In Greek and Roman mythology, there is a pattern. This pattern is that once you have seen the very best and the very worst the world has to offer, once you have walked the world, home becomes an ideal: something to strive for, to dream of, but it is not a place you will ever go again. Even if you do get back to your home, you and it are so profoundly different that you can’t abide each other.
I never realized the implication of this until that day. It’s amazing how much 45 minutes affected my life.
It was during my sophomore year of college, my first time away from home. I was an out lesbian for the first time in my life, but only to my college friends, no one at home. Valentine’s Day fell on a Saturday. It would have been my girlfriend and my first one together (also our 18 month anniversary). Since she had to go home on Friday night we celebrated early.
Walking home arm in arm, I remember the way the snow looked on her eyelashes, I remember how the streetlights made her hair look. I remember the way her lips felt against my cheek as she whispered in my ear. I remember the sparkle in her eyes. I remember all this because it’s all I have of her.
I remember the sudden tension in her body, seconds before we were ripped away from each other. I remember fear, anger, pain. I remember screaming, and I remember things I would rather not. I came up from the black long enough to note, while lying beaten, gang-raped, and bleeding in an alley, that I would never be able to find home again.
We were beaten, raped, and left in an alley in February with the garbage. All while these men shouted how we were an abomination before God, how this is a real man, what a real man does, how could we compete? We were called names, spit on. You name it, they did it.
I woke up in the hospital two days later. I had two skull fractures, a broken cheek, a dislocated shoulder, a broken arm in two places, four broken ribs, two fractures in my right hand, a dislocated hip, a cracked pelvis, my kneecaps were cracked, and left knee shredded. Imagine the cuts, bruises and tearing. She fought less. She was left with a concussion, two broken ribs, three arm fractures, broken wrist, nearly shattered hand, and both hips dislocated. They had taken our wallets, as well. For two days we were Jane Does in a hospital, no one even knew we were missing. The first few hours were horrific. The days didn’t get any nicer. Five months later, for my second HIV test (negative), I was informed I was pregnant. 10 weeks later, I gave birth to a son, dangerously early, whom I gave up for adoption.
She withdrew into the loving arms of family: “God forgives you. We can make you straight again.” I’m summarizing, but the point gets across.I honestly have no idea what happened to her after she left the hospital and what legal proceedings there were. My attempts to contact her were met first with blame then with hostility. The men were never caught, and I have given up hope for that.
But life does move on. I am out to my family, with mixed results. I can walk almost normally, I have a stable girlfriend, and I even managed to graduate college only 2 years late.
However, even years later, I still find it hard to show affection in public, I have panic attacks, severe depression, insomnia, and chronic migraines. They took our lives that night, maybe not physically, but neither of us walked away the same person. I don’t know about her, but everything home had been was gone for me. My sense of safety has been destroyed, what relationships I had, friends or family, were now awkward and painful. My sense of safety anywhere had been destroyed, And going home was actually terrifying. And on top of it all there’s a little boy out there with my eyes. And someday he will have to deal with what his father did to his mother.
This is the second time I have told that story in it’s entirety, ever. And that is why I give a damn. No one should feel they need to suffer something like this in silence. In a better world, I would have been able to fearlessly, tearfully crawl into my mother’s lap and have her tell me everything would be okay. In a better world, I could have held my girlfriend’s hand and maybe had a friend that had been there to hold me up.
I GIVE A DAMN so no one else has to hold themselves up alone at 20, give birth in a room of total strangers, alone, and sign away the parental rights of a three pound baby boy, alone, out of fear.
I. GIVE. A. DAMN. Because I’m angry at a world where a life can be torn to shreds with no consequences. Because I’m angry at a world that allows this fear and hate to be bred.
I give a damn so that little boy, Connor, can be whoever he is without fear, without hate.
More than anything, I give a damn so that maybe, someday, we can all go home.
I’m Adrianne. But this story is not about me. It’s about my youngest brother, Nick, who is now 17 years old. When he was in 6th grade, he started to know that something was different about him. He wasn’t like other guys who were worried about kissing their first girl. For Nick, he noticed that he like to be around guys and that girls still had cooties. No one thought anything about it because he was in 6th grade. But by 10th grade, he came out. I’ll never forget how worried he was. He told me not to hate him and that no matter what I thought of him, he still loved me and I would always be his only big sister. I didn’t hate in. In fact, I felt I loved him even more because he felt close enough to me to tell me the truth about how he felt.
It was a cold day and he was walking home from school when a tan car drove by. Nick was in an alleyway walking to our house. He was only three houses away when four guys jumped from the car and started throwing FROZEN apples at my baby brother. They took him down. Calling him terrible names. I could hear him screaming down the road, so I went running to help. I was almost too late. He was so beat up and bloody that I didn’t even know what to do. I called 9-1-1 and waited there with him. He spent a several days in the hospital battered and bruised because some stupid kids at school thought it would be fun to pick on the gay kid.
I give a damn for my baby brother. I give a damn because no family or kid should have to go through that torment. I give a damn because I love everyone EQUALLY! And thats how it should be.
