Monday, June 13 2016. The Queen’s Birthday Public Holiday. My partner and I spent the day in our pyjamas, glued to our mobile phone screens. The Pulse Nightclub in Orlando had been attacked and our hearts were breaking for the victims, their families and the LGBTI community.
Amongst the coverage was a piece about Pastor Roger Jiminez from the Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento, California. In a sermon given merely hours after the massacre, the Pastor told his congregation that it was “unnatural to want to be with someone of the same sex,” and stated that he was upset that more people didn’t die. The sermon was uploaded to YouTube.
I was stunned by what I read. How could someone wish that more innocent lives were lost? How could someone wish that more people were grieving their loved ones?
How could loving who you love incite such hate?
I grew up experiencing what hate is. I experienced it at home from the people whose job it was to love me. Hate fueled my father’s vicious, drunken verbal attacks. It drove his violent physical assaults. Hate created my mother’s calculated indifference to her children’s suffering.
We were a religious family. We went to Church every Sunday. We said grace before our meals. Us kids sang in the church choir. We attended Sunday School.
My family and my church taught me, among other things, that a woman must obey her husband and that sex is a man’s right and a woman’s obligation. They taught me that God would love me if I followed my parent’s beliefs. But I didn’t believe what my family believed. I didn’t agree with male omnipotence or female subjugation. I considered it nonsense that a woman should save herself for marriage. And much to my family’s collective horror, I had no intention of ever walking down the aisle with a man.
Being different, I deduced, meant there was something fundamentally wrong with me and that wrongness must have caused the hate. So with this frame of reference for the abuse I suffered at home, I headed out into the world fully expecting the hate to find me.
And so I hid. And in one way or another I’ve been hiding ever since.
It took me years longer than it should have to find and understand my sexuality and years longer than that to really fall in love. My family’s homophobic reaction to my coming out meant that I was no longer considered one of them.
I no longer exist.
Years of therapy taught me the difference between love and hate and gave me a new frame of reference for the abuse I suffered as a child. Writing forms an important part of my healing process and I share my story on my LOTL.com blog, Accidentally Alex.
Now, as I see the hate rising up against the LGBTI community, I realise that I can no longer hide from the world. It’s time for me to walk out of the closet and into the fight. It's time for the voices of the LGBTI community to be heard, for our faces to be seen and our stories to be told.
That is how love will win.
I’m Accidentally Alex and I’m joining the conversation.