I knew something was different about me when I was 7 years old. I wasn’t sure what it was that made me different then – not until I fell in love, head over heels, with another girl.
I wasn’t confused about love; it was powerful and strong. I was confused as to why it wasn’t OK for me to love her.
Then my brother came home in tears one day. He had broken up with his “roommate.” He explained to me that the roommate actually was his boyfriend. We laughed when I told him that I was also gay. Then we cried.
We cried together a lot after that day. We cried when we told each other of the times we were beaten up in school for being different. We cried while I sat in the psychiatric unit my father put me in when he found out. We cried when I told him I was dropping out of high school because they were writing gay-bashing threats on my locker. We cried for several years at so many funerals of our friends taken by AIDS.
I cried alone when my brother committed suicide.
That is when I knew I had to be stronger than ever, and to stop crying and start screaming, “I am proud of who I am.”
I have rallied, protested, voted and stood my ground. I have never worked for a company that does not accept me, and I never will. I will not support a God they say doesn’t love me. I will not stand quietly while our legislators make decisions about my life. And I will never lie about who I am or hide from it.
Mostly I cry now because I am overwhelmed with being so loved by so many. The hate I see now is the hate of a people enraged by what the state is trying to do to my community.
I am proud to be a Kansan. I am proud to be who I am. I am especially proud of others for standing beside me and telling the politicians that it’s not OK to treat me this way.