I can’t be quiet anymore. 

Over the past year, actually even longer, this past year is just what sticks out the most, I’ve been through a roller coaster of emotions when it comes to the feelings I have for the country I have called home for my entire life. In light of terrorist attacks, both foreign and domestic I have always felt some semblance of safety. Sure with every additional shooting, bomb etc I’ve grown a little more weary and cautious of my surroundings, but ultimately I have felt that my home, my country would do all it could to keep me, my family, and my friends safe. With each passing day I feel a little less safe. I feel a little less secure. I feel a little more scared and fearful for my safety. I’m not just talking about terrorism anymore. I’m legitimately growing fearful of this country, of the turn it’s taking. 

In school we whitewash history. In school  we learn about patriarchy and how patriarchy built this country and made it great.  Patriarchy and putting all value on the shoulders of men is what will be the downfall of this country. We have a too deep and truly hurtful view of what it takes to be a man in this world, all of which seems to lead to violence, hate, fear and an inability to show compassion, empathy and most of all love. Love will always prevail, but just the same it will always be overshadowed by hatred and violence that usually stems from fear. This world is in an honest to goodness downward spiral and just like all of history it will take a huge push, a coming together for a common cause, to cause this spiral to reverse or at the very least flatten out. Ever the realist I don’t honestly expect to see this in my life time. I see genocide, I see pointless wars and I see so much fear and hate. I see lives lost unnecessarily, families torn apart and really I see people losing hope and faith. 

Ill be blunt, I’m gay, like really freaking gay. I used to be proud that I could straight pass, that I could blend in and it wasn’t as noticeable that I was different, that I deviated from the norm, that I was a target for hate, for bullying and for violence. Growing up I got a lot of shit for being different, there were rumors spread, people said horrible things about me and to me. I was ashamed of myself, I was ashamed of not understanding why so many people could hate me for something I didn’t full understand yet. I’m not ashamed anymore. I’m open, I’m proud and even in light of everything that is going on in this world, in this country, I’m proud to be who I am, I am proud to be able to call myself a member of the queer community. For once in my life I feel free, I don’t feel suffocated by secrets, I don’t feel like I need to hide in order to be accepted by my friends, my family or even my coworkers. I’m accepted, not just by them, but by myself. 

Enough about me. Being queer, being “different” has always and I mean always made you a target for hate, for violence and a more difficult life path. In the past years I’ve watched, I’ve read and I’ve listened to the steps (no matter how small) this country has made both progressively and more often than not sprinting backwards. We passed marriage equality at a federal level. We repealed don’t ask don’t tell, we are working to end workplace discrimination. But that isn’t enough. I’m lucky to work in two environments where my bosses could honestly not care less whether I’m gay straight or even an alien, so long as I come into work and do my job. I know there are plenty of others who aren’t as lucky as I am. I know there are plenty of others who are discriminated against for simply looking or coming across as gay, regardless of how they identify. This country, my homeland, it’s supposed to be a melting pot, it’s supposed to be a symbol of refuge and safety from oppression. For me it is nothing but a disappointment. We are no longer a melting pot, we are no longer a place others can look to when they seek safe harbor, we are no longer a land of opportunity. We are a country filled with systematic oppression, crippling debt, intense fear and hate. Please do not get me wrong I recognize the incredible ability this country has to come together following tragedy. It is painfully evident after every shooting, every bombing, after every horrible act that occurs on US soil. But why does it take a tragedy to bring us together? Is anyone else sick and tired of holding vigils after mass shootings? Is anyone else afraid of going in public for fear of being the next victim?