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Be silent no more...

I remember the first gay bar that April and I visited. It was 1.5 hours away from our college home. Far enough that no one would see us enter or exit. Far enough that no one would recognize our car in the parking lot. We had became friends with another gay couple—the first people that we had ever came out too—that lived in Montgomery so when we would visit them we would spend some time at The Plex. April and I both had fake ids that the bouncer obviously recognized, but we were always admitted anyway. Some 19 years later I remember the logo, a Trojan-style horse. I remember seeing my first drag queen. I remember the music. I remember the pool tables. And I remember dancing. Outside of those doors April and I were college roommates….but inside those Plex walls we were a couple.

If you are in an opposite sex relationship you probably have never had to be afraid to hold hands in public. If you want to hold your partner’s hand you probably just grab it and go about your business. Want to put your arm over her shoulder in the movie theater? You just do it. Want to call him honey or sweetie in the grocery store? You just say it.

However, if you’re gay you can’t. You don’t. The fear overwhelms you. You look around to see if anyone is noticing…..if they may pick up on the fact that you are in a relationship. It’s awkward, and unnerving, and scary.

The Plex…and later Bill’s and 729 in Birmingham became our sanctuary. Those gay clubs were the place where we could truly be ourselves. We could hold hands, hug each other, dance, and kiss if we wanted. And we could witness other people doing the same…..something that you NEVER saw outside those walls.

The Orlando massacre definitely brought back many, many memories of times long ago. It also made this tragedy hit very, very close to home. Knowing that the LGBTQ community was targeted hurts in so many ways. It is hard to make sense in something so senseless. This terrible, heart aching tragedy has made me question my own personal safety in my small neighborhood. This tragedy has caused our 9 year old daughter to ask “Why do people hate gay people?”.

This terrible event has led me to seek comfort in my friends and family. Through their words, their actions, and their social media posts I realized, once again, that my tight knit circle is full of love and acceptance. I could witness this in their eyes, because they could sense how this tragedy couldhit so close to home. I witnessed their support in their phone calls and text messages when they reached out simply to say “I love you”. It was seen in their social media posts when they changed their profile picture in response or when they responded to mine.

But……just beyond that circle, a tiny step outside, there was so much silence. Co-workers, neighbors, parents of our daughter’s friends, and community leaders have said little. They’ve scrolled through facebook posts and haven’t reacted. Perhaps they don’t mean to be unresponsive…..and maybe this tragedy hasn’t hit them close enough to say much. But please believe me when I say that silence hurts. If you are one of the silent ones I beg you to please say something. Stand up for the LGBTQ community. For years and years we’ve tried to stand up for ourselves but we can’t do it alone. We need our allies now….in ways never before. Change your profile picture. Hang a rainbow flag. Share with us how you love an LGBTQ person. Attend a vigil. Pray. Get to know, really know, a LGBTQ person. Just do something.

With all of our voices we will be heard.

When a 9-year old asks why gay people are hated, how would you respond? Let’s change the culture so that question is NEVER asked again!!!

#LGBT #PrayforOrlando #LiveFearlessly

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