Hop Against Homophobia: Welcome to the ’90s

Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia 2013Hello, I’m Lex Chase, a male/male author and creator of Pawn Takes Rook for Dreamspinner Press. I decided this year at last, I should participate in the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Well, of course I was only actually published this year, but as for speaking out against homophobia, it’s a shame that I haven’t done it as often as I should.

If you have something to add, comment below with your email address and you’ll be entered to win a 25 dollar Amazon Gift Card!

The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is May 17th, so I choose raise awareness about it with the nostalgia of the ’90s.

So, let me tell you my story.

Even when I was little I knew I was “different.” I was a tomboy, into boys toys, and while I had Barbie dolls, they were dating. I never had a Ken doll. I had no interest in a Ken doll. All of my childhood friends were girls, and when we played pretend I was Indiana Jones, MacGuyver, or Murdoch from the A-Team. I was the “boy” character that always ended up with the “girl.” The girl in question was always one of the prettier girls of my set of friends. I can’t tell you what her name is now for the life of me.

As I grew up, I hit 11 in Spring of 1990. At the time America was still in an uproar about Jessica McClure, the baby that fell down the well. New Kids on the Block were the thing. Paula Abdul was climbing to megastardom. The first inklings of the Grunge Movement was creeping across the US.

I liked things girls liked, and I had grade school boyfriends because that’s what girls were supposed to do. But it never felt “right.” The idea of making out with a boy or seeing his bits made my skin crawl. Even one of my boyfriends in middle school dumped me because I couldn’t stand New Kids on the Block. That’s me. Having musical taste since the womb.

And then came Spring of 1995, and I was 16, and I kissed a girl for the first time. And suddenly the world made sense.

The World Of The ’90s

The ’90s produced a lot of awesome stuff in one way, and lots of shitty stuff in another way. One of the Bushes (the first one I think) made it illegal for same-sex couples to marry. You could still be legally fired for your sexual preference, and it was legal to not even hire based on gender identity. Adoption by same-sex couples was criminalized. AIDs was still taught in public schools as the thing that will “wipe out all the faggots.”

And then 1998 rolled around and Matthew Shepard was tied to a fence in Wyoming and beaten to death for being gay.

While my parents had suspected about my girlfriend and I, I didn’t officially come out to them until 1996. Shepard’s death two years later rocked my world, my parents world, and my girlfriend’s world.

What happened to Matthew Shepard was barbaric in every sense of the word. But when you lived in teeny tiny Pensacola, Florida like I did in the ’90s. What Shepard’s killers did to him was seen as heroism.

Heroism. What the bullshit?

But for the safety of my girlfriend, and myself, we said nothing. In public, we were joined at the hip friends. With friends, we were more than friends. But we had to stay safe, fly under the radar, we didn’t associate with members of the gay community, we didn’t listen to songs by gay artists, and we didn’t read books by gay authors. We were the “straightest-acting” lesbians anyone had ever seen. In a way, we had set up our own little bubble of homophobia just to keep ourselves alive. You know, fuck the rest, save yourself.

Completely appalling, am I right?

Hit the Reset Button

So, it’s now 2013, and for an entirely different sob story, I haven’t been with that girl since 2001. But I did a lot of growing up since then. As for my relationship status, I’m quite happy to retire a confirmed bachelorette like a female Henry Higgins.

I learned this “fuck the rest, save yourself,” realm of thinking was completely assbackwards. It took me some time, but reaching out to the gay community is one of the most emotionally fulfilling things I’ve ever done. I was scared to death at first, worried if I’d be accepted for me, and they’ve welcomed me with open arms. Yeah, you have your pockets of drama, but that’s with every social grouping gay or straight.

Wise Words From The Least Expected Source

I once went to symposium hosted by the Dalai Lama at Emory University, and Gandhi’s own grandson stood up on the stage and said “When we destroy what we hate, we destroy what we love.” A Rabbi, also a part of the symposium said “We judge our actions by the actions of others.”

And finally, a spokeswoman for Catholicism also at the symposium said this:

“Love knows no gender, religion, race, creed, or flag.”

Isn’t that something worth remembering?

Don’t forget to comment with your email for your chance at a 25 dollar Amazon Gift Card! Winner will be announced May 27th! Your email is crucial so I can contact you!

50 Comments Add yours

  1. DarienMoya says:

    Thanks for sharing your story! I was 12 when Mathew Shepard was murdered and I couldn’t understand why something like that could happen, and for what? Its like I was supposed to understand, in my head this hate didn’t make sense because you killed a boy for who he was for no other reason than that. It shaked me to the core, and to this day I still hurt for him. I hurt for all the young people who have to hide who they are. They are so many horrible things our kids to be, and yet theres fear for something that made sense to me when I was old enough to understand.

