Queers of all stripes face discrimination, bullying, and worse. Still to this day. The fight is far from over, what with religious zealots stating that bigotry is protected by religious freedoms and politicians actively trying to take back what little equal rights have been won.
The bigotry is obvious when it is straight-on-gay, white-on-person-of-color, or against the differently-abled. But what is less obvious are the ways that people within their own communities tear one another down and rip community apart with petty differences and the kind of bullying that happens on a junior high schoolyard.
When he got there, he found himself at the mercy of well-established cliques based on looks and societal desirability. One particularly cruel person joked that because he lived with a woman and had a child with her that he was an "unsuccessful homosexual". My partner is an introvert. He is new to this community. So he left early, sad. Had I been there, that bitchy queen would have gotten an earful:
"Excuse me, is this junior high? Because I hear a schoolyard bully. No one gave you permission to police the borders of identity, sir. And if (my partner) is "unsuccessful" by your standards, then he must be an amazing person. Because your standards dictate that you must ostracize good, loving people from your midst. That must mean that you and your friends here are cruel, small hearted, small minded, jerks. You, sir, are petty and mean. You are a small person who makes himself unworthy of my partner's love and care through his own words and deeds. While you seek to name others as undesireable, YOU are the one who is really ugly here."I have a long history of fighting bullies, starting as a small child. The fact that I have had to fight them my whole life makes me weary. I simply cannot stand cruelty and must act. I defended helpless animals in my neighborhood from traps in gardens and from neighborhood boys. I was once caught pummeling a neighbor boy for smearing a lightning bug on his pants to make them glow. I kicked the crap out of people stomping on ants or pulling legs off of daddy-long-legs (spiders). When I got older, I got a bully to stop picking on some kids on the playground and people started paying me a nickel a day to protect them.
I have never been able to watch movies where people are deliberately cruel to one another- it makes me sick to my stomach. I started a queer anti-hate crim patrol in Boston and led the one in San Francisco. I have disarmed bullies with knives and guns who wanted to harm people for being different.
It sickens me that this kind of bullying happens in communities of which I am a part. It happens at church, it happens amongst queers, and it happens on my son's playground. But when I bear witness, it ends with me.
I will foster empathy in my son. I will call adults out on boorish behavior and talk gently to children who bully. I will think before I speak when I have judgments in my head. It ends with me.