I was assaulted a few weeks ago by a 6′2″, 250 man, whom I had never met before.
I stopped into my local bar for a drink after closing up my restaurant for the night. I chatted with the bartender and a few local patrons whom I knew. I sat by myself, minding my own business. The bartender’s friend was in for her birthday with her boyfriend. They came from the other end of the bar and sat near where I was. I wished her a happy birthday as I had met her several times and she had eaten in my restaurant on occation. I had never met her boyfriend.
She came over to me and asked if she could try on my hat. I hesitated, but allowed her to and took a photo as I never let anyone touch my hat. It wasn’t long before she came to give me back my hat and took my phone from me and began snapping pictures of her and myself and one other girl that was also there.
Her boyfriend began to call me “dyke,” “faggot,” “queer,” and a host of other derogatory names. I just let them roll off my back, given that he also had a few too many cocktails and didn’t want to cause any trouble. I just wanted to enjoy my drink and go home.
I did not know that he had made a punching gesture behind my head until I read the police report. A statement from the bartender.
They had left the bar and I had my drink and left soon after. I got into my car and noticed that the birthday girl was visibly crying, sitting in the passenger seat, with the door open. The boyfriend was no where to be seen. I approached her and asked her if she was alright and if she wanted leave with this person, as the bartender would have been happy to take her home. They were roomates at one time.
She said that is what she prefered to do. As she was gathering her things, the boyfriend came out of nowhere and punched me in the head, knocking me out! I presume that he kicked me while I lay on the ground as I have not been able to walk without extreme pain.
The police arrived on scene after seeing me laying on the ground not moving. He was arrested and charged with a Third Degree Felony charge. Today I spoke to the Assistant State’s Attorney and was told that after reviewing the case he couldn’t determine if the boyfriend was just jealous or if a Hate Crime was indeed committed. He went on to tell me that his charge was reduced to a Misdemeanor Battery. In essence, a slap on the wrist!
I had a concussion, am in physical therapy, lost a filling and partial tooth and am seeking a therapist as I am deeply disturbed by this crime. I am forced to sell my restaurant, which I have been involved with for the past twenty five years, as the local newspaper outed me and has caused a decrease in business, as many people are not accepting and do not want to be affiliated with gays/lesbians. In addition, I am the chef and cannot walk very well, making it very difficult to perform my job.
I believe this is an injustice, not only to myself, but the community as well!
I suffer daily and this hate-monger walks free and goes about his life as if nothing ever happened! It’s an outrage!
I can only hope that my story will serve to help others be aware of their surroundings at all times. You never know what could happen to you…Be safe and be aware!
I’ve grown up in Arkansas, not the most understanding or equality minded state. But because of my parents and my siblings I have grown up knowing the importance of equality.
It doesn’t matter that I have several friends that are gay, it doesn’t matter that they happen to be some of the most caring, wonderful, loving human beings I’ve ever known.
What matters is that discrimination in any way, shape, or form stops. We need to teach our children and our children’s children that we are all part of the same world and in order for hate to stop we have to start with ourselves.
Imagine if emancipation had never taken place, imagine if the Civil Rights Movement had never happened. Where would we be now?
We have to stop small minded thinking that just because someone is different or doesn’t live the same way means that they’re wrong or bad people. It just means that they’re different; and difference is what makes humans what we are.
Who wants to be a sheep anyway?
”I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”-Audre Lorde
While any human being cannot walk down the street unafraid of harm simply because of who they love, I cannot walk down the street unafraid.
While any person cannot share who they are with other people unafraid of discrimination and persecution, I cannot share who I am unafraid.
While any person is denied basic civil rights because of who they love, my civil rights are meaningless.
As Ms. Lorde said, my silence will not protect me. Refusing to share my story and my voice and give my support to my friends and my community because I am afraid of judgment and prejudice will not keep me safe. While any of us are unsafe, all of us are unsafe.
My name is Catie. I am bisexual. I am an ally to people of all sexual orientations and people of all genders. I will not be silent. I will speak until we are all free.
There’s something wrong with our way of thinking even as we play
Ignorantly insulting each other as we say
“That’s so gay”
It’s not okay
Because you’re insulting so many people without a single thought
Even without trying, you simply had bought
Into the idea that you weren’t, but you’ve been caught
In a web of discrimination, so saying you’re just playing is all for naught
There are people getting hurt without even a say
Because others hurt them and don’t want them to stay
Violence against them, they don’t ever play
All because they’re gay and others don’t think it’s okay
Think about the ones who’ve been hurt and died
Of the families who’ve screamed and cried
Never told a soul, “I’m okay,” they lied
Gave up on life because there was no place to hide
Be aware of what you’re saying before it’s too late
You might be justifying someone’s hidden hate
Saying it’s alright to deny their rights like Proposition 8
All because of who they love and who they choose to be their mate
On Christmas Morning of ‘09, I was visiting my family for a nice Christmas Dinner, I was getting ready for a wonderful lunch fulled with Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, Veggies and so on. The only thing I truly cared about on this day is my family. My father, my mother, my brother, my sis-in law, my baby nephew (Sebastien) and myself. My father was gone exchanging a gift for my baby nephew, so he was absent while the incident happened…
I was in my bedroom getting ready for this big afternoon with the family. My brother came into my room and wanted to talk to me and so I said “Ok!” I was confused as to why he wanted to talk to me and then he said “I’m not comfortable with you being around Sebastien. I don’t want you to be around him anymore.” I looked at my brother and I just walked away in disbelief, obviously insulted and in shock of what he was saying. Then I yelled, “your not going to accuse me of something that I didn’t do” and he said, “I’m not accusing you of anything, I’m just not comfortable with you being around him.”
