Hello, 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.
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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?
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