I listen to the espresso machine whirring, the babble of conversation around me, the top 40 music; smell the smells of coffee and sugar. I sit quietly at the table, a waterfall of tears threatening to tumble from my eyes.
Because I am doing research on violence against queer* people and have stumbled upon some horrors of information.
The statistics are terrible. In Canada, 67% of hate crimes perpetrated against gay people consist of acts of violence as opposed to only 39% of hate crimes against other social identity categories (e.g: race and religion). In the United States, queer* people are 41.5% more likely to experience an act of violence than white, heterosexual people.
Did you catch that? 41.5% !
The unemployment rate for trans* people is 75% and the average life span of a trans* person is 23 years of age.
The statistics suck. They are unacceptable. They hurt my body and make me want to scream in the coffee shop. But that is not why I want to cry.
In my research I stumbled upon websites and blogs that are specifically “anti-gay.” They mostly espouse absurd, ignorant information and are written very poorly, allowing me to roll my eyes and feel somewhat smug, but nonetheless, they feel like knives driven into my heart. I ask the question: Why do you hate me so much?
One of the blogs says that gay people are unhappy. That we all suffer from mental illness, suicidal ideation, internalized oppression (although the writer wasn’t savvy enough to use that phrase), and depression as a result of being queer*.
Um, not so much.
Those challenges are rampant within our community not because we’re queer* but because we live in a heteronormative world that does not allow us to exist easily in our own bodies. Because we experience discrimination, violence, and hate on a daily basis. Because people INSIST on blogging about why they hate us so much and how we’re evil sinners who are going to hell.
Well guess what? Our community is also full of love, joy, peace, family, education, intelligence, dance, fabulousness, glitter, women’s basketball (Go Storm!), rainbows, love, love, love… the list goes on.
What I want to say to homophobic people is that I LOVE BEING QUEER* and I wouldn’t have it any other way. If I wasn’t already queer* I would seriously wish to be. Sometimes I feel bad for straight people because they are missing out on the amazing experience of being queer*. As much as the violence and discrimination makes me want to cry into my Americano, I value loving who I love, seeing the world from outside-the-box, and not conforming to societal norms.
I should note, however, that I live in a rather progressive city in the United States. I have the freedom to speak out against micro-aggressions at work. I talk openly to family, friends, and colleagues about my life as a queer* person. I am super out-of-the-closet! Yes, I experience discrimination, but I do not fear for my life. Being queer* in other parts of this country does not allow the same freedom. Being queer in other parts of the world is a crime punishable by death. For that, I am truly sorry. That makes me want to sob into my Americano.
Stop the hate. The world does not need more hate, but the world could definitely benefit from more glitter and queer* basketball.