The Lucky Ones

prideI came out to my parents when I was twenty. My mom already knew. My father might not have been happy about it, but he faked it well enough that I didn’t find out about his discomfort until years after he died.

I am one of the lucky ones.

When I was seventeen, I went for a walk, hand in hand, with the only man I’ve ever dated. We were attacked by two guys who, in their ignorance, saw two men holding hands. I was punched in the face hard enough to loosen my front teeth and give me a puffy lip. If a passing bus hadn’t stopped at the corner and the bus driver hadn’t gotten out, who knows how much worse it could have been?

I am one of the lucky ones.

My mom and all my brothers were present and happy for my wedding to a woman. I got married in Canada in 2006. It wouldn’t become legal in the US until 2015.

I am one of the lucky ones.

One night, on my way home from work when I was twenty-seven, I was followed off the bus by a guy who trailed me for half a block calling me “faggot” and “sissy-boy.” I didn’t correct him because I had no idea if it was worse to be a faggot or a dyke. Instead, I crossed a busy street in front of an oncoming car to get away from him.

I am one of the lucky ones.

To my knowledge, I’ve never lost a job opportunity because of my sexuality. I’ve never been denied housing or an education.

I am one of the lucky ones.

I was hassled on the bus by a group of teenagers who saw someone different and alone. One of them tried to up the ante by sitting next to me. I blistered his ears and sent him back to his group who only got louder. The bus driver ignored the situation until I went up and asked for his name to include in my report to the bus company. Only then did he tell the kids to pipe down, but he didn’t remove them from the bus.

I am one of the lucky ones.

All my life, I’ve dealt with snickers as I walk by because I refuse to wear clothes that make me uncomfortable. Because I won’t grow my hair long. Because I don’t look the way society thinks a woman ought to. I’ve weathered questions in the bathroom, though not gracefully. I’ve ignored disapproving stares from those older than me, and laughter that breaks out when my back is turned by those who are younger.

I am one of the lucky ones.

I know how to take the temperature in the room before I touch my partner’s hand at a restaurant. I gauge strangers around me before taking her hand outside. I take a more feminine-looking friend with me to public bathrooms so I have someone to vouch for me, and I avoid bathrooms as much as possible when alone.

I am one of the lucky ones, but so many aren’t. So many of us have been beaten and murdered for being the only thing we can be: ourselves. It’s everywhere, in my community, in yours. No one gets to avoid homophobia, though some of us are luckier than others.

I’ve been lucky, by all counts. There are plenty of people who have it much worse than I do. But luck is all it is. We are all the lucky ones, we who remain. But how long until our luck runs out?

There is no other choice than to go on, to keep moving forward, to keep being who we are and to honor those who lost their lives doing the same.

Stonewall Inn, NYC

New Orleans, LA

San Francisco, CA

Humboldt, NE

Atlanta, GA

Laramie, WY

Roanoke, VA

Galveston, TX

Port Bolivar, TX

Orlando, FL

(This is nowhere near an exhaustive list, and neither is this much longer one on Wikipedia.)

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9 Responses to The Lucky Ones

  1. Pingback: Reblog: The Lucky Ones by Lise MacTague | Romance and Chocolate

  2. rfsimon says:

    I saw Karin Kallmaker post this on Facebook, and I resisted it there. I also tweeted a link directly to your post.

    You have described so many of my daily interactions in this post. Thank you for finding the words and perspective.

    Like

  3. Karen Moore says:

    Eloquent writing. I hope your luck holds until the mores change. I remember the giddy joy of June 27, 2015, “equal dignity in the eyes of the law” and cling to that hope in the face of the recent horrific attack, as well as the many other instances of homophobia.

    Like

  4. laneywebber says:

    Such a beautiful, honest, and heartbreaking piece of writing. My wife has experienced many of the same things as you, just for being herself. And we experience them as a couple when we are out in public. Not everytime we got out in public. But we do the “barometer check” as I call it, before we hold hands. You speak from our heart as well. Thank you for your courage and your eloquence.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Heartbreaking and important. Thank you for writing this.

    Like

  6. Excellent, eloquent, and on-point. Love ya, and think of you often. Keep making art!

    Like

  7. Pingback: Reblog: The Lucky Ones by Lise MacTague | Kallmaker.com

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