Nelson Mandela once said, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” This weekend I saw hate like I had never seen before. My wife Jackie and I were on a long road trip to see my dad. We made a stop at a little diner in Kentucky to refuel after four hours on the road. The diner was empty except for a little white-haired couple who were so offended by a couple of gay girls coming to eat near them, that they left the restaurant. They left their glasses filled and menus lying on the table. I didn’t think a thing of it until I heard the waitress explain to the other waitress that they left because of us. Wow.
What did we do to deserve that little bit of hate? I was fully aware we were in a conservative area of the country; in a very small minority in that area, but what about that fact made it okay for that couple to completely walk out simply because of our presence? They didn’t know us. They didn’t know what kind of people we were. Would it have been different if we were a male and female walking in there? What about if we were an interracial couple walking into the diner? What was it about our presence that was so threatening and insulting that they felt like they couldn’t be near us?
It’s wild how isolated a little instance like that can make you feel.
Now, I am new to the LGBT community and LGBTQ hate directed at me, so I have not had the pleasure of experiencing all the hate that has been thrown at the community throughout our history. I felt a little snippet of it that morning. It’s wild how isolated a little instance like that can make you feel. I didn’t know these people and will probably never see them again but I couldn’t help but feel very hurt. The hatred was palpable and the stares were obvious. The feeling was indescribable. I would be lying if I said it didn’t stay on my mind for a long time after. And then wanted to share it here.
I have talked about all the amazing ways my life has changed and how ridiculously happy I am. But, I think it’s only fair to be transparent and say there are times that haven’t been the best and brightest since coming out. The isolation I felt was probably the worst part. To worry whether or not your family still loves you or will continue to love you was absolutely the scariest part of it all. Just like the couple in the diner the other morning, some people feel like it’s easier to turn away, to not deal with discomfort of someone different. I don’t think people notice how the little things are super apparent. The lack of communication from some family, the avoidance, the urge to tell me what I’m doing wrong or how they don’t believe in it has become par for the course. Lucky for me, most of the time I am floating around in my little bubble and I am completely oblivious to stares and comments or hatred.
Whether you feel the need to flee from my presence is up to you. Whether you believe in it or not is up to you. But, I was raised very religious and I know the bible extremely well and those conservative individuals who spew judgement and hate as their venom so easily forget the main theme of Jesus’s teaching: love. I thought it ironic that I felt isolation and hate on Easter weekend.
But, despite how I have been treated and what friends or family I have lost, I am a grown woman who will continue to focus on being happy and loving everyone in my life.
You don’t have to accept who I am.
You don’t have to love my lifestyle.
You don’t have to love my tattoos.
You don’t have to love the fact that I’m a gay woman.
You don’t have to love the fact that I’m a hippy or feminist.
You don’t have to love me.
But don’t pretend you do. I have been through a lot of things in life and I will keep moving forward. I don’t owe one single person an explanation. I will never again make mistakes I have made in the past, or spend my valuable time making people happy who don’t deserve my time or affection. It’s always easier to judge those we don’t know or don’t understand. I will never know why that gray hair couple couldn’t stand to be in the same restaurant with two women who love one another. I just can’t muster up enough hate to see that side. But I do know, if you give me a chance and get to know me, you will know I am a loving person. If you get the chance to see us together, you will see how deeply we love one another.
How could a love like that be wrong?