StoryWorks is an interesting concept that every once in a while produces a short story that hits me. For obvious reasons, this one was close to home.
It’s funny because I have a similar story. I remember one day in middle school I was at cross country practice and my teammates began making fun of me. And they used a word that I was unfamiliar with: “gay”. I had no idea what it meant or why anyone would call me that and after practice, I headed home. As was par for the course, I cried on the way home. But I didn’t really know why. And when I walked up the driveway, my dad was in the garage and he could see I was upset. He asked, “What’s wrong, Danny?” And I told him that they were calling me names. “What names? What did they say?” “Gay.” He stopped for a second and then followed it up with, “Do you know what that means?” I shook my head and he walked around the car and looked at me and said, “Don’t worry about it. They don’t know what they’re talking about.” He did not explain it to me or try to tell me anything else.
I learned what the word meant and I also disagreed with their assessment of me for a long time. For a long time, I felt ashamed that there seemed to be something different with me. In fact, I’m really only getting to the point where I am good with myself in the last few years. It took a long time and a lot of work.
And this is why it is very difficult to see my life being used a political weapon. Anyone who looks at this blog or my Facebook page or has ever talked to me knows that politics have always been close to my heart. I try to watch the debates and read as much as I can. But this is why there are several candidates who scare me more than anything: Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Mike Huckabee.
Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t vote for any of the GOP nominees but I don’t feel like my safety or my family is in danger under a Bush, Rubio, or even Trump presidency. However, the hate speech that those three use to describe me is exactly why I came home crying at the age of 11 and why I couldn’t accept myself until I was 30 years old. I am a people watcher. I love seeing how people interact with each other but there is one thing I will never have that most people take for granted: universal acceptance. If you put your arm around your husband/wife at a movie theater or hold their hand on the street, you never have to worry about what others will say; you never have to worry that you will be kicked out of the theater. It must be a nice thing to feel. Yet with three men running for the highest office in the land with such hate-filled hearts, I know that it will not be a possibility for quite some time. Put their economic or other policies to the side (because none of them stand out with ideas different from their Republican colleagues on those topics) and you see exactly what they want to do – tell me that my family will not matter and that I do not matter. And their supporters are focused on those same issues that want to make me a criminal.
It took me a long time to “not sneak” and be happy with who I am because there is nothing wrong with who I am – but three possible leaders of the greatest nation on Earth disagree. At the end of the day, that hurts more than those words that eleven year old boys say.