    Love the quotes at the end! pantsoffreviews@live.ca

    1. Lex says:

      Thanks Darien! Last year as a college assignment we had to do a review of a local production of the Laramie Project for one of my journalism classes. I had to email my professor right away that this was a HUGE conflict of interest for me because it was way too close to home. Even watching the clips of the play on YouTube I sat there and cried. My professor was very understanding and told me I did the right thing by telling him.

  2. KimberlyFDR says:

    Thank you for taking part in the hop!

    In order to combat hatred, we must spread love. Educate others, bring awareness, because every person who has their mind opened is one person closer to a world where homophobia and transphobia doesn’t exist.

    kimberlyFDR@yahoo.com

    1. Lex says:

      Thanks Kimberly. πŸ˜€ And indeed we do. It’s a long uphill battle, but we do live in a marginally better world now. Still, there’s struggles ahead for all of us.

  3. Trix says:

    I think it’s important for everyone to tell their stories…so, thank you!

    vitajex(at)Aol(dot)com

    1. Lex says:

      You’re welcome Trix. πŸ˜€

  4. Theda Black says:

    I’m so sorry you ever had to go through times like you described, and thank you for telling us about it.

    1. Lex says:

      Things are better now, thankfully. Sure it gets tough at times even as an adult, but things really do get better. :>

  5. Beth says:

    That was an amazing story. I am sorry that you have to go through that. I am too young to remember the turmoil in the LGBT community in the 90s so I only know the events that you describe from history. I can only hope that my kids will know a safer world. Thank you again.

    Beth
    JPadawan11@gmail.com

    1. Lex says:

      Thanks Beth. πŸ˜€ It’s crazy because I look at things like Harvey Milk and Stonewall and I only know it as history. A very gruesome history, but I don’t have the same connection with it than what I do in my childhood. But yeah. Even if I was VERY indirectly affected, Matthew Shepard made everyone stop and take note.

  6. A very powerful post, Lex. <3. (Not entering the comp, bc I have your novella. :D)

    1. Lex says:

      Thanks LJ. <3 I'm glad I could touch some people today. :>

  7. Marie says:

    Thank you for your great post, and the bravery of sharing your story. Love is so much stronger than the alternative path. Thanks for participating in the blog hop!

    1. Lex says:

      Thanks Marie. πŸ™‚ My Mom and I talked about it a bit. How not only did my girlfriend and I at the time “play it straight” as possible at all times, when put on the spot, my girlfriend utterly denied we were a couple. She went as far to say even when we WERE dating, she would tell her set of friends that I loved her but she didn’t feel the same. Our relationship had a whole host of problems anyway. But being a new couple in the ’90s definitely strained things.

  8. Erica Pike says:

    Heroic? That’s disgusting. With a town-attitude like that, it’s no wonder you and your girlfriend were afraid to be out to the public. No one can blame you for that. Fortunately, things are different now, even though they’re far from being perfect. I say thank goodness for the internet, because I don’t think things would be as progressive as they are without it.

    1. Lex says:

      Yeah! Some people think the internet makes us disconnect from the world, but really it connects us in ways we never thought existed. One kid in rural Iowa with his first smartphone could learn all about the feelings he didn’t understand via an internet support group. Some of my closest most supportive friends I made over the internet and maybe seen in person once a year or so. Just because you don’t live in the same town doesn’t make you any less ‘friends’ you know? πŸ™‚

  9. Urbanista says:

    You brought tears to my eyes! Beautiful story, beautifully expressed! Nest of al, reaching out to others will give us all a real HEA. Than you!

    1. Lex says:

      Thanks Urb! πŸ˜€ One day, we’re going to live in a world of whom we choose to love will be honestly no big deal. Biracial marriage no longer gets a second glance. Why should this be different?

  10. Nancy S says:

    Oh, the changes I’ve seen in my lifetime! Gay was a happy attitude in my youth and “homos” were whispered about. With widespread attitude adjustments the world will be a better place for my grandchildren whatever their preferences may be.

    1. Lex says:

      A good sentiment Nancy. πŸ˜€ I remember in elementary school when ‘pervert’ was the slang of the moment. And then my math teacher goes and looks up pervert in the dictionary and explains to us it means to ‘deviate from the course.’ As kids, we thought it meant physically turning a corner instead of walking in the direction you intended. I think my math teacher felt vindicated. Only… well… Not really. LOL

    1. Lex says:

      You’re welcome Wendy. πŸ™‚

  11. Shirley Ann Speakman says:

    I enjoyed reading your post. The world is changing slowly I know, but hopefully for the better.
    ShirleyAnn@speakman40.freeserve.co.uk

    1. Lex says:

      Thanks Shirley. πŸ™‚

  12. H.B. says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and feelings with the events that occurred throughout your life.

