Hate is all around us and none of us are exempt.
There was song a few years back that said “the first cut is the deepest”. What they forgot to tell you is that the first “cut” is also the one that leaves the biggest scar. That “cut” I’m describing is the first time you are verbally attacked for being different. I know this is true because it happened to me.
I unfortunately can remember it very clearly. It was the early 90’s and I was around 27. I was still a woman and had just gotten married and was not at all thinking I would be a target of discrimination. I looked like every other woman with short hair, cargo shorts and a baseball cap. As I was walking into a supermarket, a guy walked by me and said “dyke”, and kept on walking. It stopped me in my tracks. I didn’t know why, but it felt like a slap across the face. At the time I didn’t feel anything but shock. In hindsight I’m sure I was shaken by this because I was called out for what I really was. I knew something was “wrong” with me, but I didn’t know it was THAT .What really sucked was that some crack-head, big chain wallet wearin’ , Asshole felt it necessary to tell me something that I could not tell myself. As a matter-of-fact, I think I have never told anyone that until now.
Over the years more “cuts” or “jabs” were inflicted. I was told that I would burn in hell, never get to heaven, and one day regret “being this way”. The little jabs were always just that – little. Small enough to put a band aid on it and move on. No worries, I thought- right? Wrong.
It has taken me years, and dozens of flashbacks of that asshole to realize that those small cuts have never healed. They my be invisible, but stay raw and hurt like hell when another stab takes place. Years ago, it felt like you could hide from these knife wielders by staying home or frequenting safe places with your friends, but now social media has armed millions with invisible knives taking stabs at you. You can’t avoid it no matter how hard you try. The hate scrolls across the bottom of your TV , it pops up on your Twitter feed, and it takes form on Facebook posts with lots of people jumping in to stab a little more. Politicians stab at you, Evangelicals stab at you. Hate groups stab at you. Hell, even Uber drivers want to tell you kissing your same sex husband or wife is not acceptable and they stab you both before you get out of their car.
I know I will never forget the Asshole that said that to me some 20 years ago, even though I never saw his face. I didn’t have the nerve, or the power, or the insight to say or do anything at that time. If it happened an hour ago, things might have gone differently. I think I would still be shocked, but I wouldn’t stay silent. I would tell him that words cut and I already have a million cuts, and I don’t need any cuts from some mullet-head who probably still lives at home with his Mommy (sorry, still bitter). I would have also told his that the joke’s on him because I wasn’t a dyke at all, I was really a man! Wow, that would have blown his Trump lovin’ mind. I’m sure it would have earned me a punch in the face, but it would be worth it because standing up for yourself is the only way those cuts have any chance of closing up and going away.
I do wonder about the Asshole sometimes, but I am sure he has made peace with his homophobia and he and his husband are doing just fine.