I looked at him and said, “why is that?” My mother was cooking food and was wondering what was going on. My sis-in-law was minding her own business because she knew how angry my brother can become. Then this explosion of hatred of me being gay came from my brother (I guess he was holding on to his feelings for way too long until he finally revealed his feelings towards me, I mean he knew I was gay for 2 yrs now). He was insulting and humiliating me in front of my family and my poor mother was trying to be the peace keeper in this situation. My brother yelled at her, “this is none of your business” with his hands up as if he was going to slap her in her face.
I’m a 16 year old sophomore and I can’t begin to say that I have the greatest group of friends in the ENTIRE world. I’m been aware of my homosexuality since sixth grade as confused as I may have been. Ever since I confided to the first person that I called my friend I’ve been able to become more and more secure with myself. Slowly but surely I began to open up to more and more people until I hit freshman year of high school. At this point the majority of people I bothered to call my friends (there were and currently are too many to count) knew of my sexual orientation. As a New Year’s resolution I essentially said “f**k it” and decided to immerse myself in what I knew I was, a homosexual young man. High school was never the same but I’ve always had friends to back me up. I’ve been lucky.
Now, openly gay and content with who I am I’ve seen the harsh reality and immense joy of being open with your sexuality. I’ve personally had to deal with the loss of many friends who didn’t agree with my life choice and I’ve been ridiculed beyond which no one should ever have to put up with. I’ve learned so much about who I am and who I DON’T have to be and I’ve overjoyed to know that no matter what I choose in life my friends, my family and anyone who has ever had the pleasure of knowing me will be right there by my side. My personal accomplishments with LGBT rights are few and far between, so small in fact that they’ve barely made a dent in the issue at hand in everyday life. However, I’ve bettered my life in High School by coming out as a homosexual, I’ve bettered the lives of others who have chosen to confide within me and I’ve bettered the lives of everyone who I’ve ever met by allowing them to say they’ve met a proud gay man who isn’t afraid to take on the world.
When I lived in Los Angeles, CA a couple years back I was in a loving committed relationship with my girlfriend of 3 years. I had placed a rainbow sticker on my back window. As I was driving to lunch one day I saw a car following me, “no biggie just going the same direction,” I thought.
As I parked I saw the man pull up behind me in his car, pull me out of mine and throw me against my vehicle. He pressed himself against me telling me that, “lesbians are women that have not gotten F**K** right and he will fix me right.” As I hear him say this, his hands are roaming everywhere and tears fall down my cheeks. I felt this is going to be bad, and I close my eyes to everything around me.
I feel a tug on my pants in the crowded parking lot and a voice that says “you’re going to love this!” As I’m waiting to feel something, I feel the man pulled off me and then onto the ground. A male onlooker saw what was happening, handed his child off to his wife and came to my rescue. The guy ended up getting a broken nose and loosing 2 teeth. When I looked up there were so many people watching and I kept thinking to myself “NO ONE HELPED.”
I’m 19 years old and going to college at LIT in Beaumont, TX. I have a relationship with the most beautiful person in the world. He just happens to be a man. One night, a year ago, after my classes I was on my way home. Now I usually have one of my friends drive me or I take the bus. However I chose to walk that night. Because that night was special. I had just told the love of my life, for the first time, those three precious, yet almost insignificant, words: “I love you.”
However, I was so absentminded in this ecstatic moment that I failed to pay attention to my surroundings. I let my guard down for the briefest of moments and this allowed two assailants to brutalize me. I blurred many times between the points of consciousness and comatose from the various punts to my head, the multitude of shuddering cracks that accompanies broken ribs, and the thunderous pop that indicates a joint dislocation.
They realized that my body had gone limp and there was no more “sport in beating on a quiet faggot.” I thought they would leave me to die on the sidewalk they had began their attack on… I was wrong. One chuckled and said “I know what’ll make his day.” They lowered my pants and began to take turns violating me. I screamed. I tried to kick, claw, squirm, bite, and punch. But my body had given out on me. I cried as they laughed.
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The following is a statement from Give a Damn Campaign founder Cyndi Lauper about the 13th Anniversary of the passing of Matthew Shepard ...Author:
Hate crimes can happen anywhere, at any time. In fact, in the U.S., one violent act of hate takes place almost every hour of every single day.