly imitating a John Wayne movie. It’s been 10 years since someone in Denver drove by and screamed faggot at me from a passing car and I had to duck in case the bullets came again. It’s been five years since I said “him” instead of “her” to a coworker and saw them flinch with disapproval and I had to wonder if it would affect my career.
It’s a feeling I’d wished you’d never have felt. It’s a feeling 49 of you never will feel. You’ll never get to feel anything again. It’s a feeling that will haunt the survivors the rest of their lives. It’s something too many of us will remember, and will infect the rest of us. It’s fear and shame.
It’s why I write what I write: what I needed so very much to read when I was a young adult. It’s why I keep writing, why I keep loving, and celebrating who we are, what we cannot, and should not try to change about our crazy wonderful tribe. It’s why I’ll be there Sunday, with the thousands of us, the churches who march, the drag queens, and the amazing Dykes on Bikes.
I’m gay, damn it. And I say that with pride.