I know homophobia. I’m only seventeen, but I know what it’s like to be hated for everything I am. I can tell you, but only in your heart. Listen to me, and let me tell you how homophobia took over my life.
Homophobia is being spit on. I know to always watch out or risk another attack. I know that no one will stand up for me today, that it will just be yesterday all over again. I know that the worst thing to do is speak up. I tried it once: they threw trash instead. So I bite my tongue and hold back the tears. I’ll cry later, after they’ve all gone home, and my mom still hasn’t come to pick me up. I’ll cry in the empty bathroom until she comes; and I’ll go home, fall in my bed, and cry some more. I’ll cry alone as I peel the gum wrappers off of my dress. I’ll cry alone for years because there is no one else to cry alone with.
Homophobia is sexual harassment. It’s the hoots and hollers of a teenage boy prying into my life. I don’t know him, and he doesn’t know me. He just knows I'm a lesbian, and despite all the times he pushes me, tells me I'm going to hell, he thinks it’s kind of hot. So, he asks me everything. He pushes me against a locker in the eighth grade hallway and demands I answer. He makes catcalls and screams all of those damned questions when he follows me to my bus. But I know that he is still better than the demons others face. He’s never tried to fix me, make me like men. I’ve heard stories of lesbians facing terrible things. Coming to school, getting grabbed because some teenage pervert thinks he can fix her. I am just glad that I am not her.
Homophobia is hate-speech. It’s the hate that makes its way into the classroom, until every whispering student seems to say it: faggot, dyke, that’s so gay. Suddenly, I'm no longer a human being. I'm just an object to be described by the hateful masses. I don’t have the right to think for myself because everyone else is already doing that for me: no one will let me fight back. Good people say terrible things too. They get trapped by the meanings they don’t care to hear until they don’t know how to break out. They decide that they won’t. They just look at me and tell me I'm being too sensitive. I can’t even say who I am anymore. They didn’t leave me any words to use.
Homophobia is fear. Waking up in a cold sweat, I can only hope that no one will ever find out. I have to hope that the one person I confided in won’t tell a soul. I have to hope that I can trust someone, and when I find out I can’t, I have to lose my faith in humanity. Homophobia is fearing for my life in a small town, fearing hate crimes that no one will remember. I have been afraid for a long, long time. I can’t do anything to hide the fear. I just cower in the corner of my bedroom and pray that I feel more normal, even just for a second. I pray that there is nothing to fear, but in my heart I know there is.
Homophobia is going to a church that hates “my kind.” I listen to the hate-speech of a sermon from the front pew, wedged between the cold-hearted, well-intentioned parents who brought me. Every time the pastor says how evil gays are, I cringe. I die a little bit inside. I harden my heart so no one can ever hurt I again. I lose a little bit of my humanity. I’ve already lost so much. Every Sunday, like clockwork, I'm wasting away in that front pew. Even when the pastor isn’t hammering self-loathing into my heart, I feel it. I know what he thinks about me. He doesn’t have to say it again for me to wish he would just take it back.
Homophobia is eternal damnation. Some stranger looking me in the eyes and telling me I will go to hell. Tell me God hates me. People have done it before. They say it behind a keyboard or to my face. But mostly they say it with their eyes. I see it. I see the way they look at me. There is a hatred in their eyes without even knowing my name. They don’t look at me often. I'm too sick and immoral for them to look at. They only look at me long enough to remind me that I'm going to hell. They have a look of accomplishment when they tell me my fate, like abusing a little girl will make God love them more. They look like God’s children shouldn’t.
Homophobia is knowing that you’re a second class citizen. The Constitution that says we’re all equal is a lie. We aren’t equal. We aren’t free. I know that it’s not fair or right, but I have to accept it anyway. I’m too young to vote, so I’m too young for anyone to listen to. I have to wait to be a citizen, but I know it might not happen. Sure, the government might say we’re equal, but I’ll never feel it. I remember never feeling equal, and I don’t think I ever will.
Homophobia is a disease that’s a plague on the people our nation. It invades every little corner of their minds until there is only one standard, accepted type. It makes sure that I and people like me will always feel like less. It is a disease that takes thousands to cure. It takes thousands of protesters standing up for their beliefs. It takes thousands of politicians who believe in progress. It takes thousands of people opening up their hearts. It takes people who believe in love, in who they are, in everything they stand for to cure this disease. Everyone has a chance, but most people won’t take it. You have a decision, a hand in my fate as much as I do. Will you be part of the cure?