Trigger warning: this post discusses anti-LGBTQ+ conversation and fear of violence
*This post is dedicated to all of us who have had to hide in a bathroom during holidays and hurt in silence while relatives rip our souls out
Several years ago a situation played out, like it does for so many of us during the holidays — a family member brings up something hateful, ugly and vile.
I was sitting at the dining room table at a family member’s house (we’ll leave it at that because inevitably some of my family will run across this). I overheard a conversation going on in the other room about rainbows.
“The gays stole the rainbow,” one family member said. “I can’t even look at one anymore or use one.”
“It’s gross,” another family member said.
That conversation, honestly, I could have stood. But not what came next.
“They should all die,” another family member said. “Oh gosh, I’m so sorry! I shouldn’t have said that.”
“Doesn’t bother me,” the other family member (and home owner) said.
I froze. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “they should all die” SERIOUSLY?!
I’m going to be very vulnerable here and write something I’m ashamed of. I went to the bathroom and hid. Then I went outside and took a walk. I didn’t stand up for myself. I didn’t stand up for all of us. I’m deeply sorry that in that moment I didn’t stand up.
Let me explain WHY.
Why didn’t I stand up? Another family member had a gun strapped to his hip. AT THE DINNER TABLE. I always wondered if he thought Santa was going to come shoot us all up.
I was in a VERY unsafe situation in that moment. “Unhinged” could have quickly become a thing.
But, I also want everyone who is reading this to know this: you do NOT have to come out, stand up, or do anything if you don’t feel comfortable or safe. You do not have to. Do whatever you have to do — go to the bathroom, text a friend, take a walk. Leave.
I eventually left. I was there for another family member who I truly do not want to hurt. But who also once told me they were sorry they asked what Pride Month was. Sigh.
I have not, and will never, return to that family member’s house. Ever. Even for the other family member. I can’t imagine what it must feel like inside to live in fear of someone different. To think that a group of people should die because you think differently than them. It must be painful. And I’m sorry for them.
Don’t suffer alone
This website has a list of hotlines. Don’t suffer alone.