To be an Advocate

For the better part of the last two years, I considered myself “semi-out” I guess we’ll call it. If someone asked me about my sexuality, I would tell them I was bi, but I didn’t actively broadcast it in any fashion. I would never casually mention a guy I thought was cute, and my facebook’s “interested in” category is still left an ambiguous blank space. I’m not going to lie, I thought, but I’m not going to advertise the truth either. I suppose this is just another step in coming out. But slowly, barriers have come down.

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Since October, I have been sporting this fabulous gay pride friendship bracelet one of my best friends made for me. Though I’ve been wearing it as an anklet so it wouldn’t get snagged at work, it is visible from time to time, certainly when I swim laps every week. And trust me, this bracelet was well-made and doesn’t look to be falling off anytime soon. But I digress.

A few weeks ago, something happened that challenged me to rethink the way I present my sexuality . It inspired me to start this blog. For the first time in my adult life, someone called me “faggot” to my face. And not just as a flippant remark; it was said as a fully malicious insult.

I was at the gym and there was this guy, a regular, on some equipment I was hoping to use next. So I walked over when he was done with his set and asked him how many sets he had left. He turned and looked at me with absolute disgust and said “Fuck off, faggot,” and then proceeded to act like I didn’t exist. I was completely caught off guard; I had no idea how to respond. So I didn’t. I just walked away, walked out of the gym and over to my car, the whole time processing and taking in what had just happened.

A million thoughts raced through my head: He said it with such conviction, how did he know? Was it my man bun? Was it my pride anklet? But the thing is, it didn’t matter. I was hated because I was perceived as “gay”. Not that I have never been teased and called “gay” growing up, but this was different; this was pointed, hateful, intentional. And then sitting in my car out in the parking lot, I started to shake. I was so angry, and I started crying. How could someone say that to a complete stranger? It’s 2016! I’ve never even talked to him before and he has no reason to hate me. And then I got mad at myself for getting so emotional over the remark. How can I be so upset about an insult when people have gotten beaten to death just for being gay? This is nothing compared to what some guys experience. I’m not even technically out.

IMG_20160317_200454Well, a couple days ago when I went to the gym, I noticed something different; there was a new poster. This poster was in the lobby, the locker room, the weight room; it was even above the bubbler. I thought it was so fantastic that I snapped a picture of it between sets. Then on my way out, one of the employees caught me to talk for a second. She is someone who I make friendly small talk with from time to time. Apparently, someone overheard the faggot comment and told her about it, so she headed up making these posters. I was blown away. I thanked her and left the gym beaming. There are good, remarkable people in this world. She spoke up and made a positive impact when I was too afraid to.

As you can imagine, that incident with the guy has been on my mind a lot. I wish I would have said something. How can I fight back against ignorance and homophobic bigotry if I remain silent? To be an advocate for the LGBTQ community, I need to stand up and say something. And that is what prompted me to start this blog. Though I’m not as out as I would like to be, I hope this blog will push me more in that direction. I want to help others struggling with their sexuality. I want to help end discrimination toward people based simply on their sexuality, or lack thereof. I want to be an advocate.

Embrace diversity. Seek to have a tolerant attitude toward all mankind.

– Bryan

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2 thoughts on “To be an Advocate

  1. In the moment, fight or flight response makes speaking difficult. I am sorry that you had this experience, but how great that the people at the gym immediately did this! I am only out to four of my friends and my shrink, and a lesbian meetup group. It helps to read other people’s experiences. Thanks for this!

    • I was really surprised about the gym’s response—good surprised! I didn’t realize anyone else had heard what was said, so it really made me glad to see someone did and spoke up about it.

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