    1. Lex says:

      Thanks HB. πŸ™‚ It’s strange of how something at the time seems so small but has a huge impact later on.

  13. Peggy says:

    Thank you for participating in the Hop and for sharing your story.

    peggy1984 (at) live (dot) com

  14. Peggy says:

    Thank you for participating in the Hop and for sharing your story.

    peggy1984 (at) live (dot) com

    1. Lex says:

      Glad to be a part of it Peggy. πŸ™‚

  15. Thank you so much for sharing that story and participating in this awesome hop. I loved hearing your stories from that time.

    1. Lex says:

      You’re welcome, Sophie. πŸ™‚ Just glad to be a part of it. πŸ˜€

  16. Lena Grey says:

    I know this is a serious issue, but the image you put in my head about the Barbie dolls dating, cracked me up! Thanks for your honesty and thanks for taking place in the hop.

    1. Lex says:

      Thanks Lena. :> My logic was back then “Why shouldn’t they date? They have the same parts.” I never quite understood that wasn’t a necessarily kosher thing back then. Ooops!

  17. Cornelia says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and the hop.

    1. Lex says:

      Thanks Cornelia. πŸ™‚ It’s an honor. πŸ˜€

  18. Crissy M says:

    Lex, my dear, I absolutely love this. You have such an inspiring story. I was 18 when Matthew Shepard was killed…at that time the word gay was never spoken in my house…but looking back on that solitary event, I think that was when I first asked my mom “why?” Why would they kill that boy? What did he do to them? Why did it matter who he loved? It was a turning point for me. The best think I’ve learned since then is that love is love. It knows no color, race, or gender. Beautiful story, Lex.

    morris.crissy@gmail.com

    1. Lex says:

      Exactly Crissy, that’s pretty much how it was in my house. I didn’t really understand how significant it was until the details and the media circus kept it going. Now when Matthew’s mother speaks in interviews, it’s with much more understanding. At the time, and it didn’t hit me until much later in life how they tried to contort Matthew’s character as some kind of perverted predator, when he was just a nice kid that was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Just the other day, I was talking to my mother about it and how much it meant to me, and she had pretty much forgotten all about it. Her memory is pretty selective though, and she can barely remember what she had for breakfast half the time.

  19. Carolyn says:

    When I saw two boys cuddling (and well, just being two teenagers in love) in line while waiting for a movie, I can’t even begin to express my joy. I don’t see that a lot (enough) here, and I was just blown away by how natural and relaxed they were being together as a couple with all these different people around them. That’s the world I want to live in, the one where people get to be who they are and no one looks at them funny, says anything to them, or, in the worst of our world, hurts or kills them. Yes, I hope we keep moving towards that reality.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story and for being part of the hop. Don’t worry that you didn’t do enough before. Someone who would have fit right in at that symposium, Dr. Maya Angelou, said, “when you know better, you do better.” You’re doing great now, Lex!

    1. Lex says:

      Thanks Carolyn. πŸ˜€ That is a nice story of how much progress the world has made. Every Memorial Day in my town, the beach becomes the biggest LGBT festival in the country. Considering the rest of the year, Pensacola is pretty conservative and has three military bases within 45 minutes of each other, it gets mixed reviews. Like “They” are at the beach. Or “Those People” are on the beach. Or on and on. Others go and join the party and say screw it to the naysayers. It’s baby steps, but they’re steps at least.

  20. Juliana says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your post in this blog hop! Such an important subject. And thank you for your own personal story…
    OceanAkers @ aol.com

    1. Lex says:

      You’re welcome Juliana. πŸ˜€ I was a bit nervous at first, but now I feel better. πŸ˜€

    2. Lex says:

      Congrats Juliana! You’ve won the 25 dollar gift card from Amazon! I’ll be contacting you shortly. πŸ˜€

  21. Penumbra says:

    Thinking about Matthew Shepard and what happened tears my heart out each time.

    Thanks for participating in this great hop.

    penumbrareads(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. Lex says:

      I know, such a terrible dark period in the world. Let’s hope it gets better from here on. πŸ™

  22. sherry1969 says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. Thank you for taking part in the hop!
    sstrode at scrtc dot com

    1. Lex says:

      It was great opportunity to participate. πŸ™‚ Thanks Sherry.

  23. chickie434 says:

    Thanks for participating and sharing Lex.

    tiger-chick-1(at)hotmail(dot)com

    1. Lex says:

      Glad to do my part. πŸ˜€

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