My brush with hate and how I am moving forward

Guest post by Heather Sexton
LGTBQ hate: My brush with hate and how I am moving forward
Love is Love Decal from Absolutely Courageous

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?

Comments on My brush with hate and how I am moving forward

  1. I’m so sorry this happened to you. I’ve not had anyone walk out of a restaurant but with my wife I’ve had the horrified “how dare they” stares of people who can’t believe we have the nerve to walk around like a normal people (from women more than men for some reason) Even in my super gay city.

    You can’t make so it has no impact but I think it can be empowering to realise that you don’t have to keep holding the nasty pile of toxic waste (AKA shame) they just dumped on you without your permission, something I suspect you allready know! It’s the best revenge it really is!

    • Lucky for me, now I am just outside of Pittsburgh and it’s a place that’s a little more conservative but where I’m from… not so much. I hope the visibility and writing and sharing helps the areas of the country where stares are common place…

  2. I have to ask, what was wrong with their decision? They saw something that upset/bothered/offended them. Rather than “ruin” their day by sticking around, they chose to leave. Don’t we tell people that if they have a problem with something, it’s up to them to fix it or stop interacting?

    You say in this post that people don’t have to accept you. If you really believe that, how do you want the people who don’t accept you to act? Would you prefer they act as though you’re not in the room? Would you prefer they stare at you until you’re self-conscious? Or make comments about you or ask the servers to kick you out? Or would you rather they remove *themselves* from a situation they deem unacceptable?

    • Before I respond to your questions,

      How do you think I should feel about what happened?

      Do you think I should just be happy they didn’t come over and say hateful things or stare at us the entire time?

      Do you think I should be grateful that they left instead of saying or doing something worse?

      • I think you should feel however you choose to feel. I think the word “should” has no place in the world of feelings. You feel the way you feel. I also extend that belief to the strangers who hurt you.

        One could argue that those strangers *should* feel nothing but happiness for you finding love. One could argue that you *should* feel nothing but compassion for their suffering. But ultimately, what good would those “shoulds” do? Would they change your feelings for the better or would they simply frustrate and upset you?

        What I think is more important than how you *should* feel is how you *should* behave. You’ve channeled your hurt into a lovely piece about feelings that will hopefully help other people. You’ve chosen to look at your feelings and process them as best as you’re able. They chose to avoid their feelings by avoiding that which made them uncomfortable. They also chose not to take that discomfort out on you, and I agree that they took the best course of action available to them.

        I think it’s pretty clear that the people most hurt by this scenario are the ones who lost out on a wonderful meal because of their bias. But ultimately, people have the right to hurt themselves, just as you have the right to process your hurt through writing.

        • You think the couple in this scenario were the ones who were hurt the most?

          That makes me sad…

          But, what makes more sad, is that our presence offended someone to that extent. The fact that we have to worry if it’s okay to hold hands when we walk into a place and that we have to worry if someone is going to react by doing something worse. No, it was not the end of the world that the couple walked out but, I think the same reason they did is the reason that births hate crimes and discrimination. Congratulating them on choosing a lesser evil isn’t right.

          But all I can do is my part. So, I write. I share my feelings and experiences in hopes to spark some compassion or thought in someone who does feel uncomfortable in a situation, maybe make a different choice.

          • “Congratulating them on choosing a lesser evil isn’t right.” THISSSS.

            The couple could have just, you know, minded their own business and stayed for their meal. For fuck’s sake. No one was being harmed by the presence of a same-sex couple. The implication that they could not exist in the same space was an abject protest of same-sex relationships. And the continued acceptance/minimization of outright shaming of the LGBTQ+ community is absolutely what drives and perpetuates pain. And hate crimes.

  3. Dear Heather, they didn’t leave because of you and your lovely wife. They left because of something wrong inside of them. Love and hugs from NE Ohio.

  4. My younger sister and I are best friends, we’re often hand in hand or arm! We’ll even dance together at bars when our own (heterosexual) partners are having drinks. We act no differently whether we are with our husbands or not, but often if they are not in the direct vicinity and we are mistaken for a couple. We don’t tolerate others asking about our ‘relationship’ when the tone is obvious that they are inquiring about our sexuality. My little sister is much nicer than I and without giving in that we are related and best friends, she tells them that our relationship is better than most others. We’ve had plenty of hateful stares, eye-rolling and the whispering isn’t often as quiet as others think it is! They can brew their own hatred. The real reason the folks left diner may never be known, the waitresses were bored and trying to stir up trouble. If some little diner in Kentucky wants to make others feel bad, then it’s no wonder why there weren’t more folks there. you just happen to be the victims of an incident which could of happened to anyone! Stop thinking people stare at you and just see your sexuality. Siblings get snuggly, so do parents that haven’t seen their kids for ages. It could have been the waitress’ bad breath, bad odour, or foul mood and she was just waiting for the next person to offend. You’re the innocent one here, be thankful you’ve got someone that loves you enough to be with you anywhere! Even in Kentucky!

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