In Response to the Commenters on the Wall Street Journal: This Is Why.
|13 October, 2012||Posted by BobbiJaye under LGBTQ, Observations|
The e-mail about the article came last night around nine.
It wasn’t a surprise— Geoff told me it was coming. Still, I stared at the screen, lost for words.
“Is this really happening?” I asked LeAnn.
It was, in fact. My story, as first told by Kelly on her blog, was live. Wall Street Journal Live.
Remember that time last year when I got outed by Facebook? Shortly after, Kelly wrote a post, which a man named Geoff stumbled across. As it happens, Geoff writes for the Wall Street Journal, and was doing a story on Facebook privacy settings and how they impacted the LGBTQ community. I was hesitant, at first, but finally agreed to be a part of his piece.
Today, that piece is on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, both in print and on the web.
And this morning, I made the mistake of reading the comments.
I cried. I questioned whether I’d made the right decision. On the tail end of National Coming Out Week, I realize that I couldn’t have come out more publicly. What a step, from this time last year, right? But still, I wondered if maybe I’d made a mistake in being a part of a national story.
Who am I, after all? I’m just a girl.
And I knew that to stand up and say, “Yes, I’m gay, and here’s what happened to me,” would mean to put myself in the line of fire. I knew that I would open myself to scrutiny. And hate. The kind of hate that shakes me and makes me look twice whenever I’m outside, because I’m suspicious.
I knew exactly what I was doing when I finally agreed. Alienating my family more? Perhaps. Laying blame at the feet of a massive corporation. Putting my own words and reputation at stake, as well as the well being of those close to me. My friends. My chorus. My partner.
I did it anyway.
This morning, at first, the virtual punches hurt me. I read all of the comments. The ones saying my father was right. The ones saying I was an idiot for having a Facebook account. The ones saying I was an idiot who didn’t know how to use my Facebook account. The ones saying I was an idiot for being gay.
See the trend?
I read the ones saying that I was a hypocrite. And the ones saying I was only out to get my father’s money, a liar who hid my orientation for financial reasons.
Each of these comments left a mark on me, as hateful words are wont to do. It would be a lie to say that I’m not hurt. But ultimately:
Because I chose to fight, and I know that no one makes it out of a battle unscathed.
Who am I, after all?
I am a woman. First and foremost, a person. I am a survivor of abuse. I am a lesbian. And every day, I am surrounded by those who have privilege I will never have. I am invalidated. I am told I don’t exist and that I’m inappropriate. I am hated.
But I’m strong. And I’m out. I came through hell, by the skin of my teeth, and for that, I am grateful. I’m a fighter. I’m willing to be the person who stands up and takes the lashing, if it will make a difference.
And that, my friends, is why I choose to fight.
Because I have friends who aren’t yet out, who are afraid to be out to their families because what happened to me might happen to them. They live in fear that they’ll be outed— a fear I know, and realized.
Because I have a partner, and I want to spend my life with her. I want her to wake up every day and know that I am NOT ashamed. That I am elated, in fact, because she is mine.
Because I know that right now, out there in the world, there are thousands of LGBTQ kids and teens. They’ll struggle, in their lifetime. Some of them won’t survive. They’ll be killed. They’ll kill themselves. Because of something as small as whom they love. Not because they don’t love— but because they do. They live in a world where it’s dangerous to be who they are. Not all of them are able to have a voice.
But I am. I was given the opportunity to speak. To change something. Even if that something was how Facebook handles group privacy settings. I effected change there. I did SOMETHING.
Because I love Kelly’s children, and because someday, LeAnn and I will have our own. I want my children to be proud of me. To look back on these “dark times” of civil inequality, as we look at the civil rights movement today (though that battle is far from over) and know that their mother did everything she could to make the world better.
Truth be told, I hope my children are straight. I want for them the privilege and the ease that comes with fitting into the mold. But more than that, I want them to be happy. And if my children are gay, or genderqueer, or trans*, or bi, or… Furries… I want them to know that I’m fighting for them. That I stood up in my time to make their world better, and that I’ll keep fighting as long as it needs to be done.
I am tired. Emotionally and physically and mentally. I am worn. And I may have been knocked down. But I won’t give up. Not as long as there is something worth fighting for.
So, to the commenters, just a few notes:
If I am an idiot, so be it. At least my idiocy will create positive change. Know that by calling me names, you make me stronger, and that I won’t be bullied. I respect your right to feel the way you feel, and I might suggest that if you find a story distasteful, you stop reading it. I might also suggest that you get all the information before making a snap judgement. Like how I’ve always paid my own way through school, continue to be there on academic scholarship, and have been playing the role of “adult” for a very long time— since before I got my first paying job, at 16.
I am neither a saint nor a monster. I am not ashamed. I do not feel guilty for sharing my story. And I am thankful to Geoff, the writer, and Kelly for making it happen. I applaud Taylor. And Chris. Both of them were brave to be a part of this, and their bravery helped me be brave too.
Finally, I wish you all happiness. That is, after all, why I chose to do this. For a better world— not just for me, but for you and your families as well.
And to my friends:
I love you. Thank you.